First came LaBoata. Now meet …
It’s the latest nautical wonder from the ever-churning mind of Spokane’s beloved boat-car czar, Tim Lorentz.
I dropped by the Lorentz South Hill homestead the other day to check out LaFloata, an actual 1980s speedboat that my friend has permanently moored in his backyard swimming pool.
“It’s cool. It’s art. It’s an engineering feat,” promised Lorentz, who teaches high school at the Newtech Skill Center.
Before we got to the backyard, however, Lorentz paused at the stern of LaBoata, which was parked in his circular driveway.
By now, many of you have probably seen LaBoata cruising around Spokane from time to time.
If not, picture a 1976 Apollo speedboat that has been expertly gutted like a tuna and then placed over a 20-year-old Chrysler LeBaron convertible for a perfect fit.
The sight of a speedboat cruising the streets evokes reactions ranging from gap-jawed astonishment to hoots of laughter.
Fingers point. Cellphones snap photos.
“I’ve never had anybody come up and tell me they were angry that I put a boat on a convertible,” said Lorentz. “It’s just a fun thing that people enjoy.”
So you’d think this would be enough to satisfy a normal man.
Hah! Lorentz is as far from normal as Spangle is from the Atlantic Ocean.
At the flick of switch, Lorentz can now shoot a 30-foot stream of water out of the boat-car’s outdrive propellers.
By installing a tail-end windshield washer, Lorentz has essentially turned LaBoata into a giant rolling squirt gun.
“People love it when I spray their windshields,” laughed Lorentz.
Well, most people love it.
There was this one “old guy who chased me for a while,” said Lorentz, who added that the spray might’ve got him a little through his open driver’s window.
Yeah. That’d do it.
To some, this might sound sophomoric and possibly dangerous.
But consider the benefits to taxpayers.
In the event of a brush fire, Lorentz can back LaBoata up to the blaze and, um, whiz it out.
Lorentz is a hard guy to figure.
Is he an artist? Is he an inventor? Or is he just a 59-year-old juvenile delinquent?
As Kathy, his wife of 28 years, said: Being married to Lorentz “demands that I wear a life preserver every day just to stay afloat.”
Yes, and what is it with this man’s obsession with boats?
“I’m just a little dinghy,” Lorentz quipped.
Spray demonstration concluded, we traipsed through his spacious home to the backyard deck facing the circular pool.
And there it was, a cool blue-and-white Crestliner.
The speedboat appeared to be floating on the water directly across from us.
Another illusion, he explained.
Lorentz said he had this deep desire “to put a boat in a swimming pool.”
Aside from maybe thinking her husband was nuttier than a Payday, Kathy worried the boat would take up too much room or that kids might get hurt on it.
Not to worry. Lorentz said he would work out all the bugs and vowed to not spend a lot of money.
Sure enough, he found the boat for sale in Montana for just 100 bucks, trailer included.
Then he carefully cut a slot in it to fit the curved edge of the swimming pool. Walk behind it and you can see how LaFloata is suspended and anchored firmly into the ground by posts.
The boat never touches the pool. It’s also sturdy enough to climb aboard and relax in the bow, which I did.
This is my idea of Zen boating.
No life jacket required. The outboard motor doesn’t work, which really cuts down on the noise factor.
Plus you can drink without worrying about some lake cop motoring up and giving you a ticket.
“It’s not going anywhere,” said Lorentz, who joined me.
“Perfect,” I told him. “Going nowhere is what I do best.”
Lorentz peered down at the gaping hole that opens into the pool water for swimmers. “This was such a nice boat before I destroyed it,” he said.
I had to ask.
Lorentz made LaBoata. Now he’s got LaFloata.
“So what’s next? Where does he go from here?”
“I don’t know,” answered Lorentz after a short pause. “Probably divorce.”