Going overboard to stay afloat
ENC crew crafts seaworthy cardboard watercraft
Choosing a crew to sail a cardboard boat is a pragmatic process: Who's the better swimmer?
For the Eudora Nursing Center team, that answer was captain Eric Nuckolls and crew member Amber Vogel.
"I think Mom took out a larger policy on me," Vogel joked Saturday morning before the team launched its papery craft in Clinton Lake.
The "Lifesafers" from the local nursing center competed against nearly 40 other area businesses and organizations in the Leadership Lake Challenge, put on by the Lawrence-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce. A crew of Eudora Nursing Center staff, spouses and family members assembled a seaworthy boat using the contest's strict rules. The craft was composed entirely of cardboard, tape, glue and paint. Two-part epoxies and structural cardboard were out.
"It was a group effort with how we would put it together," Nuckolls said.
Team member Shirley Leach said with similar races offered throughout the country, tested designs were available. She said the team perused the Internet for ideas about how to go about building a cardboard boat.
"It was just a picture, so they just started to put it together," she said. "I liked the rib design. I hadn't seen that on other boats."
The craft was a wide, flat, almost barge-like vessel with the group's Lifesafer theme carried through in the colorful striped painting on the side.
"If we'd had a couple of years' notice, we could have had a good design," Nuckolls said. "We designed for endurance, not speed."
Before their heat raced, the group was optimistic about the viability of their vessel.
"We intend to finish and finish well," Nuckolls said.
Leach had the same optimistic outlook in the design.
"I have every confidence this boat will make it to the finish line," she said.
Despite some other boats' spectacular sinkings, it did. In two minutes and 23 seconds, nonetheless, good enough for a 10th-place finish.
Other watercraft in the contest ranged from pirate ships to a school bus to a Viking longboat, with team members in costumes like the "Gilligan's Island" characters and sharks.
Although Vogel and Nuckolls were the boat's only passengers, the rest of the Lifesafers were on hand Saturday to support the effort and carry out the theme by passing out about 1,300 Lifesaver candies and sport similarly colorful T-shirts and sailor hats, which went through a trial run at the nursing center.
"We had our hats on the other day and somebody came in and said, 'What is this, 'Gilligan's Island?'" said team member Ruby Dalrymple. "And then somebody else said, 'What is this, 'Love Boat?'"