Family finishes daughter's project

September 2011 News

Under type of craft, the boat launch permit lists The Alicia Marie as "Other."

On Wednesday, she was dry docked in backyard of Karl and Diana Daugherty of Conewago Township. The couple, their 28-year-old son, Denny, and family friend Abby Householder, 21, gathered to show her off.

The Alicia Marie is the creation of their daughter, sister and friend. Alicia Marie Daugherty had started building the boat, but never got to finish it. She died in a car accident in Selinsgrove on June 3. She was 21 years old.

So, the family finished it for her.

That boat is no luxury cruiser. A friend called her a UFO -- Unidentified Floating Object.

A sheet of plywood covered in fake-grass carpeting

Karl Daugherty rigs up the flag for his daughter Alicia's pontoon boat in his backyard on Wednesday in Conewago Township. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - CHRIS DUNN)
makes the deck. From this flies a pink flag with the names Alicia and Abby.

Bolted to the deck, board boxes wrapped in chicken wire form the outside of her twin pontoons.

And piled inside is Alicia's treasure -- sport drink bottles by the dozen, a black antifreeze container, dozens of one-liter water bottles, milk jugs and an old pancake batter container.

Over the last year of Alicia's life, plastic was gold. She raided neighbors' recycling bins, took bottles from friends and lifted them from her parents. One day, the Messiah College senior asked her best friend, Householder, if she wanted to hike on the Rail Trail.

Then Daugherty handed Householder a garbage bag. Hikers get thirsty and careless, after all.

Daugherty stacked her treasure -- the twist-top cap variety only -- on the back porch.

Karl and Diana didn't blink. The thin, chestnut-haired 21-year-old who was studying environmental sciences always had something on the go.

She and Householder kept a "List of Fun" -- 84 things they wanted to do for giggles. For example, they hoped to get on the website,, so the two dressed up in ponchos and sombreros, headed for Walmart and hoped someone would take a picture.

This time, Daugherty was going to build a boat out of plastic bottles.

"To float 300 pounds, enough bottles to hold 150 liters were needed," Householder said. Or something like that. Alicia had done the calculations. In the end, each pontoon held enough bottles to float 1,200 pounds, by their reckoning.

Before she died, Alicia had completed and tested the pontoons. That was the hard part.

The family took the finished boat on her maiden voyage in August on the Conewago Creek. "We learned about balance," Denny said. The Alicia Marie had tipped, sending them all into the water. But she floated.

"It was therapy," Karl explained.


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