Lost and Found

Misc. Article ...by Rudy Hilado



The Self Righting Boat is lost...a good samaritan returns it to it's owner!






ImageEarlier this year I had some friends visiting from out of town. They had heard about these little model gas boats that I play with and I wanted to let them have an opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. I took them up to the nearest running area, which is on the Potomac River near Point of Rocks, MD.


We had a great afternoon running a couple of my boats around the river, including my self-righting boat. Near the end of the day, I noticed that the self-righting boat was having some exhaust problems (o-rings were leaking) so I opted to run without the hatch to provide better ventilation (not a good idea, since it won't self-right without the hatch). One of my friends, now becoming more comfortable with the boat, was ripping around the river and managed to flip the boat in a tight turn.


The boat began to slowly fill with water as I hopped into my retrieval raft and trolled out to the capsized hull.


There had been rain a couple of days earlier and the Potomac was about 4 feet deep where we were running, but the water, which is typically gin clear, was now opaque as chocolate milk.


As I approached the boat I saw that the stern was completely submerged and the bow was pointing straight up. With the ventilation holes in the bow, the remaining air quickly rushed out and the boat quietly slipped beneath the surface, and was gone. It was swept away by the current of the river, concealed by the murkiness of the water.


ImageI had floatation inside the hull, but obviously it wasn't enough to keep the boat on the surface. Since I run my boats on a river, I had earlier decided to place a label in the boat that had my phone number. But I was sure the boat was permanently lost as a sunken relic of the Potomac.


Eight weeks passed. I resigned myself to believe that the boat is not coming back and I began to replace the lost parts.


In the two months since losing my boat, the water level of the river had dropped to the point where one could walk from shore to shore; it was only about 12 inches deep. A father and his young son were walking the riverImageImagefishing about 1/2 mile down river of Point of Rocks. They stumbled across my boat at the bottom of a deep depression in the riverbed.


The father reached down and pulled the boat up and a catfish that decided to make the hull it's home, suprisingly jumped out. The boat was covered in green slime and was heavy and awkward to carry. The father wanted to leave the boat, not looking forward to lugging the boat back to the car, but the son saw the phone number label in the hull. He reminded his father that the "right thing to do" was to call the number and try and return the boat to it's owner.


Early the next morning I received a phone call from a woman asking if I had lost a boat in the Potomac! I was stunned! I quickly ran out and picked up my lost boat. The boat looked pretty beat up. It was covered in grime and had a terrible stench from soaking in the river water. I thanked the family profusely for doing such a kind deed and shook the young man's hand, thanking him for "doing the right thing" (I also left him with a thank you note with a little gift in it).


ImageThe hull had significant damage to the left transom area. It looked like the stern was bouncing on the riverbed, pounding against the rocks. The other components of the boat looked pretty messy also, and some of the aluminum parts had quite a bit of corrosion on them.


Surprisingly, after cleaning up all the parts and taking the motor apart, I was able to save virtually everything from the boat. The only part I didn't reuse was the carburetor. The motor came out in really good shape. Although there was water in the case, none of the bearings had rusted. The receiver and servos are all functioning fine. I poured the water out of the cases and sprayed them with CorrosionX and they came back to life.


At some point I'll clean up the hull and rebuild it, but I've learned some valuable lessons; you can never have too much floatation in a boat (I recommend you do a full submersion test on your boat) and take the time to put your phone number somewhere inside your hull!



Special thanks to Cody and his family for their honesty and thoughtfulness!




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