On The Water

Anchored @ Portage Lakes

I recently realized that I did not post an update about getting The Free Boat on the water.

This past summer we made it out four times.  Here’s a recap of each adventure.

For the first trip out the wife and I took the boat to Portage Lakes.  We’d never been there before, but West Branch had an extremely low water level condition which kept us away from testing there.  We launched the boat and Sheila caught me staring at the back of the boat.  “What’s wrong?”, she asked.  “Nothing.  It floats!”, I replied.   In the back of my mind I had wondered if it would float.  Sure the hull was solid and I had gone over the transom for months and repaired any issues in the gelcoat.  How exciting!  It floats!!

If you’ve never been to Portage Lakes it can be a little confusing.  Most the channels and lakes are no wake zones.  There’s an area for skiing and speeding, but there are restrictive hours for those.  We figured it out.

We idled around the lake a bit and the engine ran very well.  Then it was time to go full throttle.  The engine did not skip a beat.  Here’s a short video – Boat Engine.

We loaded up and headed home.  Success!

Our second trip out was about a week later and we took our youngest daughter.  On the way we topped off the fuel tank and added AMSOIL’s 2 Cycle Marine Oil to the tank.  It was another great day for boating at Portage Lakes.  We had a blast exploring the different areas and eventually headed over to the swimming area to cool off.

The third trip was all four of us.  We picked up a tube on the way out to again, Portage Lakes.  We pulled the girls around a bit and then when the lake was open for tubing we tubed.  The engine pulled the tube very well and we had a blast.  It’s a little difficult to transport the tube in the boat this small so our best option was to pull it behind the boat as we motored around the lake and hey – the girls loved it and other boaters got a kick out the girls just chilling in the tube at low speeds.

On The Water – Portage Lakes

We did have one little mishap.  We ran out of fuel heading to the boat ramp.  We were maybe a football field away.  We pulled out the paddles, but a boater spotted us and offered a tow.  Thank goodness.  Lesson learned.  Triple check fuel level during a day of tubing.

Our last trip of the 2016 boating season was to Chautauqua Lake in western New York.  Perfect lake to cruise and tube.  Headed out with our youngest daughter and my parents for an afternoon.  The lake was low which made launching a little tricky, but we had lots of fun.  It’s nice to just cruise around and look at all of the homes.  We headed to Bemus Point for lunch at the Casino and was able to hear the Bemus Bay Pops practice for their evening performance.  We ended the day by tubing and then struggling to get the boat on the trailer – still a skill I need to learn.

These four outings were worth the work in getting the boat ready for the water.  Sure it would have cheaper and quicker to go buy a running, used boat, but I don’t believe that the reward would have been so sweet – fun family times.  We really enjoyed the boat and have talked about selling The Free Boat and acquiring a pontoon boat.  I really do like the look of the “Fiberclassic” boat, but it’s small.  We’ll see what 2017 brings.

Ready For The Water

The Free Boat is ready for the water!

The idea wasn’t to restore the boat, just get it on the water and enjoy it.  It’s been a rather longer and tedious journey and this weekend the journey hits a major milestone when the hull enters the water.


It took a few, long nights to sort out the engine and get it running.  Now it starts right up and runs very well.

I took lots of pictures along the way and wished I had posted more entries along the way, but as one of my project managers once told me, “Do you want the project completed, or documented?”  I told him both.  So with that I’ll backtrack a bit and will post more pictures and details about some of the work done to get The Free Boat on the water.

Oh, and before heading out to Portage Lakes this weekend  I’ll fill the fuel tank and add AMSOIL 2 Cycle Marine oil.  Best way to protect the engine and maximize power!



The Floor Is Painted

The floor is finally painted!

Needed to wait for a somewhat cooler and less humid night to lay down the pain on the floor.  Came out OK.

The Free Boat floor is painted
The Free Boat floor is painted

Transom Paint

This past week I began to paint the transom.

Free Boat Transom Paint
Free Boat Transom Paint

The picture above is just the first coat and what a difference it has made.  Looking good!

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Transom is done!
Transom is done!


While sanding the floor I noticed a few areas that should get more resin.  After another trip to the marine store for more supplies I was back to mixing and applying the resin.  One final sand and the floor will be ready for paint.

Found a Boat Engine

This past Saturday started off with a long list of to do items, but when the Mrs. said not to cut the grass, I checked my email and there it was – a Craigslist search notification about an engine that matched what i was looking for.

After a brief text message exchange with the seller we were on our way to look at the engine.  It was about 1.25 hours away and it gave the wife and I some together time.  The seller lived in a small lake community.  Pretty fun place to be!

As part of the deal I also got a parts engine.

We loaded these up and headed back out.  Once home a couple neighbors helped me unload them.

Having the engine will give me a  little motivation on this project.

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Lessons Learned

#1 You’ll really find out how your spouse feels about bringing home a free boat when you go to pick it.

#2 There are always boat puns and jokes that can be made.

#3 I am the only one that finds boat puns and jokes funny.

#4 Protective eye wear and gloves are NOT overrated.

#5 Everyone except your spouse sees the fun in a project like this.

#6 People think it’s funny to call you Captain.

#7 Harbor Freight becomes a regular destination.

#8 A boat in your garage becomes a great place to store items in and on.

#9 You’ll get strange looks when discussing long and short shafts.

#10 If someone wants to kill the mood in the room they’ll ask you about the progress on the boat project.

Winter is Here!

I am excited about winter for a few reasons…skiing, sledding, and working in the garage on the boat.

Time to clean the last few parts out of the transom and start to install the floor.