Sebago Blowing Out

Yesterday’s vast sheet of new ice is now piling up on the rocks. It was two inches thick, as you can see in the picture. A lot different from this morning’s shot!

The sheet along shore is thicker and we spent the day short tacking and gybing up and down the beach on clear black ice the likes of which we’ve not seen this year.

This small pack might blow out as well in the strong westerlies predicted for tomorrow. But meanwhile Brian Lamb, Lee Spiller, Buchholz and Squibb got a nice fix. No ideas what or when could be next, unless you can get over to Plattsburg for the North Americans. I suppose they’ll leave the ice in good condition!

There’s three inches right up to the edge. Jory checked!

We sailed with the bottom of this shallow bay in view most of the time. Rocks would loom up and then vanish, submerged moorings and even a few fish would zoom by underfoot. It was mesmerizing, and a few of us nearly wandered onto the thin sheet while flying over the bottom. The illusion of flying was enhanced by the absolutely silent running of the blades.

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Sebago is NOT ready for boats. The photo in the previous post was not meant to be published. Reports this morning indicate that the center is beginning to blow out in the strong SW winds. Please stand by for further scouting reports.

Posted in 2014 Season

A Pilgrimage to Sebago

people go on pilgrimages all the time…they go to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadaloupe and gleefully throw away their crutches….they hike the Saint Iago de Compostella trail in northern Spain, perhaps on their knees, and are purified and cleansed…

So, the least we can do is drive 99.7 miles to this clear plate of ice, studded with white bubbles, clear to the bottom, clear to the horizon.

(Photo: Lee Spiller)

and what will we do on this pilgrimage? how–on this thin, perhaps impractical, ice– express our gratitude, our wonder?

Recently, our new Pope chose to wash local prisoners’ feet rather than those of carefully chosen Cardinals on a feast day. A tattooed prisoner asked him why. ” Acts of the heart need no explanation”, he said.

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Sebago has only frozen around the edges, 100 yards this AM reported by our spy Phil Lowe who lives in Sebago and looks across to Fry Island. High winds forecast for Friday through Sunday, SW at 30-40 MPH will likely blow out what ice has formed, again. Cold will continue so there is hope, but not for this weekend. Status of Twin Lakes not known.

Posted in 2014 Season

Watching Sebago Thicken

The temperatures are frigid…..1.2 degrees this morning….there is no hope of wetting out our snow-covered local lakes… these times, our only hope is the freezing of larger lakes which were open water during the recent snowfalls….Sebago, that mysterious Indian maiden, cuddled in her own micro-climate, is a prime suspect…

I wish I lived on Sebago’s edge, at Nathan’s Beach, looking East into this morning’s bright sunrise.

I would walk….with my dog…i love fantasy!… down to the edge and compare the miracle I saw yesterday: smooth, thin, unblemished ice with darker patches of open water, with what i saw this morning. Then, I would swing my axe and see that the zero degree night had thickened the ice to 2.5 inches and that those open water patches had disappeared. My dog would prance and skitter awkwardly on the crystal margin, waiting for the go-ahead of my thrown stick.

Then, back at the ranch, I would look into the crystal ball of weather, and see another cold night ahead, and a day of moderate wind coming on Saturday…..and that love-fear relationship with new, thin ice would return…..could we be safe there tomorrow?…..could we avoid “thin ice ecstasy”?…..hmmmm

And, tomorrow, if i saw a mighty splash ahead, sailing at speed 200 yards behind Bill’s iceboat, as he blasted into too-thin ice…and i spun into the wind and dismounted on creaky, marginal ice….and i called out to him to claw, ice-breaking, in my direction….and as i watched him use up his marginal energy….would i–regretting the throw rope i never bought–claw, spread-eagled his way, pulled by friendship, willing to risk an older life to save a younger? would some righteous tape: some i-told-you-so, you bastard, after all these years, still no warm, wet-proof clothing; be running through my mind, complicating the need for clarity?

and how would this morning’s clearer dilemma fare, so far from shore… in the cold, in the wind, in the adrenalin of a real-life tomorrow?

Posted in 2014 Season

South Twin Pix

First, congratulations to the North Americans’ organizing committee for finding decent ice at last. The plate has been sailed, inspected and not rejected. It’s Monty’s Bay on the New York side of Lake Champlain. Racing begins Thursday.See the INDNYRA site for details.

Here’s the Boom House. The concrete pylons used to set up the boom are still there; best to give them a wide berth.

We didn’t have time to make a fire, but it sure was nice to get in out of the wind and have a proper sit down lunch.

These calk boots are still available and are a great alternative to sheet metal screws in the sole that always fall out JORY!

But we do need to be careful when coming off the ice where we go in our spikes. Who’d of thought there was a law against it?

Mt. Kahtadin aglow while we plowed snow.

This just in from Lee Spiller: the main body of Sebago was still open yesterday. This has frozen once already, but was blown out. There’s a chance of light snow there tonight and into tomorrow, but then clear and cold all the way to Sunday. Are we about to see a Saturday on Sebago?

Posted in 2014 Season

South Twin, Martin Luther King Day

In the past three years, we had never sailed more than four miles from the launch on South Twin Lake. By the time the rest of our lakes are rotting out in March, this little gem is still strong. Right up to the edge. We’ve looked north from that undulating frozen edge many times hoping someday to get there. Today was the day. Curtis and I stopped for a gam at the little island that marks the extent of our usual plate and agreed that if we took it slow and kept a sharp eye we could proceed. Another couple of miles to windward and we could see for miles in two directions, Pemadumcook to the west and Ambajesus in the east, everything punctuated by islands and bays. In the near distance, Mt. Kahtadin and her brood of lesser peaks were all white and aglow under the one spot of clear sky.

I reached over to a lone fish shack for some local knowledge and before I had the brake on, a jolly fellow came out to say hello. He knew the lake well, and told us that the worse spot is the way we’d just come! Where the lake (a river, actually) narrows at that little island the flow is intensified often creating weak ice. But today the water level was high, the flow slow, and the ice generally 18″. Rick, from the lodge, concurred with that observation when we met him later in the day. He came out to find us because Steve Madden had called and the North Americans are looking, yet again, for a venue.

Anyway, Dave the fisherman directed us around a distant point into Ambajejus Lake to a small logging museum. The only way in there is by boat or snowmobile, and I have a hunch we were the first ever to visit on iceboats. We short tacked up the near side as this is where the west branch of the Penobscot River enters, hence the “Boom House”. They would yard the booms in this very bay, four thousand cords each. The logs would come tumbling down the Penobscot on the spring run-off into a big loop of floating cable. As soon as it was full it would be towed to Millinocket and the next one made ready. This is all wonderfully documented in the Boom House with artifacts, photos, and indeed in the house itself. It’s preserved pretty much as it was left when the last boom was towed away in 1971. The doors are always open, and they ask for a small donation for maintenance. We ate lunch at the long kitchen table surrounded by the early twentieth century.

It was a deep and lazy run back south in the afternoon. Keeping boatspeed down was the order of the day. Old snow drifts had wet out but never leveled, instead forming four to eight inch ice waves. There was no way around them and I couldn’t help wondering what happens when a springboard breaks. Then there was the shell ice, as if there wasn’t enough noise from smashing and crashing over the waves. All covered in a lovely two inches of dry powder. The fact that we sailed nearly forty miles in this stuff and didn’t break a boat is something of a miracle. If not for the waves, we’d still be there and spend the week exploring all the rest of this captivating lake system. And for all you local guys who haven’t been there yet, it’s only 2.5 hours from Camden.

Still waiting for photos from the photographer, meanwhile here’s all I got.

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