In Search of Appetizers
Organizing a messabout can be quite
an undertaking. Agreeing on a time, day, location, where to go,
what to do, who to tell, how to tell them, etc., can all be a
lot of fuss. But then again, sometimes it’s no trouble at
all. As proof in point, I cite our recent messabout held last
weekend on San Diego’s Mission Bay.
original plan had been for a group of paddlers to gather at a
quiet salt marsh on the Del
Mar coastline. We would paddle the placid inlets, look at
the birds and other wildlife, and then perhaps enjoy a little
nosh on the beach. Unfortunately, the water level at our intended
site dropped about six feet the week before our event because
the city dredged the sandbar at the mouth of the lagoon. What
had been an idyllic water wonderland had become a damp, muddy
and with a quick e-mail to all, we shifted our locale to San Diego’s Mission
Bay. Unlike the quiet seclusion of the salt marsh, Mission
Bay is a chaotic water park of amusements occupied by water-skiers,
personal watercraft, sailors, rowers and every other form of waterborne
craft. Our hastily assembled “plan” was to launch
from a relatively quiet south shore launch point near SeaWorld and then paddle across the bay to a shore side establishment known
as the Barefoot Bar and Grill at the Paradise
Saturday morning, I loaded my trusty mouseboat “Dustspeck”
on the roof rack and set out for Mission Bay. As I arrived, I
could see our little group already forming. John Canning and his
wife were boarding his guideboat canoe while his daughter and
granddaughter were ably paddling about in an inflatable kayak.
Frank Underwood had his newly constructed Chesapeake Light Craft Eastport
Pram bobbing playfully at the end of the dock. Joe Millard’s
Wee Lassie canoe was waiting patiently to be launched.
about ten minutes of my arrival, all of the boats were launched
and we paddled into position for a group photo. Cheese! The formalities
of the event behind us, we set out smartly for our destination.
Joe’s Wee Lassie slipped easily into the lead position,
and I paddled furiously to keep up in the squat but capable mouseboat.
The canoe and kayak fell in behind us while poor Frank tacked
furiously back and forth in the narrow channel, working his way
upwind. About the same time, an amphibious tour bus came crashing
down the ramp into the bay. As it motored past, I’m certain
I saw several of the tourists staring enviously at Dustspeck.
I gave them a wave and paddled on.
our left was SeaWorld, home of Shamu the Whale. It’s not
much to look at from sea with the exception of a small penguin
enclosure that faces onto the bay. To our right was Fiesta Island—a
glorified landfill covered with sand and the occasional home to
San Diego’s World Famous Over
the Line Tournament. It was upwind all the way for 2-3 miles
before Joe and I arrived at the resort. I tied Dustspeck to a
dock and Joe tucked his tiny canoe under a bush along the shore.
too very long, the kayak arrived, followed sometime thereafter
by the guideboat now sporting a lanteen sail. After exiting the
narrow part of the channel, John and his wife had put into shore
and raised sail with the thought of saving themselves the paddle
on the second half of the upwind leg. However, they soon discovered
that the effort of paddling would be replaced by several extra
upwind tacks to reach the resort.
the time Frank’s little Eastport Pram finally found its
way to the resort harbor, the rest of us were already enjoying
drinks, nachos and quesadilla appetizers. Other boatless bums
soon appeared to join in the fun. Although the journey had been
far from arduous, it felt good to reward ourselves just the same.
by our refreshments, we felt ready to set course for home. Once
again, Joe and I set out in the lead, but with the wind at his
back, the Wee Lassie effortlessly eased far ahead of me through
the easy seas. Just as quickly, Frank’s pram came steaming
down on me from behind on a broad reach. Just as he was about
to turn downwind and enjoy an easy sail for home, his mast step
popped loose at the base, forcing him to turn upwind and strike
sail. The poor fellow had worked so hard to get upwind, and now
he had to take up oars just to get home. Fortunately, the little
pram appeared to row just as smartly as it sailed, and with the
wind working with him this time, Frank had little trouble coasting
told, our casual little event taxed about 4 hours of our time
from start to finish, and a good time was had by all. All of the
planning and preparation, including the last minute rescheduling,
amounted to about 30 minutes. I suppose that the only thing easier
than organizing this messabout would be to have not tried at all…
and what fun would that have been?