Chickawaukee slushwich

One day post 8 inches of snow on wet ice we have 1 1/2 inches of coarse pebble grain gray snow ice, 1/2 inch or so of water and what was left of foundation black ice reported recently (4+ inches perhaps). I cannot stomp through the top layer even in the warm afternoon sun, it seems skateable and probably sailable with one more cold night (15 last night). Damariscotta and Megunticook likely similar, but Moosehead calls.

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Cheapskate Tune up suggestions while it snows

Common aggravations with CS include sticky runners, stiff in chocks. They may have been fine after building but now have absorbed a bit of moisture and don’t rotate well creating significant drag. Do something. A “Red Devil” paint scraper good and sharp works well to shave the inside of the chocks. Check that surfaces are flat and keep scraping until runners rotate freely without sideways play. Do most of scraping on outboard chock. Wax chock and runner body heavily. Of course if runner does not have “Formica” sides you can just sand/scrape that wood. While you are at it saw off extra threads on the runner bolts and make it easier to set up.

Often builders leave corners of wood on the fuselage square and sharp. This is going to hurt sooner or later when you fall on it or it falls on you. Round them off, the boat is angular enough without all the corners. One builder noticed that his boat seemed heavier than the prototype, his “2X4” sides are really 2X4 rather than 3 1/2 X 1 3/4 lumber yard size. He could rout away some of the extra wood or even just unscrew whatever screws held it together while the glue dried and saw 1/2 an inch or so off the sides. Another builder wants to amputate some of the rear lunch/tool compartment so it will fit in his van, why not? Where is the sheet going to attach, the back of his helmet? The technical and protest committees do not exist.

The skinny bed rail runners cut through crust and snow noticeably better than 1/4 in. DN plates they work well in slush too. I have a pile of free bed rails for anybody. Long runners seem to slow the boat down tacking and jibing more than the short plans built bed rails, probably due to light weight and inertia of the boat as well as dragging less runner around the turns. The speed advantage of longer runners may not be apparent since we have not taken up serious racing and the CS isn’t very fast anyway. There are design trade-offs.

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The Moose Is Loose

The nice lady at the Birches front desk says that there is only a dusting of snow in Rockwood, and radar indicates that that precipitation is just about to pass on by. What has fallen on the lake is wet out and bound to freeze overnight. What this means is that Moosehead Lake has dodged yet another bullet and again is the only known sailable ice in New England.

Anybody interested in sailing tomorrow? The Jersey guys will be there, I’ll be there. The roads should be clear by tomorrow, but leave extra time anyway. Sunday might be the better day so an overnight might be the way to go. It certainly takes the edge off such a long trip. Check the forecast, check the web cams, and check in if you plan on going.

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Local Ice and Snow

Damariscotta Thursday by David Lampton who reports ice plate seems intact. Chicky looks similar except for extensive open water. 1 1/2 inches of wet snow Friday AM wetting out to slush which could solidify with forecast temps in teens for a couple of nights depending on how much snow we get later in day. Hope springs eternal for ice closer than good old Moosehead

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Save The Moose!

The snow falling this morning seems to be covering most of New England, including the great potential of Lake Champlain. But as of nine this morning Moosehead has just a dusting which is wetting out in the standing water from yesterday’s thaw.
This morning at nine also sees Mark Hanscik and Jordan Glaeser headed for Moosehead from New Jersey. They are desperate to get some training time in their A Skeeters ahead of the upcoming ISA (which is supposed to be in the East this year) and there’s a chance they could be rewarded for their optimism. While the forecast for Saturday and Sunday isn’t great, it could be sailable. And if you’ve never seen an A Skeeter, the Formula One of iceboats, here’s your chance.
We’ll know more about the conditions later in the day and will report back here, but I just wanted to give a heads up to the possibility of the weekend at The Birches.

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Local ice reports Thur. Feb 4

The 1 inch of warm rain and heavy winds at 50+F last night has taken its toll. Chickawaukee lost 2 inches of ice from 6 inches near my beach to 4 inches. Assuming that 2 inches was lost out further where was a scant 4 inches yesterday before rain I did not venture beyond known knee deep water, 2 inches of warm ice (1/2 the strength of cold ice) is not reassuring to this thin ice explorer.

David Lampton reported 7-3 1/2 inches at 7AM on Damariscotta before rain yesterday. We can reasonably assume 2 inches lost there too.

Bryan Hitchock sent a photo from the Dammy launch ramp showing a fish house and pedestrian out in mid lake yesterday. No ice firshermen have been seen out away from shore on Chicky all year, no doubt leery of the large expanse of open water that has been there 1/2 way down the lake all winter through some good cold nights.

In addition to the thinness there must be drain holes and runner catching cracks waiting to heal on both lakes. We need real February weather, a few days of single numbers/teens to have useable ice. The surface looks great, smooth and shiny to granular, mostly down to and well into older foundation black ice. Strips of debris that were below the ice surface yesterday are now sticking up above the surface about am inch.

We had thick fog this AM. By late AM the fog had cleared and as I ventured out on the ice a thin film of white fog developed on the ice surface further out, it spread as I walked and grew up to maybe 20 feet deep, now partially obscuring the further shore and filling the lake. Never a dull moment on the ice.

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Cruising the Moose

i was just returning from a 400 mile round-trip to Boston…. and as i closed the back door with relief, the phone was ringing….it was Bill saying that Denis had reported great ice on Moosehead Lake…and the wind prediction was that aggravating 5-10 knots….10 knots and we’d have a blast….5 knots and we’d have uselessly pushed 258 well-known miles of asphalt past our tires…I tried to convince Bill to let me put Icywood on his roof, but he was already up to his neck in group logistics…as Brenda emphatically signaled a “thumbs down” ….and, putting her face close to mine, mouthed “just say no!” ….I bowed out of the trip.

But within minutes, i knew i would come. Denis has posted a seductive video. Curtis, Bunting, and others had committed. My time in Boston, dancing a long dance with a low-risk cancer, had reinforced the shortness of life…..then there’s the shortness of my ability to iceboat…then there’s the especial shortness of this particular season….if the lads had a blast, i would face months of ice-less regret….so i started packing….

arriving at The Birches at 930 the next morning, Denis and Bill were half-setup…..the ice was the best i had ever seen on Moosehead….a slightly pebbled surface, but the thaw and rain had smoothed all the earlier slow-downs…and the wind was giving promise of arrival…I mentioned to Bill that i was there with one and only one desire: to cruise right up to the northern tip of the lake…15 straight NE miles….while Fred Muser, David Godin, Bunting, Bill Grenier, and Curtis were finishing, I cruised down to lovely Kineo, relishing the smoother ice and a wind which, in gusts, brought storm sails to mind.

IMG_6173(Buchholz Photo)

One by one, white sails were espied emerging from the launch, and 4 of us converged on Hardscrabble Strait, slowing carefully to cross its healed pressure ridge….we stopped at the even-more-dramatic cliffs on the east side of Kineo, and then joined by Bill G. and David–all now of one obsessed mind–we headed on the long, long reach to the NE. I knew we were rolling the dice….any breakdown, any loss of wind, would leave us with hours of pushing…

after a few miles, we crossed a tricky pressure ridge, hacking the vertical ice with an axe, and guiding each runner across….then….sailing on…it seemed like the immensity…. the smooth, windy, vast immensity….began to overwhelm our senses….take a hundredth of this plate and plonk it in New England, and it would so eagerly be sailed….after another 7 miles or so…can you grasp that?…we came to an offshore island and examined it’s unusual nests, perhaps loon nests….this may have been Green Island, a coveted trout fishing spot…ever on we sailed, close reaching in the NW wind. Then crossing a second pressure ridge….i now had one finger approaching frostbite…my determination was dwindling….the two coves which form the end of North Bay were clearly visible…did we have to follow this adventure to the very hand-crippling end?….Bill swapped a glove with me and i hoped the numbness would reverse.

Finally, we crossed a third pressure ridge, came close into NE Cove and, aware that our luck could change at any minute, happily turned and headed South. Then disaster struck: 5 boats had re-crossed our first returning pressure ridge and had clustered closely beyond it…I was the last to cross and since our return was a broader reach than before, my sail was slightly drawing as others helped my runners cross the brash…then a puff from a new direction sent the boat accelerating, and i bore off to port, my only option….shouting “watch out” i barely missed the nearest boat, and, unable to run fast enough, the wheel jerked out of my hand. i lunged for the runner plank, gripped it with a death grip, while the boat dragged me ever faster, sliding on my side on the ice. I knew i had to get that wheel, so i struggled to pull closer to the boat, and eventually brought it to a luff….whew!….in this vast space, what if?….

Far to the SW we could see the dramatic shape of Kineo, yet only slowly did the miles bring it nearer….finally, after 30 to 40 miles of sailing, we set our brakes in front of the lodge and ordered welcome drinks and sandwiches…then, a wonderful afternoon romp…a long, dark, tired drive home…and Wednesday finds me hard a-bed with the symptoms of mild concussion…but as i lay here, dizzy, headachy…..every cell of my body happy to be still….staring blankly at the woodwork…i realize that i’m really more stoned than concussed….our community—wonderful and warty–has allowed me to experience something i would not encounter alone…a vastness….a beauty….a sacred space….

an updated map:

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