Sunday, November 8, 2009


I've got a few regrets in my boating life. Some are simple - I didn't get to go paddling with friends up in Maine this summer or the summer before. Some are a bit more complex.

When I was 15 years old, I had the canoe blues in a big way. My Boy Scout troop was planning a wilderness canoe trip to the Grand Lake Stream area in Maine and we'd been training and paddling in preparation for the trip. We'd even done a troop activity where each one of us made our own wooden canoe paddle for the trip. It was a really neat project. Building the paddle only fueled my desire to have a canoe of my own. I really wanted on in the worst way. My dad had gotten a canoe from my mom as a Christmas present and we'd been working on our assistant Scoutmaster's BN Morris canoe to get it ready for the trip. I really, really wanted my own canoe.

This summer, my brother had been working at our local Scout camp for the summer. Before our trip to Maine, I went up one evening with my parents to drop him at the camp after a day off. While there, I went into the camp's trading post to get something to drink. Above the door to the trading post was a 16' long Old Town canoe. The camp had switched from wooden canoes to aluminum canoes in the years before and this was one of the last of the canoes. This canoe was the last of the wooden canoe livery. What I found out was that this canoe was basically being offered to the highest bidder. All you needed to do was to write your name, number and bid on a slip of paper and throw it up into the boat.

I got a chair that I could stand on to see into the canoe. The forest green canvas looked great. The shape of the canoe was great. The woodwork was in nearly immaculate shape with the exception of one cracked rib. In my eyes it was gorgeous. I wrote my name and number and bid on a slip of paper and threw it up in the boat.

We got back from out canoe trip and I had seen a red fiberg!@$$ canoe with beautiful ash woodwork. The store wanted $550 for the canoe. It was glossy beautiful and new. I went up to the camp and withdrew my bid as I was going to buy the red canoe. The cracked rib in the wood canoe made me nervous at the time as I thought it would be difficult to repair.

Later, I found out that I had been the only bidder on the Old Town. I'd bid $50 for it. It would have been a wonderful boat for me and I bet that I'd still have it. Only later did I learn just how simple that replacing a rib would have been. Still, you've got to live with the regrets.

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