There really was no compelling reason why, on Sunday October 30, 2005, Craig Fitzgerald paddled his homegrown 396 pound pumpkin 500 meters across Long Pond in Rutland State Park, Rutland, Massachusetts. The only real purpose for the voyage was to see if it could be done with life, limb and dignity intact.
Craig Fitzgerald paddles his giant pumpkin ‘Pegasus’ across Long Pond
The nautical adventure started out as an exercise in extreme gardening. Fitzgerald planted an Atlantic Giant pumpkin seed in his garden in June and soon a vine began to grow. And grow. In mid July every pumpkin on the plant was culled but one, soon to be named ‘Pegasus’. Being the only pumpkin on the plant and receiving nutrients from 450 square feet of plant pushing from behind, it grew so rapidly that during its peak, Pegasus gained 150 pounds in seven days.
Aided by his lifting team, dubbed ‘Team Pegasus’, Fitzgerald transported the pumpkin to a local fair on Labor Day weekend garnering 4th place in the giant pumpkin contest. The day before the scheduled voyage, Fitzgerald spent three hours scooping out 200 pounds of pumpkin guts for a seating compartment, leaving walls about two inches thick – the amount an engineer had told him would create enough displacement to float his boat. The thinner the shell the more streamlined the watercraft he claimed. The next morning, Team Pegasus was busy again transporting the behemoth, this time to the boat ramp at a local pond.
Meteorological conditions were ideal for the deep orange gourd’s maiden voyage. Fitzgerald embarked at noon under clear skies. With his sister paddling alongside in a safety kayak, the mariner encountered calm waters and no stiff breezes which he worried would overturn the pumpkin. Heeding state boating regulations, he carried a police whistle and a bailer, a plastic pumpkin. “I was pleased with how seaworthy it was, a bit tippy but very buoyant” Fitzgerald said. When asked why he did it, Fitzgerald replied ‘I figured that if I can grow it, I can row it.’
Fitzgerald’s goal is to generate enough excitement to bring a proper pumpkin regatta to Rutland next summer, raising money to benefit charity. He’s going to help make it happen by giving away seeds from Pegasus. He doesn’t think a pumpkin has ever been sailed and is looking for design ideas to work on over the winter. You can mail any mast/sail design suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org If you’re interested in seeds, send a self addressed stamped bubble pack envelope to:
57 Prescott St.
Rutland, MA 01543
Please include with your request a sailboat design suggestion or just a note of encouragement.