We started the Dutch Safari Company for two reasons. 1) We wanted to find a way to stay on safari all the time, and help other people do the same and 2) we wanted to be able to afford a boat. We grew up in the Sacramento Delta, where summer days were spent on the lake or the river. When my father finally trusted us to take out our family boat on our own, we'd go out and attempt to catch giant salmon, contemplate the prehistoric sturgeon dinosaurs patrolling the river bottom, and plan an expedition to follow the Sacramento River upstream as far as it was possible to go.
Fast forward four years. My father just sold his boat. Although we never discussed the boat ending up in my possession, just the possibility, just the knowledge that the boat was there was enough. But all of a sudden, the only boat in our lives was gone and what was once a casual pastime of browsing the Craigslist boat sections became a mission. After only about 30 minutes, I found it. The boat. Our boat. A 1950 Yellow Jacket Capri. It was 1) old 2) wooden and therefore a pain in the ass and slightly unpractical, and 3) had a cool history. Sounded right up our alley.
The following week, we drove the four hours up north to a little town outside of Lake Dallas, where we were greeted by Del, possibly the nicest man on the planet. Del is exactly who you hope to buy a classic vehicle from. He's restored boats all of his life, and had completed about 90% of the Yellow Jacket. Just needed a little varnish, really. He wanted it to go to someone who really appreciated it, and before we even talked numbers he announced he had knocked $500 off the price because he could tell when we'd spoken on the phone that I had researched the history of Yellow Jacket and that we were beyond excited. We inspected the boat, putted around his yard, looked through some of his old photos, and made a deal.
Del said he had a friend who could help us out with the boat paperwork, and proceeded to go into his garden and picks a bagful of green tomatoes to serve as payment for said paperwork. We made plans to meet up with him in a few months so he could come out on the boat with us, and we drove back to Austin happy as can be, thinking "How bad could a little varnish be? We''ll be on the water in no time."
Things we learned:
1) boats are expensive
2) there is a reason people don't restore boats in the South in the middle of summer
3) there is a reason boat makers switched to fiberglass
4) ants quite enjoy the taste of 65 year old mahogany plywood
5) if you're doing one coat of varnish, you might as well do two and if you're doing two coats of varnish you might as well do 12
5) none of that matters because we have a wooden boat
One month, a whole lot of late nights in the shop, and a massacre of ants later, it's ready. We take it to the nearest boat launch, and lo and behold, she floats. The life aquatic is definitely for us. Back to dreams of giant salmon and river expeditions.