iceout on lake michigan

I’m out here on the shores of lake michigan, caregiving my 100 year old mother…..and i thought it would be pretty dull….lake michigan was frozen solid for miles and miles, with open water near the shore, and a wide variety of ice colors and textures.
How could this ice possibly disappear, I wondered? There was no place for the ice to go, as there might be on a river. Then, two days ago, the ice began to turn bright colors, blue, green and even brown. Then, far off shore and parallel to it, a strip of dark open water, as though left behind by an icebreaker, appeared from a point of land to the west, eastward for 6 miles.

Yesterday, that strip had widened, and with the waves produced in that narrow strip, had turned the entire area—mile after square mile–into brash ice, totally immersed in water, like rum on the rocks….this ice was an even darker blue-green color. It would obviously absorb heat quickly.

and then today, a single day later…..miles and miles of ice was magically gone….vanished overnight….how could so much ice so quickly disappear? it simply didn’t have to go anywhere, but once broken in small pieces and bathed it water, it could melt in hours, not days…

i thought i would be far from the fascination of ice…..NOT SO!…..jory

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Chickawaukee; “Ice Out”, Last Ice, No Ice

Here is the “Last Ice” around the corner from Lloyd’s beach. There was a fair amount of this stuff blown down my way, so although the lake was “Navigable” by Coast Guard standards the ice was not all out. My “Ice Out” time and date was Independence day April 19 at 3:47 PM (when observed from Rte 17). On the morning of April 19 there were a few independent patches of ice cruising around the lake in light and variable breezes, by afternoon only small pieces of old snow covered ice were jammed in leeward corners and by morning April 21 after heavy rains there was no ice seen anywhere, true ICE OUT. Long hot summer follows.

Note shiny water, grey ice, dark gray broken up ice cubes,and snow covered ice. The ice cubes tend to stay together, surface tension perhaps.

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Newbies Brave the Spring Iceboat Gala

bring on the riff-raff

the halt and the lame
we’ll booze ’em and schmooze ’em
and hail ’em by name

our hobby’s as safe
as your Eas-Y-Boy chair
as exciting as Harley’s
with wind in your hair

no talk of dis-mastings
or the times we went in
or the miles of gear-schlepping
to sit without wind

we’ll find you a boat
at the autumn swap-meet
and you’ll outfit in style
from your helmet to cleat

then late in November
the tremens will hit
you’ll eyeball the puddles
in the thaws, have a fit.

but in frigid December:
your buddies will phone
your mate will roll over
and groan a laud groan

she’ll think of a hundred
things to be done
‘for she grabs at her pencil,
your off on the run

in time she will learn
your ice mistress holds sway:
with an ongoing date
from November to May

but you’re off with pulse racing
to the lake in a trice
Just as the yellow sun
touches the ice

Your buddies are setting up
quick as a cat
and if tell-tales are moving
there’ll be narry a chat.

You thought they were buddies
you’re a newby… so hey!
but here on the ice,
an addiction’s at bay

I’m a sailor, you tell yourself
i’ll do this or die
but the darned thing justs sits there
as others streak by

but soon you’ll be moving
by hook and by crook
doing things that could never
be learned from a book

and sometimes you’ll notice
the ice is so fair
you’ll exclaim, holy jaysus
we’re floating on air

and you’ll think of that springtime
when you strayed to the Ball
that was the beginning–
that cursed beginning–
that started it all

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Fat Lady Sings the Moose to Sleep

Greenville temp today 8 am: 25 degrees. Wind SSW @0. It’s been blowing a gale around here for days, and on the morning after the first cold night in a week we have nothing. Not until the temps hit fifty did the breeze come up here at the coast, but Moosehead still had only 5 kts. Local interest in a Moosehead sail was fairly non-existent anyway, and now there is no cold night on the horizon, so we will let that lovely lady have her way with us finally. Personally, I’ll take it laying down.

As Lloyd mentioned in his note this morning, please join us for the spring meeting May 9.

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Easter + 10

Ten days after Easter. Our 16 plus inches of ice is melting very fast. It seems elastic with large areas of open water appearing and then in a couple of hours disappearing depending on wind shifts. The ice moves very slowly and seems to be able to compress or expand probably due to water between the melting crystals. High speed tectonic plate shifts in real time, fascinating.

Come to the Spring Party Saturday May 9th, 11 AM to 3 PM at the Damariscotta Farm Inn and B&B across the road from where we launch, about 50 yards SW of the intersection of State Rtes 32 and 126 on the NW corner of Damariscotta Lake. Non members are welcome, bring something to eat to share with others.


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Reflections On One Guy’s First Race

A FIRST-TIME RACER REPORTS!!

by Commodore James “T” Thieler DN US 5224

Hello All- The Eastern and New England Champs have generated lots of great media and interest- We also saw quite a few new racers on the ice giving it a shot. Remember that we are happy to have a start for three boats of any class that show up at any event- come one, come all! One of the new faces on the track was Ron Bouchard and he was kind enough to share his thoughts and memories of his first time…. Take it away Ron!!

Everything You Need to Know to Enter Your First Race! By Ron Bouchard

I had been ice-boating for twenty years and had never entered a race. Why? Because I had no idea what the race entailed and did not want to look like a fool out there; how do you start? How many markers are there? Which way do you go? The guys racing are obviously highly experienced, high-tech, obsessed racer types, right? As I found out, some are and some are just like me. I told myself and others that cruising around was fine and I had no interest in entering a race, but that was not the truth. No matter the race, racing is thrilling! The feeling of “I’m gaining!” and the fact that the decisions you are making have a measurable impact. Long-short, I entered my first race last March (New England Championships. No, I did not win). It was an amazingly satisfying experience and when it was done I felt as I had accomplished something. I had overcome my fears and done something I had always wanted to do and did not look the total fool as I had feared. And now I am going to tell you what you need to know so you can enter your first race (please understand that these are the basics and I am not getting into different sails and runners and mast location, etc.):

The Course (see the drawing I have attached):

You all line up across a straight line, facing straight into the wind. There are two markers. The closer (leeward) one is in the middle point of the starting line, about 50 yards out. So, half the racers are to the right side of the marker and half to the left. The other marker is way out, straight up wind, about say a half a mile. A starter stands out in front of the racers, between the starting line and the closer marker (about 25 yards, so everyone can see him). He look to make sure everyone is up to the line, he asks if everyone is ready and raises his arms over his head. He waits a few beats and then drops his arms and you are off! Everyone runs as fast as they can and then when they can run no faster or the boat is getting away from you, you jump in.

Starting:

Half the field heads off to the right and half to the left, BUT, everyone has to travel in the same directions (counter clockwise) so, the guys who start to the right of the field generally go way out to the right and are looking to make one tack to round the upper mark, which will be on their left. Keep the sail tight and the boom right down tight. It should be right off your shoulder pretty much. The guys who start to the left go out a ways and then tack and go BETWEEN the closer and farther marker and then tack again and go around the upper mark (also, so that it is on their left). This is something I did not know before I started the race. As you go around the outside of a marker, it should always be on your left side (counter clockwise). You cannot have guys heading straight for each other!

Heading down wind:

So, I was doing great, heading out towards the right and then tacking and heading towards the upper mark. I was actually gaining! The adrenalin was flowing. I was stoked!! Then I rounded the upper mark and headed back down towards the lower mark. I sail Lasers so I did what I do with them, which is to let the sail out and cruise down wind. Wrong! You keep your sail tight and let off just a bit so the sail rounds a bit and catches the air and head off more towards the right. The less air, the more you have to head up towards the wind to keep going. What is crucial is trying to take a smooth turn off that upper mark as you head down to keep your speed up. The more wind, the sharper angle you can take down towards that next mark. When you think you can gibe back towards the mark and round it without your speed dying out, do so. I pretty much just followed the guy in from of me. Then, back around you go!

A few notes:

  • The races I was in were three laps per race.
  • You want to lay pretty low in the cockpit for aerodynamics.
  • Your neck gets tired. A lot of guys had these loops on their helmet that they attached to a hook on their belts to help hold their heads up. I wish I had one during the race!
  • It’s good to know the basic rules of sailing and the different variations for iceboating:
    -Upwind; starboard has ROW over port, leeward boat has ROW over windward boat
    -Downwind; starboard has ROW over port, WINDWARD HAS RIGHTS OVER LEEWARD
    -A BOAT GOING DOWNWIND ON EITHER TACK MUST KEEP CLEAR OF A BOAT GOING UPWIND ON EITHER TACK
  • Remember though, it’s not the America’s Cup. If in doubt, ease out!

The last two things I would say is that the guys I was racing with were so patient and helpful and welcoming and open with information. Everyone gathers behind the starting line area to tune their boats and exchange tips before the race so do not be afraid to ask if you have a question!

And secondly, I realized that no matter your experience level or the condition of your boat, you can have a great day racing. I had the best time!! I loved it and cannot wait to race again. I am hooked. Going fast is fun and when other boats are around you and you are eye-ing your next mark and you zip by it is a crazy rush. It has been a long time since I have had so much fun and I felt great that I did it. You will too.

Call me with any questions! I am happy to talk to you and tell you why that although cruising is a ton of fun, racing is more.

Ron Bouchard
Shelburne, Vermont
802-238-7529
ronaldabouchard

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CIBC Spring Meeting 5/9

Our meeting and pot luck lunch will be held Saturday, May 9 at the Damariscotta Lake Farm Inn, just across the street from our launch area. Parking on the north side of the building, off Rt. 32. We will outdo each other with delectable vittles, and the bar will be open. We’ll have a grill going on the deck just outside the dining room for the usual assortment of meats. There might be rooms available for those coming from out of state. Call ahead: 207-549-6088

There will be a work party starting at 10:00 down at the launch area. We hope to repair the fence, do some drainage work, and whatever handyman jobs David can come up with. Lunch afterwards, followed by the meeting. Bring gripes, ideas, stories, questions, anything that could help the club find good ice and get boats on it.

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