Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Ontario is a large bay on Lake Superior. It’s known in the iceboat world as the place where the ice is first in and last out. Here in Maine when we think we’re a big deal for sailing into April, the Thunder Bay spring season still has no end in sight.

Mike Madge is the man on the ice up there. He has fifteen days sailing so far this season. You might have met Mike on line during the pandemic when he held a series of excellent interviews with the who’s who of the iceboat racing world. He got to scheming with David Frost in the off season and they decided it would make sense to hold a scratch racing regatta the week before the Great Western Challenge. A tune-up for the tune-up kind of thing.
They pulled it off over the last few days, with two full days of racing. Smooth black ice, big wind, moderate temps. By all accounts just about as good as it gets.

Mike had set the course, and perhaps five or six DN’s ran back to back races on both days.

The Western Challenge is this coming weekend in Hutchinson, MN so if you feel you missed out on the early ice in Ontario, Minnesota will have to do. Last year the Western Challenge had over seventy DN’s.

Thanks to Paul Chamberlain, DN 5700, for the photos.

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Ice Report

Lake Abenakis is looking very good. Five plus inches, orange peel surface.

Rain forecast today, with a touch of snow to follow. Denis will check it late Thursday when that all has ended. Might be good to go on Friday and Saturday.
Got your passport?

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NEIYA Tune Up Clinic

Commodore Stanton put on a terrific show at Steve and Linda Lamb’s shop in Canton, MA yesterday. In addition to learning to stone runners, a review of the rules of the road and plenty of food and drink, we got to help a new sailor refine her setting up, adjusted her alignment and repaired a crack along the edge of the cockpit. She sails on a small lake in New Hampshire in a small fleet of DN’s and will take her new found skills back there and spread them out. Way to go Chris!

Jay Whitehair made some iceboat models that we used to simulate rules situations, first in an informal fun discussion, and later T walked us through a number of crossing, overtaking and mark rounding situations. He also laid out a recent crash, deconstructing exactly what happened. Basically, a boat was giving way and ducked under the stand on boat only to find another boat directly behind him, who had been hidden by the first boat.

Eben Whitcomb gave a demonstration on runner stoning techniques, basically how to finish the edge after sharpening. Very informative, and lively conversation was stimulated by lots of excellent questions.

At the very end of the day a call came in from Maine. Rob Dmitiof made a last minute decision to move up from the Lockley Skimmer and buy Steve Lamb’s red Renegade El Diablo. There was a mad scramble to round up all the parts and pieces, but with help from the entire crew the trailer was packed and on the way to Maine before sundown. Congratulations Rob!

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Black Ice

How strong is the draw to new black ice? Even if the plate is too skecthy for sailing, the need to just be on it is magnetic. Two cases in point. One ice hound got the call for ice at Thanksgiving dinner. In full confidence he continued drinking and eating, and then simply drinking. When he made his way home he realized all the skating and skate sailing gear was in a part of the house behind some carefully applied plastic sheeting, as he was in the middle of an interior renovation. But the draw pulled. He rounded up a ladder, ascended to the second floor window, and rolled over the sill onto the floor where all the gear lay waiting. Back down the ladder, load the car and off to bed for an early departure.

Ice hound number two was happily ensconced at his girlfriend’s house on a Maine island, a long way from ice. With the balmy maritime climate caressing the happy couple ice was the furthest thing from his mind. But the call came. Next morning he was out the door at three AM, drove back to his house on the mainland and had a nice breakfast after rounding up all his long dormant skate gear. He made a phone call.

Ice hound number three got the call in bed and was out the door in fifteen minutes.

It was full glide on black ice as dawn folded into day.

If there was wind, there would have been careful sailing.
Now, all the above scrambling for gear was only for ice skates! Imaging if they had to round up iceboats, planks, runners, tools, stands, spares, etc. Are you ready? The call will come, it always does. Be the one there.


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Thankful for the Sounds of Cleats on Black Ice

Thanksgiving is a time to re-connect with old friends. The best friend of iceboaters is early season black ice. It’s the faithful return each year of this magical, mysterious stuff that keeps us focussed on the fun to come.

Plymouth Pond has three inches along shore, out about 100’ where there is an obvious transition to 2”. There are other obvious thinner areas down to an inch, but no open water anywhere. The three inch plate tapers down to 2 1/4” as you follow the shore heading south.

It’s a very skatable stretch, and it might be that one could work down into the marshes along the shore. There is a small, thin plate in this band of three inch ice as you begin to move south.

So, what would you rather do tomorrow: go shopping or skate Black Ice?

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