“Hi Dad! Happy Father’s Day! Guess what? … I bought a boat!
What? Did I hear you right? You bought a boat? You’re kidding, right?
No, I bought a boat, motor and trailer for only 900 bucks!
Really? Does it run? I can’t believe you bought a boat! Tell me about it”…
“It’s a 15ft 1960 Dorsett, designed by Raymond Loewy, one of my favorite designers! It’s turquoise but it’s been repainted so I will sand that off and repaint the original turquoise. It needs a lot of work but it’s so adorable – I talked them down because the floor is completely rotten!”
In a moment like this, it makes you realize what you’ve accomplished as a father. In her younger years, I instilled in her heart the love of boating, of taking something old and worn out and making it new again, of working with her hands and the feelings of accomplishment those give you.
My wonderfully creative, artistic, mechanically-minded daughter, after struggling with her industrial design career in the poor economy following graduation; used her first chunk of discretionary income to buy something that she really wanted. And the first thing she wanted was a boat to fix up. It’s a time like this that any dad gets a little emotional.
2013 was truly my best Father’s Day ever. Now in her mid-thirties, Laura lives in San Francisco, where she is a successful designer and fabricator. She has the vision and creativity that is needed; plus she works with more tools than I’ve ever heard of, to build many varied products for her clients.
The Dorsett, named Patina, is always being worked on in her head and countless shop hours have been invested in reality. So far the rotten floor and transom have been replaced after repairing serious hull cracks and reinforcing the entire inner hull. The new floor surface has been glassed in and filled with floatation foam and new seats are mounted, after being salvaged from another hulk.
And of course dear old dad has been bragging to his friends about his accomplished daughter, asking them for help. When Laura was home at Christmas, Dick Dow let us sort through his collection of era-appropriate deck hardware and contributed some wonderful pieces to Patina’s new look. Rob DaPron contributed advice on foam and finishing.
She also picked up the windshield that I helped make for her, thanks to my friend Skip at Middy Plastics. We found a couple of Dorsett molds, but not the right ones. So we made it from scratch based on a deck template that Laura sent us. That was her Christmas present. She is currently debating whether to roll and tip the new paint or get it sprayed. Just like us, she works on it as she has time and extra money!
She’s considering replacing the Johnson outboard, and has tuned up the trailer while the boat was off it for stringer work. I’ll go to San Francisco and help with painting or at least the final hardware installation, to continue the cycle of our dad and daughter relationship.
Thanks Laura, it’s because of you that this day is so special!
My Dad asked me to contribute a few words for this Fathers’ Day article. I just want to thank him for his patience and generosity with the time and love he’s shared in support of so many of my ridiculous projects, not least of which is this boat restoration. It’s because of him I learned to explore the world of fabrication and building, for both joy and livelihood. I think his kindness and that of the friends that surround him shine through in this little article, as they’ve all been incredibly generous with my project. I love you Dad – by next Fathers’ Day, I promise we’ll be going for a boat ride in a finished Patina! Laura Stevenson