One For The Road

Without intending to rub it in, the great photos of this weekend on Plymouth just keep on coming so the editor really must post them. This one is from Bryan Hitchcock who felt we needed Lloyd in the line-up, even though he is in the background.

On another subject, we have just installed an excellent article on how to build an inexpensive iceboat trailer. Find it under the PLANS header at the top of the page. Thanks to Bart Chapin for that.

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Spring Sailing 11/23

Lloyd Roberts can’t remember ever sailing this early in the season, nearly a week before Thanksgiving, and he has a looooong memory. The pond probably skimmed over last Wednesday, was discovered on Thursday, checked Friday and then sailed yesterday and today. And now it’s done. We barely got off with dry feet as the launch area was breaking up because of the concentrated weight of boats and people at the end of the day. The ice was still 2.5″, but was quickly going to pencils. It became so flexible that if two people were standing side by side it would begin to dish and fill with water.

Speaking of water, Jim Matthews found one of the holes we had marked yesterday.

Lloyd, dressed in his dry suit and still recovering from heart surgery, scootched in to get a line around the airborne runner. It took him a minute, just enough time for the ice to slowly stretch under his weight before breaking. We used his line to haul him out and he found that he was completely dry except for a couple of wet toes. As often happens, the wind prevented us from rolling the boat out of the hole, so we took down the rig and used the mast to lever the plank up and out. Here, Jim Gagnon hauls from the bow after Jim Matthews flipped the bow runner up over the edge.

Jim had been informed of the hazzard locations, but the lesson here is that once you’ve been told where the bad spots are, go out and find them. Plot them on your mental map of the lake and update your location relative to the hazzards continuously. Thankfully it was fifty degrees outside and there was no harm done. We saw this exercise more as a pre-season drill than a rescue operation. Thanks to Jim for providing us with an excellent learning opportunity. Two of the three boats that came to help were carrying throw lines. Is there one in your boat?

Bart Chapin had his maiden sail with Yellowbird, ditto with Jory’s new rig. The Icy/Whizz sailed beautifully, and combined with work Jory’s done on the steering and upholstery, ICW is a whole new boat. He’s got Red Herring in his sights! Bart was so excited to sail today that he left home at 5:30 for the two hour drive to Plymouth, arriving there first.

Lloyd continues his fascination with Cheapskate this year. We wonder if we’ll ever again see Cool Tool…

Doug Raymond arrived right after Bart and said that the runners ran absolutely silent until the ice began to soften at around 10:00. But even then the little zippering was only in the surface and we pushed our luck until about 1:00. Oddly enough the wind held all morning and was still blowing as Jory was wading out for the last of his gear.

Stand by for the next round of Black Ice! Commodore Fortier still wants to hold the Linc Davis Regatta while we’re still in 2014.

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Ode to Plymouth

when our lovely Plymouth Pond
Offers with her magic wand
to leave our doldrums far beyond

let’s not delay a single day
the coming thaws will have their say
we’ll have our break soon anyway

and so, dear Plymouth, I’ll respond
I’ll hustle gear, I’ll trust our bond
and travel where my heart is fond

I’ll hope again in this dying year
I’ll cross again your crystal weir
For life is short and passions dear

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11/22 Plymouth Pond

I get to keep the ax: 2.5″ all over the pond. There are two open holes and one sealed hole out in the middle, in addition to the open water along the eastern shore. Some of that has frozen, but it’s still very obviously a trouble spot. The holes in the middle have been marked with branches and one basketball. They are directly out from the pits and a bit to the right.
Bob, Karl, Deborah and a gang of skaters did endless tours around the perimeter while a gaggle of wings sailed the middle. The SW wind was gusty and shifty; more like our winter NW, but with an honest grade ten flashing along under the skates there was nothing to complain about.

Rick Hobbs made the trip from Massachusetts for the day, Cam Lewis, Jory and I rounded out the sailing fleet while Lloyd skated around chopping holes pondering the structure of the ice. He marveled at the miniature pressure ridge at the south end being pushed up by such a thin plate. All kinds of magic this day.

But Frank and Denis get the prize for first CIBC boats on the ice. There was enough wind on Lac Abenakis to drive them through the thin snow and keep a grin frozen to Frank’s face. They will set up their new Whizz’s tomorrow if the weather allows.

Our weather is a bit bleak: 45 degrees at noon with a 4kt wsw. It goes downhill from there all week until next weekend when we spend some more time in the land down under (freezing). Not sure if this plate will survive the week and need to start from scratch, so we will be setting up boats tomorrow. Jory is hot to try out his new rig, and what’s wrong with pushing an iceboat around in light air, full sun, and in the forties? If you want to come, best to make it early. The wind will be slightly better and the ice harder. Also, it’s just the kind of day one needs to shake down the boat and make sure all the bits and pieces are there.

The perfect tow-behind ice checking tool trailer. This ice has less of the heavy crystal facets we see on Plymouth usually. We just didn’t have the heart to chop with an ax this beautiful stuff.

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Plymouth Pond 11/21

Our connection to Plymouth Pond goes back so far in the CIBC that it feels like it just came with the club. Certainly all the people who sail with the club get to know this early bloomer well. It’s like you get the Newsletter, Lloyd’s beans and Plymouth as soon as you sign up. And now she’s back. Not the thickness we’d hoped for yesterday. I might have been a bit off judging the ice thickness by the jowls of a dog, or else it was a really big dog. Who knows, but the bottom line is that we have 1.5″ of very uniform clear black ice as of this afternoon. Grade ten hands down, except for thickness which probably disqualifies from the ratings system. The area by the bridge is more frozen than usual, but on the far side from where the woods end all the way to Grassy Point there is a strip of open water. We checked it along side the road well away from the pits and found the same 1.5″. It was easily walkable without zippering. Weather forecast for Plymouth: .TONIGHT…CLEAR. LOWS AROUND 12. WEST WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 MPH

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Plymouth Pond Frozen

Bryan Hitchcock checked Plymouth yesterday at 10:30am and found one big sheet. Judging by the chunk in the dog’s mouth it looks like about an inch. With the sub-freezing temps for the past twenty-four hours it could be two inches today. Forecast for Plymouth today offers high of 30, tonight low of 17, tomorrow, Saturday, high in the low thirties and sunny. Am I dreaming?

We will check the pond today and report back here this evening. Thanks, Bryan, for taking the time to scout this!

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Taking the Plunge–parts I and II

Taking the Plunge Part I is when you actually go through the ice. It’s a particularly nasty prospect, just now as our days shorten, the puddles freeze, the house settles down to its winter temperatures, and that furry-animal pre-season whimpiness afflicts us. Let’s build up the fire, Miranda….no ice-capades for me!

But…..If you read Bob Dill’s wonderful website:
you’ll learn that people exploring ice, either on skates or iceboats, have a pretty predictable 1% chance of going through. Let’s see….I’ve been out about 12 seasons….about 33 days on the ice each year….that’s 400 days on the ice….1% chance of a “bath”…that’s 4 baths…which is the exact number that i’ve taken!…hooray!….i’m not a total numbskull….just a typical gambler….

Taking the Plunge Part II is the harder part for me: the plunge into spending money to be safer…. i’ve recently been turning a few quiet corners: A sort of “You can’t take it with you” calculation keeps coming up, which was never a concern before. There I am: Frozen stiff to the edge of the ice with a sufficient bank account…. doesn’t seem like a wise way to end life’s adventures….also, last year I read an interesting book, called “Die Broke” , which was another influence in this new direction….so today, I went in to our local sports store to try on a Kokatat “Meridian” model dry suit. This sports store is one we dearly love….to try stuff on before heading to the Internet…..

The suit wasn’t clammy, nor heavy, and only a moderate contortion to get into. Doing research back home, it appears that this brand is quite trusted and comes in either Gortex or their own clone, Hydrus which is cheaper and about 80% as breathable. My complaint with my present “wet suit bottom/float jacket top” arrangement is simply that, when put on at home for the whole day, it becomes so clammy and stinky.

Sooo….dear buddies….I’m taking Plunge Part II….you apparently wear these things with some sort of hi-tech first layer inside, and maybe you still wear a float jacket on top for extra flotation. And for “relief” you can get either a front zipper or a seat zipper depending on your affliction! … many many thanks to Bob Dill for his tireless evangelism on this important subject. The rest of his website, when you have the time, is fascinating. You’ll notice that his final reason for buying a dry suit is: “Strongly recommended for people with bad habits”….I don’t know anyone like that….do you?

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