2006 Minnesota Messabout at Lake Pepin
By Bill Paxton - Apple Valley, Minnesota - USA

Sometimes everything just goes right. Such was the case last June 2-4 at Lake Pepin when area boat builders gathered.

The days were sunny and warm with a good sailing breeze, while the nights cooled off to what we call “good sleepin’ weather.” The large, shady campsites overlooked the lake, and were surprisingly bug-free.

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Mouse, Skat, Arcebus, IMB and Doevkie

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Messabouts are magnets for never-before-seen activities. For example, when Craig Bursell went to launch his nifty Skipjack Black Bark it gradually dawned on him that he had left the boat’s gaff at home. Normally this would be a disaster since you can’t sail a gaff-rigged boat without a gaff. (The sail gets all floppy and doesn’t perform well. Trust me on this.) A lesser mortal would have been stumped, but Craig is a boat builder. He hunted along the shoreline until he found just the right piece of driftwood, and fashioned a new gaff right before our eyes. His boat performed beautifully as he sailed all over Lake Pepin with his driftwood spar, even when the lake was covered with white caps.

Craig just can’t be stopped.

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Another odd event happened at the traditional Saturday night potluck. About halfway through the meal a gentleman strolled up to our picnic table, said Hello, and as he stood gazing down at our boats on the beach, began to disparage our crafts. He had never seen the likes of Arcebus or an IMB. He was a traditionalist, and very few of our boats looked “normal” to his eye. However that didn’t stop him from accepting our hospitality and enjoying our chow. After he left, a messer who shall remain anonymous, referred to the stranger as “old, rude, and he eats our food.”

But maybe the most unique happening was when the smallest boat rescued the largest boat.

It was just after the potluck when Kirk and Lynn Erickson decided to beach their 31’ Norwalk Island Sharpie and join us for a while. As the boat neared the shore, Kirk put out his stern anchor, and somehow the anchor line jumped out of his hands and fell into the lake. As you can imagine, this is a good-sized anchor, and Kirk wanted it back. Somebody appeared with a divers mask and snorkel and began diving for the anchor. By this time John Goeser had launched his 8’ Mouse and paddled out to the scene of the treasure hunt. Suddenly the diver broke the surface, shouted “I found it!” and went down to bring it up.

Have you ever had to bring up a large anchor from the bottom of a lake? Me neither, but apparently it’s quite a job, as the diver was sputtering and working hard to get the wayward anchor to the surface. Somehow John was able to get the anchor, chain and line between his feet on his Mouse, which seriously changed the craft’s center of gravity. But John was a man on a mission, and saved the day by reuniting the anchor with its owner.

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Monkey’s Fist, the Norwalk Island Sharpie, and Goldfish, the Mouse.

The rest of the weekend was filled with the stuff that makes messabouts just plain fun: riding in each other’s boats, asking and answering lots of questions, chatting with strangers who just had to see what this was all about, glowing campfires at night, a breathtakingly beautiful lake, and friendly camaraderie. But don’t take my word for it. Check out the pictures.

Read about last year's Lake Pepin messabout HERE