The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














Lake Charles Messabout
by Al Meyer

I’d been looking forward to the Lake Charles Messabout almost ever since I had gotten back from the messabout at Magnolia Beach in May. Since Magnolia Beach, I’d spent some more time single-handing my little boat, gradually gaining self-confidence and a little skill. I’d also built a new mast, making it a foot taller. There was nothing technically wrong with the original mast, but the boom sat down pretty low, so I had to duck pretty low during a tack or a gybe. Visibility on the lee side was also restricted, without having to “duck and peek.” The new mast helped a lot, without seeming to increase the heeling moment very much. I’d sailed with the new mast only a few times before, but hoped to spend some serious time on the water at Lake Charles. It would also be really nice to share the water with something other than jet skis and power boats.

click to enlarge

I built a new (longer) mast and put a penant on my boat. The longer mast raises the boom, which greatly improves visibility on the lee side

(click images for larger views)

Lake Charles is only two and a half hours away from the house (Houston area), an easy drive. My original plan was to drive down Friday afternoon, maybe get in some sailing time before dark, and camp out Friday and Saturday. The weatherman promised a chance of rain Friday night, and I’d already expected a warm night being lullaby’d to sleep by mosquitoes, so I chickened out and drove down first thing Saturday morning. By 8:30 in the morning I was in town.

You know you're in Louisiana when a kayak is named Woodreaux

click to enlarge

The messabout was held at the Lake Charles Yacht Club, right under the big bridge at Interstate 10. Finding it couldn’t be easier. They have a nice facility at the Yacht Club, complete with sand beaches. The people are very friendly, everyone oohing and ahhing everyone else’s boat. On the same day, the yacht club also had a Junior Championship, which I learned meant a bunch of teenagers competing against each other in Sunfishes. A lot of them are very good sailors.

click to enlarge

A really sweet whitehall-based stitch and glue rowboat. Later in the day I got a chance to row it, it handles very nice.jpg

All of the messabout boats were wood, some meant for rowing and some for sailing. I launched my boat the club’s boat ramp, rowed it literally around the corner, then rigged it for sail on the beach. It was a nice day for rowing, the wind was a little on the light side, but everybody got out on the water and had a grand time just “messing about.”

A very nice stitch and glue canoe

click to enlarge

One gentleman in a Puddle Duck (I believe it was John Wright, I apologize if I got the name wrong) had his boat rigged with a Sunfish sail and added a bowsprit with a homemade roller-furled jib. A lot of canvas on that little boat. John took it out for a test run and took down the jib afterwards. However, John seems to be a very talented person, and with just a little bit of tinkering, ought to have the system working fine. The Juniors were competing, so we tried to stay out of their way.

click to enlarge

a nice pirogue

The Yacht Club fed us a lunch of hot dogs, and after that things got a little more serious. There were four Puddle Ducks, so we had to have a Puddle Duck race. After the race started, I decided it would be more fun to watch the race from my boat than the beach, so I played “chase boat.” I didn’t provide any competition, as I need to learn to read the wind better and adjust the sail, the tack, or both, accordingly. The kids in the Sunfish drove home the point when they started lapping me. Like I said, they’ve got some good sailors in that bunch.

A couple of Puddle Ducks on the beach

click to enlarge

In the evening the Yacht Club treated us again, this time to a full-blown barbeque supper. All in all a great time, and some really nice folks.

click to enlarge

Perhaps the smallest dory I've seen, this one couldn't have been more than 6 or 7 feet long. is this a model?

One of the Puddle Ducks underway

click to enlarge