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Mitch and Tanya Blalock's VW bus boat.                                     Photo by: Kevin Starla Sinyard
By John Mullen
October 13, 2017 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA) – At first, building a VW bus pontoon boat started out as kind of a hobby for Mitch Blalock. About $40,000 later he has one of the most eye-catching crafts moving around the back bays of Orange Beach.
“I used to tell my wife it’s cheaper than therapy, but I’m not sure I can say that, really, after building it,” Blalock said.
The Volkswagen people are sure happy with it.
“Volkswagen had a contest and you send a photo in,” Blalock said. “Next thing you know I’m sporting a $34,000 Volkswagen convertible for free. They gave me a card and said I was one of the best-uncompensated ambassadors for VW out there.”
Be on the lookout this weekend as Blalock and crew motor by in a pontoon boat with a vintage yellow VW bus body serving as the fence.
He and wife Tanya and other family and friends came to Pleasure Island to enjoy their first Shrimp Fest. And tool around in his unique, custom boat, launching from the Boggy Point ramp.
“We’re going to go out and try to have lunch,” he said. “I’m supposed to meet some people over at the Flora-Bama Yacht Club in it and give a couple of rides.
“I’ll get off of it later today and get to do some landlubbing over at the Shrimp Festival. We went there last night and that was fabulous. We’re looking forward to this weekend, for sure.”
While visiting a niece who has a place in the Fort Morgan area about two years ago, Mitch and Tanya fell in love with Pleasure Island and bought a house next door to his niece’s. When they travel over from Atlanta to enjoy the place, sometimes the yellow bus-boat comes along.
“You caught me getting it ready to take it out again,” he said via phone. “People get a charge out of it because I made the wheels speakers. I get asked a lot of questions. The other day when I pulled up there they asked if I could drive it off of there. It’s fun to watch people’s faces.
“It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
He gets lots of strange questions, like can it drive off after it docks. But, although it looks like an automobile, hardly any automobile components are left.
“I bought a VW and cut the bottom out of it and lightened it up,” he said. “It’s deceiving, it’s not very heavy. It has no axles and you walk on the floor, it has boat seats in it and I have steering in the front. It’s probably the world’s most expensive pontoon boat fence.”
He and a buddy did the work cutting here and there, attaching to the pontoons, adding the extra touches.
“It’s a well-built boat. It can go anywhere. I didn’t want to have a toy,” Blalock said. “It’ll go anywhere it needs to go. If I’ve done anything, I’ve met a lot of cool people and seen a lot of smiles. That’s what I wanted, something that was fun for everybody.”