Even with snow in the overnight forecast, Jim and I decided to head to Canada anyway. The reports of five inches of nicely surfaced ice was too good to pass up. And the wind was supposed to be strong SW, blowing right up the middle of Lac Abenakis, the “big” lake in the village of Ste. Aurelie. A big surprise on the ride through Jackman was the view of Wood and Attean Ponds completely frozen and snow free. A drive by inspection from the center of town confirmed a plate of nice grey ice. We might have missed that one. Of course it was snowing by then and we had a hot date across the border so didn’t stop to inspect. The border was bleak, as usual, with blowing snow and grey bunkers.
But once across the border the sun came out and the snow quit. Things were looking up as we began the long climb to the high plain. Traces of snow began to show along the shoulder and in the fields. Was it old snow or new? As we approached Aurelie we saw a man shoveling his walk, and then saw the big white lake. The night before had dumped just under an inch of dry power. But the wind was about fifteen, so we scouted the plate and set up.
The access was carry on, but the Whizz is an easy lug for two guys. Jim was taking his new boat for its maiden sail. Soon Jacques Charbineau and Claude Morin showed up and, as DN guys will do, immediately set up marks. Jim was starting out slowly with a storm sail, but Whizzard and Whizzper duked it out neck and neck for a couple of dozen laps. It’s remarkable how competitive these boats are; we were side by side at nearly every mark rounding, over and over. We finally had to quit out of sheer exhaustion, so eased sheets and jogged quietly along the shoreline, admiring the creativity people put into their summer cabins, all gingerbread and curlycues.
Alas, the forecast called for no wind the next day (today), the snow had become sticky in the warming temps, and the little B&B La Morillion was closed. Three strikes and we headed for home, a mere four hours away. Thankfully it was mostly downhill back to the coast, and aside from the moose lurking in the shadows, there’s not much traffic in that part of Maine.
You know you’ve put in a good day on the ice when find your gloves locked in. Now where’s that key? Ah, the warm feeling of a well earned fatigue.
A couple of us will be meeting Denis at Lac Abenakis, Ste. Aurelie, Quebec tomorrow for a bit of scouting and what looks like a bunch of sailing. Five inches reported there this morning, with more cold tonight, and a surface much like the photo of Lac Joli in the previous post. Some flurries in the forecast, but a good SW breeze to keep the ice clear.
Come on in, the water’s hard!
Denis sends yet more mouth-watering photos while we wait. Note the skid marks!
Here’s his report:
“I found 2 lakes with just amazing ice !! And the wind was blowing at about 15 mph. As I haven’t sailed Lac Abenakis this year, and therefore not scouted it yet, I decided to sail on Lac Joli.
I sailed from 12:00 to 15:15 with just 2 stops out of the boat. I’m training for the 100 miles race !! Again on this small lake, the challenge was to turn at the end of the downwind part. See picture!!
So, the ice is an easy 9/10 on both lakes… Lac Abenakis would have to be scouted, but I’m very confident that it is safe. But I promess that I won’t sail it alone.
40% chance of about 1″ of snow tonight in Ste-Aurelie, but that mean 60% of no snow !! Let’s stay positive.”
This was taken yesterday by Doug Raymond’s daughter Brianna. Snow forecast there starting tomorrow and well into the future. Could we have sailed there today?
Forgive me if this hurts a bit, but believe me, I share your pain!
Dear old Plymouth continues to work hard for us: freezing, melting, freezing and getting blown out. Now she’s back again, all locked in.
The bit by the bridge is open as usual. The forecast for this coming week predicts a battle of the elements, ice against fire and falling frozen water. Bryan, if you’d like to go have a look it would be nice to know how thick it is. Dave Godin didn’t dare to land the plane to get a closer look! Thanks for the pix Dave.
Tuesday evening report from Denis in Quebec:
I sailed Lac Joli again today… Lac Abenakis is not good, too much snow, and signs of water and slush on the ice.
Lac Joli is 50% ice and 50% packed snow. In light air today, it was difficult to get going and keep our speed.
I sailed with 2 DN iceboaters who came from Montreal, and who did very well under those difficult conditions.
Some rain is expected late tonight, and strong winds tomorrow. It may become slush, or wet snow for tomorrow.
I’m really not sure about tomorrow’s conditions. The guys from Montreal decided to head back home tonight.
Honestly, I’m not sure I would make a long trip for this… and Thursday is light air again…
also an exciting report from Bryan Hitchcock:
Went by Plymouth today. At the launch site the ice was about 5/8 inch. The place is completely locked in, so it’s just a matter of weather roulette: will the coming rain be too warm?
The dynamic skating duo, Bob Lombardo and Carl, are skating their hearts out near Millinocket, Maine but report that none of the ice there is big enough for iceboats.
sooo, i guess we’ll just keep sharpening runners, skating at the rink…and “watching the kettle slowly come to a boil”
all the best, jory
Smoke signals are drifting up into cyberspace from jungle computers….our trusty spy, Denis Guertin, is prospecting two of his three favorite lakes: little Lac Joli about the size of Chicky; and Lac Abenakis, which is slightly larger and only now getting thick enough for safety. These lakes are almost four hours north of midcoast maine.
The thanksgiving holiday, which was perfectly timed to kibosh the first sailing of the season, is now a happy memory. The fridge is getting back normal. The wood pile, after almost five days of fireplace fires is deeply dented. And now….with the iceboat gear sorted out and piled separately in the garage, certain natives’ heartbeats are beginning to fibrillate.
when you examine the basis for the thrills of ice activities, you might discern four slightly different joys: there is “just iceboating” which is the generic thrill of bringing together technology, ice, and weather to create an amazing, magical movement. any lake will do. there is “creating community” where we need some kind of common toy or activity to build a community which is usually only seasonal. there is “go-faster-than-him/her” where the heart quickens in runner to runner closeness. and finally there is “cruising” where either the lake is big enough or, if small, at least has little wild snippets to give us the feeling of spaciousness and adventure.
Lac Joli gives us a welcome head start on our lovely early-freezer, Plymouth Pond. Though it lacks the “cruising” dimension, it offers the other three possibilities, so i’m hoping that Denis’s report coming tonight might open something up. If anyone else is considering going up there, possibly for a two-day gig, please add your comment to this post, or contact me by email, jorybrenda(at)gmail.com I doubt I would go alone….
think ice! it’s coming soon….jory