Iowa Messabout 2003
by Steven Lewis

On the 12th and 13th of July, the first annual (hopefully) Iowa Messabout came into being. In my view it was a rousing success. All told, we had 8 people and 9 boats. Paul and Laura Ellifrit came up from Missouri, along with Gary Irving (They live about 20 miles from each other but didn’t know it). Gary Vanderhart came down from Minneapolis, and Tim Boyle and Myself from the Sioux City area. We all managed to find camping spots all in the same area and I was able to get one on the beach, so we could gather all the boats together without any problems.

Gary Vander Hart trying out Tuki

The weather couldn’t have cooperated better, with nice sunny skies and light breezes. Saturday the breezes were a little too light though, to the disappointment of the sailors, but it was made up for on Sunday when there was perfect sailing winds and a surprisingly empty lake. Most of the boats on the lake were there fishing and were either anchored or trolling slowly. All of the power boaters were out on Saturday and even then they were pretty sparse and easily avoided.

Cruiser out cruisin’

Paul and Laura brought their Selway Fisher designed lapstrake sailboat which had been modified to be a Motor Cruiser. It has a comfy cuddy that sleeps 2 and nice roomy cockpit. What struck me was the quality of the workmanship. Everything seemed to be done to the level of hand crafted furniture. Truly a beautiful boat. Paul took whoever wanted to go, out on cruises of the lake.

Next we have Gary Vanderhart, who brought 2 boats. One was Little Debbie, which is a pram dinghy set up for sailing It is a very pretty, well crafted boat, built sturdy enough to tackle just about anything. It had a balanced lug sail and was able to keep up with Tim’s boat (with almost twice the waterline length) upwind.

Gary also brought a slightly modified Mouse (design by Gavin Atkin). Gary deepened the Vee in the bow from about 2 inches to 4 inches, to allow better wave splitting. It was the smallest boat there and even looked tiny against Little Debbie, which is approximately the same length. Gary uses his for fly fishing in small ponds, from a seated position of course.

Natasha on a solo paddle in Tuki

Gary Irving brought a boat that he was just putting the finishing touches on (mounting the rudder) on Saturday. It is a design of his own and will eventually be used for sailing. At the Messabout he had it rigged with a trolling motor and a couple of batteries. The motor was the kind that attaches to the main motor’s shaft and he had it mounted on the rudder. Experimentation revealed that the motor (offset 9” from the rudder’s centerline) caused quite a bit of torque on the rudder and made steering a chore. He is studying new ways of mounting the motor, including having two rudders and mounting the motor between them. The boat floated well enough, but with the weight of the motor, 2 deep cycle batteries and Gary, had a little less freeboard than he had hoped for. I think this boat will do fine with a small sail or perhaps a smaller trolling motor and only one battery.

Gary Irving’s Electric Dart (my name for it, not his)

Tim brought his sailboat (now repaired) built from plans by David Carnell. This is the same one that got damaged last fall when the parking pawl slipped on my Dodge pickup and turned the truck into a submarine. Tim was able to repair the hole that was punched into the bottom and has sailed it a half of a dozen times since then. This is a nice, well crafted boat, built to have fun in. I forgot the camera on shore when I went out and met him in the middle of the lake, it would have been a perfect picture. As it was, I was having so much fun, I forgot to take pictures a lot of the time.

Paul and Laura’s SF MotorCruiser

As to my own boats, I brought 4: Chugger, Fisher10, Simple Simon and Tuki, my son’s ScoutCanu. Fisher10 has acquired it’s own name: Road Rash. This is because it came flying off the top of Chugger during transportation not just once but twice! The first time was on the way up and it just wasn’t tied down well enough, it slid for about 100 ft on the bottom for a few scratches in the varnish. I finally had to put two screws through the transom and into Chugger to keep it on.

Inside the cockpit of the MotorCruiser

The second time was on the way home and this time it got some damage. When I loaded everything up for the trip back, Chugger was too far back on the trailer and caused the hitch to lift off the ball. The trailer started whipping around on the safety chains and it threw Road Rash like a bucking bronco throws a rider. Damage is still only minimal as I just need to put some tape on the bottom of the transom, to cover where the pavement ground into the wood.

The boat lineup from the left

Back up at the lake though, RR gave a really good account of itself, getting mile wide grins from my kids as they first got to pound over the waves in the front seat and then got to drive it a little on Sunday. It got up on plane after 30-40 seconds of gathering speed. In waves it is definitely prudent to have someone in the front to keep the bow down. I tried it alone and kinda scared myself silly, but I have relatively little experience with driving a motorboat at speed and was probably quite safe. Still, it IS a little boat and was going quite quickly and it started to pound on the waves.

The lineup from the right

Chugger proved that it is at best a semi-displacement boat, not quite achieving full plane with one person on board and getting nowhere near it with two or more. Still it chugged merrily along at ¾ throttle, at about 5 mph. I only had my 9.5 Johnson along (it being the only running motor in my possession currently). This is about the maximum for Chugger (10hp) and a little shy of the max for RoadRash (15hp).

A good meal puts smiles on everybody’s face. (clockwise: Gary V, Laura E, Paul E, Gary I, Tim B, Natasha and Bubba (Steven Jr.) L

My son’s canoe got some use, but the lake wasn’t really good for canoe exploring, not having little nooks and crannies to poke into. Still, the kids did go paddling and my daughter took it out solo once too. Simple Simon didn’t see water, as it didn’t have any means of propulsion, and I didn’t want to spoil it by using a trolling motor on it. I am still in the process of making the sailing bits, and I misplaced the stuff I was going to use to set it up for rowing.

An almost full moon rising over boats and lake

Saturday evening we had a BBQ, and really chowed down. I wasn’t aware that everyone was supposed to supply their own chow, so I did up a Beef, Chicken and Pork mix that was quite good, if I do say so myself. Next time Y’all are on your own tho.