The Second Annual Duckworks Gulf Coast
Shorty's Page: http://www.shortypen.com/events/indian1/
Gerard's Page: http://www.mcallen.lib.tx.us/staff/gm/mess2004.htm
Technically, the Messabout was
scheduled for Saturday, May 22, but Chuck and I drove down Thursday.
Our excuse was checking out the details of the spot (like we could
change it at that point), but really we just wanted a little time
for messing about in our boats before everyone else arrived. We
stopped in Victoria to see Charlie Jones. He is building a Princess
22 from B & B Yacht Designs. She is coming right along, not
quite as fast as he had hoped, but coming ever closer to seeing
the water. He announced that he was cooking dinner for us, an
unexpected treat, especially for me. Instead of skillet stew from
cans, we had barbequed chicken. Charlie and Laura live in the
quiet town of Magnolia Beach. Laura is becoming well known on
the Texas coast for her paintings of seabirds and other local
scenes. For a visual feast, log onto her website at: http://www.griffithart.com.
What with after dinner conversation and BROWNIES (yum), it was
dark by the time we drove on down to the park. I think we could
set our tent up blindfolded by now, and once the air mattress
was inflated, we fell inside and dreamed.
Friday morning we were up at first
light. Just like the hair of the werewolf in the Warren Zevon
song; the weather was perfect. Winds 10 to 15, partly cloudy,
not too terribly hot. The water was a bit muddy, due to recent
rains upstream. We were at Lavaca Bay, and the Lavaca River empties
here as do other small streams. The bottom drops off sharply along
the bay, quickly down to about 4-5 feet, making launching simple.
The beach and the bay bottom is a mix of sand and oyster shell,
and Charlie and Laura had advised us to wear our boat shoes. “Those
shells will slice bare feet faster than a broken beer bottle.”
I have to remind myself that this is salt water, because it looks
like a big lake. Salt water is waves breaking on the beach and
the roar of the surf. The bay shrimpers were out, not too far
We rigged the Ladybug
and took her out for her maiden voyage. The Ladybug is one of
new designs, and as far as we know the first one to be built.
She is 14 feet long, with a balanced lug sail, and a leeboard.
Chuck was a bit concerned about going out with no motor in an
untested boat with no one around for rescue if something went
amiss. I would never think about all the potential disasters,
but he always feels compelled to list them for me, complete with
visual descriptions. Broken mast, broken leeboard, broken rudder,
boat turning turtle, etc. That makes me think about sharks, barracudas,
sting rays....We decided to stay within swimming distance of shore
and took off. She worked well, heading up almost straight into
the wind and swells. Like any small skiff, she does capture a
bit of spray, and I longed for a windshield, but Chuck tells me
that real sailors scoff at windshields.
Laura at the helm of
the Ladybug. Laura helped Chuck tweak the sail trim on the
Ladybug and pronounced her an excellent little boat. |
This is what Chuck wrote to Jim
Michalak: “She is well balanced on all points and docile
as far as we could tell.” We will be taking her to Illinois
in June to the Michalak messabout for a formal inspection and
more capsize testing.
The boats started rolling in Friday
evening, and by Saturday noon, our little section of beach was
littered with interesting boats of various shapes and sizes. In
addition to the Ladybug, we brought Chuck’s skinboat (photo
34.35.36) and my Toto,
also a Michalak design.
Charlie and Laura brought their
CLC John’s Sharpie, Traveler. Traveler is a beauty to behold
and a joy to sail. Charlie and Laura are long time sailors, both
winners of numerous Dolphin Sr. challenges. They own a small stable
of various boats, and take them out whenever they can. Laura helped
Chuck tweak the sail trim on the Ladybug and pronounced her an
excellent little boat.
Charlie and Laura's CLC - John's Sharpie
Running down the beach
Jerry Mittelstaedt, his wife, Mona,
son Joseph and friend Dave Hetrick came from McAllen, TX with
their self-designed skiff, Ocean Breeze. They also brought a Sabot
and their one-sheet skiff, Night Swan.
"Ocean Breeze" and crew...
...participating in an at-sea rescue
The Ocean Breeze and the Ladybug
made numerous excursions with various crew throughout the day,
including two minor at-sea rescues.
Cecil Carnes, from Los Alamos,
NM and Sargeant, TX, brought his self-designed Pink Possum with
the creative double paddle made from a crutch, as well as Calapso.
The Pink Possum
Calapso looked like a flat piece
of this plywood on the roof rack of his truck, but she folded
outward with a center brace, and presto, she was a boat.
Just about everyone who attended tried
out Cecil’s boats.
Roger Harlow and his wife, Gay,
drove over from Portland, TX, bringing a Bolger Surf. Roger has
built a number of boats.
Roger and Gay
Bob William and his brother John
arrived from Kerrville, TX. Bob had his Mouse which is set up
for either rowing or sailing. (photos) Bob is currently building
a Michalak Shanteuse.
Bob tries my Toto
This Big Mouse is one of Bob's many boats
Brett Wilde, Houston, TX, arrived
with a bright yellow boat in the back of his car, a cut-down Brick,
"Distraction", also set up for rowing or sailing.
Brett Wilde (facing camera)
Skip Johnson (Cypress, TX) spent
the afternoon assembling his proa, which started life as a $50
boat for a race
that David “Shorty” Routh held at Lake Conroe last
year. It is a spiffy boat, and he has since made modifications
that took it out of the $50 category. He says it's up to about
75 bucks! I especially liked the way it was set up, with a seat
for the operator.
Skip sets up ACDC...
...and he's GONE!
It moves FAST. Skip is recently
back from participating in the Ruta Maya, a 4 day, 170 mile canoe
race in Belize. (Editor's note - there will be an article
about this race next month) Skip designed and built the boat
that he and his two partners used in the race. His boats have
great names– "Easy B", "ACDC", and the
Skip's lovely "EasyB"
Shorty of ShortyPen.com
(aka David Routh-The Woodlands, TX) is an organizer of messabouts
and races, famous for the PD
Racer design, about 6 of which of have been built
and raced at various locations here in Texas. He brought his Racer
hoping to have enough others show up for a race. Chuck’s
was the only other one that came, and they decided not to race.
Shorty tries out the One Sheet Skiff "Night
Greg Rinaca and Christina Wycoff
(Coldspring, TX), brought Lady, their miniature Schnauzer, along
with 2 beautiful CLC kayaks, owner built.
Christina with the two beautiful CLC Kayaks
Greg, Christina and Lady |
Lady sez "Let's do this thing"
Lady has the snazziest boating
outfit I have seen to date.
||Tim Cowden (Bryan, TX) arrived
with his self-designed canoe and a friend who flew over the
messabout in his plane, snapping photos. We will post those
when we receive them.
Also in attendance were Bob Shipman
(Houston and Hunt, TX), who brought his Boston Whaler and kayak....
Bob Shipman (at left)
... and Kenneth and Maria Purdy
(Freeport, TX), who own but did not bring a Michalak Piccup
Pram and are building a Fatcat2.
Kenneth and Maria Prudy
the near constant wind, the Texas coast in summer would be unbearable
on a sunny day. Even the cooler early mornings and evenings would
be tough to take without the wind because the big mosquitos would
literally carry one away. Sailing would be hampered as well. The
day was gone in a flash of sails and oars and good conversation.
After a delicious potluck dinner Saturday night, those of us who
had not already left, visited until we could no longer hold our
eyes open. Sunday was yet another beautiful day, but we had miles
to travel, and by 10:30 we were loaded and on the road for home.
Towing Brett back to the beach