Green Wooden Boats

Following Jesus Cover

In the 1950’s and 60’s, when I was growing up in southern Indiana, I only remember wooden rowboats, and all were green. 

I remember the first boat I helped my father build. We built it with yellow poplar. Yellow poplar is a strong, lightweight wood, that was highly valued for furniture making. My father owned a sawmill, therefore, we had access to the lumber we needed. My father set aside two wide clear boards fourteen feet long, for the sides. He then cut four inch wide boards for the bottom. All the lumber was clear, knot and blemish free. This boat came to a point in front. It was easy to row and handle. Slat bottom boats were common in those days. While the wood was painted, it was not sealed tight. The wood would swell and seal the joints against leaks. The old wood boats were great. They were quiet and very stable. You didn’t move them in and out of the water much. They were heavy to move, plus you didn’t want them to dry out and start to leak.

We used this first boat for several years. We would put it in the water in the spring and take it out in the fall. Each winter it seemed to dry out more and more, and by spring the joints would be cracked apart. The last year I remember using this boat, the cracks between the slats were nearly one-quarter wide.  We put it in our pond, to allow the wood to swell up and seal the cracks. After a week or so, we pulled it out with the tractor. We bailed the water out and it was good to go.

We hauled it to the White River, where we put out trotlines for catfish. The boat spent the summer on the water. When we weren’t using it. It was tied to a tree on shore. That fall when we took it out of the water, it had soaked up so much water that it took six men to lift it out of the water and load it on a flatbed truck.

The next boat we built was twelve feet in length and pointed in front. Again, the sides were made of yellow poplar boards. The bottom was made with one piece of marine plywood. This was a vast improvement. We were able to seal it completely, so it didn’t have to be left in the water. It also was much lighter, making it easier to take in and out. After many years of use, the wood began to decay around the rear joints. My dad cut a foot off the back. Then he installed a new end board and used the boat for many more years.

After my dad and I built the last boat, I decided to build my own boat. I purchased a sheet of four by eight marine plywood. Rather than make the front come to a point, I decided to curve the front up, similar to the pram style now. This design would have fine if I would have a boat motor big enough to get it to plan on the surface. It would have skimmed across the surface. However, I did not have a motor. Instead, I used oars. Instead of gliding over the lake surface, or through the water like the other boats, it pushed through the water. It was not a very efficient design.

My brother was using it while fishing one day. Another fisherman commented to him, that it looked like a sandbox. The name stuck. After that, it was the sandbox boat.

I built more boats after that, but I used proven designs for them. All these boats had one thing in common. They were all painted green.

 As we go through life we build many things. As a builder, I have built homes, log homes, commercial buildings and everything in between, including a couple bridges. I enjoy working with my hands. As far back as I can remember, I have always been building or making things. All of those things I have created over the years have one thing in common. They have no lasting value. I enjoyed building log homes because someone would be enjoying them for at least a hundred years. A hundred years is a long time, but compared with eternity, it is nothing.

Christ tells us that the things that can be seen are temporal, but the things we cannot see are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

If we want to do something with everlasting value, then we must invest our time in people. When we live a Godly life and show the love of Jesus to those around us, we have the potential to make a difference in their lives, that will last for eternity.

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