Mike Wolfe Chapter One "The River Queen Refit" 2005
Copyright Mike Wolfe 2005 / 2016
The Time Before the Boat.
Well, this is the start of a brand new project and boy, did I step into it this time! I had been shopping around this central California valley for the past 10 years or so trying to find just the right type and price boat, one that I can stand up straight in. I'm 6'4" ...well... used to be anyway. I have always said "If I can't stand up all the way in it, I don't want it" The problem with that is the higher the headliner the higher the price! The cheapest way to do this it seems is to go with a houseboat style.
Now there are some things you should be asking yourself before starting this monumental type of endeavor. Questions like, "Am I mentally, physically, and financially strong enough for this?" "Will my family and friends stick with me?" For every person the answers may be different. My answers were... sort of, so so, squeaking by, and "They're hanging in there." The point I'm trying to make here is in a perfect world, if you have the bucks you can avoid all the pain, mud, blood, gore, and veins in your teeth simply by hiring out all the work and buying all brand new shiny parts. Then hire someone to put them in for you. But in the real world, my world, ok , our world, you got allot of studying to do and allot of questions to ask. And you need good contacts to pool together for all the resources needed. Get to know all the service personnel that you can and in as many different fields as you can. Also, remember all those favors you did for all those people in the past... Well, it's time to trade in the chips, baby, and call in those favors! Funny how some people forget...
Well let's go back in time when this whole project started and maybe you may learn from my mistakes... As I said, I had been searching high and low for the past 10 years or so looking for a boat that would fit all my requirements. One requirement was that it had to be big enough to hold my height without having to bend over at all (6'4") as well as hold my whole family plus 2 or 3 other couples. I wanted a flying bridge. Out here in the river delta we have a lot of levies and narrow waterways, if you're restricted to a standard helm, (4-6 feet off the water) then all you pretty much see is the bank and water. A flying bridge really is a plus around here adding many more things to look at and I think the added visibility makes it safer as well, like being able to see better at bends in the river. Another requirement would be a spacious head. Not your usual cramped, can't-turn-around-in marine head but something more normal-sized. I wanted a good strong construction material for the hull type. Wood is too much elbow work for me and can catch fire or rot. Fiberglass didn't seem to have the crack- and puncture-resistant qualities to give me the warm fuzzies I'm looking for. Concrete I like but it didn't seem to be an option. Aluminum I like but is too hard to work and weld on. Which brings me to steel. Steel I like, other than the big fact that it rusts. I can weld on it, drill and bolt to it, bang on it.
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