Still Thinking Ice?

Denis and I were all packed and ready to roll to the ISA today, but it was postponed yet again. Conditions at the most favorable venue, Gladstone, Michigan (know also as Happy Rocks…) are an inch of styrofoam over a couple of feet of good ice. So I headed out to Damariscotta Lake to see what’s happening there. Access at Lake Farm is tricky, but twenty feet out there is an inch of syrofaom over sixteen inches of ice. The ice came up dry in the drill shavings. About fifty feet out there is four inches of snow over the same amount of ice, but the drill brought up slush, probably water seeping into the drill hole. Not a good sign.

The good news is that the surface looks fairly uniform, no holes. Will we get back on the ice? What will this immanent charge of weather leave us with? Will the soft spring nights and the joys of summer toys make dreams of iceboating melt away?

This little pond on Mt. Desert was open water until last Sunday when Bob Lombardo followed a hunch and found that a couple of inches of fine black ice had just formed. It was not a suitable site for the ISA, even though the midwestern guys would have loved the view of the ocean from the leeward mark. It was just about big enough for two skaters and a SkimBat:

Bill B with Skimbat on Vernal Equinox

Thanks Bob. It takes a club to find the ice!

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Got Ice?

Not wanting to admit defeat at the hands of the Substantial Soprano, I went down to see what was happening on Megunticook. The ice had become a bit punky before the snow, though far from disappearing. Then we got two major doses of snow and now have about eighteen inches on the ground. This what happens to all that snow when it sits on the ice for a few days:

Here we have two inches of snow, six inches of slush, two inches of soft Ice and then five inches of hard ice. What does it all mean? What will happen as the temps dive over the next few days? Up on Moosehead, is there a thick layer of slush under that thin white surface just waiting to freeze solid for us? Of course the big question is Are We Done?

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Memphramgog Awards Banquet

Here’s one for the archives; thanks to Fred Greis for the photo:

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Epic Sailing On Memphamagog

How would you imagine an ideal iceboating weekend? Travel to some interesting lake that you’ve never sailed before? Lots of interesting and fun people who show up to share the joy? Day one exploring and scouting, becoming enchanted by the beauty and grandeur? Day two with long tours into unknown territory with a fleet of capable boats and sailors? Day three of setting marks and racing, and then after lunch one last tour into an unreal fjord with the most amazing ice of the weekend?

If that sounds about right for you, then you shoulda been there. It was all that and more. Granted the ice was grade four and a bit soft, but the strong breeze all three days was all we needed and more to cover over a hundred miles on all three days of racing and touring. Access was excellent, and we found parking for the big trailer on a nearby bridge under construction. The rest of us easily drove down the ramp onto the ice.

The pits were tucked into a nice lee in a cove just off Derby Bay, about five miles north of Newport. Mark it, because we’ll be back.

This clearcut line on an island near the pit area is the Canadian border, so in appreciation of the warm relationship with our norther neighbor we inaugurated the ICE Regatta. The windward mark was in Canada, the Leeward mark in the US. The regatta’s name, of course, stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

1: George Neysson, Harken rumble seater Bad Boy
2: Bill Buchholz, Whizz 2 Whizzard
3: Dave Fortier, Super DN
4: Curtis Rindlaub, Indigo
5: Jim Gagnon, Whizz 5 Gee Whizz
6: Bryce Geele, Blade Runner
7: Rich Batista, Harken El Lobo
DNF: Tony Bosco, A Skeeter
DNS: Tom Gloudemans, Renegade. Fred Greis, J-14. Pete Zendt, J-14.
Race Official: Ramblin Roger.

Almost to Magog at the north end of the lake after two pressure ridges and 15 miles to windward. It was all downhill from there. Newport is well south of the ski area in the background.

The one bit of blue all weekend. But grey as the landscape was, there was plenty of color in the passion and drama of exploring a big unknown lake with good buddies. Aside from Jory’s slush pit it was very consistant. And then on the final tour we sailed up into a long narrow bay with high bluffs on each side with the wind coming right down it.

That’s the entrance, right behind Dave and Jim. We debated about going in, and one boat wished us luck and turned back, but this is what we do. The ice in there was up to 7-8, no shell or slush, and a very sweet wind. Dave won the two mile tacking duel to the top, and is looking for his apple:

Another long run back down the bay and into the lake, crossing the border yet again, this time right past the un-manned Canadian station:

We stopped to inspect this exquisite building; note the forlorn flag.

Maybe they keep a fast patrol boat here all summer, but there was no one around now except the ice fishermen. And they minded the border. You could tell exactly where it was because the bay was half full of fishermen, all concentrated above the line, none below. You could aslo tell the wind direction by which direction they faced while sitting on their little buckets jigging the line: all backs to windward.

Once Jim picked up his last souvenir from the final ridge crossing the fleet packed it in and hit the road, taking with them the memories of one of the finest stretches of sailing this season.

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Memphramagog conditions.

Steve Madden drove up to have a look today, hoping for a regatta venue. The ice is snow ice, and might get soft so be sure to bring slush runners. He says it’s very flat for as far as he could see, and with the promised wind it could be fine. Sounds a bit like Damariscotta last Saturday. The earlier in the morning you can get set up and going the better, of course. The launch is a bit of a mess from drive-ons so be careful.

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Lake Memphramagog ON for the Weekend

Newport, VT. The cooling temps in the forecast suggest that the ice will remain hard. We will be getting there around noon on Friday and plan to sail all weekend. Accommodations at Newport City Inn and Suites, 802-334-6558.
Big iceboaters dinner party planned for Saturday night. Hundred Mile Race to be called on if conditions allow. Good winds will give times in under three hours. There will also be an attempt to sail north to Magog, but big pressure ridges often prevent this. Come prepared.

Launch at 44.998n x 72.197w. It’s just south of Eagle Point, where the road skirts the lake, about five miles north of Newport. Ramblin Roger drove his van on yesterday, so it should be fine for trailers. The ramp softened a bit at fifty degrees, but he still managed to drive off. (Ice fishermen use this access so be sure to keep it clear.) Temps aren’t supposed to get above mid thirties so that shouldn’t be a problem this weekend. Based on what we’ve been sailing on around here in marginal temps, the nights below freezing should give us a splendid surface on the twenty-four inches of ice.

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Ramblin Roger just popped up on the big lake. He drove right onto 24” of ice with a hard surface at Derby Bay on the American side. The forecast for the weekend looks excellent, and would be a good venue for the Hundred Mile Race. I have a similar report from the north end at Magog. North winds on Fri, Sat & Sun are perfect for a long race on this lake. Will have a confirmation of the north end soon.

This could be our best chance for a Spring Fling. Will boats from all over New England converge if the ice pans out?

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