The expression “whatever floats your boat” didn’t quite ring true last month at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory.
Sure, the fifth annual event on Sept. 24 was called the “Whatever Floats Your Boat Regatta,” but seeing how everything was made from salvaged junk, held together with spit and glue, staying afloat was not a foregone conclusion. By no means.
“It’s a little bit embarrassing that sometimes we fail, but we learn from it,” said Alison Johnson, outreach coordinator at FSUCML.
“If the duct tape stayed it would have worked,” said Sarah Steele, of the “Seamen-Noles,” a team from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, who put together a pontoon looking watercraft made from wood from old palettes, a bicycle gear system, cardboard, nails, shipping packaging, and of course duct tape.
Setting sail together with Ali Mir, Alonzo Perez and T.J. Bohne, theirs lasted about 17 minutes in the water.
Jeffrey LaChappelle, a third grade teacher at the C.O.A. S. T. Charter School in St. Marks, tried to make a go of it after one of his oars snapped, as he beat against the current in his class’ masterpiece.
“The oars didn’t stand up to the pressure, but we gave a valiant effort. My plan B didn’t work,” he said. “This is what happens when you’re a third grade teacher and your kids start designing boats for you.”
LaChappelle’s colleague, Amanda Gaines, took on the regatta challenge as a way of teaching her students about recycling materials.
“I’m crazy and she’s preggers,” said LaChappelle, who worked to build the watercraft together with the school’s music teacher Nick Hughes.
Hughes raised debris outside a golf pro shop for the wood he used, and based on the look of many of the other 11 watercraft in the regatta, such scavenging was widespread.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers used leftover plexiglas sheets, reclaimed 2 x 4s, reused deck screws and leftover silicon caulk to put together the seafaring vessel for their “Bringing Plexi Back” team. They took third place.
Runner-up honors went to “SWE’s Revenge,” the team of the Society of Women Engineers, who built theirs from plastic bottles, recycled yard trimmings and tape.
The winner was the Cenotaph team of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Their boat was made of concrete. No further explanation was provided, or even necessary.
The Newhall and Bates families’ team Pool Liner not only took fourth place, but won the trophy for most creative use of materials. This was because they built their yacht from a steel door, dog kennel fencing, wood from a treehouse, an old pool cover and lining, and poles.
The Titanic Award for Most Spectacular Failure went to Craig's Revenge, from FSU’s Office of Proposal Development. Theirs was made from four 55-gallon plastic drums, a plastic truck bed liner, and used pieces of wood. It didn’t last long in the water.
The People's Choice went to the Boy Scouts’ Rubadub team, who made theirs out of fiberglass.
Kathy Houck served as master of ceremonies, while Peter Marxsen, Jim Muller and Rhonda Work were honorary judges. The Tourist Development Council was among the event’s sponsors.