19 September, 2011
NEW ENGLAND ICE YACHT ASSOCIATION FALL MEETING AND SWAP MEET
The Great Swap meet, lunch and business meeting will be held Sat. Oct.29 at the old reliable Doubletree Hotel in Westborough, MA. The Swap Meet starts at ten, luncheon at noon, meeting right after lunch.
There is always terrific gear, complete boats, hardware, and good company. Bring stuff to sell and trade; help keep the iceboat economy humming! It’s always well worth the drive from Maine.
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 6TH FALL MEETING AT DAVE FORTIER’S.
USUAL LATE AM TO MID PM, USUAL POT LUCK LUNCH.
Bring some food or drink to share. There will be hot protein and a grill.
Note the time change Saturday night to EDT.
Directions to Dave’s: Maine Turnpike Exit 32, turn left at light at exit onto Rte 111 for a couple of miles at a complex intersection turn onto West St. between a Burger King and a cemetary, go about 3 miles past a high school and through another light. At the next intersection turn Right onto Guinea Rd. then about 1/2 mile turn right onto Cretien Rd. to second house from the corner on right (two buildings connected by a raised walkway).
2011 Annual Tune-up Clinic
Saturday, November 12th
11:00 to 3:00pm at Arthur C. Lamb Co
85 Jackson St., Canton, MA
The Tune-up Clinic is an annual NEIYA before-the-ice-comes event.
If you have any interest in the sport of ice boating, this is a great place to learn about it.
Informal discussions on alignment, safety, runner sharpening, racing, and cruising will be going on.
We will have coffee, doughnuts, hot dogs, chips etc. Bring food and drink if you would like, but not necessary as we always have plenty.
Open to members and non members; bring a friend that might be interested in ice boating, or bring an old boat that needs help.
If you have a jig for alignment or sharpening please bring it as its always good to see different methods.
There will also be an Indoor swap meet area, bring gear you have for sale. Steve from North Wind Ice boats will be there with lot’s of new and used stuff.
Brian L and Doug S will be bringing a new BDX12 pocket skeeter hull and plank combo for sale, as well as a selection of new and used planks, and a nice used DN hull inneed of some love. They also have some other gear for sale like inserts, snow runners, sails.
Take Rte.95 to exit 11A (Neponset St., Canton)
Follow up to light, take left onto Chapman St.
Travel less than 1/4 mile to top of hill look for signs saying: To Jackson St.
Turn right and right again 180 degrees onto Jackson St.,
“Do not go over railroad bridge!”
Lamb Co. will be on your left ( Beige block building)
Lost, call 781 389 4681 or 781 828 9797
P.S. This is a hands-on event so roll up your sleeves, we’re here to help!
While we’re waiting less than patiently for ice, be sure to pick up the December issue of SAIL Magazine. Deb Whitehorse, of 4Lakes fame, has written a splendid article on iceboating. The article is nicely splattered with Gretchen Dorian photos.
Meanwhile, we have plenty of time to sharpen runners and assemble parts and pieces so as not to be caught out at first flash. Word has it that it will get cold abruptly and stay cold. We can only hope because how many times can we re-read a magazine article no matter how excellent?
Are the skates sharp, ax calibrated and claws on hand?
The NEIYC Fall Swap Meet and meeting took place Saturday in spite of the dire weather forecast. How does it bode for the winter if our first gathering is snowed out? Or would it have been the last grasp of the snow bound winter of ’11? Either way, we managed to transact many deals on boats and gear before the rain started, soon after lunch. By then the membership was well into thirds on the shrimp and the officers began their excellent officiating.
Your correspondent left for home early to beat the storm, so awaits the report of the meeting onNew England Ice Yacht Association. Our meeting at Dave Fortier’s was canceled due to the weather, but we will schedule it asap.
There were at least five DN’s, one Ice Flyer, and a Norton TN50 for sale. It was a great day for a bargain! Steve Duhamel had his usual tables of hardware and did a brisk business. Sharp and Langly brought their new strip planked wing mast to show, as well as a nice selection of runner planks to sell. Doug sold his annual trailer, the happy new owner leaving with a lot of other new gear aboard.
People came from as far away as Lake George in New York state, Long Island, and Nova Scotia (check out the new link to their site). This annual event is indeed a New England-wide meeting of ice boat enthusiasts, many who come just for the networking and brainstorming. The four hour drive from Maine is absolutely worth it if only for the early season charge of ice boat energy, not to mention the great deals.
Tetford Mines in Canada was discussed as the first possible sailing venue, but we’ll be watching Plymouth Pond via spy Jim MacDonald in a few weeks. Stay tuned! (pun intended)
Some seasons start late and the 2011-12 season looks like it might be one of them. Bill Buchholz and I had a lovely sunny drive up to Plymouth Pond, but even as we crested the final ridge, and the 1-mile vista of the road ahead pointed straight to the pond itself, we could see by the blueness of the gray pond, that it was open water. As we drew along side the pond itself, even the margins were not generally frozen, but only where there were weeds in the water to aid crystalization. Nevertheless, out of habit, we used the ice axe to establish that there was 5/16? ice on the boat launch side and 3/8? on the bog side…..
But, of course, we had lots of time to tell the stories, to keep the oral tradition alive, even without any cub iceboaters in the backseat to be impressed. My own son, Stephen, likes his ice in one-inch cubes, but I do admire his camping out in downtown Boston, in the ‘occupy’ movement there. He’s pretty much doing what I did at his age, in 1968, manning the lefty barricades….You couldn’t have talked me into iceboating.
Soooo, with this present week predicted to be mild, I guess we’ll just have to think “water” and see if the Higher Power responds to reverse phycology…
all the best, Jory
19 degrees this morning…..rushed to Howe Hill Swamp, our early-freezer and saw it fully skimmed over for the second time. The ice was 3/4 ” thick, and of course wouldn’t support my weight. I will be curious to see if this thaws in today’s sun. I’ll bet there is skateable ice somewhere on a high-altitude pond in New England. Keep the faith, ice buddies!
I dialed one of the familiar numbers at 6:45AM–Bill Buchholz–and Kalla’s cheerful “Ice Central!” response put me in a wonderful mood. I missed dialing Dickie Saltonstall’s long-memorized number, a cell phone number that always got you right thru to his slow, cynical, but warm morning drawl. Do I miss this guy?
I bounce back and forth. A trouble-some tooth was finally extracted, but it’s tougher to chew the food.
Put on all the correct gear, and headed at high speed to the Swamp, as the bright but still sunless sky brightened the trees. Why this hurry, this racing pulse?
The swamp looked like yesterday, but by some special ESP, you knew it was thicker. Gotta get me some knee waders, I thought as I looked for a safe approach to ice checking. It took an encouragingly greater effort to break thru the 1 and 1/8 inch ice. I heaved a 4 pound log out into the center, which bruised the ice as it skittered out into the middle. In another spot, I got 1 and 3/8 inch ice. Tomorrow, with the Higher Power’s blessing, nordic skates might safely glide on this lovely, stump-filled, forest-bound gem.
Today’s rain and wind have wiped out Plymouth’s precious skim. We had hoped it would have survived the storm and started to build thickness tomorrow, but it looks now like we will be delayed again, starting from scratch.
But the forecast for the weekend promises below freezing temps night and day, and with the exception of a minor event Monday afternoon, looks promising for days to come.
We’ll have a look at the surface Saturday morning and based on the forecast will report more optimistic news!
I found 2? of ice near the edge of the swamp this morning and ventured out 30 feet from the shore and began pounding. a crack immediately shot beneath my feet and i felt a little jolt….i gingerly left the ice for another day of thickening. a bold skater with a pal and the right gear might enjoy this ice…. alas, i’m off to Boston to pick up two daughters…..jory
This fall the sport of ice boating has had very little to do with actually sailing a boat. The sport has been chasing leads, watching weather reports, hoping and praying. Good sport in itself, I suppose. The fact that some day we might actually be sitting in a boat, hauling on a sheet and marveling at the clickity-clack of the runners seems remote indeed. It seems part of some distant dream unrelated to our sport of watching ponds not freeze and measuring skim ice down to the eighth. Or we go on wild goose chases to the ends of the earth to look at a deal on an old ice boat but then realize that this old boat has nothing to do with the sport of skim-watching so we go home empty handed and confused.
But today it was all over. Back at the helm of a SkimBat in a gusty NW breeze on 2.25? (no 1/8?s!) it felt like summer had been part of some one else’s life and it was just yesterday that we were ripping up the ice under full sail.
Lloyd and I spent the afternoon on Howe Hill Bog. If not for the sharp stumps one could sail a DN here carefully, but ice is coming in everywhere now. We have two inches on Plymouth with forecast in the low 20?s.
Clary has 1.5? and will grow tonight. We await Scott Woodman’s report from there in the morning.
It’s official: we’re setting up boats on Plymouth. If we find the ice is as good as reported, we’ll actually sail!
Hope to see everybody there; planning to get there around ten.
5 AM……Every year there’s a magical day when ice is forming simultaneously everywhere H Two Ohhhhh can be found, and yesterday was that day….This morning, I can’t possibly sleep in. All those little water molecules are sleepily reaching out to friends and neighbors…..how can i possibly not put on the gear and eagerly wait for morning light? This morning I’ll by-pass the Swamp, which was massively skated yesterday, but shoot directly to Toleman Pond, which was only an inch yesterday and is a little more open for skating and skimbatting…..alas, this morning’s temp is a disappointing 33 degrees….then, I’ll shoot all around Megunticook, parts of which ‘flashed off’ as Dickie would say, yesterday. I can’t imagine a better day than skating and sauna-ing at the north end of the lake. Come on sun….get your butt above the horizon!
Ice: 10. Weather:10. Wind: 15, gusts to 20: 100% 10. After discovering thicknesses of 2.5-3? with an occasional 2? of very high quality black ice, Jim MacDonald and I set off with skate sails to explore the rest of the plate. The wind was gusty but not overpowering, and very directionally stable for a NW wind. The entire pond appeared flawless, so I set up the DN and was off like a shot. With perfect ice and no traffic, old DEFROSTER was able to clock 60.3mph without too much trouble.
Chris Connary wisely canceled a ten am meeting and showed up with the TN 50 he found at the Swap Meet this past fall. It was all there minus a clevis pin, of course,and sailed very well. Thanks to Chris’s mom for providing the coffee.
Scott Woodman also came with OUTLAW, but felt the ice wasn’t quite there yet. It’s always good to have a voice of reason around. The only hint of the ice being thin was when I stopped to relieve myself and Chris rumbled past. The sheet under my feet began to heave and roll a bit and I felt rather vulnerable given my situation.
Forecast is questionable, but it looks like it might be Plymouth in the morning with a SW breeze. Rain expected to hold off until late afternoon. There will be a post in the morning when plans are confirmed. Come get it while you can!
Looks like just a few of us going to Plymouth Pond, Plymouth Maine this Wednesday morning…..Poor numbers mainly because of a poor wind forecast, that is, 5MPH south, rain and snow possible in the afternoon. We’re urged on by the usual crap-shoot of ice activities…..take advil….show up….and pray!
On the plus side, it’s a great chance to make sure all the bits and pieces are in place, to see some fabulous ice before this next round of mixed aggrivation comes along, and have a great lunch in the Plymouth Village Store….better’n addressing Christmas Cards… report to follow tonight…..jory
as usual, with iceboating, “many are called, but few are frozen” this morning’s frozen few were scott woodman, lloyd and myself, converging on plymouth, only to be blocked by freezing rain on the road, so bad that going up hills near Brooks, Maine, became impossible, and so a slow return at 30 MPH…..
the consolation prize for me was an hour’s heavenly skate at the north end of megunticook, on ice sooo smooth and also safe….gonna try it later this afternoon with a skimbat as the southerly builds up…jory
I loaded up for Plymouth at 7:30….would you really want to iceboat with a guy like this?
Once at Plymouth, the sun was warm, almost like March, and the ice was a mixture of puddles from 1/8″ deep with skim ice, up to about 6″ deep. I chopped a few holes, generally finding 3.75 ” inches of strong clear ice. Bill arrived just as I had finished remembering how to set up an iceboat, and I took off the brake in the 4 MPH flukey NW wind. The pit is often in a lee on Plymouth, so I was pretty sure of more wind out on the lake. I sat on the edge of the cockpit, watching the runners generating a nice little wake as they plowed through the puddles, then climbed into the cockpit, and pulled the strings for the first time of the season and felt the boat accellerate toward the far wooded shore. I was immediately captivated by a strong and scary thought–probably the scaryest thought possible: how close I came, how terrifyingly close, to not being here amid this beauty this morning. How many little domestic nothings, and especially how much personal lethergy–could have easily snatched this precious gift away.
Bill soon joined me and immediately knew the answer about the scaryiest thought….I knew he would….the sky was sunny and cloudy, perfectly reflecting everything in the pools as they shot past.
Since the pools often drenched us, we soon learned to avoid them when we could, but in the light air there were no ripples to warn us so often there would be a big surprise shower. I again was thankful to be wearing amphibious clothing, since Bill was soon wet and chilled, but not badly considering the forty degree temp. Scott Woodman joined us in his majorly-retweaked “Outlaw” and seemed to be in even better control than before of this fast beauty….We pulled back to the pits about 11, just as Lloyd was setting up and we set off for pizzas at our faithful Plymouth Village Store
Aware that the wind could pooch at any minute, we cut the grease short and went at it again at noon, finding the water even deeper. Fearing that we might be losing ice, Bill chopped another hole as far South as we had dared to go……Strangely, the water above the hole immediately drained down.
We couldn’t figure out why, with the weight of the water over the ice, that water wouldn’t be flowing up through the new hole…(Bob Dill, if you’re reading this could you, perhaps, explain?) but the answer seemed less important than iceboating, as we match-raced and played tag and darted suddenly around the deep puddles whenever we saw the wind-rippled water up ahead. I was neck and neck with Bill, feeling mighty, waving him goodby, with my mast already bent to the absolute max, when crash! the sacrificial screws in the runner plank attaching hardware gave way, and the plank hinged astern. Happily, the rig stayed up and I was able to lash the runner in place and limp the mile back to the pits….there, we happily debriefed the fantastic day, moaned over the coming prediction of snow, and hoped against all hope, that maybe Miss Plymouth would smile again on us in a few days.
A few of us will roll the dice and head for Plymouth Pond in the morning. Temps forecast in low 40′s with full sun, so surface may deteriorate. Lighter wind than yesterday. Thickness TBD. Who knows, but ya gotta show up to find out. Meeting at nine am.
It looks like three ponds might be sailable soon. Scott woodman is checking Clary Pond in Jefferson, Maine; Bill Buchholz, Dave Fortier and myself will be checking Great Pond, Belgrade. We will have our boats with us, just in case….and Fred Kercheis will be checking Plymouth…..All three are quite promising. Snow is due I think Friday night, so possibly if the ice is still thin tomorrow, we might have some fun on it Friday. All the best….jory
This morning the wind was screaming in the trees, great gusts shaking the house. I knew it was our only chance in the next few days to get some sailing, but we couldn’t decide where to go or what to sail. So we opted for a day of exploring, and helping Dave Fortier scout training ice for our Worlds boys down south.
Anyway, here are some pictures:
And the third was a trip across the isthmuson our knees with skimbatts,
only to discover lousier ice on the other side.
On reports of marginal conditions on Plymouth Pond after yesterday’s snow, Eric Anderson, Eben Whitcomb, Dave Fortier and Rick Hobbs made the long haul from southern New England and showed up at the pond early today, scoring big time. Only ten percent of the surface had wetted out, and the one inch of snow had not bonded in spite of the fact that the pond was covered in water the day before. Wind was NW at fifteen with full sun, and they blasted through the snow at speed.
Eben has just finished building a new DN which he’s taking to the Worlds in Europe next month. Jim Thieler and Eric are also going, yet this was their first time on the ice this season, and training time is becoming scarce. As a club, or rather a “team”, we should all be scouting venues for these guys to train as we are sending our best to the Worlds and want them to be in top shape for the competition.
The lesson of the day, as usual, is take a chance and show up. We would never had imagined that the snow would not bond with all that surface water. See the last post for photos. Well done, Gents: tip of the helmet all around!
Today, monday, is warm and in the 40′s. We’ve heard that Hermon Pond up near Bangor is 6″ thick ice and a good surface. We may take boats up there tomorrow morning. Good wind prediction so far. Today, we’ll just skate the local ponds which have soft surfaces, but good ice. Stay tuned for an update tomorrow morning…..jory
Steve Pixley came by with his Arrow runners, one of which had slammed into the blunt edge of a pressure ridge a few years ago. It was about a sixteenth out of straight. We started with the clamps very slowly, bending a quarter, then a half then five eights. It continued to spring back. So we added a second clamp and took it to a full inch of over bend and voila: as straight as our old eyes could tell.
The report from Hermon Pond, from Fred Kercheis, suggests waiting a day for the pond to thicken beyond the present post-thaw 3″, so Bill, Lloyd, and I plan to check out Grassy Pond today for a possible afternoon of activities, and tentatively head for Hermon tomorrow morning…..ice is definitely happening…jory
This just in from Don Stearns:
Dennis called and set up the meet on Murdock Lake. He brought a friend , Cliff Puchard.
Cliff and Dennis built a scooter a while back and Cliff was a good catch to keep an eye on us and scout the ice. The three of us used the two boats to sail.
Check on google earth to find the lake. We went from tar to dirt and followed the power line in to a pumping setup. This is a place we have visited before and we really like “island sailing” . Had to watch out for stumps, dead fish, and lots of goose poop.
Someone should have a talk with those birds! We walked it first and felt no need to punch holes as all ice had small bubbles in it and you could see thickness at all times. Open water we avoided and these tended to be on the south side of islands. Some of the small coves were not frozen and we briefed and avoided these. Only real concern was a large quantity of what turned out to be geese droppings. What were they doing on an otherwise solid plate? Sailed for about 3 hours.
Thanks to Dennis for starting the new year right. You would be proud. Had a throw line, my new life jacket, an ice screw and all had picks. Wish I had a picture of Cliff carrying a 20 foot birch tree over the ice. Now there’s a man who is gonna get out if he goes in.
Tip of the day. If you are going to spin out, watch what is upwind of you!
Forecast for 5-10 NW, highs about twenty and sunny. Ice conditions un-confirmed but we deduct they are bound to be pretty good. Planning to be there around ten.
The laboratory rats continued to frantically push lever B……that’s the one with the scantily-clad female rat pictured on it….would a food pellet slide down chute B?….or would a jet of ice-water squirt out of jet B?
I put on 19 items of clothing, had a final pee, noticing that 12 distinct operations were necessary in its performance, and then loaded up the 6 items of iceboat gear……tarnation! …..the bungies were refusing to bungy….
Pumped myself up thinking of the buddies in the Plymouth village store at noon eating hot slimy things…then, with a fatalistic sigh….pointed the hood ornament north.
As if on cue three rats converged at the launch ramp within 2 minutes of each other, and with scant hello’s began setting up in the bright sun on 5 inches of very hard, probably very fast, probably very rattle-y ice….. it looked like Bill was bringing “Indigo”, and Scott and I looked over as he was sliding something out of his quanset-style trailer…….Holy Smokes! here’s what I saw:
A new boat, a Whizz, named Northern Light, shiny, new, perfect, fast-looking….like….like…sex….so we helped each other set up, and then pushed out onto the lake into the strong wind….Bill took a turn to check things out…..thank god he has to tune this thing, I thought….Indigo took two seasons….but no, he was immediately out of my league….and was keeping station with Scott’s ‘outlaw’ which, once it is wound up, and Scott feels confident to really pull the strings….glides to the front of the pack….
The ice was indeed rattle-y and scary-fast in the frigid temps…..the runners constantly straining to keep from spinning out…..after an hour we gathered in the south-facing northern shore and had snacks…
. warming our numb hands with hot drinks, we yakked about the dying of our iceboat club….just a few more defections, and we’ll be history….too bad: all this nice ice and wind, and an exciting activity and community….we’ll be exiled to the house and the ‘honey-do’ list….
.Bill was keen to try a smaller higher-aspect sail…..we fine-tuned the rake of his mast….and then match raced another hour…..I found that by generously short-tacking the others on the corners, and then flogging my steed to the mast-splintering limit, i could have the continual pleasure of being passed about 3/4 down the straightway…let’s see…if they take a proper lunch break, i can dull their runners with stones…
…every time I swore I was too cold, this was too out of control, I’m heading for the pits to warm up…. but then the lure of just one more round would grab me. In the lovely afternoon light, Bill and I stitched our way symetrically , cautiously exploring, to the south of the pond as far as we dared.
By this time our population had increased by 33% with Doug Fowlie and his trusty Lockley skimmer, recently rewelded, the sail duct-taped into shape….amazing how well that machine can move…..
Finally, I headed for the pits and the store and some warm goodies and, returning, found that the others were chilled enough for one day…so we all packed up…me with broken foot steering pedals and runner plank attachment….but all with that happy glow….
a bigger gang is coming to plymouth on thursday….me….i’ve had about all the fun i can stand….
Plymouth is still in terrific shape. Today was a bit overcast until the afternoon, but the ice is still a good 9. Wind was west 5-10. Lloyd, Bill Bunting, John Eastman, Scott the Guy, and myself made the most of the entire plate. We set up cones and had the first race of the season, won by Northern Light, Bill’s new Whizz.
Many tips of the helmet to Steve Lamb and Jeff Brown for the design work on this boat. It sails beautifully, turns on a dime, and is very, very fast. The flexible plank keeps it from hiking: it just accelerates! Thanks, also, to Henry Bosset for a fine sail. People tell me the sail looks flawless under weigh.
Most of the usual gang. Who could resist coming to sail with such a sexy crew?! See you all soon. We’re scouting a good site for Saturday: stay tuned…
We’ll be racing DN’s again under the banner of the CIBC this coming Sunday on Plymouth Pond in the Linc Davis Regatta. At least three races to be held, skipper’s meeting at 10:00. Welcome to the return of racing at the CIBC!
Stoned on plymouth pond…..stoned on iceboating….stoned on friends….stoned on smooth ice covered by 1/4″ of unbonded snow…stoned on lots of wind….stoned on having a well-evolved boat which you can push hard….stoned on warm clothing that lets you stay out all day….stoned on hot chocolate at Plymouth store….stoned an keeping sailing into the late afternoon…stoned on bright blue sky with dark stratus clouds bounded with yellow in the afternoon light….stoned on so many ice lovers sharing the ice: skaters, kite sailors, ice fisherfolk, dogs, iceboats, ATV’s….and mainly stoned on an enormous iceboat community turnout with interesting people and boats…..and especially stoned on staying after everyone else had left….stoned on the gathering gloom of evening….stoned on the final sunset painting the northern shore red…just….just….this is as joyful as life gets…
I arrived at 9, and Doug Raymond was already setting up, along with many others. What was especially fun about today was the large turnout: there were our regulars, like Lloyd, Scott, Bill Bunting, Bill Buchholz, John Eastman, Fred Wardwell, and myself. We were the hosts you might say….then there were the inner fringe: Dave Fortier, John Bianchi, Doug Raymond, Ben Fuller, John Hanson and Chris Conary, who we see pretty regularly….and then there were lots of people we don’t see too often, like Brian Lamb, Dave Buckley and his wife, Carlos (who we haven’t seen in years), and our faithful spy Fred Kircheis, as well as many others.
The ice was fantastic…..you can crow about black ice, but my favorite ice is smooth ice covered by a thin layer of unbonded snow…..this adds to the intense overload of light, and gives the ice a bleak, blinding quality….the wind was also fantastic…..all you could want….
I was the first boat set up and, sailing out, placed two racing buoys in position, since racing was to be an important part of the day….they ended up about a mile apart, where you see them on the map… We had decided to call the Linc Davis Regatta which calls for at least three three-lap races. There was some attrition in numbers …..bill buchholz, for one, broke a runner plank amid an adrenalin rush while leading the second race…even we slowpokes, John Eastman and I, managed to finish without being lapped…it was pleasingly informal….
The rest of the day was that wonderful spontaneous bagatelle of activities: Ben Fuller and John Hanson sailed the beautiful gaff-rigged antique iceboat called TIPSY. She did not live up to here name, however, and kept all three runners on the ice. Very elegant indeed…Chris Conary was in something unique and interesting: the TN50…and there were some wonderful scratch races once we shortened the racecourse, and had many quickie two-lap grudge matches…Bill Bunting and I again found we were usually neck and neck….Carlos, though 6 years away from the ice, had his erstwhile mojo working, especially downwind…Dave Fortier and Doug Raymond were as fast as ever….
I just couldn’t stop, and continued long after prudence counciled taking the boat apart….I sheeted in especially hard for November, which didn’t happen….and for December which almost didn’t …..here was Plymouth, which has always been snowed out on these january days, giving us such a fine, fine, time. She has such a lovely little waist, as you proceed south, blasting around that little point on the north shore, which is largely uninhabited, with drift-wood coves, and wild wetlands…
I know it’ll probably be great tomorrow, but though the spirit is willing, the flesh is zonked, and heading straight to bed…let’s hope this jonny-come-lately season has lots more in store….jory
We were a bit disorganized yesterday; many thanks to Doug Raymond for maintaining some kind of order. Must be his skills as a high school teacher. Fred Wardwell did a splendid job as starter and score keeper.
These just in from Lloyd and Jory:
3 in black orange peel surface from my beach out to center. Ice breaker track 3in chunks glued together with 2 inch black. South end not walked. Public beach had thick rim, likely 4-5 by now bordered with ice breaker path as above. We should make another 1/2 inch on the 2 in stuff tonight.
bill and i will be at bog bridge about noon with skimbatts. ice in bog bay 7″ after ice junctions 3″ in the western part of south broads…very nice slightly pebbly, but grade 9 surface….can’t wait…./jory
We’ll be in boats somewhere tomorrow…
We scouted Megunticook today on SkimBats and found a very uniform 3″ everywhere: from the Turnpike side, south broads, up the reach and into Wipeout Bay. The north end was not inspected but we did see ice fishermen up there. The approach to Chaney’s Narrows looks a little hairy but we found 3″ there, too. Tonight’s cold temps should add at least another half inch.
Tomorrow’s forecast calls for NW wind at 10, sunny, 25 degrees. All that on flawless ice. It doesn’t get any better than this on the Queen of Local Lakes. Snow and freezing rain called for Thursday and Friday. Come get it while you can!
The surface is a little pebbly but in spite of that there wasn’t a sound from the skates while under sail.
I know i speak for many of us who were on megunticook today in the bright sun, endless sparkley ice, beautiful scenery: we just felt so grateful to be alive, to be able to experience this radience, this clarity, this carefree joy….we set up about 1030, some at the parking lot at bog bridge, and some secluded at Davy Jones’ little cove: me, and bill,and john eastman, scott, fred wardwell, bill bunting, and doug flowle, and eventually Cam and ben fuller. we pushed around the bend into the south broads into fickle 5 knot winds–exploring to the east, running out of wind there and then mosying back to circle our race-course between dunton rock and echo island….
bill and i occasionally sprawled on the ice, waiting for the slow-pokes to catch up–since we weren’t sure they knew all the turns–and wondered how each succeeding year continues to surprise us. how we so often say to each other with absolute truth, the dull cliche, “this is as good as it gets”.. how can it always renew itself, always be a fresh experience? after so many many seasons?
we finally got up to cam’s, ravenous, still without wind, and cam was working on putting together one of his older iceboats for the first time in years…..no sign of shrimp….so we chowed down with vigor on brown bag lunches, yakking with jeff and anita scott who skated in, and then john and polly hanson and a kennel full of dogs…all equally inebriated on the ravishing day….
during lunch a sucker’s breeze blew up and tempted us to a few runs, but then died. eventually we warmed ourselves briefly in the sauna, but knowing that 4 miles separated us from the promise of wind in the south broads, we soon pushed off.
again is was fairly fast pushing, with such a marvelous surface, and just as, sweating, we neared the broads, sure enough, the much-longed-for wind had us finally jumping with relief into cockpits….
there are many joys in iceboating, but today we felt one especially: when the wind finally takes hold, seriously takes hold, gives you that go-anywhere freedom….after hours of pushing.
and for the next two hours, we used it to the hilt, blasting anywhere we had a whim on the southern network of the lake. although the ice was ‘bulletproof’, getting back to the broads across ‘the fangs’ from the turnpike section, was tricky with flooded pressure ridges in all three straits….
bill bunting had been threatening to tweak his runner chocks, so as to better pass me, and he must have done it, for he was right up in the front of the pack with Northern Light and Outlaw….but i didn’t mind the view from behind and…trusting the ice now so completely….often went off exploring, or just lingering in a sunny cove, admiring the pebbles on a beach…
(dickie’s once-agressive “icywood’, now tamed with DN components, takes a breather in the cove south of fernald’s neck)
by 4PM, the cold and lack of hot shrimp was starting to tell on fingers and toes, and we completely–or for me partially–derigged back at the pits….i am determined to get one last high tomorrow morning on this ice before the ‘mixed aggrivation’ which is due tomorrow noon….
i often wonder why i write, when there are basically so few ice buddies gliding along side….we’re having our experience, whatever it is…..completely contained in and of itself…why waste time with what will be a vicarious, a second-hand, a warmed-over experience for others….but in my heart of hearts….i’m not really sure if there is a separation between ‘self’ and ‘other’. i know this because when i’m not out there, and others are having the experience, i still so much delight in what they’re going thru…sorry to wax cosmic on you, buddies, but i think there’s some sort of communal pool, and it doesn’t matter who’s splashing and who’s sunbathing….we’re somehow all in it together.
Jory’s right: as long as you’re gliding along on smooth ice in full sun, so what if you have to push, kick, and coast for a couple of miles. The hope of wind around the next point helps to keep you going, and the fear that there won’t be any wind left in the South Broads keeps you going even faster!
the forecast was clear: 0% chance of perpetration at 6AM; 100% at noon….hooray…a morning of iceboating….right?….but outside at 9Am the wind was swirling the leaves in the driveway in little cyclones, and the bullet-grey sky had a nimbo-omnious,
i’ll-bet-you-can’t sort of aspect….everything seemed to whisper: another log on the fire, and attack that christmas book of poems….
but i was lured on by the promise of a great satisfaction: with a few grey lies in my subsequent ice report, there would be great lamentation, great knashing of teeth, in Judah….i could crow for the rest of the season….
down at the still-setup boat, all was well…..although a few very fine flakes of snow were falling…..nothing to worry about: we’re good til noon……i walked out past Windy Point and the wind was blowing fine streamers of snow across the shiny black ice, like the clouds in a high-speed weather report….the wind was ENE and gusty, but not terribly strong….i rummaged thru the dubvious mental notes of 60 years of sailing: try storm sail first, or regular sail? Remembering how snug a storm sail can feel, I bent on the storm sail, and pushed around the bend.
Even in the puffs, the sailing was underwelming…… i remembered how frustrating a storm sail can be…..back for the regular sail, and this time we were truly off, blasting around the broads, which were now zebra-striped as the snow was coming down in earnest….i couldn’t wait to see what ENE would do to megunticook and immediately blasted North toward cam’s place, figuring that this 4 mile passage–so fickle in most winds–would now be a piece of cake….but within a quarter mile i was becalmed….tarnation…back in the windy broads, I shot up to Balanced Rock and down the turnpike, with moderate winds, and pushed back across ‘the fangs’ narrows–which are notoriously mined with open holes–using the same route i had scouted the day before…
so it looked like a play-day on the broads…..skaters were whooping it up–the cartwrights, polly and the dogs, and the scotts…but the snow was gaining on the ice….picking out the shorelines as they loomed out of the whiteness became more and more difficult. twice i got disoriented and would have loved a compass….i tried to improve on yesterdays speed runs, since the wind continued strong, and gradually moved yesterdays 36 MPH up into the low 40′s…
by noon the snow was two inches deep, and had quieted the clatter of runners, and eliminated most of the sense of speed….finally, the reality of decommissioning in this now thick, somewhat wet snow began to prey on my mind and i made a few last blasts just to spite my fair-weather buddies, and headed into the cove….
i will spare you the sad photo of the boat coming apart in the deep snow….Jory
New Hampshire sailor Paul Denero just sent this in. He scouted it yesterday and apparently had a blast today. It looks to be about a mile square. We’re still snowed out here in Maine, but our home ice of Chickawaukee is showing good signs of wetting out.
Yes … We were all over Lake Attitash today. Except for the section of open
water (though I did come kinda close on one downwind reach) in the deeper north
section. Measured 5″ with auger out about half way. Sailed E/W from shore to
shore all day. I don’t know how the grade numbers work but I would give it a
5-6. Mostly flat ice with small pebble sized bumps in a solid top surface. I
thought it gave my runners more edge. I’m there by 10 tomorrow. It was a great
Have a look at this amazing film on iceboating made in Germany in 1938. Notice how the score keepers are wearing uniforms and they have their own observation tower! This is what we have to strive for here in New England. Not to mention their youth trainers!
Meanwhile, lakes nearby continue to wet out. Scott Woodman reports Damariscotta is free of snow, 7″ near shore but bumpy. How bumpy we’re not sure. We will mount a checkspedition before the weekend. Toddy pond froze after the recent snow and will be checked late tomorrow. Chicky continues to tantalize…
Let’s say the forecast calls for light and variable, but the day is the only one possible between a week of snow before and after. The sun is shining and the temps are low twenties. Let’s say you pack up the gear and drive a half hour or more to the lake. Suppose the forecast is correct and there isn’t any wind. You’ve set up the boat, pushed it around a bit, chatted with your sailing buddies and got a good solid dose of fresh air and sunshine. This is the worse case scenario.
This is the best case scenario and exactly as it happened on Chicky today. Lloyd made beans and cocoa for two in the fire pit after sailing around with John in the Gambit. All we needed was, say, ten more boats and it would have been great.
A good day at Robert’s Beach, 2010
All local lakes wet out yesterday and last night drained leaving very nice surfaces. Megunticook is back in all her glory so the loose consensus is to sail there tomorrow. Damariscotta is reported to have a similar surface, but but it hasn’t been scouted yet. If we get someone to check it out today we may all go there, but as of now, plan on Megunticook tomorrow. Launch at Bog Bridge is tight and dry, while in some areas the perimeter is a bit wet still. Should be solid everywhere by tomorrow. Black drain holes show up well.
Kevin Grindle’s Walker Pond is the best he’s seen in a while and he’ll be sailing there today and tomorrow. Anybody up for a drive Downeast?
Snow coming Friday, so this may be it for a while (again!)
I had just gotten back from visiting my brother out in michigan, with dozens of things to catch up on, when bill called to tell me that megunticook had been beautifully zamboni-ed and today had a sunny, and somewhat windy prediction. I was just at the point of adding the electric assist components to ‘sunbeam’ my 100 mile per sandwich microcar. But it helps to have your priorities absolutely clear. this helps you avoid useless distractions….Of course I would join bill. Sunbeam would happily wait for an upcoming slushed-out day.
So bill and i set up on davy jones’ cove. i sailed out with full sail to find the ice very rattle-y and fast and the wind shifty and gusty 10-20 KN. I ducked back into the cove and helped bill bend my storm sail on Northern Light and we stitched our way north, tacking against the brutal NW wind up the western thorofare, hoping to find the lightest wind there. No need to push, and in no time flat we were in the beautiful northern end of the lake. No sign of life at cam’s place–we wondered what continent he was on just then–as we swung around the sauna and blasted south again.
peeling off on each reach, it was probably the fastest downwind passage south on the lake we’ve ever had and once again in the broads, we headed up to the north turnpike and tried heading south right under the mountain….Now the question was crossing the fangs strait with its nortoriously skinny ice, while travelling at “mache one”…..I luffed madly, ground the hand brake into the ice, jumped out, pulled harder on the brake as Icywood continued toward a slim lead of open water blocking the passage…..finally i wrestled her to a stop, just as Bill made a tight turn to bleed speed and luffed to a standstill….we decided to backtrack instead of risking a passage across such thin ice.
back in the broads, the ice was softening, the wind still angry–a mask breaking combo, so we decided to let discretion trump valor and left the boats for tomorrow in the cove….hope we see you there….the temps tonight will heal the slush, and wind is predicted 10-15 NW……should be a great day.
We couldn’t sit still this morning, so without the benefit of the seven am phone call, we both showed up at 8:30 to rig the boats in the glorious morning sun. The forecast called for 10kt becoming light and variable so we fully expected to be home for lunch. Wow, they were wrong again. The wind held strong until three and we took countless trips up the Western Way to the north end. This is the magic two mile strip on the western edge of the lake and when the usual NW wind blows, it comes right down the middle of it. Short tack up, ducking into coves and skirting the cliffs riding the lifts, and keeping it wound up for the reaching back down, gliding past interesting summer houses and trees overhanging the water.
The usual islands and rockpiles were established as turning marks in the South Broads and the miles just rattled away. One GPS showed 77 miles as the wind died, so we’ll have to try for the century another day.
In addition to Buchholz and Squibb, Scott Woodman, Cam Lewis on SkimBat, and Doug Fowlie with his Skimmer and freshly aligned runners rounded out the day.
Jory was breathlessly trying to divine the meaning in such joy and beauty and had this to say:
as i was blasting around, the ice sparkling in the sun overpowering the eyes, the clear mountains in the crystal blue air, riding the hikes gently down in the downwind peel-offs, i just kept wondering–being something of an atheist–who do i give thanks to, for having this one-in-a-million blessing of living in such a holy place…. In the house of freedom, there I’ll wander
In the house of life shall I pass my days
In old age traveling, there I’ll wander
Walk with me in this holy place
Bill and I met Scott Woodman (who somehow has the monniker, Scott the Guy) in the bright 930 sun at Darmiscotta Farm, our own personal launch point on darmiscotta lake. No, there was no chance that the 29 degree night temps had healed the 1″ of slushy water on all our nearby lakes, but A) we were hoping for the miracle all ice rats hope for, and B) we were so frustrated we would have gone to a church social and C) we–having a little method in our madness–wanted to see just how far from healing, that this loveliest of lakes might be.
we stepped onto a squishy sandwich: 1/4″ shell ice which forced the 3/4″-1.5″ water layer aside as it bottomed on 6″ to 9″ of ice base. All this was discovered as we squished and shattered our way about 3/4 of a mile out into the main body of the lake, just opposite the first island….Bill was on nordic skates, just for spite, and broke through about half the time. a beautiful 5 Kn. NW breeze was blowing just to add to the delight: jeesum! 10 degrees less temp last night and we’d be skimbatting this!
But what’s tantalizing is what’s predicted: two nights with temps in the teens–Sunday and Monday–and no snow for a while, so there’s a good chance of iceboating here in the early part of the week….
You’d have to know our history, to know how we feel about this lake….the memories, the adventures, the almost disasters. damariscotta is our ‘big ice’ and when it comes in, usually in feb or march, it almost always gives us a long run, like 3-5 days in a row. We usually get bigger winds than on our smaller lakes, and the 4-6 mile length gives us some unparalleled exploring.
You’d have to go back into the archives to read of the magic of this vast playground over the years. Here is where Bill’s “Indigo” came of age, where i had my first OBE (out of boat experience), where John Eastman found romance, etc. etc. and every season the pressure ridges were different, and we used different sub-sections of this vast, and sometimes bleak, plate.
I know better than to promise anything……but stay tuned over these next days for our reports of this lake….it may even be worth it for the “working stiffs” to take time off and join us….we have lots of extra lodging…..jory
The shell sandwich healed last night in 25 degrees. Sunny in the thirties today, 8-12kt NW. Let’s go sailing!
“scott the spy” reports Damariscotta is ready to go, against the odds, given last night’s 25 degrees…..we’re frantically loading boats and gear….i hate loading stuff…..good sun…maybe too much wind….taking storm sail….bill’s cell phone 207 975 6353…..jory
Sure enough: a miracle has happened and the lads are en-route to darmiscotta….tarnation!…..the house is a shambles….brenda is away for 5 days….ice gear is stowed right where you want it stowed….you climb over it to get out the back door……..there’s no: where are those XX socks?….they’re drying out, draped over the furniture….why don’t our women get with the program?…..the default setting is clear……the kids are off and doing…..the house has needs, but it’s still standing….ergo……HOBBIES!….free mental health for all…..
all dressed…i leave the house with everything on: helmet, claws, cleats, everything…..now load the car….tarnation!…i hate and detest loading….same old same old…..there must be a shortcut, something easier/sleazier that i’ve overlooked….leave the runner plank on?…..leave the mast up?…..
26 miles….full of glee
lovely darmiscotta is a waitin’ for me….
930….there are the lads, setting up on the rock-solid ice in the bright sun….tarnation!….i hate being late….i’m a “get there early, eat the best potluck stuff, leave early” sort of person…
It’s bill, and scott, and our damariscotta host Dave Lampton….gosh…those poor ice-starved massachusetts guys…..we should have warned them saturday night…..but jeesum….who would have guessed…..ice ‘hound’ is really the right word….you really have to hover around salivating to get the roadkill….
alas….scotty discovered that megunticook’s jounce has popped his mast-step knees….he’s out for the day….in the time it takes to put on gloves and release the parking brake, bill has disappeared into the southern glare…dammy’s winds are legendary…..
and out in the north broads– the ice, and wind, and sun– all have that take-it-to-the-limit character…..ice is quiet and smooth, cracks and pressure ridges easy to cross…..we make a few loops…..chop a few holes….and instantly conclude: this powerful wind is an explorer’s wind….we’re off to cover every inch of this vast lake….and for the next two hours….that very special magic unfolds….
iceboating can actually get routine, now and then…..but sometimes it offers a new, a unique experience….heading south….perfect ice…..bay after bay….dozens of islands…i quickly lose track of where we are….we’re determined to explore fully the two southern arms of the lake….running downwind, doing everything possible to slow down….craning our necks and shading our eyes to find hazards, but apart of a rare snowmobile’ s track across yesterday’s shell ice, you can blast over everything…
i kept thinking of ulysses:
Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
talking to ice fishermen about thickness, and the layout of the lake, we soon reach the southeastern terminus…..then back to the big southern bay and we poke about blindly until, eureka!….the holy grail….the small hidden entrance to the longer southwestern arm….again blasting on a close reach down the long arm–the west wind is perfect for this– yakking with a fisherman and his two skating children….one young girl getting photographed with a foot-long fish…..How do you do that? they yelled as i flashed by…..it’s the wind! i shouted….
finally….a mile short of the end….a lead of open water totally across the passage…..scouting right, then left….no dice….i guess this lovely lake will hoard some of its mystery….now the beat home, with lots of wind to drive us…..just gotta remember the tortuous route….
back at the pits, chris conary has come, as well as ben fuller with his antique beauty….lunch in the sun….checking the gazetteer’s version of the lake, we refresh our morning’s exploration…….and now, of course…wind still strong…….DO IT AGAIN!….what could possibly be better?
this time we drag chris with us, looping back whenever we lose sight of him behind…..finally we stop for a snack at a particularly sweet little bay in a marsh…..see photo…..on the way home, the lake is getting slightly familiar….spectacularly irregular though it is…. i stop to revisit some our our favorite lunch-spots and race-courses…..but once back in the wide-open broads….the speed takes my dull runners to their absolute limit…no GPS, but this must be near the mile-a-minute….
we left the boats set up for tomorrow….couldn’t stand any more fun……but i hope you will all check the jefferson, maine weather, and possibly join us tomorrow…..i’ll be there….not yet bored with heaven….jory
This is the entrance to the south-western arm that leads all the way to Damariscotta Mills, the head of tide. To our knowledge no iceboater has made the complete round trip. Close reach in and deep reach out, with a few dog legs. Great expedition sailing!
The happy stern steerer skipper, tiller firmly in armpit.
Every day on the ice seems like the very best, but then along comes another one and it gets even better. Like sailing an ice boat, you’re wound up and ripping right along and you think you’re there, but then you pull a bit more sheet and perhaps there’s a gust and before you know it you’re at warp speed.
Today was warp speed all around: warp wind, warp lake, and warp friends. The Southern New England boys have been having a rough season; Steve Lamb hadn’t even sailed before today. But he heard about yesterday’s conditions, so he loaded up last night and drove to Maine. He was the first one on the ice this morning and we’re happy to report that the sailing was so good that even if it’s the only time he gets out this year it will be enough. Plus, it was his birthday. Bravo Steve for taking the chance, having faith, and showing up. As you head back south the toll takers are bound to wonder about that shit-eatin grin on your face!
Driving to the lake in a near white-out snow storm didn’t build my confidence in the day, but by the time I arrived the snow had stopped and the sun was poking out. With this break in the clouds came a frontal passage that treated us to 20-30kt winds. The snow began to blow off in long trails. We all headed back to the south end of the lake, shooting through the narrows dead downwind and fully wound up.
The title of this shot is “Ahead by a nose, behind by a century”.
It was expedition sailing the rest of the day: working the boats through the strongest of wind while trying not to have an out of boat experience. On the long tacks and reaches I had time to reflect on the remarkable durability of an iceboat. Here were conditions in which a person could not easily walk, yet we were ripping it up, not only surviving but thriving. We kept going back for more! Down to the bottom of the east fork, and snaking down the two miles of the west fork.
Ben Fuller was back with the stern steerer TIPSY, Steve Lamb with his Super DN, Doug Fowlie loving the wind in the Skimmer, Scott the Guy smokin’ in OUTLAW, Jory, and your reporter in a variety of boats.
Weather forecast does not look good for the next few days; all the boats are off the ice, but the weekend looks promising in the long range. We will continue to keep our eyes to the ice and post observations here. Its time to heal boats and bodies…
Subtitle: the wild winds of damariscotta.
i know i’ve used that title before, probably had today’s experience before….given my mind’s decay……but there’s something that just puts you on edge, deeply on edge, when you’re coping with 20-25 knots of wind on a very large lake…..winds that are whipping snow streamers across the ice, leaving it a zebra pattern of white and light grey, and swirling in snow devils here and there…..at times like this, you simply HAVE to see another iceboat somewhere on the horizon, and an iceboat which you know is also looking at you, ready to sail your way the instant you are lost from view. if you were alone….the scene is just too much to face….
it’s great, the snuggley feeling of a storm sail, but some days the wind is so strong, so randomly gusty, that although a full sail is inconceivable, a storm sail is not much better…
damariscotta is large. when you turn around after exploring the SW arm, you are 8 wind-dominated miles from the launch.
even when you finally enter the great northern broads from the south, you see the launch almost 3 miles north, and there the winds are strongest, as you silently pray that if you can just get there, you’ll count yourself blessed, and head for home, and think well before you go iceboating again….
we broke some gear today….in the morning, by some blindness, we were under full sail, and with steve lamb in company, we set off on a ‘tour du lac’….i was keen to deepen my new-found familarity with the lake and we proceeded south, thru the northern narrows in the strong north wind, into the ‘terra incognita’ of the day before. while exploring an area i call ‘little rock’ in the SW arm, as scott, steve, bill and i were all kavorting in the bays and straits nearby, i looked over at bill, who–today driving the whizz, and at that moment fumbling with a camera–went into a hike so vertical, i could only see the blue of ‘northern light’s underside….i was sure his rig was a goner….
on inspection, we found that the sailtrack was delaminating from the lower mast, so we jury rigged and headed cautiously back to the launch, only to find that the plank had also shattered at the port runner chock….northern light was out for the day…
but bill, lucky soul, still had his DN on the ice from the day before, and, after lunch, with storm sails rigged all around–actually steve lamb used a de-powered full sail–and scott staying home after hitting an unwanted 64 MPH and not having a storm sail–we again followed the lure of danger…..that addiction to being on the edge…..we were also lured by a place called deep cove, a false passage right between the two southern arms…..there, we KNEW, would be a peaceful lee if we could just get in, in the downwind blast….
it was a day of powerful visual images….images spiced with fear….but images you didn’t want to miss….if you could just survive them.. but there were also two special treats, which meant a lot to me….
one was seeing steve lamb, all set up at the launch when i arrived at 830….attendance is getting pretty lean around the old CIBC these days…..we keep plugging away….but we’re short on numbers of real, total, believers…..steve was just the missing cylinder of our weakened engine…..
and the other was ben fuller and ‘tipsy’…..we chuckle at stern stern-steerers….actually they go like hell….i hardly had to luff to keep station with ben, which was pure delight….there is a history, a standing on others’ shoulders , at work in what we do….
look at ben’s stoic face and ancient gear…..he couldn’t be in better costume…..
well you’ve heard too much about today…..a double blast…so i’ll take my aching coxyx (sp?) to bed….many many thanks to ben and steve, and all the rest–and that means lloyd, and larry hardmann and so many not here today…. for keeping the faith…
there you are sitting on the rocks, at the launch, in the sun, at noon, eating….the morning’s sail will flashback in nightmares for weeks to come….every sensible bone in your body is nagging: this is absolutely crazy…….let’s go home……
i thank again my lucky, lucky stars….that i am somehow blessed with buddies who, tightening the thermos top, will quietly say, Let’s go!
Our Sebago spy Tom Childs, who organized the wonderful Last Day on Sebago last spring, sends us this report on his sons’ first real sail in their new Ice Opti. Tom bought the new boat from a local ice boat builder and the boys were so thrilled Christmas morning that they took turns sleeping in for many nights after.We need more kids (and Dads) like this!
Tom is still looking for a mast for his Renegade.
I just wanted to let you know that the boys had the most outrageous time today on the Opti !! I knew we would find ice close to home this weekend and with air in the forecast for today we loaded up and drove 10 min. to Watchic lake. Itâ€™s only a couple of square miles, so it would be well frozen. I was only concerned about the surface because we had 3-4 inches of snow and then some rain. It could have been crap, but, oh my Godâ€¦most of it was at least 8.5 and betterJ The wind was just howling JJ We setup and set sail and it seemed to never end. The boys took turns and finally understood the eye of the wind and some other pit-falls of points of sail and they did very well for their first real experience. George even pulled off a few tall hikes. We had tried a few weeks ago in very light air and they had fun, but I told them they had no idea what they were missing. BOY did they understand today! Naturally, I had to try the boat out to see how she rides, trims, and could be improved and, man, that boat is F#*#*#G FAST. I bet I got 40 out of it and that with wrinkles in the sail and Doug Sharp’s slush runners. I still have to figure out how to lash the sail correctly, and when I do, I’m sure it will be a killer craft. We came home to a pot of my wife’s beef stew and now its time to eat¦.and get stoned¦oh, I’m already there!!
Damariscotta has a thin crust covering un-bonded snow that the sun and evaporative action will continue to improve. Many people from far and wide are hoping to come for the weekend and sail. It might not be as great as Winnipesaukee 2010, but will be a great weekend of sailing nonetheless. The weather forecast promises 10-15mph, sunny in the high twenties.
a friend on skate-skiis reported that in the south broads of megunticook, he couldn’t get a ski edge to grip…..sounded like a skateable surface to me, so i geared up and walked to Codman Rock, put on nordic skates, and waddled out into the south broads…
my skates had this conversation:
this completely sucks
this completely sucks.
are you getting any glide?
Not a bit…
why is our owner putting us thru this?
well you know he’s fast gaining on 71
still, you’d think….
at 200 yards out, i got tired of the conversation and returned….somebody else can discover some gold-mine out there….i’m heading for the rink….
but what’s bad for nordics, can be fair to good for iceboat runners.. basically we have
fresh, unbonded snow less than 1.5″–also quite good
glare styrofoam less than 1/4″ over pebble ice–fair to good–(today’s condition)
slushy styrofoam less than 1″–fair to good
bonded snow less than 1/4″ –fair, challenging
thicker bonded snow, and thicker styrofoam–poor to impossible
I’m pretty sure darmiscotta is the same, so i think tomorrow if there’s sufficient wind, we might get some decent sailing….saturday has the better winds of the weekend: 10-15 MPH, gusts higher, partly sunny….
all the best, jory
As Doug Fowlie wryly observed at the end of the days’ sailing: ” all that wonderful ice, just there, less than a half inch away…”. There is amazing ice right below the crust. There was no wind in the morning and some intrepid sailors from Massachusetts almost left for the un-known ice down south. Thankfully, the forecast wind filled in at around nine and the pits began to fill in, too. We counted between fifteen and twenty boats but it was hard to get an accurate count because they were scattered all over the north end of Damariscotta.
The crust wouldn’t allow passage through the Narrows: if the boat wasn’t wound up it was stopped. There was no glide today. So everywhere you looked there were sails. It was like a summer Sunday in the harbor. Some boats were tearing along, others stopped for a gam. It was brutally hard on the boats because all that power from the wind had no where to go. The boat couldn’t convert it in to speed because of the crust drag so it just had to take it. In spite of that, only one boat came walking back with it’s mast down. It looked like one of the “straight out of the barn” models. Not the best day to shake down a boat.
We had two sailors from Quebec joining us. Not only did they drive down and back for the day, they were nearly the last ones off the ice. True iceboaters with whom we hope to sail together again soon.
A tip of the helmet to Stu Nelson not only for giving us a very good report on Winnipesaukee’s conditions, but making the drive down here to sail with us. That’s him in the photo above putting on his runners.
It was great to see a group of the old time DN racers whooping it up. At one point I did see a half-dozen DN’s neck and neck, tearing down the lake. Maybe there’s a regatta or two left in the old guard. I certainly hope so!
The most optimistic element of the forecast calls for SW winds and highs in the upper thirties for Monday. If that doesn’t leaven the crust, we’re toast.
For some reason known only to Bob Dill, Megunticook has exposed her ice for all to see. There are clumps of thin white stuff, but the entire south end is mostly grey. I skated it yesterday before the late afternoon sun softened it, and then sailed with Steve Pixley on the Mighty Merlin, Hudson River Stern Steerer ca. 1928, tonight under the full moon. It’s good to go.
All the other lakes in the area still are mostly white, carrying between a quarter to a half inch of styrofoam. Sailing on Chickie this afternoon was better than not sailing, but not stellar. Wind forecast is for light and variable, so we don’t really know what to expect, but if there’s a breeze expect to see ice boats!
> We hope to be at Megunticook about noon, with iceboat, skating, and skimbatting gear….looks like best wind is this afternoon….fingers crossed….jory
With Maiden’s Cliff in the background–see that little white cross? Marilyn French chased her hat over the cliff in 1832. Here, John Bianchi, who looks like darth vader in sailing gear, and Jory, mug for Bill’s camera after a 3-lap hard-fought match race. Note ice condition.
We knew Megunticook had good ice, since Bill had sailed it Tuesday night under the full moon, with Steve Pixley and two others (four in an iceboat!) Steve has his uncle’s ancient stern steerer, Merlin, which, in spite of his countless jory-rigs, goes like stink largely thanks to Steve’s excellent sailing skills…
Merlin was awaiting her next adventure, parked in Barrett’s cove today.
Today’s outlook was grim: very little wind predicted. But once away from the launch, there were hatfuls of wind, about 10-20 MPH WSW in the southern broads and not much anywhere else… John Bianchi joined Bill and myself, as Scott Woodman and Bill Bunting–being weary of questionable ice–came out, sniffed at the ice, and went back home. But it turned out that the ice was anything but slow….just very noisy, sort of like sand in a wheel bearing, and with good wind, and many of those scary jerky hikes, we had a blast. John had been unable to find us, setting up in a hidden little cove on the lake, and had headed back home, only to run into Cam Lewis, who gave him better directions….many thanks, Cam!
The three boats, all DN rigged and pretty well tuned, were quite nicely matched; and when Bill proposed a 3 lap match race, including one ‘buoy’ being Alden Island and its tricky lee side and the other mark an imaginary point 50′ from a point, we all jumped at the chance to get adrenalin pumping…John, who led at many times, was, alas, put out of competition by an old muscle sprain….so Bill took the honors….I was happy enough to pass the wounded John after two laps….
It was great, after a lean 10 days or so, to be back again on sailable ice in the afternoon sun….a friend of mine had just lost her mother in the wee hours of morning, which left me treasuring these numbered days of beauty all the more…..
We left two boats set up on the ice in the 3PM shadows of our lovely cove….yes, i admit it has the long-shot odds of a quarterback’s “hail mary” pass….but it’s also based on certainty: in less than a month, this spectacularly short iceboat season will end, and we’ll be kicking ourselves blue for every chance we missed….Jory
we’re in the middle of an arctic “high”–which means ‘little wind’ to you who are meterologically challenged–so bill and I stood by for a miracle on Megunticook….then at ten, he called, saying that he would be ‘tied up’! i’ve almost never heard him talk like this, and i gradually reflected that bill–bless him!–has some other life–some faint, but detectable heartbeat–which lies outside our common mania…..
i was on my own….which is fine when you trust the ice and your cell phone….so i trotted down to the set-up boats at 1130 AM, noting with smug satisfaction that bill had left his runners on. ( Cheap Shot! I had to rush home to a sick dog! ed.)…and dutifully crunched across the poor thin styrofoam–how we need a good zamboni right now….around the bend and out into the center of the south broads…the faint wind, by my estimate, was about 4 knots intermittent from the NW….would that do it?….crunch crunch back to the boat and…you guessed it…the boat would almost sustain itself with a good push…but
back again at 3 pm….this time the exploration yielded an occasional 5 knots…remember this is not a great wind speed, given this ice….but….i had absolutely nothing else to go home for….i’d been thinking of my friend’s recently deceased mother….who lived a life of poverty on vinalhaven island nearby….washing clothes for summer people for a lifetime….who grew bitter and difficult with age….unlike the monolithic poverty of a developing country, american poverty is often surrounded by unequal wealth…and therefore has the power to sour a person…..
and, in funky times like this, ‘jory’s mental health plan’ calls for time in the sun….just blinding sun in all directions…….it doesn’t take wind to make magic….nor great ice…nor even buddies if part of you likes solitude…but for me, it takes sun…that’s the ‘sine qua non’…
so for the next two hours i pushed, napped in my 360 degree view waterfront property, got it wound up on 3-4 occasions, got it to just sustain itself sometimes for a mile at a time, and watched the shadow of bald mountain gradually creep across the ice….
when the boat would stop, the silence was total….just a meditation, that silence…..a 92 year old woman passes on….does the earth move?…is there dignity in every life, however simple? Ethel Mae Smith washes clothes and dies in a nursing home….what does this mean….
watching the sun, setting behind bald mountain, transform everything from red to grey…….what does anything mean?….just this….430 thursday….beauty…another breath…no need for anything more….
Friday and Sunday look like the best bets for iceboating Megunticook this weekend. A front passes through on Saturday which may bring some snow and will bring strong winds.
Launch at Bog Bridge, on rt. 105, in the southwest corner of the lake. See “sailing locations” on the web site for google map. Scratch racing planned for those who are so inclined.
Snow is now forecast for 100% Saturday, 3-5″. Today is the day to sail. Next stop: spring sailing.
Megunticook. Friday February 10
Today had that late March feel to it: strong sun, steady SW breeze, and slush runners after lunch. More than one person observed how nice the surface would be if it got cold, but it was so carved up from the tracks of fifteen boats that I’m sure it would be a mess if it hardened up. That said, it would be a whole lot better than the 3-5″ of snow forecast.
But today we had a wonderful fleet of boats ripping around reveling in the pure joy of sailing. One local sailor had invited a bunch of friends from away for an iceboating session and picnic, rounding up all the spare boats he could and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Brian, Mark and Scott: don’t think that we always sail so high on the hog. You got it at it’s best!
Dave Fortier had Crack-X out for the first time in a few years, and Bill Grenier from Sebago came up for his first sail of the year. John Hanson had the old stern steerer Numb Nuts running well, although occasionally I’d look up and he’d be pulling a pirouette of ice chips.
We don’t know where to go from here. Word has it that Winnipesaukee is coming apart. Sunnapee still sounds good. The ice here is fine so far and if we can recover from the snow we’ll be back in business. We’ll make an effort to get more updates on the NEIYC hot line for the rest of the season.
And Steve Lamb and Peter Coward: are you keeping a sharp eye on South Twin Lake in East Millinockett? Might not be long, now.
this morning…..navigating carefully around the house…watch out for that left elbow, right shoulder….is that a bruised rib? … mother nature shook us yesterday like a predator shakes a prey to break its neck….she gleefully tested fragile items in poor packaging….yet….i look out on this morning’s snow with actual relief….that post-coitus mellowness….i don’t need to meet my iceboat mistress for…..well……a few days at least.
yesterday’s gathering felt like a jamboree…a large and excited coming-together….something special was in the air…just having 20 boats on the ice….boats on every horizon…boats of every kind…….and, of course, having instant match races whenever two boats would meet…
bill, lloyd, cam, scott—we’re all shameless pimps for iceboating…..and…the moulon rouge was at last full of clients….we struggle against two strong tides….the world is degrading from doing to watching….and the ebb tide of aging is well underway…
it was especially fun that three of those boats were newbie iceboaters…..a great chance for some of us to pass somebody….and seeing them make the eternal beginner’s mistakes….not watching the tale-tales to see what the airfoil is doing….trying to go too much downwind…etc.
but another treat was the gourmet lunch laid on by Cam and Gretchen at the ‘stairs’ –a south-facing beach on fernald’s neck…. shrimp salad and crab-salad toasted sandwiches, washed down with lake-cooled brew, and followed by hot apple pie…..mmmm
in the afternoon, we were punished for not having slush runners….who would have thought: slush runners on Feb 10th?….The two Bills, slush-runnered, blasted around happily, while the rest of us fought for control in the blustery wind…. we’d get up to warp speed slightly downwind, then turn upwind a little, and the boat would begin violently lurching to leeward on and off as the ice condition varied, in a hailstorm of ice chips….
we kept saying we were leaving….but we kept staying….perhaps we were remembering the lean times of the early season….perhaps fearing lean times ahead……but mainly…..pulling like hell on the string….bending that beanpole to the limit….neck and neck with the other guy….there was just no stopping….
finally at 430….without rhyme or reason….i was back in the now-shady pits…bill was decommissioning not one but two boats….and i finally decided not to leave mine on the ice….the forecast snow was just too certain, too grim…
but the jamboree i will long remember…. about 4PM, I saw Cam’s troop of friends–now become decent iceboaters–stitching their downwind way north on the Western Narrows toward Cam’s place…..chasing them, i soon stalled in a watery patch of slush….and sat there in the resounding silence, enjoying the sight: they were weaving like playful butterflies to the north, at Great Bay……heading for a hot sauna perhaps, in the weak and dying afternoon yellowness.
tomorrow….off to florida to babysit a 96 year old rascal…who happens to be my mother….and when this new snow is finally zamboni-ed….what will remain of this short but intense season?….
when i quoted tennyson a few posts ago, one reader–an unknown ‘john’— finished the quote for me:
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
We have nearly eight thousand visitors in the neighborhood this weekend for the Toboggan Nationals at the Camden Snow Bowl. Hosmer pond is thick with ice shacks, pop-ups and people but Event Organizer Steve Pixly thought an iceboat would add a nice element to the festivities. There was a light but steady breeze, so he rigged his Arrow and persuaded me to sail around and look good. I accepted my civc duty and began to weave the boat in and around the shacks at a respectable but safe speed. The Arrow turns very quickly and being heavy carries her weigh well. It has a 12′ plank and only 11′ wheelbase. Doesn’t this seem to fly in the face of accepted iceboat design rules?
I was able to give rides to kids and managed not to hit anything or body. The snow began to get sticky after a while so we packed it in. Meanwhile, over on Megunticook, David Buckly was tearing around in the light snow in his DN. He reports the conditions were fine except when he’d hit our frozen ruts from yesterday. He swears some of them were two inches deep!
David would like to sail there tomorrow as well, and if the snow’s not too deep by morning he may have company. I’ll post here in the am on what it looks like outside the window.
With a full house in the date today we were bound to take the pot. Yesterday’s snow amounted to about a half inch and the 15-25kt NW wind did the rest. Megunticook was mostly blown clear by noon and the temperature had slowly climbed past ten. David and Kristen Buckley were determined to sail and Cam was rounding up folks to exercise his herd of DNs. As usual, it’s tough to get motivated when it’s cold and so windy the trees do their hurricane dance but once in the boat, the mast taking the blows from the endless gusts, there’s no where else you’d rather be.
Chris Biggert, Dave Buckley, a fellow with a home made windsurfer rigged boat and your reporter rigged up in the south end while Cams gang set in the Frozen North. The CIBC was founded by yacht captains back in the sixties with winter time on their hands, and today they were back. Every sailor out there except myself, George the Plumber and the windsurfer guy were professional yachties. It was very special to see these guys and get a sense of the energy devoted to the founding of the club. We often feel that, as a club, we’re barely hanging on now that we’ve pretty much abandoned formal racing. But sailing with these captains who were hardly born when their forebearers were building and racing DNs gave me a wonderful sense of continuity in the club and the sport.
Most of the nasty ruts left by a gang of iceboats Friday have healed, the snow is blowing deep into the coves, temps are going up and the sun will be partly shining.
There will be boats setting up in the morning for what looks like a fine couple of days of sailing. Monday appears to have the best wind, with unsettled weather in the middle of the week. As always, one day at a time. Below gives a good idea of the ice quality. The pressure ridges haven’t changed. Still cross with caution.
Three forces of nature need to converge to give iceboaters the perfect day: ice, wind and sun. Well, as they say: two outa three ain’t bad. The ice was fine, the sun warm but the wind was a beast. Not the usual strong and steady wind we’ve been blessed with on recent high wind days, but gusty-shifty mean spirited stuff. Bunting, Woodman and I managed to surf the gusts up to the north end where all were left were zephyrs, and us with storm sails. We chased cats paws in the snow for a while and then I got wound up and rode the wave all the way back down Cam’s Narrows, across Chaney’s pressure ridge to the Cliffs. I waited politely for the others in the dead calm for a while, but then gave in to a gust and ripped back down the Western Way into the Broads where the wind had been waiting.
Lloyd was just coming out under full sail, bless his balls, and after I’d spun out in a snow drift we decided to head back north to find the others. He handled his boat beautifully in the conditions as we swapped tacks back up the Way. Two sails eventually popped out from behind the cliffs just as we were crossing the pressure ridge. We crossed tacks with them and then got wound up for one of Megunticook’s greatest runs: the deep reaching down the Western Way. This is a straight about a mile long with tiny coves on both sides in and out of which you can jibe, gliding dead down-wind just a bit to gain southing.
Back in the broads it was too much like hard work, so we packed it in. Doug Fowlie tried his luck with the Lockly, but didn’t stay for long. Fred Wardwell set up his Renegade hoping for more civilized conditions tomorrow.
Tuesday looks warm, sunny in the morning, SW winds at ten. Looks like we might get all three tomorrow, but whatever we get, we’ll be sailing. Hope to see you there.
It was a special day, this Valentines Day, as we had the oldest boat in the club sailing with our youngest member, and our eldest skipper, Fred Wardwell. Steve Pixley’s stern steerer Mighty Merlin came out with five year old Henry to join the fleet on Megunticook today. Fred, 88, had come yesterday to set up his Renegade and today pushed out for his first sail. He had a hard go at first because the pit area is in the lee, but once Lloyd put a telltale on his headstay and all five of us gave a group shove, he was off.
Henry, meanwhile, had his hands glued the the new teak handrails as Steve would carry his hikes across the lake. I waved in passing and all I got back were a few little fingers peeling off the rail.
There were a couple of newbies trying out the Lockly, but we set them up in John’s Gambit instead and now they’re hooked. It was a perfect learning breeze: SW at 10-12. It really filled in about three and Bunting and I were able to blast around Crane Island and then deep reach across the broads, dumping speed in the approach the Western Way.
But we all had romantic commitments this evening so wisely quit early, not to be late for our dates.
Rain, windless and warm coming. We’ll report for the weekend later this week. Boats are off the ice.
Surfaces on Chickawaukee, Megunticook and Damariscotta are smooth, grey and soft. Temps tonight forecast in the mid twenties with cold dry air moving in. Nice breeze tomorrow but we can’t say for sure if it will be enough to harden the ice. Access at Damariscotta and Chickie are difficult. Lloyd’s lawn has already taken a few hits this year!
But the access at Bog Bridge is still sound, although we won’t be driving vehicles on the ice just yet. There is still 12-14″ of quality ice, measured in an open fishing hole so if we get a surface we’ll be sailing for a while. Looks like colder temps Saturday night, with less wind on Sunday. Slush runners will probably be needed after lunch.
The puddles on the left side of Western Way are like those at Bog Bridge but are disappearing fast. We’d suggest coming early to take advantage of what freeze-up we get.
Jory has been away all week and missed our last few days of sailing, so it’s understandable that he’s down at the lake with his boat this morning before seven. He reports the ice has firmed up and the wind is blowing. But the sun is peeking over the treetops ready to cast its warmth on grateful iceboaters while softening their passion. Come early, but do come!
oh, little box on the eastern wall
day and night, your rise and fall
controls our actions, controls our minds
controls the fun an iceman finds
so today, at half past six
will you whisper yea or nix
the puddles heal, the clatter hush
WILL YOU JELL THAT AWFUL MUSH?
and yet you haven’t the final word
many’s the time your truth i’ve heard
and, venturing out, I’ve spurned my plight
and there, in long-shadowed, yellow light
the ice had heeded ice below
some mystery had cooled it, so
I donned the gear and raised the sail,
gave a push, waived a hail
as battens snap to the downwind side
and, without a crunch, the runners glide
I vaulted in, to my cosy nest
pulled the sheet to my heaving chest
I thanked my boat as it gathered speed.
and swore again that I’d never heed
the yea’s and nay’s of a mercury tube
while life still rolls…. its numbered cube.
Our spy on The Sebago has some great news:
I’ve been keeping an eye on Sebago’s Lower Bay over the past few weeks and watched the ice wax and wane while never really taking hold. This weekend (Presidents Day) is when its usually ready and I’ve had to concede that it just ain’t gonna happen this year…
HOWEVER, this morning my son Dylan took part in the Maine Children’s Cancer Program polar plunge at Raymond beach and there be ice! And wind!! I was very surprised. Jordan Bay is frozen about half way to Raymond Neck: not a whole lot of room, but more than enough for several boats to have some fun, maybe for several weeks to come. So, if you would please, sound the alarm and maybe some local kindred spirits will take advantage of the hard surface of about 8â€ of high quality sailing media. I won’t be able to sail until Monday, but sure would like some company!
We had a great morning with three boats sailing and three more setting up for Sunday. The ice softened by eleven, but first thing in the morning it was rock hard, as Jory described in his verse. Temps tonight are much cooler with tomorrow’s temps only in the thirties so we should be able to sail well past noon. Come early!
The silence came swiftly: shock from the absence of sound. Deep in Lamb’s Folly was a freshly frozen pool that a boat would have fallen through yesterday. I sailed over it and was transported back to the early days of measuring ice by the quarter inch, and the long, silent glides on black ice.
The reverie didn’t last as the next turn was coming up fast. Lamb’s Folly is one of the hidden joys of Megunticook. An island deep in the corner of a distant bay, it’s separated from the shore by a narrow moat. In a NW wind you come in hot, milk the puffs of the swirling breeze, and pop out the other side. We could take the loop in either direction today. Below is a photo sequence:
And a cup of tea after sailing ourselves silly in circles.
Meanwhile, on the south broads, all the other boats were having a blast in the spring-like conditions. Ten boats in all were sailing at one point. The wind was so great that you could sail from one corner of the lake to the other. If you look at the map you’ll see this is no mean feat. The Gambit was passed around to a few newbies, and Dave took his dear wife Kristen out after loaning his DN to some one else.
The ice never really got soft by the time we quit at two. There were boats to pack up and sore muscles to salve. WE WILL BE SAILING ON DAMARISCOTTA TOMORROW, POSSIBLY TUESDAY AS WELL. ALL ARE WELCOME.
many of the ‘regular suspects’ are heading for damariscotta this morning…..an absolutely perfect weather prediction….we could be going many different places this morning, but our amazing two days on damariscotta earlier in the season are such strong memories, that there’s really no contest.
well, ice buddies, our sailing days are numbered….i’m figuring end of the month, but i hope to be surprised…so we’re following that good greek advice: carpe diem!
Everybody had their own version of iceboating paradise today. Jory and your humble reporter managed to penetrate deeper in the southwestern arm of the lake than any iceboat so far, to our knowledge. The Holy Grail, of course, is Damariscotta Mills, where the lake ends and the sea begins. Last nights low temps hardened up the pressure ridges in the south end. We had to cross two just to get into the SW arm, and the one we couldn’t cross before offered a small but promising spot.
Knowing this could be our last chance for the year, we took the plunge and lifted the boats across. Now we were in unknown geography and our explorer’s spirits soared. We took long deep reaches, sailing slowly enough to see ahead. Taking the wider fork at an island turned out to be a dead end, but we discovered a small straight with good ice leading somewhere else.
I called over to a fisherman for directions and he pointed south and said something which I did not catch. Around the next point it was obvious what he said: “Ya ain’t gonna get too far”.
Here was real open water, but we were less than two miles from the end this time. It’s important to have dreams in your life, and for Jory and I this particular dream remains intact. We have a lifetime of iceboating ahead in which to realize it.
Meanwhile, back north on the main body of the lake, the wind had built to a sustained twenty, and Scott the Guy, who has worked tirelessly tuning OUTLAW during the past two years got his mile a minute at 62.8 mph. Way to go Scott!
Doug Raymond and Dave Wilkins showed up with their DN’s, along with another fellow with an older DN. They had a little scratch racing and we discussed the future of racing in the CIBC. All we need are a few dedicated but not too serious DN sailors and we’re back in the racing business.
Doug Fowle had his highly tuned Lockly today and couldn’t get enough of the great breeze. He was still out there sailing as the rest of us were packing it in.
John Eastman had more than his share of people to take for rides in the Gambit, planting seeds of excitement for the harvest of future iceboaters.
And our esteemed host Dave Lampton, with help from Bill Bunting and Doug Raymond, rigged the Islesboro Express. We all took turned testing our ergonomic mettle, most of us managing not to get wrapped up in the sheet or castrated by the tiller. I actually got a little hike out of the old girl.
It was one of those timeless days when everything is in the moment: from a powerful peel off to a nice conversation in the sun. Reminds me a bit of the feel of Labor Day. The rush of summer is gone but the pressure of going back to work and school hasn’t yet taken hold. Just a blissful, timeless limbo.
Tomorrow’s winds don’t sound great, but the boats are still set up and we’ll see what we can make of the afternoon’s SW @10. After that we’re looking at warm rain until the end of the week. It would be fantastic to offer Damariscotta as a venue for the DN North American Championship Regatta, scheduled for next weekend. There’s plenty of ice there, but can it hold up?
Two twenty-one twelve: great date for yet another terrific day of sailing. A new crack has opened up in the north end of the lake, but with careful scouting crossing it was not difficult. Dave Lamton had the Express rigged again and Doug Raymond was back with his rubber mast.
John had still more takers for rides in the Gambit, and one guy had a look halfway between titillation and terror as John had it wound up circling the pits.
The Lake was a new place today. A change in wind direction completely changes how you sail a lake. After all, what is sailing essentially but the desire and effort to make that next point? Today it was SW. Not really filling in until about eleven, when it did it was kind. Steady as a rock, you can cleat the sheet and almost go to sleep. In a few minutes you wake up and here we are at the narrows!
I beat down through and then deep reached back out, took a nap on the three mile reach back to the pits and roused the troops for a cruise. Scott the Guy, Bunting and myself sailed back South in tight formation and found the finest ice yet. We were still faced with the pressure ridge that Jory and I had crossed yesterday, but the sailing was so fine in those first two bays that we just gamboled about for a while.The wind was such that we could sail along next to the ridge and just gawk at it’s wonder.
Some of the shallow, rocky points are opening up in Herring Gut, and we are reminded of a story Lloyd Roberts told of watching out for a bad spot he knew was coming up and running smack into a hole he didn’t see. One should keep the corner of the eye on those known hazards while maintaining focus on what’s ahead.
Not a posed photo, I swear!
Should be good Sunday 2/26. However E/W crack, perhaps 1/4 mile from public beach which was marked with 2 small buoys should be crossed with care. Public boat ramp ice may not support a trailer due to warm rain water run off. This AM ice along shore held me up OK. A plank might be necessary. Beach at Lloyd’s not good for trailers but ice is solid. Vehicles need to be off lawn by 10 AM latest. Monday will be colder but maybe not much wind. Sunday wind forecast NW in teens with gusts. Good surface for skating. Call Lloyd 596 2095.
Andre Baby and a group of sailors from Quebec are arriving in Rockland tonight for at least one day of racing tomorrow. Venue likely to be Chickawaukee. Will post details tonight.
Looks like Chickie has the best ice, although most lakes seemed to have recovered very well. So it’s racing on the home ice tomorrow. Light winds forecast for the morning, but best to be there early and on the course when it pipes up. Bienvenue au notre ami de Quebec!
Monday February 27, 2012
Five Canadian DN skippers visited from Montreal. They had seen on this website that we had good ice on Chicky and they decided that they would rather race here than go all the way to Green Bay WI for the North American DN Championship, which was to have been sailed on Champlain, and then Damariscotta, before the snow that gave us the rain and slush that gave us the great ice.
They chose well, we had some of the nicest ice of the year and a nice steady Southerly breeze, a welcome change from the seemingly relentless blustery North West winds we have put up with all winter. They set a diagonal course from the far corner to over near Rte 17, about a mile. Five Canadians led by Andre Babe were joined by Dave Fortier and Bill Buchholz, Bill’s first time racing dedicated DN racing skippers. Also on hand for the fine conditions were Lockley Skimmer pilot Doug Fowle, our senior member Fred Wardwell and his daughter Martha who sailed fred’s DN, Roger’s Skimmer, and John Eastman’s Gambit. Steve Pixely brought his venerable Arrow and thundered around in that, a good match for John in his Gambit. Our newest member Frank Abel, Gambit owner, could only sail briefly in the morning so did so in John’s Gambit. Lloyd took a few cruises in his super DN between cooking spells on the shore side fire. He cooked up a mass of baked beans and a pot of chili made by wife Marge out of left over hamburger from the last CIBC party, waste not want not. His traditional reflector oven corn bread didn’t get reflected quite far enough and was fobbed off as pudding, tasty with the beans anyway.
The regatta was somewhat informal, real regatta buoys but no formal scoring. However our Dave Fortier and Andre Babe were the front runners. The one race I watched, Dave came in half a lap ahead of everybody. This is quite a performance as he cannot run since his accident, so he waits for every one else to run off in a cluster and then he crow hops a couple of steps and drops into the boat. By the time he gets going the rest of the fleet is 100 yards ahead but Dave has freedom of direction. He did a good job of doping the wind shift down the course, always present on Chicky, and he had good boat speed all the way around.
Fred allowed as how it was good sailing indeed but what he really liked was sitting by the fire and watching all the boats. Good enough, Fred brought his chain saw last time around and cut most of the wood we have stacked nearby.
The snow has started, and this is what the lake looks like right now. We are expected to get up to a foot by tomorrow, then rain on Saturday. By Sunday night it will drop down the the teens, so if the rain wets out the snow and the chill freezes the slush we’ll be sailing early next week. The ice seems to be holding up well aside from the open leads around the shore. The season ended abruptly on this day two years ago, with the exception of the South Twin Expedition, so it could happen again. Still, I expect we’ll see iceboaters dancing with parts on planks over narrow moats.
Our guests from Quebec stayed around for a few more days, sailing both in the high winds of Tuesday and the push and coast zephyrs of yesterday. They were seen setting marks on Damariscotta yesterday which was bound to have been a running race. But they got their money’s worth on this trip.
In Sunday’s strong winds, Steve and James Lamb along with Peter Coward and Dave Buckley took advantage of the big ice on Dammy. Dave, pictured below, broke his vintage 1964 boom, while Steve said they “loved having the lake all to themselves in 20-30kts: just the way we like it!” Over on Chicky the same day Chris Conary in the TN 50 had his usual hot date to help hold down the two seater in the blustery conditions. Rumor has it that he broke his mast, the second one this season, but it is unconfirmed.
Lloyd and I have been meeting early each morning to skate the season to its inevitable conclusion….two beautiful mornings so far…..yesterday we had two hours of”let’s-skate-forever-into-the-sunset” which left me ‘backy’ for the rest of the day….and this morning in a patchwork of snow and clear patches, blasted by the streamers of a 5-18 knot north wind……two old farts enjoying nature’s endless moods…
usually ice at this time is a veteran of many weather wars…..this ice–though snot-grey in color–is still monolithic solid ice…let’s see how it lasts….wish we’d had boats….
when we left the ice, the snow patches had grown from 40% to 70%, although there’s little to worry about under it, except the small open lead fully across the lake at the 3/4 point proceeding south, and a very few fishing holes….
Reports from Walker, Chickawaukke, Megunticook and Damariscotta confirm that this was one of the most dramatic wet-outs in recent history. From eight inches of dry snow Friday to sailable ice today: Damariscotta could have been sailed had we known. Megunticook had a half inch of water under ice that would hold my weight. Chicky and Walker broke through. Just confirms that a few miles inland can make a difference in realizing marginal possibilities.
The plan is to sail Damariscotta tomorrow depending on what we get for snow tonight. If we get through the night with ice surface intact we could be sailing for a good part of the week. Scott the Guy cleared the launch ramp today and says that access is excellent. Thanks, Scott!
While the skiers are probably happy this morning; the iceboaters are having their resolve tested. Is this what they call March Madness? Are we to get all the snow that missed us this winter in installments between wet-outs?
There is only an inch of light powder on Damariscotta. The wind is supposed to blow for the rest of the day which will likely blow most of the snow down to the east side of the lake. We’ve seen it before. Tomorrow will be sunny in the low thirties, NW 10-15. Any unfrozen puddles will have healed.
SEE YOU TOMORROW!
Scott the Spy was out of state and couldn’t give us the latest condition report for Damariscotta, but if iceboating isn’t a sport of faith then I don’t know what it is. So with that in mind, a group will be rigging boats in the morning. If there is still some snow on the ice it won’t be much. We plan on leaving boats for a few days and getting as much as we can out of this potentially last hurrah.
There seems to be a lot of interest and we may have a generous selection of CIBC boats showing up, so roll the dice and come sailing.
sliding a runner thru the 1 inch snow on megunticook this morning revealed a nice, unobstructed glide on the ice below….l suspect that damariscotta will be good today, with good wind predicted, provided we can stay out of trouble with the concealed hazards….Jory
It would appear that between the lack of sailing for the last week and the impending 300# aria, the CIBC membership was primed for a great day of sailing. Twelve boats on a Tuesday must be some kind of record, not to mention the visitors to the pits. People living around the lake who have be taking great pleasure watching us sail all winter came down to say hello, including a Phillipina in heels who had never seen snow, not to mention ice boats. Her high heels were very effective in providing traction in the soft afternoon ice.
All the usual suspects, with Fred Wardwell in the background and Wolfie Wessel in the sidecar equipped DN on the left. He was later seen with a woman he found on the far side of the lake. It must pay to dress better than the average iceboater…
There was a frolic of Gambits who did not pick up women from the far (or any) side of the lake, but Chris Conary did show up after work with one of his standard issue beautiful Belles and a few boats joined them for a final sail as the sun began to set. The moon, by the way, was just rising. This would make an excellent night for a moonlit cruise for anyone who hasn’t sailed themselves into the ground today.
Weather for the week and into the weekend looks too good to be true. Wind and sun tomorrow, a chance of rain Thursday night and Friday, but then good for the weekend. Commodore Fortier is proposing a Regatta for the weekend if the plate survives the rain. We have 14″ of hard ice. Friday night should be in the low twenties; not a super chill but maybe enough to tidy things up. DN racers please stand by, or just come sailing tomorrow. All boats are on the ice and tomorrow’s conditions may allow for an expedition to the South End.
The thin gloves, loosened collar and ice chips in the face: all good signs that spring is here, and for this reporter one of the most pleasant times of the sailing season. We’ve had our thirty days plus so we get the tee shirt and the days of the steady SW wind just go on and on.
The wind came up early today but the mood in the pits was so laid back that no one got under weigh for at least an hour. A few finally set off for the south end directly in search of better ice and distant horizons and wouldn’t you know it: the grass was greener on the south side of the fence. OUTLAW and NORTHERN LIGHT blasted around in tight tacks on the super smooth surface for a while celebrating the silence. The slam bang clikiyty clack was replaced by a smooth hiss. We thought we should go back and get the rest of the gang, so taking special care in Herring Gut (which was pretty much as we had left it a week ago) we deep reached back through the narrows and found the rest of the lake to be quickly wetting out and slowly softening, so a trip back south was out of the question.
We spent the rest of the day tearing around the broads, throwing great rooster tails of ice, stopping occasionally to clear goggles. John Bianchi was pulling wonderful hikes with his lee runner tossing spray. OUTLAW’S long runners served her well, while NORTHERN LIGHT’S were digging in. As a result the boats were very well matched for speed and they wore themselves out tearing around, lap after lap, neck and neck, full bore.
By 1:00 the ice was getting too soft so we had lunch and discussed the fate of this fabulous sailing venue. Consensus is that the warm weather will smooth the surface, and Friday night’s temps in the low twenties, aided by a dry NW wind will set it up nicely for the weekend. No sailing is planned for the next two days.
My apologies to John for nearly running him down while trying to get a good shot of him. It’s tough to hold the camera and drive the boat when it’s ripping along and breaking loose every few seconds!
The forecast is still looking great for sailing Damariscotta this weekend and we look forward to both Saturday and most of Sunday. The ice could soften at some point during that day. This could be it, as there are no temps forecast to get below freezing well into the week.
We will scout the ice by seven AM Saturday, and will post observations here.
ALERT, ALERT, ALERT: DN Iceboat Regatta, Saturday & Sunday March 10 & 11.
MAINE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Launch at Damariscotta Farm on Damariscotta Lake in Jefferson, Maine.
First race at 0930 Saturday morning. Any Questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
C. Dave F
> Late this morning the plate was found to still have eleven inches after yesterdays warmth and rain. The sheet is still tight to the shore and there were a few small drain holes. Conditions of the two long cracks off to the south is unknown. We’ll have to sail out there tomorrow and and have a look!
We will still report conditions here at 7:00am Saturday
Scott the Spy has been to the plate and says that it is a good thing! Still eleven inches, with a pebbly surface.
Welcome to our guests from western New York who set up last night!
See you on the ice!
This photo gives a good idea of the ice on most of the lake. Not great, but good enough.
This may or may not be the end, but if it is, then what a great way to cap a terrific season of iceboating in Maine. Our sympathies to southern New England sailors, some of whom haven’t see their home ice come in all year. We had a small fleet of them visiting today, making a total of twenty four boats. Seven comprised the DN fleet, convened to compete for the Maine State Championship. Results to follow. They set a course toward the south end, leaving the rest to the cruisers.
We discovered an amazing patch of very smooth ice tucked into the NE corner near the State Park. One could rattle and bang on a deep reach into the corner and just as you bore off for a jibe everything would go silent, like a scuba diver on a wave tossed boat when he finally goes under water and just before he lets out that first breath and all is still. Some boats never left the patch so it made for interesting traffic conditions.
The ice stayed hard enough for the day, although the pits were a slush pit. Temps tonight in the high twenties should heal some, but with tomorrow expected to be warm it won’t be a long day. All the better for our out of state guests who need to be back in the office Monday morning, taking sensations of flying ice to sustain them through the off season.
She may have just sung her song. You can hear it in the sounds of the chickadees and the honking of the geese sailing north. More than a few local lakes are coming apart and there are no freezing temperatures forecast. But a great group of sailors had a terrific weekend, capped off with an awesome trip to the south end of the lake. With a brisk but warm SW wind, all seven boats made it around the various open leads in the narrows and at Herring Gut, and then in tight formation onto the lovely ice of the first two bays.
We scouted the pressure ridge, which had flattened out but not healed, and found one place that we might be able to cross. We set six boats carefully across, while one rapscallion DN decided to try it on it’s own. It overrode the brake, took a fresh breath of air and scooted across the thin shell ice. Someone on the other side was able to wrangle him down, dodge a few parked boats, and put him to rest. With laughs all around we ripped around the islands and finding the way into Muscungus Bay blocked by open water, short tacked into deep cove for a photo op.
It was becoming noticeably warmer, so after a few more rounds we heaved the boats back over the ridge with only a few runner dunkings and made it through the narrows as the slush was getting deeper. But what’s spring sailing without a little sweaty push through the corn? Paul Zucco had the secret weapon du jour: very sharp slush runners. They gripped well in the first part of the day, and then took Paul home in style later. He has faced the wood bodies with formica, a very nice touch and probably adding to the stiffness quite a bit.
What’s not easy, however, is to leave this great sheet of ice. Damariscotta has been very good to us this year.
The Damariscotta Lake Farm B&B is just across the street from the launch and you can even see your boat from your room. Highly recommended by all those who stayed there this weekend. They also have a bar and restaurant, so now we have the beginnings of an iceboat destination resort!
CIBC’s deepest gratitude goes to David and Cecille Lampton, our generous hosts at the launch site. We even get to use the inside heated bathroom! It’s the next best thing to an actual club house. Thanks, Again.
I want to thank all who joined us for the regatta on Damariscotta Lake. Everyone arrived nice and early as springtime conditions require. Happy to see that iceboating and the DN still has some racing left in it. I must say, that I remember when that was what it was all about.
It was good ice, not smooth and perfect as can be, but safe. The wind was shifty, came and went, and required sailors to run a bit. The temperatures remained cold enough so that we could get all of our stuff back on our cars without too much trouble, and no one fell in.
We must thank the folks at Damariscotta Farm for the use of the launch site, much appreciated. Hope that our use does not add to their spring chores too much!
Thanks to all, Commodore Dave Fortier
Building season has begun, with Steve Lamb building two Whizzes, Paul Zucco building one, and your reporter continuing with a Monotype XV stern steerer that was started a few years ago.Monotype-XV iceyacht There was quite a lot of fresh interest in two seaters this winter so it seemed like the logical thing to do! The Europeans are excited because they have been hoping for years that the class would catch on in the US. Probably not much chance of that, but it is a very cool boat.
The Whizz has proven to be a very fast and comfortable boat. The rig design by Jeff Brown is excellent. We look forward to more of these boats, now up to five in number. These two are for Steve and Peter Coward who are getting a little tired of James sailing circles around them.
Whizzes #4 & 5 taking shape at Steve Lamb’s shop. Paul Zucco’s is in frame, and we look forward to photos soon Paul!
Below is the Mono XV. The bottom has yet to be trimmed back. Anyone know where I can find a pair of four foot runners?
We welcome all building and repair pix, hoping to make this post a weekly event.
Usually our ice season ends with a final bash at South Twin Lake, near Millinocket, Maine when all our local water molecules are far too frisky. There, we can stay at 5 Lakes Lodge and have two lovely days on….whatever this vast lake is serving up.
But this year the inkeeper there, a reliable spy, reports that the ice is so battered, the forecast so tropical, that we might as well get out the gardening tools.
So, with many a sigh, I’ve hoisted the exalted iceboat high, high in the garage–wondering, hoping, even praying, that health and circumstance will bring in down next November. I am reminded of my friend Anita Scott, an avid winter-sportswoman, who often says: “if you’re not having fun at a given season, you just don’t have the right toys” … how blessed we are to have the right toys.
To cap the season, to give thanks, to celebrate our community, to kick-tires, to swap gear, to compare notes, we’ll have our Spring Ice Party on Saturday, April 14 at the usual loosey-goosey hours of about 10 to 4. Bring a pot luck item, and sample Bill Bunting’s (wife’s!) amazing apple pie, possibly Fortier’s grilling specialites, Lloyd’s salads, and, of course, the luck of the pot… Bring excess ice gear, too….Bill Buchholz may show off his eco-car Dirigo, and Jory may pedal his electric-assist quadricycle, Sunbeam.
This year, as a special treat, we’re celebrating our oldest CIBC member Fred Wardwell, now high in his 8th decade, by allowing him to be our host…. I hope you can all come….a map will follow when we can figure it out…..all the best, jory
here’s a map
Well, until your editor gets submissions from all the projects that I’m sure are coming together in shops and garages throughout New England we’re going to have to make do with the Monotype XV. Planking is going on, and because the hull will be bright there can be no fasteners in the side. This makes for interesting clamping solution as the bottom is already in place. Because the bottom hasn’t been trimmed yet, there was a very convenient shelf to screw little blocks to hold the side plank along the bottom.
The seat is in place, as is the steering. The cheek blocks will be on the bottom, of course. The slotted bracket is so you can raise the wheel to get in and then drop it down on your lap for sailing. I don’t know if there is supposed to be a latch to hold it in a few different position, but it might be a good idea. Any suggestions?
The aft end of the double ended sheet comes through this bulkhead to the skipper and is belayed with a rope clutch hooked up to a foot pedal for quick release, all mounted on the bulkhead. With 150 sq. ft.of sail on a 14′ plank the hiking must come on rather quickly. Anybody have an idea for engineering that?
Tomorrow is the spring ice party at fred wardwell’s……I hope lots of ice-nuts come……I know lloyd and john eastman and scott the guy and the two bills and fred of course will be there…and maybe bianchi and john stanton and ben fuller and maybe doug raymond and doug fowle and dave buckley and chris conary and maybe even kevin……..and if a good number of these fellow-travelers come….they will remind me that indeed…. I was there.
today…..here i sit in the bright april backyard sun…..hoping for a little tan…..finishing the last of last christmas’s rum bottle….unable to accomplish the slightest thing….and I look back on our 2012 season…..and that icy environment….those friends…those zen-like moments….and…. if it’s true….if it really happened….then I am flooded with gratitude…..there can’t be very many people in this hurried, degraded world ….who are allowed entrance into such sacred space….
see you tomorrow…..jory
The pair of Whizzes at Steve Lambs shop are coming along nicely, with #5 getting side planks. Notice the clamps he’s using to clamp the sides to the stringers: slices of PVC pipe. You could drill a couple of holes in each one and insert dowels to make them even more user friendly, but you certainly can’t beat the price!
Notice the simple set-up: he chooses a nice straight 2×6, lays out the centerline and squares off the bulkhead positions with cleats or short aluminum angle. Then its just a matter of screwing on the bulkheads, wrapping the stringers around and checking for twist before planking. Steve has decided to use butt blocks on the planks instead of scarfs. Either way is strong enough, but the butt blocks are easier and add a little bulk to the sides which could come in handy some extreme day.
The butt block is clearly visible on the boat on the left. There’s a long span between those bulkheads, but if one were seriously watching their weight a scarf would work, too.
There is a combination of butts and scarfs on our next featured craft. I used butts on the planks and scarfed the bottom. The side planks were set onto the bottom, which ran by temporarily, and the thought of trying to get a dead straight line on a 24′ plank that would fit tight all along didn’t seem like much fun to me. Just moving the thing around was asking for trouble. As you can see, the planking is done, bottom trimmed, and the interior varnished in preparation for the deck. Two of the three deck panels have their veneer glued on, and we’re just waiting for a window between paying work to continue.
While it was rolled over to have the bottom edge trimmed, it seemed like a good time to install the bow headstay chainplate, along with the tangs for whisker stays. This boat has them both fore and aft.
The backing blocks for the aft whisker stay tangs can be seen just behind the aft bulkhead.
As always, please send in anything of interest as these boats will be done at some point and we don’t want to be reduced to reporting on yet another coat of varnish so please get out there, cut some wood, and tell us about it!