The boat Möve by Karsten Rist

The boat “Moeve”

Our property in Langendorf was about six acres in size. Three acres made up the lower portion and reached to the street which wound its way through the village of Langendorf. The next acre was a steep slope, the natural edge of the Biele river flood plain. Then there were two flat acres again on top. Most all of the land was planted in apple trees with a few pears, cherries and plums for variety. There were also large stands of raspberries, gooseberries, red currants and strawberries. At the bottom of the slope were three large, rectangular, excavated ponds. The largest perhaps 30ft by 60ft in size. These ponds were frog heaven and on some summer nights the concerts of the frogs could be almost deafening. Our house stood on the upper edge of the slope, overlooking the village.


My friend Eric and I were very interested in the seafaring life. What we really needed was a boat on this shimmering pond. We went to the sawmill’s yard and found some beautiful, wide boards, just perfect to saw into pieces and make a simple boat. We took the boards to the old barn but before our saw ever touched the first board our plan was discovered. The boards went back to the lumber yard.


The next best thing we could find in the barn was an old shipping crate, may be two feet wide by three feet long. It had some visible gaps between the boards. We thought we could cure this deficiency by nailing some scrap boards over the gaps. We christened our ship “Moeve”, the German word for seagull. We borrowed this name from a beautiful four masted schooner, a training ship for the German navy. Now we were ready to launch our own training ship. Our box leaked like a sieve and would have sunk had it not been made out of wood. Eric’s aunt, a young woman who lived with Eric’s family, suggested that we go to the local carpenter and get a ball of putty to smear into all the cracks. That was good advice and worked perfectly. The only problem was that the putty tended to soften when soaked in water for an extended time. So we let our crate dry out and then painted the putty with some green oil paint which we found in the barn. That did it! The green striped box was not pretty but it was water tight.


We quickly fashioned a pair of simple paddles and launched the Moeve. We paddled around our pond one at a time, since both of us did not readily fit into the crate together. The frogs had great respect for our boat. They stopped calling and dove for cover whenever we approached. Our crate could not compete in the category of looks with the schooner Moeve but it allowed us to explore every corner of the pond and served its purpose faithfully. The imagination of two nine year old boys made up for what reality did not have to offer.

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