The Great Pacific Northwest Solstice Messabout


The Great Pacific Northwest Solstice Messabout
by Marilyn Couch

Even though it was a typical cold, wet, rainy Northwest day, I can still feel the warmth of The First Annual Summer Solstice Messabout. We are a friendly group of about 20 regulars (the group is much larger though), who manage to get together every month or so, to share camaraderie, tips and ideas, advice and just plain scuttlebutt. We even manage to find time to sail :).

The very loosely defined ticket of entry to this little group is having a boat, preferably of wood, extra points are scored, if you made it yourself.
Did I forget to mention camaraderie is important?! Just as our members hail from all walks of life and from every part of the State, we have 2 things in abundance. A variety of interesting people there as well as some very interesting craft.

Our host, Lon (Chuck) Wells
(click to enlarge)

This June 20th weekend was the start of something new. A tradition of sorts that every year after this would become what is known as, "Summer Solstice Messabout". The idea was spawned by our gracious host, Lon Wells, one of the newest members to our group. He suggested early on that we be his guests for the "Messabout" and take advantage of his facilities at Quinn's Cove, on the Columbia River in Washington. Even though our group is an Oregon Messabout group, we decided to include Lon because, we receive his email posts to our computers which are technically, located in Oregon. The small incidentals such as Lon's waterfront moorage, 600 feet of boatdock and a tugboat were of minor consequence in our decision! :) You've never met such a gracious host!

We staked out an island in the Columbia known as "Caterpillar Island" to establish our forward base of operations. It wasn't too long after the tents were pitched, that we heard the chug-chug of Lon's diesel tug. As he came around the bend, we spied a barge he had in tow and perched atop was a brand spanking shiny, new, Rent-a John! After dutifully staking and chaining the barge to the shore, off he went in his tug. Later he returned with 3 days worth of firewood! It was truly appreciated since the weather wasn't co-operating. Bonfires are good for the soul.

John Kohnen and Pickle

John Kohnen, the mentor of the group (of Mother of All Maritime Links page) was there with his Jordan Skiff, Pickle. She's a beauty.

If you have questions, he has the answers.

Frank Mabrey was not able to bring his Whitehall Wherry, but wins the "good guy" award for volunteering to tow Brian's boat "Freedom" to the event. Brian's truck had just gone south a day prior. What a guy Frank!

Pat & Kay in Blue Heron

Pat and Kay Patteson were there, with their newly camping upgraded PK-20. They now have the ability to tarp off the cockpit for sleep-overs, keeping out the nasty bits of weather we have here. His upgrades must have worked swell because, in the morning they looked like they had spent the night at The Hilton!

Brian Gage with Freedom

Brian Gage arrived with "Freedom". His boat was 4 years in the making and someday will probably be in the Smithsonian. I am not sure which section though, either as a tribute to period boats or as a tribute to American boat building craftsmanship. You should see her gleam, floors should shine that bright at home!!

Harvey's Proa

Harvey Golden. Harvey's Proa is a sight to behold. He is either on the cutting edge of technology...or maybe recycling, from a woman's view, I am undecided as of yet. I have never seen a boat before that was sewn and lashed together and could actually sail. Harvey would sail her (prayers to the Polynesian Gods of tranquil waters offered, no doubt) with such a reckless abandon for his poor soul, that I kept covering my face and peeking through my fingers to see if he was still afloat out there in the raging Columbia! Thank God for good ole American twine!! Awww youth!

Mark Albanese showed up for his first Oregon Messabout appearance sans mouseboat. That was fine with the rest of us, because in the afternoon the wind came up and everyone took turns using Mark for ballast! Good job Mark, because all returned safely to shore after those white knuckle moments.

Even though the weather wasn't on our side, we gathered around a warm fire, we shared laughs, our perspectives and points on what made a successful Messabout.

Votes were taken! Votes were tallied! The decision was unanimous, We did it! Next year we'll be back!!

Marilyn Couch
Dennis's humble wife and First Mate of "Brise Douce"
Oregon Messabouters

Additional Photos
(thanks to John Kohnen, Marilyn & Dennis Crouch, and Pat Patteson)
(Click pictures to enlarge)

Frank Mabrey's Whitehall, Pickle, the Mouse Boat, Freedom, Blue Heron, Brise Douce
Pat Pattson in his PK-20 Blue Heron
Dennis & Marilyn Couch & Brise Douce, Freedom in background
Marilyn & Brise
Brian Gage in his John Gardner modified Chamberlain gunning dory Freedom
Lon Wells' nephew, Brian Gage (seated), Lon Wells, Lon's son Quinn, Lon's wife Kate, Kay Patteson, John Kohnen
Sam Devlin designed and built Lichen cruising scow owned by Craig Weagant, who lives on the slough
Mark Albanese, John Kohnen, Brian Gage, Frank Mabrey, Dennis Couch
Harvey's proa under sail