Big Lagoon Messabout May 14-16, 2010

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My friends in Eureka, who do historical and other boating events as 'Morgan's Companie', have been holding small boat events at Big Lagoon County Park for a number of years.  We came up with the idea of hosting something a bit larger, and somehow I ended up organizing the first annual Big Lagoon Messabout in 2008.    We invited folks from all over Northern California, and also got a nice turnout from the Western Oregon Coots.

These photos are mostly mine, with additions from Laura Dodd, John Carlson, plus Jeff and Eric.

I arrived late Thursday evening to find that Jeff and Kristopher had both launched their boats and set up the campsite. As usual the Jetta diesel wagon carrying everything that would fit - and then some.

Jeff texted me this photo of the dry launch ramp as I drove up. Big Lagoon had breached again, the first time we had ever experienced an active breach in the sandbar. Needless to say we had to carry all the boats to the water, so were glad that Tony didnt plan on bringing his very heavy Tasher gaff cutter.

Kristopher's new Dobbler-designed Otter on the clay beach - note how low the water is due to the active breach and subsequent tides.

We went for a Friday morning sail up to the northern end of the lagoon to see the breach, Brian crewing in my boat.

Kristophers Otter proved to be very fast with the folding gunter rig and nearly-new sail.

Laura and Tony in his modified Piccup Pram.

Brian took this photo of me steering my dory skiff up the lagoon.

Kristopher pulled his boat into the sandbar quite a ways from the breach, and I couldn't figure out why - until our boatspeed nearly doubled. The lagoon was draining into the ocean, and we could easily have been pulled out into the surf, where some kayakers had been killed in previous years!

The lagoon waters rushing out to sea, faster than a river in flood.


Brian and I wading on the edge of the breach. The standing waves in the breach and surf were terrifying.

Kristopher at the breach.

Boats pulled up on the sandbar, just far enough away to avoid being pulled out into the surf.

Laura is a bit of a rock hound, and lead the search for agates in the cut in the sandbar along the breach.

We decided that since the current had increased, it would be safer to tow the boats south along the sandbar for 400 yards or so. I helped by singing the "Erie Canal" mule song, while Jeff, Brian and Tony stumbled through the shallows.

We swapped crew, and Laura steered my boat back down the lagoon to camp.

Tidal change in the lagoon was new to all of us, but we pulled all the boats up the beach for the night - except my dory skiff which was too difficult and heavy to move over the slippery clay. What we found Saturday morning...

My boat ended up balanced on a rock. One more reason why I'm happy I put the traditional dory double bottom on the boat, as nothing was damaged.

One of the messabout traditions is a short morning row over to the sandbar - just to make sure the ocean is still there.

The early-bird fleet pushes off the camp beach...

...and pulls up on the sandbar. Everyone rowed or paddled except Jeff in his pram.

John and Hugh Carlson arrive in Merryrow.

My dory skiff with the campground beach directly behind and launch ramp to the right.

We rowed back to camp, picked up provisions, new crew and more boats, then headed for the north end of the lagoon and the breach. Hugh and John flying their colours in Merryrow - as Hugh gets in a bit of fishing along the way.

The wind had picked up for a wonderful reach up the lagoon, here's Laura at the helm. Great crew and she brings beer, too!

Jeff chasing us in his pram.

Jeff's photo of the Lord Chamberlain and Merryrow heading north up the lagoon.

Another nice shot by Jeff of my boat with Laura at the helm.

John's photo of Jeff's pram behind my dory skiff.

On Saturday we had the reverse tide from Friday, so the current stopped us cold as we sailed and rowed north towards the breach. We towed our boats a short ways, then pulled them up and had lunch.

Me, Jeff and Laura.

John and Pia joined us for lunch after having to row the Tortuga part of the way.

Cellphone photo of John sharing sliced salami.

Hiking up to the breach.

This time the tide was roaring INTO the lagoon, impressive but not as dangerous as when it roars out.

We had a wonderful sail back. Jeff let Eric sail his pram, and got some good photos from Eric's Laser.

Jeff engaging autopilot on Eric's laser.

Tortuga sailing south.

John and Pia in Tortuga.

Bruce sailed out in his Carmen Marie, as did Kristopher in his Otter. Photo by Laura.

Fleet heading back to camp for some relaxation before dinner.

John, Ed Frey and myself kicking back in camp.

Mary and Pia doing same.

The potluck dinner went well, then we retired into the tavern tent for cards, drinking and singing.

Sunday morning was cool and cloudy.

Ed Frey out in his canoe.

Everyone got their boats down to the water, ready for the traditional row over to check on the ocean.

The fleet heads across to the sandbar.

Kristopher rows over.

Eric and I rowing next to John and Pia.

The fleet approaching their destination.

Laura really enjoyed Ed's small canoe.

Pulling up on the sandbar.

John and Hugh coming across for the morning inspection.

Brian showed up late, so Hugh rowed over and picked him up in Merryrow.

Ed, John and myself strolling over to see the sea.

Laura and Jeff got the group into some serious agate-hunting.

After finding quite a few interesting gems, we packed up and pulled the boats out. Thanks again for everyone's help with this event!

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