The Pirate Ship Collins

My son’s birthday has, since the 1st, been celebrated with a significant amount of effort and excitement. It happens to fall right at the end of the summer, right before school starts, and very near to Molly’s birthday. As a result we usually end up with a yard/house full of people. We have also ended up with new structures in our yard…

For his 5th birthday, he settled on a music themed party (the “Punk Rock, Rock Punk” party). For this one, we built a low stage, dragged various instruments out into the yard, and shaved some heads:




We even had a visit from the last remaining member of the Mongrel Bitch fan club:

Yup... that's Grandpa.

For the 6th, a pirate-themed party, we went a little further, and built a pirate ship in the back yard, complete with cargo nets for storage, old sheets and velcro for the hull, and a sweet engraved bell from the god-parents:

1/2 way through the cleanup

This was awesome, and served for 3 more summers (Rockets & Robots, and Explorers, then we switch to sleepovers). Then, this spring, my daughter came in with the bad news: There was a hole in the pirate ship. It seems the choice to use untreated plywood for the deck (a decision made in the interest of expediency) had not been the most durable. The Pirate Ship Collins was now the Plague Ship Collins, and the kids were not allowed to play on it.

A few weeks later, planning to strip off the rotted deck and install a new and proper one, I discovered that a number of the structural pieces had begun to rot as well. Now we were looking at a total rebuild, and if you’re going to bother to rebuild, why not redesign? Once I got the Plague Ship stripped to its bones:

Man, it was sunny that day

I took some measurements, Collected some requirements from the administrative committee (Molly), and whipped out the large moleskine I’d been saving for a good project. Between my paper sketches and Google SketchUp, I managed to cobble together a reasonable plan for rebuilding that would add a second level, a climbing wall, and monkey bars.

backyard play equipment.png

The implementation has included some changes from the initial sketch, but the spirit of it is still alive. Well, the party was 2 weeks ago, and I didn’t quite get it all done. but what was ready was very well used.

Still lot's to do, but it was playable... though not the safest piece of equipment ever

Michael raised the point that I need to add a roof of some sort, and I have a plan for that. In the mean time, we had another bunch of people over to celebrate Enkutatash today. Here’s the current status:

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Molly stained and sealed everything this week, so all of the untreated wood went on yesterday and today, as did all of the rope and netting, the back, and the steering wheel. The netting was salvaged from the previous incarnation of the “ship,” and the central rope “railing” is temporary. The back of the structure is fit with climbing holds (you can see the extra bits of scrap I had to use to back them, and the piece I used for the back was too thin to support them well). The wheel was stripped, stained, and finished, but came from the original ship. You can see the bell mounted there, as well.

So, we’re getting there. Next up: Cargo net, climbing rope, permanent center rail, cannon.