Marek's boat

Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic School eighth grade student, Cassidy Marek, tests her handmade profile boat while her father, Jeremy Marek, center, and brother, Maddux Marek, look on. The boat was a project normally completed at school. (Contributed photo)

Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic School eighth grade student Cassidy Marek, 13, refused to let the COVID-19 pandemic stand in her way of an OLG Mariner annual school project to set sail on the water.

For the last several years, OLG Mariners seventh grade students, with the help of teachers, staff, and former Calhoun County Marine Agent with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office, Rhonda Cummins, lived up to their namesake and constructed their own profile boats to set sail in local waters. The project was canceled at school this year due to the pandemic and online education.

“I wanted to build a boat like I had seen the older kids do every year at OLG because it seemed like a lot of fun,” Cassidy said. “I was looking forward to the boat project, and I was sad to miss out since we couldn’t be in class.”

Cassidy’s mother, Amanda Marek, said she and her husband, Port Lavaca Fire Department Captain Jeremy Marek, were also looking forward to the annual boat project with their daughter.

“Due to COVID, the kids were at home doing remote learning, and we decided to do a project together to pass some time,” said Amanda. “I had mentioned one day to Ms. Cummins that I had been looking forward to Cassidy doing this project at school, and she shared her directions with me in a PDF document.”

The Marek family used the plans provided by Cummins. A 4’x8’ sheet of corrugated plastic board and PVC pipe is used as a frame to support the sides. They added another piece of plywood to the bottom for additional support. Other materials included thin rope, nuts, bolts, and washers. The family constructed an oar from a cut 5-gallon bucket attached to PVC pipe with nuts and bolts. The boat took approximately four hours to complete. Cassidy helped her father with measuring and cutting the materials and while the whole family took part in folding the plastic board to shape the boat.

“We launched the boat in a family friend’s pool,” said Amanda. “Both Cassidy and her 9-year-old brother, Maddux, took turns paddling the boat across the pool and back to the shallow side. We were surprised at how well it floated.”

A free Ken Simpson design was the basis of the plans used. Plans to make the profile boat made by the Marek family are available at https://www.portableboatplans.com.