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Homemade boat makes successful journey across Lake Ray Hubbard

Alex King, Sam Warren, Casey Scarborough and James Bovenkerk with their homemade boat. The crew made a successful crossing in the vessel from the Rowlett side of Lake Ray Hubbard to the SH 66 public boat ramp in Rockwall.

(ROCKWALL, TX — July 29, 2017) In the twilight hours of the morning on July 7, four local youths set out on a voyage across Lake Ray Hubbard with paddles, lifejackets and a boat they crafted entirely themselves.

James Bovenkerk (19) and his friends Sam Warren (19), Casey Scarborough (20) and Alex King (18) sat on ice chests and upturned buckets inside their homemade sea craft and paddled from the shoreline located close to their Rowlett neighborhood to the SH 66 Public Boat Ramp in Rockwall – a two-mile journey they made in a little under two hours.

“It was a really rewarding experience,” Bovenkerk said. “The coolest part was seeing all the fishermen on the lake marveling at our boat and asking us how we made it.”

The group constructed the boat using mostly PVC, a couple pieces of plywood and a tarp, all of which they bought at a local hardware store for $60. Scarborough said in their first attempt to make the boat, they used an old tarp found in Bovenkerk’s garage, which didn’t hold up well on their first attempt at crossing the lake on June 21; The boat started taking in water about 100 feet out due to a hole in the tarp. So, they went back to the drawing board.

After replacing the old tarp with a new one, and testing the boat in Scarborough’s swimming pool, the gang went back for round two on July 7 at 5:30 a.m. This time, the tarp held strong.

“It was definitely a good feeling when we saw that there was no water coming into the boat at 100 feet out,” said Warren, who added that the venture marked his first time on Lake Ray Hubbard.

As for what led them to want to take on this project, Bovenkerk offered a simple enough explanation. “The challenge made us want to do it,” he said.

Building the boat was the easy part for the young crew, who all attended Rockwall High School together. The hardest part, they agreed, was the two hours of paddling it took to reach shore. And should their boat begin to take in water far out from the shoreline, the general idea of a backup plan was to abandon ship and swim for land. But they had enough faith in their handiwork to know that wouldn’t be necessary this second time around.

“Our confidence never wavered. Once the boat was floating and no water was pouring in, we knew it was seaworthy,” King said.

Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.