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Boatmaking classes for Cardboard Boat Regatta under way

By Staff | Mar 29, 2018

The Cape Coral Cardboard Boat Regatta is back again for its 2018 annual homemade boat racing.

The event will be take place beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, at Four Freedoms Park.

The regatta is a family friendly event where families, businesses, and friends can build their own cardboard boat in the days leading up to the regatta, and showcase their makeshift creation during a race on the waters of Bimini Basin.

If you’ve never built a cardboard boat before, you’re in luck. Former Boat Regatta chairman Bill Shallbetter has opened up a boat making class every Wednesday evening leading up to the event.

“Its really not brain surgery,” said Shallbetter of the simplicity of cardboard boat making. “The boat we have will make it around a couple times.”

Shallbetter is opening a boatmaking class to the public to give pointers, and cardboard, to aspiring cardboard boat-makers. The boatmaking class hasn’t been opened to the public in years.

“This year I had to build a boat. So we decided we’ll have people come down and work with us,” he said.

Boatmaking is a great way for businesses and families to build something together.

“When you’re building a boat, you really get to know a group of people when you get together during an activity like that,” said Shallbetter.

Shallbetter says the simplest design to build a cardboard box is on the boat regatta website at www.capecoralregatta.com/boat-building-101.html.

He suggests to follow the instructions, but if you want to slap some cardboard together and paddle out, that’s not frowned upon either.

“People have done it; I think it’s fun. The simpler the better. Although some people have more fun going all out in the build phase rather than sinking. We’ve got people that design boats using computer programming that takes a couple of months. They make layouts, and have all the plans right down to the degree and quarter inch. Others draw out on paper, and build it.”

Shallbetter said members of the public should contact him if they want to work on their boats at his shop outside of the Wednesday boat making night.

“They do have extra boxes there. If anyone needs any extra boxes give me a call.

Participants are encouraged to begin making their boats if they haven’t already, as this is not a one-night project.

Since 1994, the Cardboard Boat Regatta has evolved from a private boat club event into a public extravaganza supporting the Cape Coral Rotary Club.

There will be beer, food vendors, and Lee County Supervisor of Elections real live polling booths, where the public can vote for their favorite boat.

To support local vendors, the Rotary Club has asked attendees to not bring coolers to the event.

The boatmaking class will be held in the building behind Quality Automotive at their at 876 Cape Coral Parkway East every Wednesday leading up to the April 21 event.

Call Shallbetter in advance of coming to the boat-making class at (239-565-5075, as classes are subject to change.

You can get free cardboard that is used to package solar energy panels at Advance Solar and Spa in Fort Myers at 2431 Crystal Crystal Drive, or call them at 239-939-7446.

Four Freedoms Park is at 4818 Tarpon Court.

Boat construction judging will begin at 9 a.m. while the event officially opens at 11 a.m.

Registration information can be found at www.capecoralregatta.com/register.html. If you pre-register by April 1, you will receive a discounted fee.