Boston has Duck Boats; China has a Duct Tape Boat

by Andrew Eppig

Although I am a Baltimore native, Maine’s mosquitos have dined on my blood since I was born, and the cove of Fire Road 51 has always been my donation center. Those pesky insects have infected me with the “itch” for doing things out-of-the-ordinary, usually with others doubting my success, and thus was the theme while building this boat.

Andrew Eppig

Andrew Eppig gives the thumbs up as his duct tape boat floats in China Lake. Photo courtesy of Andrew Eppig.

While Maine is home to concrete canoe and cardboard boat building competitions, and many have seen Mythbusters use truck loads of duct tape to create many things including a two-passenger boat, it seems my scaled down, one-person creation brought much skepticism from everyone around me. To my surprise, I received the likes of “you won’t last 20 seconds,” and “it will sink as soon as you get in,” as if I was building a five-foot long lead weight. This made my “itch” flare to a rash, and I began my build.

I started by laying out two aluminum tubes from an adult-sized crutch, with a few other shorter tubes to create a frame. A thick aluminum strip from the button panel of a flat screen TV, combined with a piece of steel all-thread became the keel. I then added various sized plastic panels to create the basic hull shape, and attached two Macintosh G5 desktop computer side panels for floor boards.

It took the next three days to get it all taped together with multiple layers for rigidity and a good water-tight seal.

I then turned to mounting the “FisherPrice” style kids boat motor to it. I taped a small two-prong coat hook to the shaft of the motor, allowing it to hang from the boat, while still being able to steer.

Andrew Eppig

Andrew Eppig during the construction phase of the duct tape boat. Photo courtesy of Andrew Eppig.

After six days and multiple trips to the Rte.3 Family Dollar Store, Hussey’s General Store, and the Augusta Walmart, for the 17 rolls of duct tape, a coat hook, and a small wood paddle, I was ready and eager to finally scratch my “itch,” and put the boat into the water.

The next morning I slowly lowered my creation into a calm clear China Lake, as the rash of criticisms and doubts echoed in my head, almost making me believe that it would indeed just sink to the bottom. However, as I released my grasp, it floated. I put the motor on, it floated. Then, slowly and carefully, I stepped off the dock, gradually allowing the boat to take my weight. It floated!

My success was then truly measured as I was off to the China town office, where, after some explaining, a very nice lady was eager to help me get it legally registered, and even came out to the parking lot to take pictures with me holding the boat!

Although it will certainly never make it to the Head of the Lake for ice cream, if you happen to be on the lake near the narrows, you may just see my “Lucky Duct” floating by!  Andrew is the grandson of Irma W. Simon, of China.


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