A boat made out of cardboard and duct tape. Seems like a pretty easy undertaking, right? A little cardboard and a lot of tapes — how hard could it be?
But as this summer’s Ruth Lake cardboard boat regatta drew near, my family realized that we’d had no idea what we were getting into when we signed up. And one question burned in my mind: Would it float?
As we began working to build a seaworthy vessel, it soon became apparent that we had no clue how much time would be involved or how much duct tape the boat would consume. We also didn’t know at the time that this would become so meaningful to us; that the boat we were building would be used in another race for a much better cause.
The design of the boat was the easy part. It only took a few minutes to sketch our ideas on paper and then draw out the shape on a sheet of cardboard. With a little cutting and taping, within an hour it looked like a boat! We went for stability first and speed second, so the taping took a little longer.
Six hours later, I had lost my fingerprints. Yes, my fingers were raw and my fingerprints were gone because duct tape sticks to everything and rips it off!
On the day of the race, we loaded our creation in the back of my truck and drove it to Ruth Lake Country Club. We were so proud of our patriotic-colored boat that we affectionately named it the “MANE” after my children: Micah, Abigail, Noah, and Elizabeth. As the boats lined up, you could see other families had spent a lot of time on their boats too and we're equally proud to see them race.
At last, the moment of truth arrived. As I anxiously watched two of my kids climb in, my burning question was answered. Our boat didn’t sink! It wasn’t the fastest in the fleet, but it did win the trophy for the best name.
After the race, one of the traditions at our pool is to sink the boats. All the children jump in the pool and capsize the vessels that have taken so much time to build. Because we wanted to save the MANE for next year, my children (and their mom) kept all the other children from jumping on and sinking our boat.
We are so glad they did. While there has been much for the McCurry's to celebrate this summer, we have been journeying alongside another family who, sadly, very recently lost their dad to cancer. While the pain of our dear friend’s passing was immense, we now celebrate Chris’ life and know that we will see him once again in Heaven.
When we heard that Chris’ family wanted to enter a boat in the regatta at their club — and knowing how long these boats take to build — our family decided that our boat would race again.
The following week, the “MANE” was officially rechristened as the “Walsh” and set sail in the Five Seasons Country Club regatta. It held up beautifully, floating once more as Emily and Danny Walsh paddled while Ethan and Delaney (along with aunts, uncle, and grandparents) stood onshore and cheered. It’s a great comfort to know that Chris — the kids’ dad and my very dear friend — was able to see the happy pictures of Team Walsh racing the boat before he passed. In a way, we know that the hours of cutting and taping weren’t just for us; we were also building something special for him.
If you like the idea of setting sail in a local pool, there is an opportunity coming up for you to build a boat. This coming Saturday our Clarendon Hills park district
is hosting the second annual regatta at Lions Park Pool. Two-person crews will participate in all of the races, with prizes awarded for the Fastest Vessel, the Most Creative Craft, and The Titanic. You can sign up by calling the Park District at 630-323-2626.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlights a new business, or announces school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.
The “MANE” – Micah, Abigail, Noah and Elizabeth