Lake Winnebago Watermelon Mystery - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 12-05-2007
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Lake Winnebago Watermelon Mystery



This is a 26 ft Monomoy surf boat, named prior to WW II as USCG Scituate No. 1. In those days she served as a coastal rescue rowboat. In the late 50's Walter Ramsden, a college classmate of mine, converted her to this ketch rig, and in 1960-61 three of us sailed her from Squantum, Massachusetts to the British Virgins and back. When we set off on this adventure, winter was approaching and we had some pretty wild times. But it was some treat exploring the yet-to-be-developed British Virgins.

Around 1965 Serendipity, as we called her, was sold to a fellow bound for the Caribbean. He seemed short of experience, and not long after, we got a report she was near-abandoned at a pier in North Carolina. With this sad news we wrote her off - but not the memories.

Then in the early 80's, I think it was, my other shipmate, Tom Crowley, on a business trip to Oshkosh, stumbled on Serendipity, now named Watermelon, docked right next to the Holiday Inn where he was staying. How could this be? A miracle! What an incredible coincidence! Our old surf boat had been revived it seems, sailing for years out of Annapolis, then moving to Lake Winnebago when the owner transferred there.

In the early 90's, while working on a project in Green Bay, I did a little checking, and found Watermelon at the Calumet Harbor Marina on the east side of Lake Winnebago. She was on a cradle for the winter, and her original cedar planking still seemed in pretty good shape, considering her age.

Now I am trying to find out if Scituate No. 1 / Serendipity / Watermelon still lives. Or was her final mission warming some Wisconsin brandy drinker's toes from a fireplace?

If anyone has a clue about this boat, I'd be mighty grateful to hear about it. I'll be writing a few things about this for my grandkids.
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Last edited by FishSticks; 12-11-2007 at 07:55 AM.
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  #2  
Old 12-05-2007
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sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice
Damn... when I saw the title to the post, I thought this was where Cam was going to be keeping his new RV.
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  #3  
Old 12-06-2007
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Watermelon

I sailed on Lake Winnebago for the past 4 years, and have never seen her. You might want to get a hold of someone at the Neenah Nodoway Yacht Club and ask them. You might be able to find someone there that knows about her. The web site for there is www.nnyc.orgIf you get a hold of someone there, Tell them that Dave from Myassis Dragon say's hi from sunny Florida!


Dave
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Old 12-06-2007
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Thanks Dave, there must be at least one old salt around there who knows about her. When I learn something I'll post it here. I just checked the NNYC site and it's 1 deg F in Neenah at the moment. Do you really want me to tell your old friends where you are? Of course, by Wisconsin standards it's not quite cold enough yet to wear long sleeves.

I have spoken to the widow of the fellow who brought her to Wisconsin, and she feared the subsequent owner may not have had the wherewithal to keep an old wooden boat going.
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Last edited by FishSticks; 12-09-2007 at 08:43 AM.
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Old 12-06-2007
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Actually, yes, tell them. They know my sense of humor all too well. Besides, it's their choice to stay up there in that frigid weather. If they knew what was good for them, they'd all move down here and we could get a racing club going. I can't seem to find a keel boat racing organization here. Looks like I'll have to join them again next summer. I talked with a couple of friends up there today. When they woke up this morning, it was -9. I can't think of anything that would make m move down here faster!!!

Dave
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Old 12-06-2007
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Wonderful story, Fishsticks. I wish you luck in finding the old girl, hopefully intact.

Was she originally stationed at Scituate MA? She would have seen some rough action there at the New Inlet...
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Old 12-07-2007
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I assume she was stationed at Scituate and could have been manned either by the USCG or volunteers. Perhaps she saved some lives. I believe there were quite a few Monomoys positioned along the coast before WWII.



Monomoy Surf Boat in the days when the motto of the Life Savers was "We must go out, we don't have to come back"

Walter found Scituate No. 1 in the hands of someone who had acquired her from the CG. He designed and built her for ocean cruising, adding to the freeboard, installing a full length lead keel, cabin with doghouse and the ketch rig. We installed a Stuart-Turner 8 HP two stroke engine from a British lifeboat that washed ashore during the war. It was so much trouble to get it started and keep it running that we didn't use it much, though.

The idea for our cruise evolved one night in 1955 in a Boston neighborhood bar while we were engineering students at Northeastern, feeling a bit down about the the three years of tough studying ahead. At that moment we devised a plan to depart five years hence, allowing two years after graduation to get a boat and save some $$. After we set off it cost each of us about $5/day to cover all the boat and living expenses. In those days it was pretty easy to avoid paying for dockage. People were very hospitable to us, especially when we invited them first to visit our cramped cabin for a warm beer in a rusty can. "You came all the way from Boston in this? Why don't you come with us and we'll show your around." The cruise was ten months, Nov 1960 to Sept 1961.

Serendipity had a well-balanced rig and was very seaworthy. The worst weather we encountered was an unforecasted January gale in which we ran down the Chesapeake through the night under bare poles. The tops of the waves were blowing right over the boat, but never into the cockpit. She wasn't great going to weather - we were 14 days beating to San Juan from Nassau.



Here's Tom at Little Harbor on Peter Island in 1961. We spent a lot of time there, and rarely saw another visitor.

I'll be pretty amazed if our old boat turns up intact. I would really like to find out how she ended up - hope for the best, expect the worst.
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Last edited by FishSticks; 12-09-2007 at 11:20 AM.
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tigerregis has a little shameless behaviour in the past
Great story. Good luck with your search.
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Old 12-08-2007
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Terrific story, FishSticks! Thanks for sharing.

Hope you find her, and hope she's still sailing.

Jim
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Old 12-08-2007
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great read

Thanks for sharing your story. What a great adventure you had. Can you imagine if you posted the same plans on line these days in regards to refitting a cedar planked open boat to sailing and then of all things going on a voyage from the NE to the Caribbean? You'd get a lot of posts calling you crazy! It's a wonderful story to pass along to the grandkids, indeed.
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