Western Oregon Messabouts
Dexter Oregon Reservoir Messabout
March 27, 2004

by Pat Patteson

I had been anticipating the Western Oregon Messabout Season opener all Winter. So much so that I would have showed up a week early had it not been for John Kohnen’s reminder a couple of days before I was ready to leave.

The weather in Oregon in late March is always iffy, but we had a fairly mild winter, except for the Ice Storm just a few weeks earlier.

The week before the Messabout had been cold and rainy and a couple of folks had mentioned postponing the event until we were sure the weather would be nice. But assuring a nice day in early spring is almost impossible and many folks had the Messabout on their calendars since last fall. We just decided we would show up at Dexter Reservoir and be prepared for anything.

This Is Oregon.

But, I had gotten a sunburned head the last two years there and was hoping for a third.

I finished up some details on my “PK-20” the night before in a cold drizzle and went to bed with hopes of better weather, like the weather guessers had been predicting.
When I crawled out of bed at 5 AM to hook up my boat it was dark and cool, but it Wasn’t raining.
It is a 2 plus hour drive from my house to Dexter Reservoir and I was to meet a friend, Brian Gage, in Molalla at 7 AM so we could make the drive together.

Dexter Reservoir is a 1000-acre lake on the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. It’s in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Southeast of Springfield, Oregon. Elevation is about 700 ft. The reservoir was built for flood control and has a small hydro power plant. As I was to discover later, the water level fluctuates several inches during a day.

Brian was waiting when I showed up, and after a brief chat, we headed for the Messabout. It was the first time Brian had been to Dexter, but I let him lead the way (so I could nap) and we communicated with some little Motorola
“Talkabout” radios he brought.

A bright sun finally came up and the sky was Blue with only a few puffy clouds to shade my eyes on our drive south.
About half way there I needed to turn off my heater and open a Vent. Maybe I was going to get a sunburned head after all.

But, as the Willamette Valley narrowed near Eugene I could see some low clouds hanging over the foothills, just about where the lake was. Maybe it’s only morning fog, I thought. But, as we got closer, I saw that it wasn’t fog and I had to close my vent and turn the heater on again.

Using IFR navigation (I follow Roads) I radioed Brian to take the next road to the left, right by the old Covered Bridge, one of several still left in Oregon.

(click all images to enlarge)

When we pulled into the parking lot there were already a few Western Oregon Messabouts “Ol’ Coots” already there. Brian and I pulled into a couple nice long car and trailer spaces and got out to meet the folks.

The problem with this Messabout, and others, is that there is never Enough Time to see all the things I want to see and talk with all the folks I seem to meet only at these events.

Bill Aspegren arrived shortly before we had and was carrying his brand new little “Recovery Kayak” down to the Messabout spot. It looked intriguing but I never got to give it a try. He had the lightweight “Skin on Frame” boat over one shoulder and was walking easily toward the lake. The originals were used by Native Peoples to “Recover” sea mammals that they had killed. It is a low, short, and fairy wide boat with an even lower aft deck.

Bill also brought the “Pygmy Osprey Kayak” he built a couple of years ago. Here’s a photo of me trying it out. Note that I didn’t get far from shore.

Really, it was a fairly stable boat, once I got settled in. Luckily I didn’t have to try any rolls.

While Brian and I were readying our boats for launch Bob and Dick Mitsch, who had arrived even earlier, were already putting their boats in the water. Bob brought his stretched “Yankee Tender” powered by a British Seagull OB in a well.

Dick had his brand new boat,” Scruffy”. We don’t know if “Scruffy” refers to the boat or Dick, after he decided to grow a beard over the winter. “Scruffy is a boat of Dick’s own design, sort of. He wanted a boat that could be built plywood lap strake, be simple to construct and easy to row. He decided to join two “Fronts” of a “Yankee Tender”. You can see the resemblance to his brother Bob’s “Yankee Tender”. His “Scruffy” turned out quite well.

Brian and I were talking with John Kohnen when Loy and Bryan Beachy showed up with their Beautiful New Peapod, “Lizzie”.

The 16’ Peapod is built of native Oregon woods Bryan was able to hand select from local mills. Bryan estimates he used some 2200 Nuts and bolts in the planking alone. He decided not to use traditional rivets because his arms were not long enough to put them in by himself.
Not bad work for a Scio, Oregon sheep rancher.
I hope to do a future article on their boat, but suffice it to say it is a Real Work of Art and a fine sailer.

Charley Vetter and Joe Lawton showed up and are here admiring Bryan’s “Lizzie”. Charley (2nd from L.) is Our Old Outboard Guru. Joe (far L.) has the steam engine and boiler built for his little fantail launch and Will bring the steam launch to a messabout this summer. (We hope). More on that too, after he gets it finished.

Joe is already talking about building a little schooner and brought the plans to show everybody.

The rest of the Ol’ Coots trickled in over the next hour or so and joined the flock already there.

I hope I get all the folks that attended listed correctly. Some were new and some were just new to me, but we had a turnout of about 12 boats and 25 people. I apologize to anyone I may have forgotten or misrepresented.

John Kohnen brought his Footloose Skiff, “Pickle”. Some of you may know or have heard about John. (Only Good things, I’m sure) I’d like to thank John for all his fine work trying to inform us all about one of His loves, Small wooden boats.

If you haven’t already found the Amazing “John’s Nautical and Boatbuilding Page” you are in for a real treat. Bookmark his page. You won’t be able to take it all in at one sitting. You can find John’s page here. John is the instigator and organizer of the Western Oregon Messsabouts Group, the “Ol’ Coots”, and many of the Messabouts. Note the Official Western Oregon Messabouts “Ol’ Coot” Burgee, flying on some of the boats.

We’d probably all be boating by ourselves and have never met each other if it weren’t for John’s efforts to bring together many of the small boat nuts of the Northwest.

John had sailed his “Pickle” all alone and would only occasionally find another person to join him. Tired of sailing mostly all by himself he decided to try to organize some fellow small boat fans.

The Western Oregon Messabouts Group and Yahoo Group now have a membership of 169 and an Active membership of around 40.

And remember that water level fluctuation I mentioned? After eating lunch and chatting with the gang for about an hour, I found my PK stuck hard on the beach. Times like this it’s nice to have a lot of strong friends.

Chuck Holtz, one of our regulars, was there with his little D4. Chuck has owned all kinds of boats, but he seems to Really like his little D4. He has it beached at a lake near his home and it able to sail it a lot. He can also slide it in the back of his pickup to bring to Messabouts.

Here’s a shot of Chuck in his D4. I don’t know if he was coming or going, but I do know he was having a good time.

Fortunately, the rain held off, with just an occasional mist and the sun even came out at times. I still had hope for my sunburn. But the Wind never materialized enough to really try out the boats. There was usually enough wind to just fill the sails, but not enough to really Sail. Everyone kept watching and chasing the Cat’s paws on the water, hoping that would be that start of something good. But not. Several of the boats were able to sail down the lake, but found themselves having to row to get back to the group.

Terry Lesh couldn’t get a boat together so early in the year but has been refurbishing his 17’ “Baymaster” sailing cruiser and plans to build a tender for it this summer.

The lack of wind that was so bad for the sailboats Was good for the several rowing boats, and for my “PK-20” Sharpie power cruiser.

I had done some modifications over the winter and this was to be my Sea Trials, to see if the modifications were successful. After discovering that, with enough determination, it is possible to attach an OMC fuel connector backward, I was able to get out on the lake and run my PK through some trials.

Here a couple of shots of me in my PK, testing the slow speed handing and a high speed <g> photo op. (about 21mph with a ’65 Evinrude 33HP)

So, not everyone felt cursed by the lack of wind. Especially John McCallum and John Leister in John’s Johnboat. Or is that John’s, John-Johnboat.

John McCallum Is a real boat designer and builder. He claims this is his work. Just goes to show, the best boat is the one you are using. The “Roger Banister”? That boat’s not going to do no sub 4-minute mile. That’s John on the Left.

Pat Delsma and his friend found the calm water and cool temps Perfect for some serious rowing. The Bateau is of Pat’s own devising based on boats in Garner and Chapelle.

Those guys went charging all over the lake, leaving all the sailboats in their wake. (What wake?) They never slowed down enough for me to get a close look at the boat, but it sure looked fine when they go close enough to see it. How’s this for variety and contrast at a Messabout?

Here’s Doug Cottel and wife, Jean and another able crew in Doug’s Whitehall, built in Port Townsend a few years ago.

Now That’s the way to travel.

I hope there’s a Dinner for the Crew in this deal. But, he does have a Seagull, just in case the Crew does run out of gas.

Here’s Jim Cooper, in his little Nutshell, “Brianna”, also not minding a little calm water.

He rowed ‘till he got tired then turned on his remote control trolling motor to get him back. A Very cool arrangement. The head of the trolling motor is mounted on a push pull tiller next to his cushy seat. He can sit facing forward and control speed, forward, reverse and steer and still have a free hand for a beverage. Only one of Jim’s very clever ideas. Remember the lawn mower power boat?
Jim and several others took advantage of the calm water and trolling speed sailing to try to catch lunch.
Loy Beachy (a “Girl” <g>) was the only person to catch anything. She was able to bring in a 13” Northern Pike Minnow. Some Minnow? The Pike Minnow is an invasive predator of Salmon smolt in the Oregon Rivers, so Loy is now a small part in the attempt to eliminate the damaging fish.

Brian Gage on the other hand Was wishing for a wind, Any wind. Brian’s Gardner/Chamberlain Gunning dory, “Freedom”, is another very beautiful boat. His attention to detail is amazing, even though it doesn’t show in this picture. (Note the star on the retracted rudder in the first photo below.)

The lack of wind makes for nice reflections, but not such nice sailing. Luckily, “Freedom” performs very well under oars, too. “Freedom” also has a motor well for a small 4 stoke OB. He built a special plug that fits tightly into the well bottom to preserve the water flow when the motor is not used. Brian claims this is the first boat he has built. ?? Not too bad for a first try. I can’t wait to see what he builds next, now that he’s learned how.

For the little sailing there was. John Kohnen let me sail his “Pickle”, while he relaxed forward and took these pictures of Brian’s “Freedom”, Lon and Bryan’s beautiful “Lizzie” and Brad Sinclair’s “$200 Boat”.

I’ve sailed a lot of small boats, but this was the first time I had ever sailed a four-sided spritsail rig. I’m glad it wasn’t blowing hard. I found myself wrapped in the sheet on every tack. John said he sailed sitting on the floorboards and didn’t have that problem. But I wouldn’t listen, And I wanted to keep my bottom dry.

Brad Sinclair was one of few boats to actually find a little wind in his Dad, his “$200 Boat”.
The Actual cost of $264 proves that it doesn’t take a lot of money to own a New Sailboat. It performed pretty well too.

And some fashionably late arrivals, Dennis and Marilyn Couch with their “Sloop”, “Brise Douce” (Dennis recently added a short bow sprit to his Schock Knockabout.) Along with their new friend Paul and his daughter Lauren. Paul formally crewed the Team New Zealand America’s Boat, but has now moved up to “Brise Douce”. Unfortunately Dennis had a run-in with a Mast Eating tree when he was backing from the parking lot to the ramp. There was not enough damage to keep him off the water. Apparently this was not the first mast that tree had attacked. Terry Lesh said he suffered a similar incident a couple of years ago.

And to show we are not “Wooden Boat Snobs”, an Allen (sorry I’ve forgotten the last name) showed up with his 14’ Glass O’Day “Javelin”

And finally, I have to show off my new Little Pride and Joy, a “Like New” 1969 4 HP Evinrude. I was able to trade for it, so there was no out of pocket cash. It will get me home if my 33 quits and will provide perfect trolling speeds for fishing this summer.

Well that’s about it for Dexter 2004. I hope I didn’t forget anyone, but I’m sure I must have. I think we all had a fun time and the weather did hold out for us. But, not the sunburned head weather of previous years. Darn. I just wish there was a little more wind for the sailboats, but those that didn’t need or want wind had a perfect day. Even without wind “Dexter” proved to be a Great Opening Messabout.
Again, Just not enough time.

More Western Oregon Messabout are planned for the summer and fall. Anyone interested in joining us at a Messabout can contact me, Pat Patteson, at pateson@colton.com or Join the “Ol’ Coots” on the Western Oregon Messabouts Yahoo Group. No boat required. Just a love of little boats and eagerness to Have Fun.

And remember

“there is nothing -- absolute nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. –“

Even More Special thanks to John Kohnen who provide most of the photos. And to Bill Aspegren and Dennis and Marilyn Couch who also provided photos.

Pat Patteson
Molalla, Oregon