Memphremagog 1/4/14

With a date like 1-4-14 how could you go wrong? All the pieces fell neatly into place for an epic sail on Saturday. The forecast light wind built to a fine 10-15 from the south just as we finished setting up, and the south wind brought a breath of the tropics, boosting the mercury above zero. Amazing how good it feels to go from -15 to +3. Day finished at +10. Were we cold? Of course we were! But we kept going until the headlights of the cars leaving the ice indicated night was coming.It was the three of us in the video below, as well as super DN, a gaggle of kite sailors, and a local Skeeter: a hybrid Whizz/Nite. From the cockpit forward is built from the DN Goodchild Whizz drawings, and the stern from a Nite but narrowed to carry one person.

We carried long tacks down the lake ten miles to the little island just visible in the mist from Magog. Beyond that we found a brash area and stopped. We walked across and found a later freeze of lovely black ice. I wish I could tell you that there was no snow on it, Believe me I do! But there was a bonded inch, and the plate was only two inches thick. So we deep reached ten miles back to the pit area, throwing up great clouds of snow and trying to spot the clear patches to gybe. Yves rattled a pin loose and lost the rig. No harm done as Denis and I carried spares, but do tape your pins on a long tour. We got back to the pits for lunch and then went back out and did it again. Absolutely first class sailing. I was reminded of what Jory said sometime last season while tearing around in the snow. He allowed that Black Ice is way over-rated: miles and miles of the same old smooth. Sort of like the weather in Southern California. What you long for is an Event! Snow drifts give it to you: dodging them, smashing through them and launching the windward runner off the hard ones. As long as the wind holds, and this one blew strong well past sunset.

This morning the wind had vanished and the snow had softened, so we went for a skate on the municipal skate trail which winds along the shore at the head of the lake. It had just been Zambonied with a rather crude rig, but the results were superb. “Magnifique” I told the guy and he seemed pleased.

I asked if he could do the entire lake, but I think the request got lost in translation.

The night before, this was filled with smiling families and smooching young couples. An absolutely enchanting scene. If this lake comes back in, I would suggest you drop everything and go. The food and hospitality are excellent. There’s a bar and restaurant 100yds from the launch site, and the holiest of grails is the one reach-non-stop sail to Newport forty miles to the south when the wind is WNW. Here’s a video that Denis made which gives a much better sense of the day:

If it doesn’t play from this post, go to the web site and try it there. Eric and Eben are scouting the American end for a possible Easterns site scheduled for next weekend. Their local forecast tells of rain tomorrow and then cold temps coming back. No snow expected. And I heard that in English, not French!

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Sailing On Memphremagog Tomorrow

Our spy in the village of Magog, Jean, reports an inch of light snow fell during this last event. He sailed the north end of the lake before the storm and says the surface is pebbly, but very sailable. Temps forecast to be in the twenties Saturday and around freezing on Sunday, with south winds 5-10 and partly sunny. Sounds like a trip to the tropics to me, so I’m gone. Denis and Yves Guertin will be there, as well as Jean. Anybody else who hasn’t forgotten what iceboating is all about is welcome to join us. If the wind allows, we’ll try to sail south the the US border for a quick dip across. See if we can’t rouse the guards! Launch area is in the town of Magog, at the Club de Voile Memphrémagog. Drive on access reported.

Club de Voile Memphr̩magog РGoogle Search

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Homage to Lake Attatash

830 AM….light snow falling….i’m lingering in the magic of morning toast and tea…..why this trans-like calm?….not the slightest need to stir…is it 40 years of meditation practice?….no!…..its the reunion with a long-absent lover…..iceboating

I wanted to add a short post-script to Bill’s post. I don’t think he adequately described the miracle which greeted our eyes at 9AM yesterday as we left the car and walked out onto sunny, windy, glistening Attatash. I kept blinking away my disbelief….how had this lake maintained 8.8 grade ice, absolutely snow-less, against such impossible odds?….

And the lake is not really impossibly small….not with only 7 boats buzzing around. You point to the opposite shore and you’re there in about 2 minutes…not really frustrating…..before you get there, you’ll see another boat and the inevitable match race will ensue…and though the lake is bound on three sides by cottages and their paraphernalia, so exposed from the lake side…..on the fourth side is a reedy estuary as wild and beautiful as any…..that’s what it’s like in the suburbs…you especially enjoy your snippets of nature. In all the little bays around the shore, skaters had exploded onto the perfect ice, perhaps avoiding the zipping iceboats in the center. Here’s what the lake looks like:

it was a day for sharp runners, and both Bill and I came back for sharpening after the first exploratory round…..screechy spin-outs were a constant hazard in the lovely, all-day 10-15 kn. wind….why were the iceboat hordes not here?…I had to keep reminding myself that it was not only new year’s day, complete with hangovers; but probably a day of some big TV ball game….and tardily, lots of folks did show up, to talk at least. still…i’d swear our sport’s testosterone is trending downward….

It was great to see Luke Buxton again, John Bianci from retirement, Rick Hobbs, more than ever a terror of a skimbatter, and many others I can’t put names to…. an especial treat was getting to get to know Paul Delniro, over a body-warming lunch at the nearby fry-up. It was thanks to his persistent spying, that “The Miracle of Lake Attatash’ took place at all……gosh, what miracles still lay ahead?

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Dammy Ice

On 1/1/2014 10:57 AM, David Lampton wrote:

My walk about on Damiscotta and my examination of 5 active fisherman ice boring s is almost the same as your report. The fisherman report nothing less than 9inches in the great bay. I measured 8 to 12 inches in my 4 fresh holes. The surface is hard to judge with some of everything. DLWA cam is up and showing the bright white Lake!

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A Happy Start to 2014 on Attatash Pond

It doesn’t take much to satisfy a starving iceboater. Give us the clickity clack of the runners on ice black, the pressure of wind on the sail, an occasional hike and a few other sailors and we come home happy. What does it matter that we need to tack and gybe once a minute and keep a very focused eye on traffic because the pond is only a mile around. No islands, no straights, no bays. But we had all of this and more today on Attatash, a frog pond in Merrimac, Mass.

Luke Buxton came out of retirement for a nice spin in a loaner DN, John Bianchi ( who we thought was permanently ensconced in a cabana in Florida for the winter) happened to be in the neighborhood and dropped in for a visit. We marveled at the energy of Louise Racine, who bought his boat this year, and who has been to every Regatta so far and has signed up for all the rest! Jeff Nabb was there, as well as Rick Hobbs with his quiver of SkinBats. Dave and Kristin Buckley came up from Newport with a lovely new mast from Jeff Kent. Dave is determined to become very competitive this season and displayed some of his mojo by pacing Indigo for a couple of laps. This is significant as Curtis had re-vamped the sheeting on the old girl and seriously boosted boatspeed. He’ll be giving Whizzard company this winter! Thanks to Paul Delnero for scouting this platelet on his icebike, and to Jory for the excellent company on the three hour drive from Maine.

This is what it takes to keep iceboating viable: interested people finding sailable ice and the sharing it with the rest of us. Especially in this apparent drought we rely on teamwork more than ever. NEIYA scouts are scouring New England at this very moment searching for a plate large enough for the Doc Fellows Regatta this weekend. It hasn’t been called ON yet, but if you know of anything at least 1×2 miles please check in here, or with Eben Whitcomb at

When I read the forecast these days my eyes glaze over with the exciting variety of precipitation and super cold temps. Trying to interpolate a small sailing window is like trying putting a split ring into a cotter pin with frozen fingers. It just ain’t gonna
happen. This is all the reason we need to spend six hours in a car for an icy fix on a faraway frog pond.

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Chicky Ice 12/31/2013

Grey granular ice, sailable except for winrows and patches of dense snow up to 1 inch thick. Snow cover 20% +. Just a bit more rain would have fixed it. Too icy for snow mobiles apparently. Chopped a bunch of holes in flinty hard snow ice, only got down to water once at about 10 inches, that was 1/2 snow ice and 1/2 black. More snow at North end. Rode ice cycle around all over lake for an hour, no thin spots seen.

Dusting of snow makes it all white New Year’s day, would be hard to see snow patches to miss them if sailing.


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Attatash Ho!

Our boats are loaded and pointed toward Lake Attatash with wheels to roll at 6AM. Here is the Google map for the launch area:,+Amesbury,+MA+01860,+us&ie=UTF8&ll=42.84523,-70.986743&spn=0.020012,0.050168&z=15

Paul Delniro has called in from the lake and is quite impressed with its surface. Nearby Baxter Lake was a disappointment, with insufficient wetting out and a further snowfall. No news of Bow Lake.

Also good news came in from Pat Keeley that Jordan Bay Sebago has frozen and with no immediate wind to goof things up, may be the place to be this weekend. Jordan bay is 2 miles wide at its widest E-W, and 3 miles N-S; so it’s quite a playground, even though it’s only a fraction of Sebago itself. Just the name will bring up powerful memories to many of us. Right now, tuesday, the ice is just a little more than an inch thick there, and snow is predicted for Thursday….so it represents our typical frustration. Pat will call in as things develop….

so, it’s still full speed ahead for Attatash….see you there, perhaps….jory

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