Here’s a picture of me on The Shackleton. THE BOAT I BUILT IN MY GARAGE!

I took her out today, and she ran great. With a pair of fresh spark plugs, the 40HP Johnson motor took her to a speed of about 30 to 35 MPH — plenty fast. I had three adults and two kids in her and she was tipped back pretty well — but she easily lifted out of the water and planed. I might need to put some weight in the front to help balance her out. She corners really well and is incredibly maneuverable. All in all, a pleasure to pilot.

A little water leaked into the bottom, but I think it was just from one of my drain plugs not being tight enough — just need to buy a new one from the Wal-Mart. The other one I got from there worked better than the drain plug I bought from the boat supply store.

Tomorrow, I’m going out on Lake Allatoona with my two kids and an old friend from the Jackson Clarion-Ledger and his three kids. We’re gonna put a raft on The Shackleton and tow the kids around. Should be a lot of fun.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll tow the boat to North Carolina and tool around the intercoastal waterway near Wilmington, NC. I’ll leave her there for the next three years. When I come back from the Middle East and visit my family in North Carolina, I’ll have a boat to enjoy while there. Plus, I’ve got a sister- and brother-in-law who should enjoy the boat with their family.

I’ll probably write up some final comments about the entire project later. Right now, I’m just going to enjoy this moment of utter satisfaction.