Ever since Little K got a Playmobil set with a child and a pond boat, she's wanted her own model boat. Lucky for us, the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle has a pond just for this purpose, and according to their website, every weekend they rent out boats for people to try. Before investing in a pond boat I wanted Little K to try it first. My hope was that she would satisfy her curiosity and move on to something else.
When we arrived that chilly first Saturday in January, the Pond was filled with boats, but it was a private club having a regatta. When we inquired at the Center for Wooden Boats, they admitted that their website was not up to date, and that the pond boating that was supposed to happen from 11am - 2pm each weekend was no longer happening, at least not until April. Little K was bitterly disappointed, and I gave them an earful for stating on their website that it happened EVERY weekend, year-round. They gave us a coupon to come back another time and rent one of their real boats for an hour, which helped perk up Little K.
We went back to the pond to watch the competition. We tried to make conversation with a few of the boaters, but it quickly became clear that they were in the midst of a very competitive race and were not in the mood for chatting. My dad got a business card from one of them, but that was it.
Some of the pond boaters had waterproof "muffs" in which to operate their remote controls. The boats don't have engines, they have remote controlled gears attached to rigging that pulls the sails in different directions to catch the wind. The boats are about 30" long and 5 feet tall factoring in mast and keel. Most pondboaters lovingly build their own boat, which takes about 50 hours using specialized tools, and several hundred dollars worth of materials. Too get an idea for how intense this process is, you can look at this.
Little K never got her hands on a remote control and didn't experience pond boating they way we'd hoped. We'll be back in April in hopes of participating in the hands-on sailing demonstration, assuming the Center for Wooden Boats actually starts it up again. I have mixed feelings about Little K taking this up as a hobby. It will be expensive, so she'll need to be really committed to it, so it will probably be something we make her use her own money toward.