Merced County Times Newspaper
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It’s Time To Finish Work On Noah’s Ark

John Derby
John Derby

There was a reason why I bought the Rag Doll — a 29-foot wood sailboat in the 1990s.

God, in his infinite wisdom, has just let me know.

The boat, originally built in Sweden in 1959, was transported to the United States by men whose ancestors must have been Vikings. The Rag Doll was solid, built out of African Mahogany over a Birch wood frame, and it could have made it across the ocean; however, in all likelihood the boat came across the Atlantic on the back of a freighter.

When I trailered her from San Francisco to Merced and launched her in Lake Yosemite, it was a mistake. She was used to the water of San Francisco Bay. The salt preserved the wood, but the fresh water of the valley rotted the hull.

If that wasn’t bad enough, two jet-ski crazies were drunk driving on the lake, and the jet ski they were riding went airborne and flew right into the boat, making a big hole in the bow. They almost killed themselves in the offing.

So this was how the Rag Doll happened to be dry docked in Merced County almost 20 years ago. Work was done to patch the hole and replace the birch ribs with oak; however, its bottom was to never see water again.

For years, she sat on its trailer beside the house. Work on the Rag Doll continued at a slow pace. One hundred and forty brass screws were used to secure the new oak frame in place. Every week a neighbor, who didn’t like seeing the Rag Doll in front of his house, called the city to complain. The Rag Doll had to be moved two or three feet in one direction or the other to prevent from getting a city code violation.

Finally the Rag Doll was moved to a boat barn in Winton where she was covered, and work on her dragged on at an even slower pace.

Offers to find a new owner failed to find any takers. One person added insult to injury when he said his plan was to make an office out of her.

We even considered painting it red, white and blue, and entering it in the Atwater July 4th Parade. It would have been better than watching it rot.

Then God let us know the true purpose for saving the Rag Doll. It appears there is going to be another great flood — the likes of the one in which Noah was involved.

The Rag Doll was to be our ark.

Obviously, there are space limitations with the Rag Doll’s 29 feet of deck. There might be room for one or two people. As far as animals, a small Chihuahua, might fit, a couple of birds, a squirrel, and a mouse. Not much else.

I’m hoping the flood would not last too long as the rice and beans will run out.

The hull still needs a little work. Maybe a week or two will do if we go to work right now.

We are taking reservations for the one other crew member.

Must know how to swim.

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