When the Ship hits the fan...

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Blog entry by NoLongerHere posted 08-29-2014 01:34 AM 3365 reads 2 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Have any of you ever made one of these old ships?

Maybe your dad built one in the basement and you helped him work on it.


Geez….. I just remembered this,

One time, we were remodeling a basement for a nice elderly couple.

He had a hobby work area in the utility room with a work bench covered with all kinds of dusty stuff :
hardware, tools, glue and paint, little jars of screws and nails …. you name it.

The peg board behind the bench was packed with hand tools and misc. stuff hanging in no particular order.
There was a 4 ft. shop light above which was always on because he couldn’t reach the outlet.

And, right in the middle of the bench sat this incredible handmade wooden ship.

The elderly man had been working on it for years, making each piece by hand.

He was just finishing the ropes and sails when we arrived to tear everything out and rework the floor plan, including his work bench and wall of tools.

It was his wife’s idea to remodel the basement.

He wore the same clothes he had in the 60s and said, ”I thought the basement was fine the way it was.”
I assured him we would take care of moving the bench and peg board and he would end up with a bigger hobby room with better lighting.

A win, win for everyone!

.... so you would think.

But he hadn’t moved or boxed anything to prepare for the demolition. He seemed depressed and overwhelmed by the task and didn’t know where to start.

So, me and my apprentice grabbed some boxes and slowly packed everything with him while I described the new room and talked about my grandfather’s inventions.

He perked up and started telling me about his grandfather who also built handmade ships and before you knew it, we had everything boxed and his bench relocated and set up so he could continue working on the ship.

We even hooked up the 4 ft. light on a switch so he can see.

What a day!

We came in and finished gutting the basement, moved everything in the hobby room, got his work area set up, saved the elderly gentleman from freaking out and even got him to smile.

The wife didn’t even notice him – she was too busy picking out wall colors already …. ”Oh, he’ll be fine.”

The next day we came in and started framing the new walls. One of them butted in to an existing wall and when we nailed them together, ...... all of a sudden we heard a loud crash!

We ran around the corner to see what it was and there, upside down on the floor,

..... was his handmade wooden ship.

The night before, he was so excited with his new work area, he stayed up all night and finished the ship. Then, he set it on a crappy shelf he mounted, on the wall, we just nailed.

omg …. I thought the guy was gonna cry! ..... what a disaster.

He left the room and disappeared. The wife came down and I told her I could fix it.

She looked at me with doubt, like it was beyond repair but I assured her, I was a model ship builder too!

...... I CAN FIX IT!

She said, Go ahead, can’t hurt to try …... big sigh.

So, I sat up all night, stringing fishing line from my drawing table light fixture to the masts to hold them while they dried. I reworked the ropes, repaired the busted railing, touched up the varnish and had it ready for delivery by day break.


The next morning,

We had to beg him to come down and help us with a decision on the new floor plan. He dragged his feet and pretended to care as we took him around the room, discussing the details.

Then, we took him into his hobby room, and ….. you’d think we were going into a funeral home.

He didn’t want to see it.

I took him by the shoulders and slowly turned him to see his repaired handmade ship,

sitting on a bigger shelf with a light above it, .... looking like a million bucks.

He had such a big smile. I thought his false teeth were going to pop out! .... HA!


He loved it! ............... I did good.

Afterwards, we took the ship and put it upstairs so it wouldn’t get damaged again.

..... and I went home and took a long, well deserved nap!

16 comments so far

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3154 days

#1 posted 08-29-2014 02:05 AM

parts of this story disappeared when I posted it. 95 readers only saw half of it….. that sucks.
sometimes, I think computers hate me.

View patron's profile


13650 posts in 3819 days

#2 posted 08-29-2014 02:11 AM

great save mark

and a sweet story
made everyones day better

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View DIYaholic's profile


19848 posts in 3153 days

#3 posted 08-29-2014 03:15 AM

Great job….
“Raising” a shipwreck!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Tugboater78's profile


2788 posts in 2670 days

#4 posted 08-29-2014 12:24 PM

That’s pretty awesome

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View stefang's profile


16712 posts in 3812 days

#5 posted 08-29-2014 12:49 PM

Great story Mark. You did real good. I can’t even image how that old man felt when he saw his damaged ship.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View ChuckV's profile


3228 posts in 4005 days

#6 posted 08-29-2014 12:59 PM

That is a wonderful story and a wonderful memory for you. Thank you for posting this – reading it was a great way to start my day.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View sras's profile


5155 posts in 3607 days

#7 posted 08-29-2014 02:34 PM

What a great story!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View oldnovice's profile


7498 posts in 3846 days

#8 posted 08-29-2014 04:48 PM

Great story! I have always admired model ship builders or, in this case re-builders!

When I was 9 or 10 years old my parents went to visit a farming couple down the road from us and they had a hand made ship, of the same era as the one pictured, that was made by their farm hand. The farm hand was a German POW who after the war moved to Canada but left the ship as a gift. According to the owners, the only tool he had was an army knife.

At the Maker Fair I saw model makers that were making models of WWII ships but, in my opinion, they were cutting corners (actually using modern technology) by making molds to reproduce many identical pieces.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2485 days

#9 posted 08-29-2014 07:04 PM

Dude … YOU ROCK!

Thanks for sharing that. What a wonderful story of human compassion

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3154 days

#10 posted 08-29-2014 11:33 PM

Hey, thanks guys.

My wife read this and said, “Oh yea, I remember that. I couldn’t believe you stayed up all night and fixed it!”

I told you I can fix it.

View Mean_Dean's profile


6982 posts in 3625 days

#11 posted 08-30-2014 12:15 AM

Well I gotta say, that’s a wonderful story! If I had wrecked this guy’s ship, I couldn’t live with myself…....! Fortunately you were able to repair it and make it whole again. And you’re right—that ship does deserve to be proudly displayed upstairs where everyone can admire it!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View Woodbutchery's profile


424 posts in 4063 days

#12 posted 08-30-2014 01:27 PM

That was a fine story. Brought a tear to the eye, it did.

I’m in the beginning stages of working on a plastic model of the USS Constitution, and the reality of the number of hours that I’m going to be spending JUST ON THE RIGGING hit in yesterday when I spent two hours just rigging the cannon on the port side of the gun deck and haven’t finished, yet.

You did a fine job of making another person happy. Good work!

-- Making scrap with zen-like precision - Woodbutchery

View MadJester's profile


2065 posts in 2908 days

#13 posted 09-17-2014 02:11 PM

What a very sweet story…thanks for sharing it here…:D

-- Sue~ Mad Jester Woodworks, "Not what I have, but what I do is my kingdom" Thomas Carlyle

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3344 days

#14 posted 09-17-2014 02:34 PM

I love my wife and have been married to her for 42 years. We were also childhood sweet hearts before that. However, if my wife ever came into my shop one day and said that she was going to redecorate my shop and/or move it my eyes would turn red and smoke would start coming out of my ears and finally my top would blow.. Of course she’s always telling me how set in my ways I am so she knows not to ever take up some kind of foolish notion such as that.

However, I will say that ya’ll did it in a nice way and I’m glad that you got him all set back up. That was probably a terrible trauma to him.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View hotncold's profile


787 posts in 2022 days

#15 posted 09-17-2014 02:56 PM

What a great story! I hope every LJ has a chance to read it!

-- Dennie - Tennessee

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