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by Paul Esterle - Newark, Deleware - USA

It was a dark and stormy night. At least it was the Friday night of the 2012 Eastern Messabout held at Elk Neck State Park south of the town of North East, Maryland June 1-3. Unfortunately, that forecast convinced some of the pre-registered attendees to decide to stay home.

Friday's weather was unsettled, with a front moving through the upper Chesapeake Bay area. The winds were out of the east all day Friday, blowing directly on shore at the park with resulting wave action, making any boating problematic. Tornados were reported in nearby Harford County and Havre de Grace. Yet many folks did show up Friday and unloaded their boats onto the nearby beach and sea wall.


Elk Neck State Park in Maryland is a beautiful park on the south-east shore of the peninsula between the Elk Neck River and the Northeast River at the head of the Chesapeake. Easily accessible from I-95, it has launch ramps, clean restrooms, a concession store as well as more than ample space for boat trailers and tow vehicles. There is also a great campground as part of the park and within walking distance of the ramps. The grounds are very clean and meticulously maintained.

A registration tent was set up on the grass near the beach and launch ramps and served as a gathering point for those brave enough to show up. Welcome bags were distributed to each captain. Those bags contained an eclectic mix of goodies for the participants. Sample magazines, catalogs, stickers, a hat from Sailrite, key chains from West Marine and many other goodies filled the bags to bursting.

All those dedicated boaters who showed up on Friday gathered around the registration tent and talked boats, boats, boats. A potluck dinner was planned for Friday night, but as the weather became more and more unsettled, plans changed. Most of the participants gathered in North East at a local favorite for crabs, Woody's.

The weather that night was indeed dark and stormy, with several tents blown over or leaking. But the next morning, Saturday, dawned beautiful with just enough wind from just the right direction. More and more folks showed up, many who had registered on the website as well as many who had heard about it from mentions in magazines and online.

The Friday night potluck was cancelled due to the weather concerns (righty so as it started raining and blowing about 5:30) so we rescheduled it as lunch on Saturday. Hot dogs and fixings as well as numerous other potluck dishes meant there was plenty of food for all. The hot dogs and fixings were supplied by Eric Hughes. Eric brought enough for lunch and dinner on Saturday plus some for those left at the park at noon on Sunday.

And. of course, there was plenty of low key water activity; sailing paddling and experimenting. Most of the boats were home-built although there were at least two Potter 15's and an Edey & Duff Shearwater representing production boats. One of the star attendees was Mike Monies, who had driven in from Oklahoma with the Red Scamp. The Red Scamp was particularly popular with many demo sails being conducted.

While activities were generally low key, there were several organized events. One was the Marshmallow Scoop, where yellow marshmallow peeps were released out on the water. The Marshmallow Scoop was organized by Tom Maurer. The race was to see who could scoop up the most peeps before they dissolved or drifted away.

A second event was a poker run, organized by Steve Bosquette. In this event, contestants picked up a plying card as they left the beach. They then proceeded to rendezvous with three other boats out on the water, picking up another card each time. A fifth card was picked up upon the return to the beach. The best hand won. Both events had the competitive juices flowing as well as the laughs.

Steve is really is the originator of the Eastern Messabout going back to Kingston, NY seven years ago, with another two years at Hawk Island - Rancocas Creek off the Delaware north of Philly. We skipped '10 looking for a better venue and obviously found it at Elk Neck last year.

Thanks to the generosity of many sponsors, there were prizes to be awarded for each event as well as numerous door prizes.

Talkin’ boats, eatn’ dogs – Saturday potluck lunch.  Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

Mike Monies in the Red Scamp.      Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

Rick Urban’s Sunfish converted to electric boat - the Solarfish - Muskrat. Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

John Garnder’s Geodesic Airolite SOF Dinghy. Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

Alex Syndor’s PDR #471 - Lightning McQuack. Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

The registration table to the right and the picnic area and grills to the left. Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

Tom Mauer giving Steve Bosquette one of the boxes of peeps in preparation of the peep scoop game. Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

Vaughan Mauer holding the transom of Steve Bosquette’s self designed skiff - Rachael. Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

The Suarez family in Mysz (mouse boat in the foreground), and self designed pram - Locomotion - to the right. Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

Tom and Vaughan Mauer launching PDR 537 - Water Dancer - for the peep scoop game. Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

Vaughan Mauers Wacky Lassie in the fore, then Susan Hawkes fishing pontoon, not sure who owns the skiff that is third, PDR 537 Water Dancer, the Boy scout sailing canoe, unknown dingy, Son of Circe (3/4 puddle duck), Gunbunny up on the beach, Paulsboat. Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

Buckets of peeps for judging after the peep scoop game.Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

A Potter 15 in the foreground. The Elk River is the western gateway to the C&D Canal, the freighter in the distance is headed for the entrance to the left of the picture. Photo Courtesy of Pat Esterle

Paul Truszkowski’s mouseboat – Mysz. Photo Courtesy of Dick Hamly

Mauer in his Wackless Lassie - Nighthawk. Photo Courtesy of Dick Hamly

Jack Mizrahi’s Joe Dobler utility skiff being launched. Photo Courtesy of Dick Hamly

The Geodesic Airolite SOF Dinghy, Paul Truszkowski in his dingy - Das Brickett - and the 1950’s Boy Scout sailing canoe in the distance.        Photo Courtesy of Dick Hamly

Norm Wolfe’s Normsboat hull #1 - Piilu. Photo Courtesy of Dick Hamly

John Gardner’s wife in the Geodesic Airolite SOF Dinghy. Photo Courtesy of Dick Hamly

Paul Moffitt’s Paulsboat Hull #1 – Schadenfruede. Photo Courtesy of Dick Hamly

Alex Sydnor’s Sharptown barge.    Photo Courtesy of Dick Hamly

Two of Paul Truszkowski’s boats. His Mousboat - Mysz - and his self designed – Chiquita. Photo Courtesy of Dick Hamly

Saturday dinner was another potluck affair with just as much food as lunch. There were hot dogs and fixings provide by Eric and sausages cooked by Rick Urban, the "sausage man". In addition, many others brought dishes and desserts. Then it was time for the evening seminars. Paul Esterle (Capt'n Pauley) gave one of keeping the water out and using sealants proper bedding. Mike Monies did an excellent job of describing the Red Scamp. Paul Moffitt, who originated the OBX130 and has sailed the Outer Banks for years and has also sailed the Texas 200 a couple times, talked about his instigation and sailing of the OBX 130, the boats, the route, the skippers, & the challenges, including the proposed route for 2012.

Paul Moffitt had brought his new boat, designed by Jim Michalak, to the Messabout. The 15' sailing canoe, called the Paulsboat, was built to run the OBX 130 in 2012.

Sunday was a non-event day, with lots of talk, people getting a last sail in and then loading boats for the drive home. While attendance was hurt a little buy the Friday weather forecast, those that showed up had a great time and are already looking forward to the 2013 Elk Neck Messabout.

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