Gatherings - A Great Day for Gaffers


A Great Day for Gaffers
by Bill Paxton

Lake Nokomis, in the shadow of the Minneapolis skyline, was the site of the Minnesota Messabout on August 23. The get-together featured beautiful homebuilt boats including four Weekenders and two Skipjacks (both Stevenson Projects designs), a Chesapeake Light Craft kayak, and a canoe and kayak designed by their builder.

Four gaffers at the dock: Surprise, the Tam Weekender - on opposite side, Skipjact, and Wood Song

The main event was the launching of Julie K, a Weekender built by Dave Richards of Rochester, MN. Dave, with the help of his wife Kari, produced a real gold-plater. The boat would look as at home in a fine furniture gallery as it does on the water. The workmanship is superb, and the attention to detail amazing. With family, friends and well-wishers at dockside, the Julie K sprinted from the dock in a very stiff wind to begin her long career of transporting Dave and Kari to years of joy on the water.

Dave Richards makes ready to launch the Julie K.

Kari Richards feels at home

Jeff and June Tam brought their son Michael and their year-old Weekender. It’s always fun to see how builders modify the plans to suit their own needs. Jeff eliminated the lazarette and replaced the standard wheel with a tiller. Jeff is quite a craftsman, and even made his own wooden blocks for the running rigging.

Jeff Tam's Weekender

Jeff & June Tam sail under a reefed main

Michael Jarchow purchased a Weekender awhile back, and due to changes in his life has it up for sale. Wood Song is a pretty boat, and sails well. While I reefed my sail to accommodate the high winds, Michael flew along under full sail, and she behaved admirably. Wood Song will surely make some new owner proud.

Wood Song

Nancy and I brought Surprise, our cabinless Weekender. It looked odd next to the regular Weekenders, but after three seasons of sailing her, I’m glad I made the choice to eliminate the cabin and extend the seats forward.

Surprise at the dock

Craig Bursell brought his Skipjack which he launched earlier in the year at this same lake. Even though the wind was high, and he had no way to reef his sail, Craig went out a couple of times and rocketed around the lake. The boat is light, nimble and faster than one might expect. It’s also surprisingly roomy and comfortable. Craig’s next project is already underway: a Vacationer by Stevenson Projects.

Craig & MIssissippi Bob. This Skipjack really scoots!

Craig's Skipjack in a quiet moment

Chuck and Dianne Casterline brought Sawl T Dawg, their Skipjack. Chuck had made some serious modifications to the mast just that morning, and decided that the wind was a bit too high for testing the rig.

Chuck Casterline's Skipjack

“Mississippi” Bob Brown brought a canoe and kayak of his own design. He specializes in solo boats. His plywood solo canoe took about 30 hours to build. “Half of that was painting,” said Bob.

Bob Brown's plywood canoe

Bob Brown's Kayak

Steve Rice had his CLC kayak with him. It’s as beautiful a kayak as you could ever hope to see. He did a great job building her.

Steve Rice's kayak

It was a rare treat to have so many builders in one spot. We had a great time admiring each other’s work, asking questions, and comparing ideas. As always there was lots of talk about “next boats,” but that’s another article.

From left to right the builders are Steve Rice, Jeff Tam, Dave Richards, Mississippi Bob Brown, Chuck Casterline, Bill Paxton, and Craig Bursell.

One last view of Julie K