By Bill Paxton - Minneapolis, Minnesota - USA

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “Messabouts are like a box of chocolates.  You never know what your going to get.”  That about sums it up for the 2008 Lake Pepin Messabout.

Grant steadies the boat while Bill Paxton prepares to launch his Stevenson's Weekender SURPRISE from a lee shore 

We saw old friends and made some new ones.  We had boats to paddle, row, sail and motor.  Most boats were homebuilt, but two were factory-built.  The weather was sunny and stormy.  Some camped for the weekend, and others came just for Saturday.  All in all everyone had a good time - even the guy who went to the hospital.  (It wasn’t a life-threatening ankle sprain, but why take chances.)

b Doyscher and his Teal with a fresh coat of paint. 

Paul Breeding won the prize for traveling the farthest to the messabout.  He had recently finished his Skiff America 20, and was making a lap of the U.S., and was kind enough to include the messabout.

Paul Breeding and his Skiff America 20 

Other newly launched boats included a Bolger Surf built by Dave “Bink” Burdecki.  “Mississippi” Bob Brown also brought a new rowboat – a stretched Bolger Cartopper.

Dave "Bink" Burdecki's Surf, Miss Pickle.
Bob Brown's stretched Cartopper.

The Giles brothers, Kenny and Bill, came from afar to bring their PD Racers.  Bill was tearing up the lake, and his GPS showed he hit 6.5 knots.  Not bad for a plywood box!

Kenny Giles showed me his GPS which said he had just done 6.5 knots in his PDRacer. 
Bill Giles in his PDRacer - the second one ever built, and the oldest duck to still be sailing. 

Kenny owns PDR #2.  He let me sail this famous craft, and I managed to flip it over.  (Don’t ask.)  Back on shore I discovered I lost my wallet while in the water.  The wallet was in a watertight polyethelene enclosure (i.e. a Ziplock sandwich bag), so I searched the shoreline hoping that it floated in.  After two days I abandoned the search.  A week later the wallet turned up in my mailbox.  An honest fisherman casting from the shore found it four miles downstream from where I lost it, and mailed it back to me.

After flipping this famous boat, I felt compelled to help bail it. 

The most unusual boat was probably John Goeser’s THINK PINK, a Chugger designed by Steve Lewis.  Steve was on hand to inspect the craft.  Steve brought another of his designs called the Scout Canu, but unlike last year, it was sporting outriggers.

John Goeser and THINK PINK - a Steve Lewis-designed Chugger. 
Designer Steve Lewis brought his Scout Canu with outriggers and a sail. 

The heaviest boat was a Bolger Micro Trawler built by Stephen “Walks With a Limp” Collins.  This boat was clearly my wife’s favorite. 

Stephen Collins rowing a Peanut Pram built by his daughter out to his Micro Trawler. 
Scott Nettleton, Stephen Collins' son-in-law, brought a beautiful mandolin he had built. 

This messabout has always had a birdwatcher-type boat.  This year it was the famous ARCEBUS by Greg Lundberg.  I’m always amazed by the interior volume of this boat.

Greg Lundberg's Arcebus

The production boats include Chad Whipple’s Dovekie, and Doc “Four Fenders” Regan’s West Wight Potter 15.  Nobody minded that they weren’t homebuilt.  One fella expressed the sentiment of the group when he said, “I never met a small boat I didn’t like.”

Chad Whipple aboard his Dovekie ESPRESSO. Note the coffee pot on the burgee. 
Doc Regan's West Wight Potter 15

Once again the Saturday night potluck saw an abundance of food and good humor.  The accompanying sunset was a real stunner.  The Saturday night thunderstorm was healthy enough that the park ranger made us evacuate to the safety of the concrete block shower house.

Bob Trygg rowing GIZMO a Welsford-designed Tread Lightly 

You can find all of the photos from the messabout, as well as info on the 2009 Lake Pepin Messabout at


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