By Steve Bosquette - Delano, New Jersey - USA

Last year's Messabout was very unusual in that the territory covered was enormous.  As a group we went the length of not only New Jersey but also the length of the United States. 

It was held at the Hawk Island Marina on the banks of the Rancocas Creek, Delanco, NJ.

All of the participants arrived Friday afternoon, which was a beautiful June day.  Fortunately the weather was perfect for the entire event.

Stefan Gutemuth brought his Bolger WaterVan,
George Mindos brought his Simmons Sea Skiff,
Bob Throne brought his self designed Wanderer.
Paul Truszkowski brought his self designed piroque.

Bob Harding, who lives adjacent to the marina also attended. He is building a self designed 35 ft Garvey. 

It was my first messabout without a boat. 

We went boating Friday afternoon and evening.  After we toured Bob Harding's shop and saw his mammoth Garvey,

We had an excellent Bar-B-Q on the deck of the Hawk Island Marina Friday evening.  Everyone had brought something for all to enjoy.  The facilities are excellent for this type of a gathering. The marina has rest rooms, showers, a ship's store, a wonderful new ramp, transient docks, a large grassy area for camping, and a very amiable staff.  The fees were reasonable and the location on the Rancocas Creek, a tributary of the Delaware River, was very conducive for the use of power, sail or human powered craft.

Saturday morning dawned bright and warm.
We had arranged as a group to go by boat about a mile away to Dredge Harbor Marina for breakfast.
We all piled into a couple boats and headed out of the Rancocas Creek and into the Delaware River.  

The marina is on the eastern shore of the Delaware river.   As we followed the well marked channel into the cove we were greeted with many boats of various sizes heading out for a day on the Delaware.  Dredge Harbor is one of 4 or 5 marinas in the cove.  On the street level is a neat little restaurant which is perched on the edge overlooking the marina.  It has an outside deck and a dining room inside.  We put a couple tables together and had great conversation and a wonderful meal.

On the left: Stefan Gutemuth, Steve Bosquette, Bob Harding, Joyce Harding on the right: George Mindos, his companion (Sorry, I forgot her name), Paul  Truszkowski, and Bob Throne

During breakfast Stefan Gutemuth said that he was taking his WaterVan to Philadelphia and invited any that wanted to go.

 We returned to the Hawk Island Marina and prepared to embark on what promised to be a fun adventure.  We all went except for Bob Harding and Joyce, who had another committment. 

The rest of us piled into the WaterVan, found a comfortable spot and anticipated the adventure ahead. Phil Bolger designed a functional vessel which was very well thought out and roomy.  We all found a spot.  Stefan had the huge front hatch open so it was like riding along looking off the end of your porch. 

Captain Stefan at the helm   
Bob Throne in his glory
As we were approaching the Palmyra-Tacony Bridge the center section opened for us. We didn't know why that was necessay since there is lots of room underneath. 
I looked up river and saw the real reason.  There was a freighter heading south.
We were spellbound as we watched it effortlessly and expertly negotiate the opening.

She was the NESRIN AKSOY of Valletta, Malta.

She was tended by a Moran Tug.

The next bridge was the Betsy Ross.  As we passed under we could see the skyline of Philadelphia in the distance.

It was a lovely, leisurely trip, the river was calm, the temperature was warm, and the company was pleasant.  The WaterVan has great visibility, the perfect excursion boat.

We soon came upon Penn's Landing on the waterfront of Philadelphia.  The Independence  Maritime Museum is located there and a marina protected by a huge breakwater. 
On the shoreside are a few interesting vessels.  First as you enter is the Moshulu, a barque converted to an upscale floating restaurant. 
Next was the battleship Olympia which is a nineteenth century ship of the line which was part of Commodore Dewey's "Great White Fleet".  Her sister ship The Maine, blew up in Havanah Harbor starting the Spanish American War. 
Moored between the Olympia and the shore is the WWII submarine USS Becuna.
We left the marina area and continued south along the western shore of the Delaware.  Soon we saw the backward tilting smoke stacks of what looked like a cruise ship. 
As we got closer we discovered it to the the United States.  As you can see from the photos she looks worn and sad. 
I guess there has been some attempts to restore her but nothing is visible.  We went the full length of the United States.

As we were leaving the berth of the United States we saw a rather strange sight approaching from down-river.  A Mississippi river boat. As she got closer we saw the name Liberty Belle on her nameplate.  She is a familiar excusion boat on the Delaware berthed upriver in Burlington.  She specializes in evening dinner cruises.

Proceeding downriver were saw navy ships in the distance.  It was the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. 

As we passed by we could see the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy looking abandoned. 

We quickly entered the Schuyhill River which provides the western boundary of Philadelphia.  The area we saw was very industrial and not too attractive.   We turned around and crossed to the eastern shore of the Delaware. 

As we headed north we had a great view of the Battleship the USS New Jersey.  We traveled the entire length of New Jersey and continued north.

We arrived back at the marina after a four hour trip.  It was certainly one of the highlights of the weekend.

We messed about in boats for the remainder of Saturday afternoon.  The bar-b-q was on again for dinner.

After dinner George and his companion and the Simmons Seaskiff departed. 

The rest of us visited until dark, recounting the days events and settled down for the night.


Sunday morning dawned another beautiful day. We decided to get breakfast at Dredge Harbor Marina again. 
Since there were only 5, Rich Adler joined us.
We all got into Bob Throne's boat Wanderer.

The messabout ended late morning.  We helped everyone get their boats on the trailers and said our goodbyes, anticipating next's years Eastern Messabout.

If you are within driving distance of Philadelphia we would love to have you join us for the 2009 Eastern Messabout June 26,27 & 28.


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