Lake Martin Messabout
by Maddog McBride

(Maddog owns the discussion group at:

DATELINE - Lake Martin, Alabama

Another Messabout goes down in the history books. Yippee!!!     

A good time was had by all.

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Mike & Vicki
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Dinghy Cruising's officialdom was in attendance in full force. Mikeeeee, the tireless moderator, was accompanied by his entourage; fiancée Vicki/Hippy Chick and son Jeremiah. "Maddog!", the feckless group owner, made the 18 hour drive from Philadelphia, only to stagger around in a sleep deprived stupor, mumbling semi coherently, before collapsing into his borrowed from Brian tent.

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Chuck & Sandra 

Celebrity members included Chuck Leinweber of Duckworks Magazine fame and his wife Sandra. The throngs of group regulars included John Bell, Ed Jones, and Bill Pecoul; a new member still in the first stage of the boatbuilding disease, you know, "I'm thinking about this boat, that boat, ..." (Sorry Bill, I was pretty bleary by the time we talked I hope you'll get The Usual Suspects to help you along with your decision making process.)

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Mike gets Boo Boo ready

FRIDAY - Mikeeee and I were setting up the campsite when Chuck and Sandra arrived. We exchanged "Howdies" and started unloading boats. They brought two, "Caprice" their 26' Sharpie, and David Beede's 2001 Contest winner, a smaller sharpie. We hauled the little sharpie off Chuck's truck and plopped into the water. Chuck and Sandra went off to the boat ramp to launch Caprice. Meanwhile the rest of us tossed Boo Boo The Dinghy and Puffin into the drink in front of the campsite. In what seemed like no time at all, Caprice hauled up to the beached fleet, C&S hopped out and extended introductions commenced in earnest. Full scale boat inspections rambled from one craft to the next; everyone was duly impressed with everyone else's magnificent efforts.

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The Bell's in Mr. Moon

"Ahoy the campsite!" John Bell and his miniature crew of two arrive by water on their AF4. John had some difficulty finding us. "I've been looking for you guys and 'The Big Blue tarp' for two hours." 

Apparently despite all of Mikeeee's preparations, the nincompoops at the front gate completely forgot who, what, where and when the Dinghy Cruising Messabout was. Another round of introductions and inspections ensued.

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Maddog at the helm

"Maddog!", ever the tactless lout, hollers, "Awright! That's enough of all this Hoohaa. Let's go sailing!" The Gathering marvels at my ability to cut right to the meat of the matter.

Launchings begin in less than inspirational wind conditions. The light breezes are temperamental and several of us, myself included, accept tows from the powered craft. Eventually we all get out to the more open and windier parts of the lake. Sailing and motoring fun abounds for several hours. The stinkpotters zip about hither and yon. Those of us of the cloth powered persuasion ponder why this place was called Wind Creek State Park. Eventually the sun begins reaching for the trees on the far shore and the fleet returns to the campsite.

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Full scale boat inspections

More boat talk. Dinner. More boat talk. The rain storm builds slowly giving us time to gather the camping brik-a-brak and cram it all under Big Blue. After dinner the campfire was large enough and hot enough to overcome the rain and we all huddle around under umbrellas telling [what else?] more boat stories far into the night. All in all, a day very well spent.

SATURDAY - Huge breakfast and still more boat stories, followed by lackluster sailing conditions.
MIKEEEE: "It's all your fault 'Maddog!'. Everywhere you go the wind dies." Well Kids, this may be truer than I'd thought. Lake Lanier was supposed to be a sailing Mecca... that is, until I showed up. Must be something about me and boats-in-the-water. More on this later.

Mike shares his see-food

On the plus side, had I been thoroughly occupied ripping along, I wouldn't have time to "play" with Puffin's rig and study her advantages and drawbacks. I've come to the conclusion that as awe inspiring as Puffin's Junk rig is, it's just too damn complicated. The full deck is too cramped as well. Puffin is a work in progress. The sail with its battens will remain the same, but the rig will be converted to a balanced lug version, reducing the six running lines to the masthead to two; a halyard and a boom parrel [needed to take in the first reef up.] I'm still debating whether to fool with the luff hauling parrel. 

The deck, for lack of a better description, is going to be gutted. I'm going to remove the side decks altogether and cut the main deck back to the mast sleeve, exposing the CB well. That will still leave a small cubby area to store stuff and alloy me to shorten the CB well, thereby letting me shorten the CB to three feet.

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Mr. Moon towing Puffin

Last year I'd built some oars but never got around to making them functional on the boat. So this time I brought a few tools along and bored some holes in the toerail for thole pins. I lashed the oars in place with bungie cords. The Bad News: the pins promptly walked out of the holes and committed suicide by jumping into the drink. The Good News: the little bastards weren't necessary, the bungies did just fine alone. Yippie! Oar Power! (The future promises more innovation; Mikeeee gave me a weedeater to transform into an Iron Genny.)

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Puffin on her own

Saturday evening the mighty gathering is down to five, Jeremiah has other plans. The rain is less determined and convincing. We enjoy Mikeeee's Boston Butt Baked Beans and Hobo dinners under Big Blue. We listen to CD's, having almost exhausted our collective supply of boat stories. Truth is, most of us are hoarse from all the talking. "T Bubba", a "Southern comedian", has us all in stitches for the better part of an hour. Another day very well spent.

SUNDAY - Morning finds us all having breakfast, tearing down the camp, and launching boats for a last valiant attempt to put our rails under. No such luck, it's still me+boat+water=no wind.

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Ed Jones & his Skipjack

Ed Jones arrives to find all but the last details packed and ready to head down the road. Ed breaths new life into the multitude. A fresh round of introductions, inspections and Oohs and Aahs are in order. Ed has built the most beautiful, well crafted, exquisitely detailed, little skipjack I've ever seen. Truly a work of Art.

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The Bell's daughter Alison....

Ed and Mikeee head off to the ramp. Ed takes a dip on entering his boat [on the water] for the first time. Luckily no cameras were present to record his ignominy. The skipjack clears the marina, jib and gaff resplendent in the morning sunlight. She's well down on her lines due to Ed's and Mikeeee's organic opulescence, but giving a fair impression of "sailing" due in large part to Ed's electric trolling Genny; a very discrete accessory. From afar it would have fooled an expert, she seemed to be sailing effortlessly. This was an excellent photo opportunity for Ed's marvelous boat. I took loads of pictures.

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.... and son Evan

Time to go home - Remember what I said about "me+boat+water=no wind"? Well, as I came down out of the mountains or hills or whatever they are... I picked up a tailwind that blew so hard, so steady and so long through Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, and North Carolina that I averaged 44MPG for 450 miles. That's 12MGP better than normal. I was halfway thinking about breaking out the sail; I could have probably gotten home with the motor off. Sheesh! Some guys just can't get a break.

SUMMATION - A good time was had by all. It was great to meet new people. I'd do it again in a minute!
TTYL, "MD!"      

(editors note: visit Maddog's website at: )