The Catamaran Lives!

So, as I noted, we’d decided to dig out pop’s old – and I mean old; the last time it was even in the water I was like four – catamaran on Thursday. Chris came down for the occasion, and Friday morning I arrived at nana & pop’s to get started (after a swim of course; I decided to be nice and save water by skimping on a shower :D ). When I first walked into the shed though, I immediately thought “oh dear god, what have I gotten myself into?”. I’d managed to convince myself that it somehow wasn’t nearly as bad as it in fact was. Nonetheless, I set about the task of clearing it out. At first this meant sorting out the dozens of empty boxes that formed the highest layer of the strata. I started filling those with junk to throw out, and pushing those out the garage door. It wasn’t long before no one could get through the door because of all the junk blocking it.

Eventually we got the main door open, which made it a whole lot easier to get to things. It was still hard going, though – after an hour or two I was finding it most tedious, but I was resolute; the junk must go. I expected nana would have a few words to say about the mess we made dragging everything out, but she didn’t; she presumably realised that this was likely to be the only opportunity she’ll have to throw out at least some of the junk. :)

There were a few problems with the catamaran itself, aside from the fact it’s been buried for most of my lifetime. The crossbar between the two rudders had come out of one – the wood has perished – and so steering is presently a two person affair. There was also a cover missing from one of the four openings into the pontoons, which we assumed would be somewhere in the garage – and may still be, of course; much of it remains unexplored – but we didn’t find it during the initial excavation.

That’s aside, of course, from the sorry state of the trailer it sits on… the tires have been flat for pretty much ever, and are so old that they’ve solidified in their current shape. Thus, when we finally did drag the thing out, it was like it had square wheels – it took some effort to get it off the flat bits, and then it rolled surprisingly well – until it hit the flat bits again. :) It was also a bit hit and miss as to whether it would roll at all – the axle seemed a bit stiff on the left hand side, which was entirely unsurprising given the whole thing is now merely a few iron shavings suspended in solid rust.

The stuff we found going through that shed… it was simply scary, some of it. Aside from the usual stuff – all the old pool lilo’s, broken body board, half a dozen snorkels, dozens of tennis balls, golf balls, table-tennis balls, etc – there were somewhat obscure things… such as Caesar’s old litter tray, still with litter and who knows what in it. Then there was the ledger containing all nana & pop’s tax records from 1966 to 1969… I know the record retention laws are pretty draconian, but nonetheless I’m pretty sure it’s no longer necessary to keep those. :D

Although they certainly made for an interesting look through… school shoes back then cost $8.55. School supplies (presumably books, stationary, etc) cost a total sum of about $3. Very few things cost more than $10, at least that they bought… I guess a week’s groceries were probably less than $10 back then.

And they complain that they had it tough – pfft. :P

Then there were the two shopping bags of matches. Nana & pop used to collect them when they travelled, I’m told, and evidently they didn’t make it as far to the rubbish bin as nana had thought. There must have been thousands of matches in those bags. Now, to an outside, impartial observer, does it seem highly intelligent to place two bags of incendiary devices at the bottom of a giant pile of highly flammable crap? Right next to tins of turps and oil? Underneath oily rags? And if that wasn’t enough, we found two buckets packed full of kindling. Why? I don’t know; pop complains all the time about the endless battle he has, trying to burn off all the green waste they somehow collect.

And then there’s the books. Bags and bags of books… such as a Young Men’s encyclopaedia from some sixty years ago, or a whole collection of books on natural home childbirth from the 1950’s. Of course if you want something slightly more recent there’s also a box full of 1980’s Mills & Boons… scary stuff.

There were some quite interesting books as well, in that “oh dear” kind of way. Such as one that proposed that the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is all that remains of Planet X, destroyed by a nuclear war with Mars. In fact, the craters we see today on Earth, Mars and our moon may look to the untrained eye like they were caused by meteorites, but don’t be fooled! They’re really the impact craters of nuclear weapons and galactic shrapnel. It’s a well supported scientific theory that has 200 years of evidence behind it, and makes far more sense than any of those other silly theories.


Let’s see, what else did we find? Well, there was the wine-cooler polystyrene esky with a giant hole in the side… it would seem reasonable that such an injury would relegate the esky to the bin, but apparently not, when it could instead sit in the shed and biodegrade over the next 100,000 years. There’s good composting in polystyrene.

There was also the vacuum cleaner which look like a prop from the Rocketeer… it belonged to pop’s mother, whom passed on a long long time ago now, and probably had it for half her life before that… when queried as to why he doesn’t throw it away, pop’s answer is – as it is for virtually everything in the shed – “oh, but it still works”. :) Well, I exaggerate; that excuse covers about 40% of the shed’s contents – another 40% is covered by “but it might come in handy some day”. And as for the remaining 20% – well, even pop concedes that’s just garbage. :)

Oh, and there’s a Steriophone in there as well. No FM – probably hadn’t been invented yet – but I would be very surprised if it didn’t pick up shortwave a treat. ;) It has a built-in record player, I’m told… and my dad suspects it might actually be so old now as to be worth a bit, if properly cleaned up. There’s certainly no point keeping it around – I can’t imagine nana ever agreeing to let it back in the house, and from it’s position in the garage I’d say it probably went in there almost before I was born.

Behind that was an old TV, which would be black & white I’m sure, and I doubt works at all… and I thought the old and old old TV’s that are in the house were old!

What else… ah, yes, bottles. Just before Christmas one of the shelves at the back of the shed fell down. Nothing wrong with the shelf itself – the screws just plain fell out of the mortar, which is old and crumbling. The shelf naturally held bottle upon bottle of screws, nails, bolts, who knows what… pop then worried about gathering jars to replace the broken ones, because of course he had to sort through the mess to recover every item. Andrew & he sat outside on Boxing Day, I think it was, going through the pile.

And yet, as it turned out, not only is there two whole boxes of empty bottles, but there’s at least a dozen just lying around on the ground under the catamaran itself. Right on top of the dozen or so empty bags of pool salt, which may well be every bag pop’s ever bought.

Finding those reminded Chris of a time when we were out somewhere, and came upon some slides. Unfortunately we couldn’t slide down them, because our pants stuck to them – my extremely vague recollection is that it was a rather hot day, so everything was humid and sticky. Anyway, pop was able to produce from his car boot a pair of these bags, or heshen sacks, or somesuch, which we were able to use. Unfortunately, he’ll try to use this as justification for why he should always carry a couple of empty salt bags or burlap sacks in his boot. :)

Among the things we discovered were many things from my childhood, that’d I’d almost forgotten about and had in any case thought long ago had been thrown out. The biggest such surprise was the discovery of my Tonka dump truck and front-end loader… though rusted and just barely still yellow, they were still mobile. And the dump truck even had a load of sand still in the back – now spread accidentally through the paving. :)

There was also the hideous old floaty thing that I was made to wear – despite tremendous protest – when I was very young, in the pool. It was way too tight, and massively unwieldy, such that it made it virtually impossible to actually swim properly and was quite possibly a drowning hazard.

Extension cords. I’ll never buy one again – I reckon there’s enough in that garage to run a line from the house down to the beach… I cannot fathom why someone would have so many extra length extension cords. There was nothing wrong with any of them, aside from the fact that one would most likely be entirely sufficient.

Then there’s the old pool cleaner hose, which – while split almost clean through in at least one point – was still in there for reasons untold. Just like the old aluminium rod that was once the old pool skimmer… it has no purpose, but since there’s strictly speaking nothing wrong with it, I doubt it’ll ever be thrown out.

Oh yes, and how can I forget, the old typewriter. It used to sit in one of the closets inside – unless there’s a second one – and as kids we actually did use it sporadically (thanks Clueless) for the sheer novelty. Oooh, oooh, ooh – that reminds me, we also found a Learn to Touch Type book for the typewriter, which upon closer inspection turns out to have virtually identical contents to the touch-typing book we learnt from in high school. Of course, we were learning on Apple IIes, which aren’t all that far removed… ;)

There was just so much old junk in that garage… and still is; we hardly even started on the other half of the mess sprawled upon the table-tennis table. I’m planning to go back round there on Monday or Tuesday to at least do some tip runs with all the garbage, and possibly continue cleaning out the garage. It would actually be interesting to see how the table-tennis table (redundant? tennis table?) is doing… dad reckons it’ll be horribly warped and next to useless, but it really didn’t seem to be in that bad a condition from what we could see of it. He also wouldn’t believe at all that the catamaran actually floated, and wouldn’t take on water. But indeed it did, and didn’t.

Which brings me to of course the surprising twist at the end of all this – once the catamaran was out of the garage, pop, Chris & I were able to easily lift it off it’s trailer, over the pool fence, and straight on into the pool. As I noted I’d had high expectations of some colossal disaster, which were completely shattered by the anticlimatic reality – it floated, just like it should. When we checked the pontoons, there was no sign of any water leaking in. We only had it in the pool for twenty minutes or so, which isn’t enough time to show up seepage, but it’s enough to give pop & myself the confidence to now go ahead and fix it up, ready to sail in the actual ocean (well, bay at least).

While I haven’t yet gone through the photos – I took 85 of them, many of which will surely provoke long descriptions, and thus the whole collection will take a while to document – I will in reasonable time, and post them here. For the moment, I’ll leave with just one, just to prove to the doubters – that is to say, everyone and anyone who’s ever been in the garage and probably never knew there was a boat in it – that it is indeed real. :)


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