Ken’s Lake may only be 30 percent full, but on Saturday, June 15 there will be a race.
All the contestants will have built their own boats – made of cardboard and duct tape.
The tradition began in 2010 when the Children’s Library at the Grand County Public Library
had the summer reading theme “Make a Big Splash.”
Children’s librarian Charlotte Hurley wanted to host a fun day celebrating in the water and proposed the cardboard boat race. Three contestants arrived with boats made of cardboard. On the shore were an additional 60 people cheering the racers on.
“Chris Prentice made a dragon boat,” Hurley said. “His team came dressed as Vikings.”
In 2011 there were 13 boats competiting and more than 200 people came to watch the race.
Prentice showed up again. This time he and his team did a replica of the boat from the movie “Waterworld”.
“They even had the little dying tomato plant,” Hurley said.
The lake was full and the sun was shining during the 2011 race.
“So many people were there having fun.” Hurley said.“We were able to meet the goal I set: to have a really fun activity that was out of the ordinary that wasn’t a fundraiser and could bring families together.”
She said that the Moab LDS First Ward elder’s quorum built a boat that allowed eight men to ride it at once.
“They still have the boat,” Hurley said. “They made it really good.”
She helped build a boat with the Moab LDS First Ward young women’s organization. They made one mistake; they wanted to make it a bright color and used oil-based spray paint.
“The paint collapsed the cell walls in the cardboard that let it float,” Hurley said. “As soon as they got in the water it fell apart.”
That didn’t stop the teenaged girls from racing, though. Each took a piece of cardboard and swam to the buoys.
They were awarded the “Best Titantic Impersonation”.
A cardboard boat race was planned in 2012, but due to low water conditions and dying fish on shore, it was canceled.
“We thought it would be a health risk,” Hurley said.
This year the race was moved to June from August, with the hope of higher water and that it could be advertised to students before school ended for the year.
Four boats are now registered for the race so far. While official registration ended June 1, Hurley said she’ll be lenient. She will take late-registration as long as she knows by Friday evening in order to make sure she has enough paddles and lifejackets for everyone.
“World Wide Expeditions donates,” she said.
Hurley helped children build cardboard boats this spring in the BEACON Afterschool program with fellow librarian Constance Shambo.
The children made models using paper, foil and milk cartons and tested the designs in a kiddie pool.
Two boats have been made. One is the Rainbow Dash. The other is the Monitor II, which has a snake tongue on the front.
“They ended up with glue all over them,” Hurley said.
Only cardboard and corrugated cardboard may be used in the construction of the boats. Duct tape, packing tape, liquid nail adhesive and contact or rubber cement are okay to use.
Decorations not involved in the floatation of the craft may be made of any material.
Hurley has websites and books that may be helpful in the design of the boat.
When she builds boats she uses makes “lumber” out of the cardboard by gluing several layers of cardboard in a criss-cross fashion.