Yokosuka’s Build-A-Boat race offers soggy fun
May 8, 2006
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Duct tape. Lots and lots of duct tape. That’s the USS Border Jumper’s secret weapon, said 3rd Class Petty Officer Chris Rowell.
Then he — with his eye-patch and a parrot stuck to his shoulder (with duct tape) — and his first mate hopped aboard the cardboard craft and hoped it was seaworthy.
In Yokosuka Naval Base’s Build-A-Boat Race, if you swamp, you swim.
Eight teams climbed aboard the base’s inaugural event Saturday. For the 45 participants, the rules were simple: Get at least two people, pay $40, and name your team.
There were The Soggy Bottoms from Fleet Imaging, The Weather Freaks from the weather station, The Cardboard of Education from Yokosuka Middle School, the We Love the ’80s Team and The Warriors from U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, and three teams from the USS Chancellorsville.
The requirements: Build a boat in two hours using five sheets of cardboard, two utility knives, one ruler and two rolls of duct tape. Then give the craft a whirl in the waters outside Green Bay Marina. If it doesn’t disintegrate on the 100-foot round-trip voyage, you succeed. If it does, you get wet.
The boats didn’t have the only seams that may have been in danger of splitting, given the vigor with which the many spectators were cheering and laughing.
The “Cardboard of Education” team from Yokosuka Middle School took first place, Chancellorsville-1 was second and Chancellorsville-2 came in third. The team with the most “spirit” (Chancellorsville-3) won a cheerleading doll. The Warriors and The Soggy Bottoms shared the “most spectacular sinking award” — faucets. The Weather Freaks got an empty hourglass for having the boat that stayed out the longest with the worst time. And the We Love the ’80s crew went home with the “creativity” prize — yes, more duct tape.
“We wanted everyone to have fun,” said Jodie Early, Green Bay Marina recreation assistant. “That’s the main thing.”
But reputation also was on the line among the three USS Chancellorsville teams.
“It was about bragging rights — and we got those,” said Lt. Junior Grade Mitch Boltz.
And vengeance fed the two teams from U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, as the losers were on the hook for a meal for the winning corpsman.
“We thought it would be a morale booster,” said Chief Petty Officer Adriana Vallejo.
Alas, the Soggy Bottom team from Fleet Imaging lived up to its name, sinking seconds after setting sail.
“I was responsible for the design and I had hoped to paddle it,” said 2nd Class Petty Officer John Beeman. “We sunk before I even had a chance.”
This was the first Build-A-Boat race in Yokosuka but likely won’t be the last. “We want to do this every year,” Early said.