Our dinghy is a hand-me-down inflatable. It’s a bit too big, crowding the dinghy dock and it’s showing it’s age, but the price was right and it has served us well for the last 5 years.
The dinghy came with a bright blue seat, the kind Canadian Tire sells for fishing boats. Because the drain plug doesn’t drain, the seat is often an island in a floating sea of rainwater, a refuge from water, sand and slime.
The blue seat is awkward height for an adult to sit on. It’s only a few inches off the floor, but it is the perfect for height and size for the girls. They sit side by side because, well it’s the only seat on the boat.
The blue seat kept them low, stationary and safe. It was unbeknownst to me their spot. I only discovered the last aspect when I casually mentioned to the girls that we will have a new dinghy next season and was met with cries of “you can’t get rid of the blue seat, our seat”!
The dinghy, besides getting threadbare, is too big, to be practical for longer trips. Last summer I borrowed a six foot RIB and liked the small compact size. It fit neatly on the swim platform and was great to have a tender to explore the islands. However it either blocking the swim platform, or slowing us down by half a knot when being towed. I decided a small dinghy with a folding floor was the ticket for us. The new(er) dinghy is smaller, lighter, with a removable aluminium floor and will roll up for stowage on longer trips.
The much loved blue seat won’t be making the transition to the new dinghy, but I want the girls to feel that there is a place for them, both literally and figuratively in our sailing world. As I child I remember the excitement and nostalgia of coming to the cottage in the spring. Another place, a familiar space, the smells and things, being very sentimental about those things from the summers past. I suddenly realized that what is still “the new boat” to me, is all that the girls remember, it has been a constant in their short lives. I realized that as a parent what may be fleeting or trivial to us can be very important to a child. Of course I realized this before, but I never thought they would be sentimental over a blue seat.
With that revelation in mind, I decided that the new(er) dinghy would have a special place for them too. I stopped short of ordering two Recaro racing seats, instead I cut a 8″x 33″ piece of plywood I had lying around the shop, I ordered two seat clips off the internet for $6 and made a bench.
I designed a pair of stencils in Adobe Illustrator and cut them on an old vinyl cutter. Getting the near-obsolete Roland PNC-1000 cutter to work is a saga worthy of it’s own post.
I masked the stencils and gave them a quick spray with black paint, removing the stencils while the paint was still tacky. I’m quite pleased as to how the designs turned out, the paint held the fine detail better then I thought it would. The final step is to coat the bench in clear varnish to give the paint some scuff protection. I started with spar varnish but it was waaay too yellow and the irregular surface made the bench look rather mangy, so I wiped it off and switched to a clear acrylic spray-bomb.