PELL CITY — They were big and small, colorful and dark, and some of the entries — and contestants — were just down right imaginative in this year’s Float Yer Boat Regatta.
“At least it will look good going down,” said one woman as she admired the Curtis White Company of Leeds pirate ship. “It’s a first-time entry. We’ll see what happens.”
Little faith the woman had as the Curtis White Company's “The White Pearl,” took to the warm waters of Logan Martin Lake Saturday.
Joe White said the construction of "The White Pearl" was for his 79-year-old mother.
He said they worked on the boat one full day and then every afternoon for two weeks.
“My mom has been coming to these races every year,” Joe said. “She said I had to have a boat this year, so we’ve done this for her.”
And what a magnificent boat it was.
“I’ve been trying to get them to enter for the past five years,” said Betty White. “I even collected cardboard one year.”
She said there was a lot more to building a cardboard boat than she thought.
Betty was also a little worried about the crew.
“They never paddled before, so the boat may be known as ‘The Sinking Pearl’ instead of ‘The White Pearl,’” she said. “This is a green crew.”
To her surprise, the crew not only kept the boat afloat, but they were able to paddle their way to a first-place finish in one of the large boats business categories.
“Some of the entries this year were so creative,” said Karen Bain, who helped spearheaded efforts for the Pell City Civitan Club’s Seventh Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta.
The WKW Erbsloeh North American “ship,” not boat, caught the attention of many of the 300-plus spectators who gathered at Lakeside Park to watch this year’s cardboard boat races.
“That’s Captain Black,” said Claudia Federschmid as she pointed to a brightly colored parrot perched on the bow of the long, black cardboard boat. “I like the cannons out on the sides there.”
The boat, “Tipsey” looked like the dark, black colored ghost ship you would see in a pirate movie, drifting in a thick fog. The boat had three tall masts with ragged, windblown sails.
Of course, the cardboard boat came equipped with the standard “skull and cross bones,” painted on the stern of the vessel.
At the start of their race, “Tipsey” almost did just that.
A big “Oh,” was heard from the crowd as the WKW Erbsloeh boat tipped to one side, but somehow the fearless crew saved the ghost ship from going to the grave at the bottom of the lake.
The crowd cheered as the crew paddled the large vessel forward.
Before it was all over the masts of “Tipsey” couldn’t take the sudden gale force winds across the lake. The crew did complete a challenge round, minus sails, for yet another ghostly trip across the lake.
“It took five weeks to build it, and five minutes to trash it,” joked Bob Griffin with Wolf Creek Creations, who helped paddle the “Tipsey” in Saturday’s fun-filled competition.
One entry, the Caterpillar Dirty Girlz, a replica Caterpillar road scraper, came complete with a smokestack that actually had a plume of smoke coming from it. The smoke drifted across the lake as four ladies paddled toward the white buoy marker.
Patt High of Wedowee said the Dirty Girlz participate in a cardboard regatta at Lake Wedowee, and their group has started competing in other area cardboard regattas to promote and help raise money for the Randolph County Animal Shelter.
She said their boat has actually held up for about 10 trips on the water, and she’s hoping the boat will continue to float for a while longer so they don’t have to build another vessel soon.
“Do you know how much beer I have invested in that boat?” High said. “This is just a wonderful event.”
There were a lot more children participating in this year’s regatta.
“That’s what we want,” Bain said.
The Duran Junior High School pre-engineering group finished their spin around the lake in dramatic fashion, winning The Titanic Award for the most dramatic sinking. That was before they claimed a first-place finish. A couple of other boats also sank, including second-place Titanic Award finisher Cedar Grove Baptist Church, but most entries proved seaworthy in Saturday’s event.
Other youth entries included second-place finisher Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church and third-place winner Pell City’s First United Methodist Church. St. Simon Peter Episcopal Church had two youth teams in Saturday’s races.
A group of children sat at the top of the boat ramp as a young boy paddled a camouflage boat.
“Go camo, go camo, go camo,” they chanted.
Everyone appeared to have fun, and even dressed for the special occasion.
Matt Peterson and Chad Cummings of Birmingham had their children dressed up like Tom Selleck of Magnum PI. The children, who wore mustaches and colorful Hawaiian flowered shirts, were raring to go in their red Ferrari cardboard boat.
Last year, the group dressed like the characters on "Gilligan’s Island," who were marooned on an island.
“We aren’t going to beat anybody paddling, so we feel like we will go for the showmanship,” Peterson said.
The group represented Huffstutler Furniture in Homewood.
Organizers said everyone walked away from the event as winners helping raise money for a good cause, the Toys for Children program.
In the general business category, Wier Grading and Paving of Wedowee placed first, and the Springville Civil Air Patrol collected a third-place finish in Saturday’s cardboard boat regatta.
In the individual entries category, Cornelis Collee of Wedowee captured a first-place medal with his boat “The Lady Bug.” Collee had the second fastest overall time of the event, finishing with a time of 1 minute, 20 seconds on the short course.
The Daily Home newspaper captured first place in the business single-boater category, recording the fastest time of the day for the second year in a row. The flaming orange and yellow Daily Home Coosa Kayak finished the course in 1 minute, 7 seconds.
Bain said this year’s event was bigger and better than the year before, and she hopes the Pell City Civitan Club’s Cardboard Boat Regatta will continue to grow.
“We need to raise $20,000 and with the economy the way it is, we need all the help we can get,” Bain said, adding that the Toys for Children program helped 700 children last year.
She said donations to the Toys for Children program can be made at Metro Bank.
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.