Ahoy, there! Any a’you landlubbers happen to spy a boat motoring through the downtown streets of the Lilac City on Friday afternoon? I’m guessing more than a thousand of you have photos and videos of it on your cell phones. Well, I was aboard that comely vessel with its creator, Tim Lorentz, at the wheel. I was the little buddy in the orange life jacket and a white sailor hat. Lorentz, 53, topped his noggin with a yachting cap that could have been pilfered out of Thurston Howell III’s clothes closet. He also sported a Navy dress coat that was adorned with about a yard of gold regal trim. Shiver me timbers! We pulled into Manito Park and asked befuddled pedestrians for directions to the duck pond boat ramp. We cruised past Pig Out in the Park, receiving astonished looks and cheers of appreciation. We moored at Sonic Drive-in for – what else? – floats. A cruise this classic deserved a soundtrack. Lorentz obliged with a CD cranking out tuneage like “Sea Cruise,” “Rock the Boat” and the themes to “Love Boat” and “Gilligan’s Island.” Arghh! This was the most fun I’ve had with my skivvies on. LaBoata. That’s the name Lorentz bestowed upon the bizarre merger of automobile and watercraft he completed just three weeks ago. Here’s what he did. Lorentz cut a car-shaped hole out of the belly of a cream-colored 1976 Apollo tri-hull. Then he fitted the boat over a white 1994 Chrysler LeBaron convertible. Apollo tri-hull – $100. LeBaron – $700. Hilarity and high jinks reaped – priceless. And why did he do this? “It started out as just an idea,” he said. “Now it’s gone absolutely nuts.” I met Lorentz at his South Hill home to collect on his gracious offer of a LaBoata voyage. I found Lorentz to be a lifelong car lover and jokester after my own heart. Prior to LaBoata, the man carved up a mammoth 1974 Country Squire LTD station wagon, transforming it into an eight-passenger convertible. That one he calls LaBomba. Lorentz is quite a guy. He teaches high school at the Spokane Skills Center. He and his wife, Kathy, have six kids and have been foster parents for 10 years. He’s also a skipper with vision. “The possibilities are endless,” he mused as we cruised. One of Lorentz’s ideas is to build a LaBoata fleet and use them to ferry kids to the prom. Not me. I’d adorn the fleet with cannons and skull-and-bones pirate flags and attack City Hall. Whatever he drives, somebody invariably asks, “Does it float?” To which Lorentz will reply, “Well, everything floats – for a while.” Being in LaBoata is like starring in your own sitcom. You don’t know whether to pull into a gas station or a marina. I swear Lorentz and I averaged 100 smiles to the gallon. Like when we pulled into a drive-through pharmacy. I asked a woman behind a window if she could spare any drug samples. A customer in the car next to us started laughing so hard that I was afraid he might ruin his upholstery. At stoplights we often asked next-lane drivers if they might direct us to a liquor store. The confused worker at a car wash told us there was absolutely no way we could take LaBoata through the machines. Finally I can see why so many people get whipped up about taking cruises. “I keep wondering how to top this,” Lorentz said as we headed up the South Hill and back to port. “And I have no idea.”
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