Monday, July 11, 2011
The day I went a-viking
How many people can say they sailed in a viking ship of their own making?
So what if the mast was made of PVC pipe, and the planking and shields of cardboard. The end product looks pretty good, and it netted us another First Place entry in the Highland Lake Boat Parade in Andover, NH, this past 4th of July weekend.
This was probably our most ambitious pontoon boat project yet. The mast and sail were a pain in the ass. That's a 10 foot piece of 3-inch diameter PVC pipe, seated in a toilet flange, screwed to a piece of thick wood, and spray painted brown. We drilled a hole at the top to accommodate an eight-foot long crossbeam made of 1 1/2 inch PVC. A few guy wires gave it stability. The sail is an old bedsheet. Red spraypaint for the vertical stripes.
I set the wife and kids to work making shields--a total of 13, including 6 per side and one for the mast. They did some awesome work. The shield bosses are tinfoil. They probably wouldn't stop a longsword or spear thrust, but they look the part.
The coup-de-grace came courtesy of my uncle. My original plan was to have the cardboard at the front taper to a whimpy point; he suggested constructing a huge prow to give our very square pontoon boat more of a sweeping longship appearance. We nailed together a few pieces of wood to frame the prow, ran a rope from the sail to the point to give it a little more lift, and voila! My uncle is a (literal) engineer, I couldn't have done it myself.
For those wondering (I know you are), the dragon head/tail are built using two pieces of styrofoam packing from an empty TV box. The head is an empty 18-pack of Coors Light. We spray painted the whole thing green. A styrofoam ball cut in half serves as the eyes and a pair of styrofoam cones are the horns.
At the conclusion of the parade we gave our ship a proper viking funeral: All but the styrofoam was burned in a pyre on the beach as the fireworks burst overhead. Much beer was consumed.
All in all it was an awesome event. My plastic axe was hungry and I was sorely tempted to pillage and plunder a few shoreside cottages but my wife had her hand on the tiller. And my 86-year-old grandmother would have none of it.