Tony Bozung of Tacoma wanted a boat that would carry his wife, a 65-pound dog and a six-pack.
“All three fit,” he said about the wherry rowing shell he bought in 1984 as he prepared to take it out into Gig Harbor on Saturday.
Bozung and other small-boat enthusiasts took to the water Saturday as part of a “messabout” hosted by Gig Harbor BoatShop and the Puget Sound chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association.
The gatherings are for both new and veteran boaters to “mess around on the water” with hand- or sail-powered vessels under 20 feet, BoatShop administrative director Susanne Regan said.
“It’s an opportunity to go sailing (or rowing) in areas that you may not want to go by yourself,” she said. “You can be a little more adventurous.”
Nationally, messabouts started in the 1970s as a sort of protest against federal flotation requirements that would have essentially banned many historical small boats, she said.
Now, they’re a chance to socialize with fellow boaters.
There always seemed to be an extra hand to help put the boats in the water Saturday, and the group planned a trip to Tides Tavern later on.
The Gig Harbor event, hosted annually, expected at least a dozen vessels Saturday and possibly as many as 30, Regan said.
“We never know who is going to come and what they’re going to bring,” she said, adding that it’s common for attendees to trade boats for the afternoon for fun. “We all have a desire to keep small boating alive.”
All except Steele, a nervous 6-month-old yellow Lab trained as a service dog who would have preferred to be closer to owner Randy Jones than riding in their boat allowed.
“I usually leave him at home, because he’s kind of a pain,” Jones said.
The Seattleite is president of the Puget Sound TSCA.
He restored his skiff with a friend in the early ’90s.
“I thought it would be fun — we’d drink some beer and rebuild the boat,” he said of the six-month project. “We worked it like a job.”
He wasn’t the only build-it-yourself boater.
Karen Zima and her husband, Greg, brought a rowing wherry Greg Zima built — the third boat he’s made himself — to put in the water for the first time.
“It’s just an excuse for everyone to bring their small boats out,” she said of the messabout.
Kathy Robers of Gig Harbor read about the event just after 10 a.m. Saturday, and rushed to seize what she saw as an opportunity to meet fellow kayakers.
“I don’t have any friends that share my interest,” she said. “I’m hoping to go more.”
Regan herself hoped to take her shellback rowing and sailing dinghy out once she finished preparations for the messabout’s lunch at the BoatShop.
“If there’s wind, we’ll sail; if not, we’ll row,” she said. “Today’s the day (BoatShop crew members) go out and play.”
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268