The Great Breadboat Experiment

August/2006: Stuff to do in Portland - Every so often, Erika and I head over to Eastmoreland park here in Portland. Eastmoreland is one of our older parks, it's literally huge. The main attraction to Eastmoreland park are the ducks. There's a big ol' pond right in the middle of it and there's always a ton of ducks around. When I was a kid, I fed the ducks and I still like feeding the ducks. Feeding the ducks there is just something people in Portland do. It's fun so long as they don't swarm you like how gangs of ducks do. That can be dangerous, of course.

Anyways, while we were feeding the ducks a few weeks ago by throwing random pieces of bread out there, I noted how buoyant the bread is. It floats pretty well. So hence, the idea entered to make boats out of bread to see what the ducks would do. They like ganging around the bits of bread in the water... so would they gang around a giant boat made out of bread? Would it even float? Would they even know what to do with it? Why, the idea was so intriguing that I had to find a way to put it into action. The only problem is, I know nothing about bread. I don't even use bread at home. And, as everyone on Monticello knows, when you have a baking question, you approach only one person: The Cakelady.

[14:14] honey: Hey, I see you are busy, but I'm home now
[14:14] *** Auto-response sent to honey: I am currently away from the computer.
[14:24] XavierVE1: Heya, still there?
[14:24] honey: yeah
[14:24] honey: what's up?
[14:25] XavierVE1: Okay, at your baking place, you guys can bake bread, right?
[14:25] honey: Haha, yes
[14:25] honey: :)
[14:25] XavierVE1: Can you shape the bread into objects?
[14:25] honey: One could, probably...
[14:25] honey: What kind of shape?
[14:25] XavierVE1: A small boat
[14:25] XavierVE1: Like a bread boat.
[14:26] XavierVE1: Fairly decent size.
[14:26] XavierVE1: Solid, you know, not crumbly.
[14:26] honey: like a sailboat, or a ship, or a tugboat...?
[14:26] XavierVE1: Yeah.
[14:26] honey: Any of those.
[14:26] XavierVE1: Yeah, but not small small, like a decent size.
[14:26] honey: What's decent size to you?
[14:27] XavierVE1: Hmm.
[14:27] XavierVE1: Like the size of your head.
[14:27] honey: and do you plan to eat it?
[14:27] XavierVE1: No.
[14:28] XavierVE1: Do you think something like that could be created that could float?
[14:28] honey: Possibly- I'm not sure, though, the crust might be pourous enough that the bread would absorb water like a sponge, I've never tried to float a loaf of bread
[14:28] XavierVE1: Hmm.
[14:28] XavierVE1: I know bread can float.
[14:28] XavierVE1: I know like a slice of bread can float.
[14:28] honey: What are you trying to do, you goofy person?
[14:29] honey: Sure, briefly, but then doesn't it sink?
[14:29] XavierVE1: No, it just floats.
[14:29] honey: Hmm.
[14:29] honey: Interesting.

Of course, you look like a psychotic when you approach someone with such a question without the proper context.

[14:29] XavierVE1: I want a bread boat I can launch at eastmoreland park for the ducks at the pond.
[14:29] XavierVE1: I think it'd be neat to see them surround it all crazy pecking away at the boat that floats in the pond.
[14:30] honey: That would be rather amusing.
[14:30] XavierVE1: Indeed. I'd be happy to pay for such a concoction as well.
[14:30] honey: Okay, so, what if we used a loaf that was, say, like a french bread loaf, but cut the top off and add a sail?
[14:30] honey: But not a bread sail, because that would surely be too awkward and top heavy
[14:31] XavierVE1: That might work. I'm not sure if French Bread floats. what kind of sail because it has to be duck edible?
[14:31] XavierVE1: What about like a tugboat kind of thing?
[14:31] XavierVE1: Like cut the french bread loaf like a tugboat?
[14:31] honey: that could work
[14:31] honey: what kind of bread do you know floats?
[14:31] XavierVE1: I've only used regular bread.
[14:31] XavierVE1: But it's in slices, I don't know if that affects it or not.
[14:32] honey: Oh, just throwing it in the water for the ducks?
[14:32] XavierVE1: Yeah.
[14:32] XavierVE1: And it floats and then they eat it.
[14:32] honey: Okay, yeah, I've seen that floating bread, you're right.
[14:32] XavierVE1: Yeah, I know that bread floats.
[14:32] XavierVE1: I'm not sure about a whole french roll cut to look like a tugboat. I THINK it would float, but I'm not sure.
[14:32] honey: I'm not sure, either.
[14:33] honey: But we also have soft breads that are shaped in that sort of a shape, so maybe one of those would work.
[14:33] XavierVE1: Yeah, that's why I asked you, I know nothing about types of bread and which may be more bouyant.
[14:34] honey: man, I am pretty sure I have never been asked about bread buoyancy before!
[14:34] honey: Yes, okay, so when did you want to try this crazy thing?
[14:34] XavierVE1: I don't know, whenever really. I'm not on a timetable. I just want something good so I can see if it works because the ducks would go crazy.
[14:35] honey: Okay, that's good...
[14:36] honey: Alright, let me check out the breads at work tomorrow, and see if I see anything promising, and I'll let you know what I find out.
[14:36] XavierVE1: Cool, let me know.

Of course, Honey being the consummate professional she is, tested out the bread buoyance element ahead of time. This is why you bring in a baker to deal with the important jobs such as building bread boats.

[13:28] honey: hola
[13:28] XavierVE1: Hola
[13:29] honey: So, I brought home a mini french loaf and put it in my bathtub, and it stayed afloat
[13:29] XavierVE1: Nice.
[13:29] honey: I am thinking, therefore, that a larger one should also work.
[13:29] XavierVE1: Yep, shouldn't be an issue, especially if it's more long than wide.
[13:29] honey: It takes on water and gets lower, gradually, but long enough.
[13:30] honey: I also thought that one could use little breadsticks (like grocery store type hard bready little sticks) as things like chimneys or masts or whatnot
[13:30] XavierVE1: Haha, nice, as long as they aren't too hard for the ducks to eat.
[13:30] XavierVE1: That would work really well.
[13:31] honey: Oh no, surely they would love them.
[13:32] honey: So, knowing that french bread can float, and all, you probably don't technically NEED me for this project, but I'd still be willing if you'd like a decorator's touch :)
[13:33] XavierVE1: Yep, I'd like something that looks nice and you know more about bread than I do.
[13:33] honey: Well, okay then. I'm all booked this weekend, but so far I don't have anything big the following Sunday, I think
[13:34] XavierVE1: Cool, sounds good then. Just make it and I'll pay you and pick it up. Just let me know whenever it's done.
[13:35] honey: You don't need to pay me, consider it an unbirthday uncake. Plus, I make no guarantees.
[13:35] XavierVE1: Ha, okay

And for free!

Once the boats were completed, planning this operation was a tad complex.

[22:17] honey: Hey!
[22:17] XavierVE1: Heya.
[22:17] honey: Bread boat!
[22:17] XavierVE1: Ha, is she ready for the high seas?
[22:17] honey: tomorrow!
[22:18] honey: I fear the ducks will tear it to pieces before it can get far, or sink it, at least, but she's seaworthy, captain
[22:18] XavierVE1: I have a plan for that.
[22:18] XavierVE1: All the ducks congregate on the north side of the lake.
[22:18] honey: Big guns?
[22:18] XavierVE1: We're going to launch from the south side.
[22:18] honey: Oh
[22:18] XavierVE1: By the time they see it and go over to it, it should be near the middle.
[22:18] honey: Then they MIGHT not even notice it
[22:18] XavierVE1: Oh, they'll notice it.
[22:18] XavierVE1: Because I'll have bread crumbs and I can go "hey ducks" at any moment.

Honey lived up to her reputation as a decorative professional, as I'm sure all will agree. And she provided not just one, but FOUR boats ready for the high seas!

Breadboats! Note the awesome pretzel masts and tortilla sails!

The sails repped PeeJ hardcore saying "evil vigilante", plus check out the breadcrumb cargo these suckers are hauling. Hardcore.

It was a rather windy day and the park pond isn't exactly built for launching boat-shaped food items at ducks, but we did our best despite the windy conditions and tide.

Erika did a nice job capturing the action ripple effect.

Honey steps to the fore braving the geese and duck hordes.

The USS Xavier, resting peacefully at sea.

The biggest problem we thought we'd have was keeping the bread afloat. Bread of course has pores which can take on water. Honey was skeptical, thinking that they would take on too much water and sink. That turned out to be distinctly not the case, these things floated and floated quite well. So bread boats? Quite buoyant. We also thought that the boats might not go anywhere, but there was enough wind that the boats took sail pretty well and travelled quite far on the pond.

The problem we did have was the ducks and the geese being dumb.

Now, these ducks and geese are always crazy about bread. You take bread and they'll try to mug you, literally. They'll come jumping out of the pond and surround you, trying to intimidate you into dropping all the bread. They're greedy hungry bitches a lot of the time. So we considered the idea that the ducks and geese would not know what the fuck these things are and rejected the idea out of hand. It's bread and these guys are nuts about bread.

But instead...

the stupid waterfowl...

didn't quite know...

what exactly to do.

After we launched the first boat, the massive tugboat seen in the last picture, we figured they'd flock it immediately. Not so. Dozens of ducks and geese were content to watch this boat of bread float down the pond. They were, at first, literally afraid of it. The smaller two boats, when launched, were almost immediately attacked. The larger ones floated for quite a while, one making it really far before finally, the ducks and geese said to themselves... "Wait, that's BREAD" as the following series of pictures show.

The Canadian geese circle their prey.

"Oh shit, it's actually bread! Check this shit out!"

This was the first boat to go down.

Eventually torn in two, this boat was not long for the world.

Not even the breadstick mast was safe! Tug of war geese FTW!

Despite the destruction of the littlest boats, the big ones remained.

...but not for long!

This one had floated for about five minutes before they wised up.

Geese pile!

A sense of how many ducks and geese moved in for the kill

The original launched tugboat far away from our position when the attack struck, note the likely-bewildered bystander.

The poor four breadboats didn't stand a chance once the ducks and geese stopped being retarded and understood that they were edible. This may be why boat and ship makers today use wood and steel rather than the rather buoyant bread to make larger vessels. They surely would not stand a chance otherwise.

The experiment was fun, especially observing how stupid geese and ducks can be. If you ever need boats made out of bread and are in the Portland area, contact forum member Honey, she'll hook you up with some of the best breadboats ever made (Perhaps the only breadboats ever made at that!).