A Little History

On a recent road trip, we were able to stop at the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston, NY, to have a look at the Ray Ruge collection. Close readers of this site will remember the skeeter discovered in Halifax by Warren Nethercote, once owned by Buddy Melges. A little sleuthing revealed that she had been designed by Ray Ruge and built by Francis Hagarty in Cohasset, Mass.

Ruge’s papers fill fourteen boxes in the museum’s vault, with a dozen or more files in each box. I was assigned a desk in the corner of the research room and the boxes began to pile up. I was looking for references to this boat, hopefully the plans, but couldn’t help being distracted by the overwhelming collection of iceboat history. There were writings by Lloyd Roberts from the eighties, letters between the eastern guys and the midwest planning regattas, even a correspondence with invoices about the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America: “to be bound in fine red silk…” It seems this Pennant was last awarded in 1950. Where is it today? There are two pages of stern steerer main sail dimensions from the Hudson River boats. Reams of race results and countless small yellow newspaper clippings in individual wax paper folders.

After the third box my time was running out. I’d need to come back with a full day to examine the rest, so I read the table of contents for the fourth and final box. There was an item tagged as “Hagarty ice boat ad”. This must be something; the first reference to the builder, so I dug out the appropriate folder and there it was:

No mention of the date nor the publication in which it ran, but what a thrill. In addition to this find, we’ve also dug up some home movies from the Cohasset Historical Society of Hagarty and Ruge test sailing one of the new boats. One part of the movie has a new boat, “Gone With The Wind”, getting her hardware bolted down as racing is taking place in the background. We’ve all been there with new boats: after an all-nighter you still don’t get her to the line on time. Sadly, she never shows up in any of the subsequent racing footage. But she has a lovely varnished deck, apparently three pieces of plywood with a whole lot more compound curve than one should expect from plywood. The deck crown in the drawing above is far less than the built boat, so we still need to find the plans to help de-construct this beautiful boat. The actual stern is more graceful than the designed version. I love it when a good builder “interprets” the plans a bit here and there. So, she’s all tuned up and ready to go at first ice just as soon as Chris builds his trailer!

Another one of Ruge’s collected magazines featured this cover. It was so evocative of Lake Megunticook, specifically Cheney’s Narrows, that I just had to share it. Remember when boys actually did cool stuff like this? Also, note the small pennant on the side stays just above the plank. They are nicely detailed on both sides. Anyone know what they could be? The rest of the detail on the illustration is pretty good, too, and it’s one of the most interesting sterns I’ve seen since the Hagarty.

Hope to see many of you at the Fall Meeting at Dave Fortier’s place in Biddeford on Sunday. Detailed directions in the newsletter, along with the membership roster. Didn’t receive your newsletter? Have you renewed? Have some followers not yet joined the CIBC? For the most fun, go to the top of the page, find Lloyd’s address under “Officers” and send him twenty bucks for the first year’s dues. You’ll be glad you did!

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The NEIYA fall meeting and Swap Meet will be held at he same place as last year, Knights of Columbus hall in Westboro, Mass., ten days from now on Saturday 10/25. This is the time and place to find everything from blocks to boats. The lunch is always great, as is meeting everyone without their helmets on!

As is traditional, our CIBC annual fall meeting will be the next day, Sunday 10/26, at Commodore Dave Fortier’s house in Biddeford. Pot Luck lunch at about noon, followed by the meeting. We have quite a few new sailors this year and hope to see them here: 12 Chretien Rd., Biddeford, ME 04005.

Long time sailor and builder Doug Sharp is selling most of his boats and gear. Have a look at the New England Ice Yacht Association site for full inventory. If you can’t make it to the Swap Meet but are interested in any of the stuff contact Bill Buchholz or Lloyd Roberts and we will bring it back to Maine for you.

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Everyone, it seems, loves a good mystery. It’s part of human nature to search for that which is not known. We perch on the edge of our seats at the movie theatre, grip dime novels with sweaty palms, and lean in close to the campfire hanging on every word of the cliffhanger. The small time crimes of your little home town exert a fascination way beyond the significance of the deed itself. What’s going to happen next, we ask?

What has this to do with iceboating? Do we not live with mystery five or six months of the year? Instead of the tidy structured who-dunit from Hollywood we are involved in a full blown unknown every week from Thanksgiving to Easter. Where’s the ice? Who knows where the ice is? Someone knows someone who knows where the ice is. Is it any good? How many holes and pressure ridges are there? Will my boat survive, or will I have to bring it home in pieces and re-build it before next weekend? Are all these weather forecasts for real? Do I just show up and pray? What’s a good mystery without a little prayer, anyway.

Speaking of prayer and mystery, we should all be keeping Stu Nelson in our thoughts and prayers these next days.

Don’t forget the Swap Meet coming up on Saturday, October 25th. Knights of Columbus Hall, Westboro, Mass.

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Stu Nelson

Stu’s wife Judy just sent this in. I can only guess that the last two letters in LRGH stand for General Hospital.

Hi All

Just to let you all know that your super ice boater is in LRGH and not feeling too well.


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Runner Alignment

There are probably as many ways to align runners as there are to skin a cat, but I’ve always done it just like Lloyd Roberts taught: with the dial indicator on a long pole. I’ve settled on a windsurfer mast, which is nice and stiff and will do planks from ten to sixteen feet. We’ve always tightened the runners in the chocks so they don’t move, leveled them and go for zero. Once it’s there, we tiptoe out the door taking pains not to sneeze or slam the door which could create enough of a sonic boom to move the chock. When the epoxy has cured the next morning, I always check the finished product with the runners loose in the chocks, essentially in sailing trim. They are usually no longer perfect, so a bit of shim tape sets them back to within a couple of thousandths.

Recently, I had the opportunity to rig and align chocks on three new Whizz in three days. The first boat had plates, so in the morning I was able to lightly sand some burrs on the stiffeners to bring it back into alignment after loosening the runner bolts. The second job was with inserts, so a small spot of shim tape did the trick. On the last boat I decided to set the runners in sailing trim for the alignment; just tight enough to almost flop. It came to zero with judicious tightening of the chock bolts, and the next morning it was still the same. I loosened and then re-tightend the runner bolts: still zero.

The top DN guys have gone way beyond all this, of course, and Tom Nichols new C Skeeter will have adjustable chocks, but this might help the rest of us get that much closer to a perfect alignment. And don’t forget to compress the plank the same amount as your weight plus that of the boat when you do the alignment.

Check out the excellent reverse plank curve on Denis Guertin’s Whizz #10.

Frank’s W-11. Denis and Frank have engineered their new trailer to carry both Whizz, three DN’s and all the gear. Gross trailer weight 2450#

And Bill Bernhard came all the way from western New York state to have his W-8 rigged and aligned. While he was in the area, he and his wife Judy went up to stay with Rick at Five Lakes Lodge on the shores of wonderful South Twin Lake. If we can get back on that lake before spring, we’ll make another expedition to the Boom House museum of river driving.

Bill will be selling his Nite at the NEIYA Swap Meet on 10/25, Knights of Columbus, Westboro, MA. Includes trailer, all covers and two planks.

The two cockpit Skeeter featured in the post of 9/15 will also be there, and could turn out to be the bargain of the day!

Back to Whizz news: NEIYA Race Chairman Oliver Moore has offered the Whizz fleet a start of their own at the Doc Fellows Regatta. We’ll need at least three boats to qualify for this terrific offer. If it works out, the other regattas will have a Whizz class as well. For all you cruisers who might feel a bit intimidated by a formal race, just look at it as a bunch of boats all with the same destination in mind. Same rules of the road as when reaching around. By the way, it’s always good give yourself a refreshing look at the rules before the season begins. Lastly, welcome Ryan Haskell who has bought Curtis Rindlaub’s Captain America DN. Curtis had sent him a video of the boat sailing on Plymouth Pond, and lo and behold there was Ryan in the background!

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Words Of Hope and Wisdom from NEIYA

New post on New England Ice Yacht Association

A Season in Front of Us

by NEIYA Admin

With shorter days and cooler nights we are all thinking about ice boating and the miles of black ice we hope to find this winter. Just as there are a few months till we sail again, a number of things MUST happen and individual efforts MUST take place before groups of pilots can safely congregate and sail.

Most of you know what occurs prior to setting up your boat in the pits and pushing off toward a nice plate.

Someone watched as the lakeside trees shed their leaves.

All manner of boat building advice and help is freely given.

Boats and equipment is bought, sold, traded and loaned by fellow sailors prior to first ice.

Runners are sharpened individually and en mass by skilled sanding volunteers.

Someone watched as fog and mists wafted over the body of water in the early morning hours.

Eyes were on the lake while morning frosts crept toward the water from the shore.

People gazed upon the first mirror black ice to skim out from shore.

Occasionally taking the long way to work or home to check on ice conditions.

One or more people poked at the new ice with a stick even though they know

Swung blunt instruments, a wise man from Rockport swears by the blunt end of an axe, and drilled test holes.

Talked to ice fisherman who are generally happy to break their solitude for a conversation about fish and ice.

Scouted off shore with skates, or sailing carefully stopping periodically to check grade and thickness.

People reporting back whether positive or negative. Insufficient ice or unsafe conditions change a bodies history plays an important role for future safe sailing.

Who where those someones? Who were those eyes? Who spent countless hours helping to others get ready to sail? Who communicated observations so that others would benefit?

The answer is simple. Heed the call. Members of the NEIYA. Please remember this when asked to contribute time, knowledge and skills toward club activities. Ice may form all by itself but it’s a team effort to bring people a group to the ice.

To follow is a first hand account by former Commodore Eric Anderson on the herculean efforts that he and others made to find (big) ice for last year’s DN North Americans. Eric thanks for all your contributions over the years.

Ready to help out? Contact me or any of the other officers

As we come into season let’s all sail fast, sail safe and think ice,

John Stanton
NEIYA Secretary
508-377-6100 aka the hotline

P.S. Our annual meeting, swap and lunch are ON for October 25th Westborough, MA Knights of Columbus Hall. More on that shortly.

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Posted in 2014 Season

Another Starter DN

This just in from Charlie, in Wolfboro NH. 603-455-2862. <boataddict05>

I too have an older DN for sale if anyone is interested. Hull has been repaired and glassed, sail pro cleaned with a new window, new side stays, aluminum mast and standard Sarns runners. Would like to get $1000.
Posted in 2014 Season