The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














2005 Minnesota Messabout at Lake Pepin
by Bill Paxton

This year the Messabout moved to its new site, Lake Pepin. This lake is really a very wide spot in the Mississippi river with Minnesota on the west bank and Wisconsin on the east.

The base of the operation was the Hok-Si-La Campground just north of Lake City, MN. Our campsite was perched on top of a 30-foot cliff overlooking the lake. Ten of us camped in the same, roomy site, which facilitated the camaraderie.

The evening view of Lake Pepin from the campsite

(click images to enlarge)

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Severe weather was forecast for the June 3-5 weekend, and that scared off some who normally would have camped out on Friday. Fortunately the thunderstorms and hail failed to materialize Friday night, but a light rain began to fall after breakfast on Saturday morning. Dave and Kari Richards brought their Weekender, Julie K, and I had brought my open Weekender, Surprise. Mississippi Bob Brown and Gary Schollmeier brought canoes and a kayak. Phil Lea (who won the prize for traveling the greatest distance) of Arkansas brought his modified June Bug, while Gary Vander Hart brought his wonderful sailing pram.

The drizzle continued throughout the morning as we waited around at the boat ramp trying to decide if we should launch our boats in the rain or wait it out. Then as if on cue, it happened. The rain stopped, and Greg Lindberg drove into the parking lot trailing Arcebus – a one-of-a-kind creation that he wanted to launch at the Messabout. Now things were looking up!

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Arcebus arrives!

Arcebus is a scaled-up Nutshell Pram with a “Birdwatcher” style top, leeboards on each side, and a balanced lug mainsail, and a sharpie sprit sail mizzen. It’s Greg’s own design.

While Greg was rigging for launch, in pulled Ed and Crystal Stibal with their Caledonia Yawl, followed by Ron Steward and his 14’ gaff rigged sloop. And that’s the way it went all weekend – people just kept showing up. Pretty soon we had a wonderful Messabout on our hands.

Arcebus begins a long and famous career.

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Once Arcebus was christened with champagne and launched, we all wanted to get into the act. Pretty soon all the boats were launched and headed out into the lake. And people kept coming, and coming, and coming… Most were builders who brought boats, but some were wannabe’s and some had boats under construction at home.

Saturday afternoon it rained off and on while the fog moved in and out. The rainy times provided a great excuse to beach the boats and walk around.

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Enjoying the rain and gawking at boats.

Eventually the rain gave way to sunshine and a beautiful evening. Several boats beached for the night just below our campsite, and some spent the night on their boats.

Beaching for the night.

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Saturday evening we had a magical potluck. We invited several of the day’s visitors to join us, and even though they hadn’t brought any food to share, there was plenty left over. (I wish epoxy worked that way.)

That night the stormy weather left us alone again, and we awoke to a sunny, breezy dawn. We had agreed the night before to sail across the lake to Stockholm, WI for breakfast at the Bogus Creek Café. Even though there were whitecaps all over the lake, we launched for a spirited ride to breakfast. I caught a ride with Ken Harter in his Drascombe Longboat. Phil sailed his June Bug, and Chris Pesklo sailed his Weekender, Resolute. Arcebus brought a crowd, as did Don Claxton’s catamaran.

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Bogus Creek Café.

Breakfast was like something out of a movie. As I sat eating remarkable food in this garden setting on a June morning with fellow boaters, I have to admit that I was thinking, “It can’t get any better than this.” But I was wrong. When breakfast was done, and we sailed back to MN, there on the beach waiting for us was Kirk and Dan Erickson with their brand new Norwalk Island Sharpie 31 Monkey’s Fist.

Monkey's Fist.

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These two brothers did a stunning job on their boat. It’s a real gold-plater. They had launched it earlier in the week and motored it down the river to Lake Pepin, which will be its permanent home. They planned to bend on the sails the week after the Messabout.

Lake Pepin is a beautiful venue, and the MN Messabout will be held there again next year. For a look at ALL the boats, visit our online photo album at https://2005-mn-messabout.notlong.com/

Bill Paxton
Apple Valley, MN