2013 Season Highlights

CIBC 2012 Fall Meeting

THE Annual meeting was called to order by Sec. Roberts on October 28 at 11:30 AM for the purpose of electing Directors for 2013 per the bylaws. Ten members of the club, a quorum, were present. The 2012 directors were all contacted by phone prior to the meeting and agreed to another term.
Members voted to retain the directors unanimously. They are: Lloyd Roberts, Jory Squibb, Bill Bunting, Dave Fortier Bill Buchholz, Scott Woodman, Tom Childs, Jim McDonald, and Doug Raymond.

THE DIRECTOR’S MEETING was called to order by president Buchholz
to elect officers for 2013. The existing officers of Pres. Buchholz and Sec. Treas. Roberts
agreed to serve another term and were re elected by the five directors present, Roberts, Squibb, Fortier, Buchholz, and Woodman. Dave Fortier was re appointed as competition Commodore.
Dues were raised to $20 for 2013 as agreed by the directors by phone prior to the meeting. Purchase of professional liability for officers and directors was approved., Directors Squibb and Buchholz opposed. Pres. Buchholz, finding no further business to transact, closed the Director’s Meeting at 12:20 PM.

John Eastman, who has volunteered to be on the NEIYA Touring Committee, chaired by
Randy Rice, discussed recommendations for touring to be refined with feedback from CIBC and NEIYA members. These draft recommendations will be in the next newsletter. NEIYA Commodore Eric Anderson was present and hopes to be able to formalize such recommendations/guidelines for the NEIYA for next season at latest. Eastman felt that mid season this year was a feasible goal.

The Annual Meeting dissolved around 3 PM with appreciation extended to Host Dave Fortier.

Respectfully submitted, Lloyd Roberts, Secy.

Posted in 2013 Season | 1 Comment |

Local Iceboating History

Maine has icy winters and ice breeds iceboaters. Iceboating in Maine dates back at least 100 years. The fishermen on the island of Vinalhaven took the small gaff rigs off their lobster “pinkies” and put them on runners for sport sailing on a tidal pond, and larger “stern steerers” were seen on many of Maine’s lakes. A small remnant of the Vinalhaven fleet still sails there.

The Chickawaukee club was started in the early ‘70’s by Warner St. Clair, a retired seaman and several of his seafaring friends who had plenty of time in winter. Chickawaukee was chosen because of its proximity to the ocean and corresponding lighter snow, more rain, and better ice than the inland lakes. Chicky also benefits from sea breezes when there is no wind inland.

The seamen sailed every day that was sailable, always racing. Their record was 57 days of sailing in one season. Warner started the club with dues at $2 that got you a membership card and a set of Sarns plans. He sold memberships to anyone who would stand still and listen for 30 seconds, even a toll taker on the Maine Turnpike. Once a member you were expected to build a DN. Warner would appear on your doorstep to see how you were coming along and if you weren’t he would supply partially built parts at ridiculously low prices. Chickawaukee was THE ice and we all left our boats on the ice for the winter tied down to ropes frozen into the ice. It was truly the Chickawaukee Iceboaters Club.

In the 80’s we began to be more mobile as the construction methods reduced the weight of the hull from 75-80 Lbs. to a more manageable 45 Lbs. We ventured off to the New England Championships in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont as well as occasional forays to National and World contests and the sometimes incredible Winnie Spring Frolic (200 ice boats in a good year) on Lake Winnepesaukee in Hew Hampshire.

As we enter the millenium the club has grown to 50-60 members from all over New England. We are completely mobile, no one leaves their boats on the same ice all winter, we keep them at home, ready to roll to wherever the ice is. We sail on the best available ice, sometimes Chickawaukee, otherwise anywhere from Eagle Lake on Mt. Desert to Sebago Lake, and inland to Belgrade Lakes and even Moosehead Lake. We have a series of 5 DN regattas during the season and informal racing and touring any time.

Post Script 2011:

We are now some 100 members and sail less, partly due to less and later ice as a result of global warming over the last 20 years and partly due to less enthusiasm for regattas every sailable weekend. There is some sign of renewed enthusiasm for racing, at least informally, as a way to learn how to sail the sometimes puzzling ice boat. Despite 100 years of iceboat use there is still an undercurrent of new design. The all present and dominant design, the DN, is wonderfully portable and just fine for racing but short on creature comforts. As non racing sailing becomes more popular, the new designs try to combine respectable speed with a sit down out of the wind cockpit style. At the other end of the spectrum are scaled down designs for children. This sport remains a do it yourself activity unpolluted by Asian imports, so far.

Lloyd Roberts (“Iceman”) DN3314

Posted in 2013 Season |

Lamb’s Fleet

Steve Lamb has shifted into overdrive in order to have the new Whizzes ready to go by the first freeze. His new Apache Boatworks wing masts are ready to go, and he sends these photos:

“Why make 1 steering assembly when you can make 3 in almost the same amount of time.” Who’s the third one for, Steve?

Bottom going on W 4. Check out the economy wood clamps, a roll of packing tape

Posted in 2013 Season |

Think Ice Safely and Rules of the Road


After decades of uneventful ice sailing in New England in 2006 there were two serious collision accidents, one with death and serious head injury, the other with transient disability.
We use the term ice sailors to include the whole community of those who sail on the ice. There seem to be more non racers using the ice than racers and they are often using the same piece of ice at the same time along with the skaters, skate sailors, free skaters, bicycle riders and ice fishermen.
There is a general feeling that “touring” (non racing sailing) is more dangerous than racing. Racing takes place on a defined, explored, area of ice. The racers sail in a somewhat predictable manner with a common goal. The opportunities for collisions in races are numerous but generally avoided by awareness and adherence to ROW rules and self preservation instincts.
The rest of us are out for a sail on the ice. Our behavior is not so predictable and our goals vary. We may be new to the sport, or have a new craft and are trying to make it work. We may be wearing a GPS and trying to see how fast we can go. We may be actually touring, exploring the available ice. We often seem to be aimlessly reaching back and forth with no particular goal, just enjoying the unique kinesthetics of sailing on ice.
Ice sailing is inherently hazardous by nature but we all can reduce the chance of an adverse outcome with forethought, awareness (getting our eyes and minds “out of the boat”), and common sense.
Why do we do it? We do it because it is a unique and fascinating winter adventure.

Safety in racing largely focuses on the ROW “rules”, different for ice racing than for soft water racing. “Right of Way” implies an imperial right and it is tempting, in the excitement of competition to use that “right” as a weapon to inconvenience rivals. Maybe water sailors do this but the high closing speeds and resulting compressed reaction time in ice racing make aggressive ROW use inadvisable.
The “Right of Way and Safety Requirements” drawn by the late Hal Chamberlain based on the National Iceboat Authority Rules are published periodically and should be familiar to experienced ice sailors. These are written especially for racers but should be familiar to and used by non racers as well. These customs are designed to prevent collision by providing predictable behavior patterns for ice sailors approaching or in proximity to other sailors. The emphasis of responsibility is on the “KEEP CLEAR” skipper. The “ROW” skipper has the initial responsibility of not altering course in a way that might confuse the “KEEP CLEAR” skipper. However “ROW” should not sail to destruction if “KEEP CLEAR” does not keep clear. Here is where aggressive sailing by “KEEP CLEAR” can be hazardous. Apparent aggressive sailing may of course be due to one or both skippers not seeing each other. The problems of visibility and perception are a common theme in any discussion of ice sailing safety.
The “Right of Way and Safety Requirements” follow at the end of this article. Feel free to print the graphic, laminate it, and keep it in your kit.

Perception requires seeing and seeing requires visibility. In our less serious recent collision, during a race, the KEEP CLEAR did not see the ROW until about 8 feet away. His first thought was “what the hell is that” (perception problem) and they crashed without evasion time. ROW never saw KEEP CLEAR. Visibility from a DN in racing trim can be difficult and often the view is through the sail window which can be compromised by reflections. Are we suggesting going back to the ‘70’s sitting position in the DN? Not a bad idea for non racers, more comfortable too. Realistically, anything that slows down the racers is not going to happen.
Fogging of glasses, goggles and helmet visors is very dangerous and should not be tolerated. Spend whatever it takes, good goggles, vented helmet, contact lenses, etc.
Seeing requires looking. It is easy to gaze with rapture at the beauty of the sail and the antics of the tell tales or watch the ice boat beside you for some time as you creep past him. This is ice sailor’s attention deficit disorder, too long an attention span. “Keeping your eyes out of the boat” means looking around all the time, spending no more than a few seconds fixation on anything.
Despite looking you may not see a dark colored boat against a dark background, the sail may be edge on to you and not very visible. A bright colored boat may not show up against light ice in the sun. The European answer to this is fluorescent paint on the bow of the boat from mast step to bow, a very good idea. This helps peripheral vision detection and perception.
Perception is understanding what you are seeing (“what the hell is that?”), how what you are seeing may effect you, and what you should be doing about it. If at the moment you see a boat heading in your direction you also see a red stripe on your boom reminding you that you are on port tack and you are Captain KEEP CLEAR. You know it is your job to let ROW know you see him (wave, change course sufficiently) and you will miss him. If you are not racing you may be deep in ice reverie in ice heaven but you still have to periodically deal with other boats and all of the ROW customs apply.

We have dragged home ice boat wreckage at least a half dozen times in the past 30 years, including many years of racing, but never from a racing accident. I have luckily never been really injured, just pretty sore a couple of times. Most non racing accidents are solo affairs (our recent fatality excluded). They are usually due to ice hazards, wind hazards (too much), or mechanical failure. Any ice big enough for touring in the literal sense of sight seeing is going to have hazards, guaranteed.
It is not smart to sail alone even on ice “known” to have no hazards. It is suicidal to sail alone on unknown ice or on big ice even though some of it has been recently sailed on. Other than a short trip out to the race course we use the buddy system. The buddy system means sticking together like glue with another ice boater and maintaining visual contact.
On a large lake a buddy system of four skippers is better. If something happens requiring help one skipper stays with the disabled party, the other two go for help. No one is alone.
Top speed is not necessary or desirable while touring (it is the trip, not how fast you cover the ice). Sit up, slow down, enjoy the scenery, keep an eye out for hazards and day dreaming tourers, again, eyes and mind out of the boat.

Ice, wonderful stuff, not only presents many patterns, colors and textures which give it character, but it may be too thin, reasonably thick but structurally unsafe, have holes in it for no apparent reason, be pressed together into ridges, pulled apart into open leads, or simply absent in unexpected places. Blessed is the lake covered with a uniform sheet of ice with no defects. This lake is usually small, you don’t need big ice for a big time.

Just as it is foolish to sail alone, it is almost as bad to come to a lake with boaters already on it and not inquire about hazards. If “there aren’t any”, don’t believe it, follow other boats until you get the lay of the ice. Still, use the buddy system. On a lake of any size if you have a problem and the sail comes down you disappear. You were sailing alone despite others on the ice. Sometimes there is a bulletin board at the launch site with a map of the ice and hazards, still have a buddy, you may not have read the map right.
New black ice usually does not cover the whole lake all at once. You can have nice 3 ½ inch thick ice transition to 1 ½ inch thick without any clue on the surface as seen from the ice boat. Snow drifts on new ice may insulate it so the ice under the drift is dangerously thin. Snow covered new ice is extremely dangerous.
Ice expands sideways as it freezes until it buckles into wrinkles called pressure ridges or reefs. These are always dangerous as one edge over rides the other often breaking it into small pieces that will not support you or your boat. Usually a ridge can be crossed somewhere after exploration on foot. Never sail across a pressure ridge no matter how benign looking unless you have just seen someone else do it right in front of you, and even then use caution. Be aware that pressure ridges may change from safe to unsafe in minutes. When in doubt get out, park, and explore on foot. Sometimes “pressure ridges” pull apart, these open leads are especially treacherous, even if you “know where it is”.
Many lakes have areas where, year after year, there are open spots, maybe way out away from shore. Local knowledge is very important and is the reason we tend to sail the same lakes season after season.
Frequently there is thin ice near points, islands, and shallow spots (like launch ramps) due to local solar warming of shallow water. These also tend to repeat year after year. Streams entering or leaving can be counted on to have thin ice near the mouth. Likewise but not so obvious, narrows between islands can have currents that undermine the ice.
Navigational buoys usually mean shallow water, beware.
We sometimes sail on larger lakes with large areas of open water (we would rather not). Be wary not only of the visible water but also the likelihood of open leads extending away from the open water. These can be sneaky because your attention is drawn to the open water and you do not look in front of you.
A nice sheet of ice on a large lake with a lot of open water may blow away from the land and then break up or it may break up from on shore wind and wave action. Local knowledge is vital.

Some feel that racing is what iceboating is all about and spend all their time doing it, going around little red buoys like moths around a candle. Racing is very exciting, highly addicting, and the only way to learn how to sail an ice boat well. Get advice and coaching from the faster skippers, they will be happy to help you. If you have questions about ROW, ask. DN racing has gotten very serious, sophisticated, expensive, time consuming, and rather daunting to the new ice sailor who often states “I just want to sail”. OK, but that sailor will probably never learn to sail down wind in light air, which always seems where the launch area is at the end of the day. Informal racing is the key here, you don’t even need to think racing, just put out a couple of traffic cones for windward and leeward marks and sail around them. Lacking cones use fishing houses (with respect for tip ups and people. If you hit a tip up, stop immediately and re-emburse the fisherman.) The important thing is to break out of the easy pattern of just reaching back and forth all the time. It takes at least a season to get the hang of sailing down wind. Some never get it.

SPIKES: You have to have traction. Spiked track shoes are the ultimate in traction and lack of warmth. Golf shoes are warmer. Insulated boots with ice fisherman strap on things (“DeIcers” recommended) are warmest and OK on clean ice, they are not so good in snow.
HELMETS: You absolutely need a helmet. Years ago we saw an iceboater while wearing spikes slip, fall, and lay his scalp open. Another, not wearing spikes, slipped just standing still and knocked himself out. Ice is harder than the hardest of hard heads.
The “Joffa” skiing helmets are very popular with the racers because they are very light which is vital for the recumbent DN racers and the face opening is very wide for good visibility. The lack of weight is due to a relatively thin outer shell and skimpy shock absorbing padding. A Snell approved motorcycle helmet is designed for impact resistance at highway speeds with hard objects like ice boat parts and ice, not just packed snow on a ski slope. Yes, they are more expensive. What are you brains worth? The weight is not much of a problem if you are sitting up in a civilized manner in touring mode. If you race, build up your neck muscles (see Appendix; “Skipper Care”). A properly fitting helmet is nice and warm too. Buy your goggles at the same time so they fit the helmet.
ICE PICKS AND THROW ROPES: Most of us now carry a pair of handles with spikes in them on a string around our neck (these are commercially available or you can make your own with dowels and nails). These are for clawing your way up onto the ice if you go swimming. Wet ice is very slippery. You can also carry a throw rope in a small bag or on a small reel on your waist. This you can use to haul someone out of the water or get yourself hauled out by your buddy. Your main sheet may save a life.
CHANGE OF CLOTHES IN YOUR CAR: A complete change of warm clothes would be pretty nice if you get wet, wouldn’t it?
PHYSICAL CONDITION SAFETY: Ice boating is strenuous, especially carrying and setting up the boats, and particularly trying to get a boat out of a hole in the ice. It is annoying to find you cannot hold your head up after sailing a short time. It is really annoying to be laid up for a couple of weeks after throwing your back out lifting ice boats or their parts. Regular daily year round stretching and muscle tome exercises will prevent these problems. See “Skipper Care” in the appendix.
HYPOTHERMIA: It is easier to stay warm than to get warm. Overall hypothermia can happen, especially if you have been swimming. Get ashore and get warm. At least change out of the wet clothes, if really cold get into a tub or shower. If really really cold, like unable to stand or losing consciousness, get to a hospital, this is a medical emergency, do not even try to walk around, activity can kill you.
A face mask or full face enclosed helmet is a must for all but Spring sailing at above freezing temperatures. Hands and feet seem to present the most problems. Hands spend a lot of time pulling on the sheet which doesn’t help circulation. Snowmobile mitts and gloves would seem to be a good idea but most of them don’t do the job. The best arrangement in our experience is insulated deer, elk, or moose hide “choppers” (Cobella’s or LL Bean) mitts a size larger than you wear and an inner pair of thin but warm gloves that you can leave on when adjusting rigging, changing runners, setting up the boat etc. The XC skiers have some nice thin gloves with leather palms.
If wearing track shoes look for Gortex outer socks that keep the wind out and even stay dry when wading in puddles. Divers foam neoprene socks work well too. Again the shoes should be a size or two too big so you can wear a couple of layers of socks.
The ultimate anti cold weapon is the catalytic warmer envelope (iron and salt) which gives off heat for 6-7 hours. These are available at sport shops and often at gas stations in ice fishing country. They come in hand and toe patterns. They cost about $1.50 a pair, worth every penny. When it really gets cold these will keep your pinkies toasty warm all day, really.

IMMERSION (If you haven’t been swimming you probably will).

The U. S. Air Force requires all air crews to pass immersion drill exercises, it has been suggested that at first ice we should do the same, someone please organize this and lead the way. Not a bad idea, but I doubt we will get universal participation.
Anticipation and forethought should be almost as good as doing it. There has recently been a report from an immersion guru that once in the water you have about 10 minutes of consciousness and action before hypothermia gets you and you should spent the first minute getting used to the cold water, orienting yourself, and planning action. My personal experience and that of some others is that if you get out fast enough you don’t get totally sopping wet, a big plus.
The most common situation is sailing into a small spring hole or pulled apart pressure ridge you did not see. The ice boat tips over and often some part of it is on the ice for convenient climbing out. You may end up under the sail which can inspire panic. The ice at the edges of such defects is usually thick enough to support standing weight and often the boat can be extracted and sailed home promptly with due regard for the sheet freezing. This is easy: you go in, you get out, you get it out, you sail it home, you change and warm up. If the boat is damaged get someone else to sail you home and make sure you are dry and warmed. Let others take care of the wreck. If you were sailing alone you could be in big trouble. Apply warm fluids inside and out (bath, shower). It is important to be chaperoned in the post swim interval as hypothermia can rapidly lead to mental impairment and confusion unapparent to the wet person. Incoherence and inability to stand is a medical emergency, call 911, do not let the cold person try to warm up by attempting to walk etc. Get them out of wet clothes.
Sailing onto thin ice for some distance and breaking through is more complicated. It is important to get out, spread your weight out on the ice by not getting up, and claw your way back from whence you came on thicker ice. A moment or two for orientation is in order here. Extraction of the ice boat can be complicated needing ropes, boards, boats, etc. If an immersion suit is available and seems useful it should be used by someone familiar with its use, practice is needed, preferably in the summer. Preparation goes a long way here. Early and late in the season I often carry a 12 foot plank on the truck, usually used for getting on the ice at a thin edge. It would be very handy for thin ice rescue. A wind surfer hull with ping pong paddles, the paddles having spikes on the other end of the handle, is advised by Leo Healy and sounds pretty good. The NJ ice boaters have a tin “john” boat on retractable trailer wheels that is hauled to the ice by car and on the ice with an ATV. But the boat/trailer can haul all the regatta paraphernalia out to the race site including the wind break for the race committee, hot meals, lawn chairs, etc. More things to play with.
It is possible to get out of the water without ice claws by getting your body horizontal in the water and breast stroking up onto the ice. The late Larry Hardman did this easily (at 1 AM by moonlight and zero degrees), he says he just popped out onto the ice like a seal. The hard part was waking up the occupants of a nearby house who were astonished by the ice encrusted black snow mobile suit clad apparition. They took him in and plopped him a bath tub.
Skaters usually have warning they are on thin ice by cracking preceding break through. My experience (skating on known thin ice over thin water) is that a skate breaks through and trips you so you fall forward automatically distributing your weight over the ice. The skate has all your weight on a few square inches. The only problem here is your feet get wet and the laces freeze so you can’t get the skates off. A pocket knife plier combination tool works well here and is often handy for ice boating.
In summary, go in, think, get oriented, get out, get help, get dry, get warm.

Posted in 2013 Season | 4 Comments |

Bunting Comments on Safety

Likely this is the best summation ever written about the perils of ice boating, about how best to avoid them, and how best to deal with them when met, and Lloyd deserves our sincere thanks for writing it.As with any summation, however, some readers may wish that one subject or another was covered in more detail. For example, regarding dry suits, I would note that when sailing into a hole it is best not to have left ones suit in ones car. (that being said, Bunting was warm for the entire tow back to the pits with the exception of his hands. Keep an extra pair of gloves in a zip lock bag. ed.)That particular dunking, and in fact every other accident I have had or nearly had that I can recall over the years, involved either impaired vision or not looking carefully enough. While Lloyd covered these topics very well, they cannot be over emphasized. After finally getting a pair of really good goggles I was appalled by how much I had not been seeing before. Good goggles are expensive, but not when compared to a hospital bill, a lawyer’s fee, or even a damaged boat.I wear goggles because I have never worn a full face visor that did not fog up. Perhaps my breath is warmer and wetter than other people’s. My exposed cheeks and nose sting occasionally, but have never frozen.

I have been using a ski helmet instead of a heavier and more crash-worthy motor cycle helmet on the theory that I am less likely to get in an accident in the first place if I have better peripheral vision and do not have a sore neck, but I welcome further helmet discussion. (your editor wears the same kind of helmet for much the same reason.)

A topic which Lloyd did not discuss was the crash-worthiness of ice boats, perhaps because there really is no such thing, Even the heavy fuselage of some skeeters, while surely providing some protection in many accidents, in a capsizing can cause serious injury. However, eliminating pointy protrusions or sharp edges can make an inherently hazardous vehicle less so.

Bill Bunting, Nite # 86


The Plot Thickens–Nov 24, 2012

Dear Ice-buddies,
It’s that time of year again, when Thanksgiving is finally laid away, and the quiet heartbeat in the breast of every iceman quickens its throb. When you see ice-buddies on the street, there’s excited talk of sightings: The Reflecting Pool skimmed over! Toleman has 5/8? around the edge! Have you checked the Swamp?
On the computer, our trusty spy, Denis Guertin, gives us the count-down from the the lucky Canadians further North: Some of the smallest ponds now have over 2? of ice, and folks are eyeballing Lac Becancourt near Thetford Mines, and especially Lake Abenakis, a high altitude lake near the border with Maine. So, with the possibility–however faint–of iceboating within the week, I begin the check-list I know and love so well.
1. Get the iceboat down out of the garage cobwebs and plunk it, like an entitled pet, right in the middle of the workspace. For the next four months, it will be gingerly walked around. Once it’s down, I am reminded of various projects which were going on at the end of last season. There’s the rear-view mirror which I wanted to mount, so I could see what mischief Bill Bunting was up to back in my wake.
2. Haul the runners over to “ice central”–a.k.a Bill Buchholz’s boat shop–and give them a thorough sharpening. There is no task more satisfying in November than grinding away, imagining the hiss of a sharp runner on December’s black ice.
3. Check the cleats on the ice boots which, being 1/4? drive sheet-metal screws, need renewing almost every year. Its cheap insurance against a fall.
4. Check the fit and clasp of the Helmet and the clarity of the goggles. Sharpen the ice hatchet, the ice claws, and then go over each piece of cold-weather clothing, putting the best set of everything in the duffel bag, as well as spare clothing in a plastic bag. Then print out the departure check-list and post it in the garage, so that never again will I drive the 35 miles of Lake Damiscotta only to turn around and retrieve the runners back home.
And then, with the hook well baited; we wait, we wonder, we pray, we bargain. Just like baking bread, we know conditions are so fussy: First we want cold winds to cool the pond’s water. Then we want no wind to blow out the fragile new ice. Then when the magic 3? is there, we want 5-12 Knots to launch the season.
And every year, from the safety and softening of the off-season, I’m again amazed and a little scared at the risks we’ve taken in the past. Why haven’t we learned caution in the decades of seasons? Why were we there on Great Pond Belgrade absolutely surrounded by ice like swiss cheese near the little islands, hoping our skim-batts would somehow hoist us to solid ice somewhere else? And yet….will it be any different this year?
I know that this year, like last year, I’ll be wearing a wet suit bottom under my clothes and a Coast Guard Float Jacket on top. This outfit, I’ve had the humiliation of testing three times and I know I float nipple-high in freezing water and could easily float there for an hour without injury. Still I wonder, is this the season to spring for the dry-suit that more and more of the buddies are wearing?
So, dear buddies, let’s eyeball that blessed thermometer each morning, and–in spite of this Global Warming the Republicans have foisted on us–have the very best season ever!

2012 Ice Boat Tune-Up Clinic

Saturday, December 1st
11:00 to 3:00pm
Arthur C. Lamb Co
85 Jackson St., Canton, MA

Sparks are going to fly in preparation for another season.

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, cruising, whatever, will be going on. We will have coffee, doughnuts, hot dogs, chips etc. Bring something if you would like but not necessary; we always have plenty.

This is your best opportunity to talk to other ice boaters where its warm and without helmets, face masks and glove on to get in the way.

Open to members and non members, bring a friend that might be interested in ice boating.

If you have a jig for alignment or sharpening please bring it, good to see different methods.

There will also be an Indoor swap meet, bring gear for sale. Steve Duhamel of North Wind Ice Boats will be there with lot’s of new and used stuff.

This is a hands-on event so roll up your sleeves, we’re here to help.

Spikes, Cleats and Grips

Bill Bunting’s golf shoe spikes are wearing out and he wonders what the rest of us have found to be the perfect ice shoe:

“I’d like to see a discussion on the website re. ice boating shoes. My dear old Dexter winter golf shoes with “small thread” steel spikes are falling apart. Although I found an address on the internet for the spikes — which most golf courses have outlawed — I can’t find any golf shoes that take “small thread” spikes of any kind. I gather that most spiked track shoes don’t have heel spikes, which I consider a necessity. As I recall Lloyd and Jory convert normal types of footwear to spiked ice boating shoes somehow. I would like them to describe exactly how they do this. Bill”

So Lloyd Roberts sent this, which is included in his up-coming feature entitled “Thinking Ice For Fun”:

EL CHEAPO SCREWS; Sheet metal screws, the kind with a ridge around the edge. Or, El Cheapest, sheet rock screws and grind off the heads. These dull fast.

BETTER SCREWS: “Stabilicer” screws, made for replacement of spikes on strap on “Stabilicer” ice fishing things. These are pretty good strap ons but kind of clunky, OK for Firemen on ice or casual ice boaters/passengers. The replacement screws are sold by the $5 bag at Maine Sport. They are sharpened and heat treated sheet metal screws, they last a season. These work pretty well except in snow: they don’t have the reach. You need boots with thick enough soles to drive screws into.

BEST SPIKED TRACK SHOES: Modern track shoes at your local sporting good store have little dinky spikes if you can find them. Apparently real spikes are too destructive and I think plastic cleated shoes are the usual. You have to go to the Internet for real shoes with replaceable spikes, there are several patterns. I think I ended up with shot putters shoes or something bizarre like that for 1/2 inch long spikes, but even then none on heals. So after spending more than you wanted to you get your track shoes, maybe 2 sizes too big and wear with multilayer socks, foot warmers etc. for light weight racing/running, tear off the soles and glue (contact cement) to soles of insulated boots and put Stabilicer screws in heals. Maybe a consult with serious racers is in order.

You editor can only add that he has two-sizes-too-large track shoes with metal spikes to which he added hardened screws to the heel. They are warm enough inside the skeeter and very nimble, but not at all waterproof. Although we gambol on frozen water, it’s amazing how often we come in contact with the soft version.

Anybody else have good solutions?

By the way, Megunticook has 3/8? right now. Will learn about Plymouth soon. Hopes are up.

Spiked Boots Talk

Here is a small collection of good advise and observations on the subject.

By the way, there is 2-5? of nice ice on Lake Abenaki, Quebec. Pending snow forecast tomorrow, Jory and I will be sailing there Friday and Saturday.

Bill Bunting commented on Spikes, Cleats and Grips
The source for old fashioned hardened steel small thread golf cleats is Name it, Golf Inc. in FLA. at 1-800-203-4428. A bag of 24 costs about $17.

John Stanton commented on Spikes, Cleats and Grips
I too have been using golf shoes with metal spikes for years. They have worked well for me, but I did notice some sole separation when I put them away last year.
But touring pros now use soft spikes, and even many of the younger tour players have converted. I’m not ready to give up on and am sure there are plenty of NOS spikes out there.
Will publish what I find.

Ron Buzzell commented on Spikes, Cleats and Grips
There is a European shoe called Ice Bugs. It is built like a cross country ski boot with tungsten spikes. Light weight double boot.

The early-season ice crapshoot–Nov 28, 2012

How do we relate to the very complex formation of early-season ice? Of course, many of us simply wait patiently until late December or January and sail on bullet-proof ice. But the real ice-hounds among us–those who remember the absolute magic of the first sail on virgin ice–are willing to go through the agonies of second guessing the vagaries of Mother Nature.

And so it is this Wednesday night at the very tail end of November. Locally, our three early-freezing ponds all have 1? of beautiful black ice, with more cold nights ahead, but also a few nasty snowflakes falling. We are also lucky enough to now have an experienced spy posted in the far north, Denis Guertin, who has examined Lac des Abenaquis for us and sent these two pictures:

The first is 5? week-old ice which covers a wide swath around the perimeter of the lake, and the second is the 2? of new ice in the large center section of the lake.

Bill Buchholz and I had planned a departure for tomorrow, but that 2? of ice on a lake which is new to us, really needs two, not one, more frigid nights for any kind of peace of mind. Plus we need to see what amount of snow falls up there. And, with Jim MacDonald giving us a report tomorrow morning from Plymouth Pond, it seems wise to plan a 6AM Friday morning departure if Quebec still seems like the best ice. We will be staying in an Inn called Domaine des Sportifs (“the home port of icehounds”?) phone 418 593 3786 and cost of only $25pppn.

Four hours doesn’t seem too long a drive from here. About the same as going to Webster or Long Pond Lakeville in Massachusetts. And, in the end you have to remember the basic rule of ice activities: show up and pray!

So, dear buddies, you can roll the dice and join us, or you can just stay behind, and eat three courses of crow, when we send you pictures and tell white lies?



Plymouth Pond is ON for Tomorrow

Early this morning, scouts drilled and skated Plymouth Pond and found a very consistent plate of snow-free black ice at a strong inch and a half. Temps overnight forecast to be in the teens, so we’re expecting a solid two inches by the morning. There’s a slight chance of snow showers late this evening. Tomorrow sunny, mid twenties, NW 10-15.
We’ll be there at nine for further prospecting, and hopefully sailing. Two years ago our first ice on Plymouth was on November 30, so we’re hoping that there is a trend starting. As always, make your own call as to iceworthyness.


If You Blinked…

With yesterdays report of 1.5? and low teens overnight temps, we thought there would be 2.5″ today. We got it, as well as sunshine, perfect wind and a great fleet of iceboats. Fred Kirches and Bruce Brown came down from the Bangor area while the usual suspects came up from the south. We walked the pit area first, chopping and measuring, then did a wider skate inspection, and finished up with a complete inspection coverage with SkimBats.

After that it was all boats all the time! The sun was going down as the last wind-burned sailor headed for home. We met a couple of local fans. Tim Smith, who lives within view of the pond, has agreed to report on ice conditions, and Kathryn had taken a club portrait last year and came down today to present us with a lovely framed photo. We promptly plopped her in the Gambit in which she was soloing in less than ten minutes. At the end of her cruise she expertly docked in the pits with John trotting behind. She wants a boat!

We all know how nature giveth and then taketh awayeth. All Saturday forecasts predict no wind ahead of a warm front due late in the day. It looks rather hopeless for at least a week. Jory and I will be investigating Canada again…Denis? You still there?


 Denis Guertin and his pals had their first day out today:

“We sailed Lac Abenakis today. 2? of snow on 3,5? to 5? of black ice. Very light winds, but just enough to be able to sail (and run!!) and make the fine tuning for the upcoming season. It’s amazing how little wind these boats need to get going. Rain coming up tomorrow, so we won’t be sailing.

If you were to come next weekend, you should be staying at the restaurant Le Morillon in Ste-Aurelie instead of le Club des sportifs. They have 5 rooms, very clean and comfortable. I was told that the other place is old, not very clean with small beds, style “camp beds”. No question, about it, the restaurant Le Morillon is a much better place, according to the people that we met today. The phone number is 418-593-3222.

I keep you posted next week for the ice conditions there.”


Friday’s Plymouth Pond –a few afterthoughts–Dec 2, 2012

Here I am sick in bed on a grey, drizzley Sunday afternoon. Alas, I can’t do the things I did even last year, without paying a higher price for the fun. So I cough away, take medicine, and remember that indeed Friday on Plymouth Pond–turbocharged as it was by still being the iffy month of November–was worth even these days of recovery.

…. I arrived at Plymouth after exactly an hour’s drive, having looked out longingly for the pond for the last 15 minutes. You see it from a mile away, where the road curves, and can immediately assess it’s surface. I could see it was patched grey and white, which was a good sign.
…Bill had arrived a few minutes before, and was bashing his third hole as I drove up. I came this morning, determined more than ever, to have a safe day; especially since Bill had used the words SOLID 1.5? ICE in his blog the day before [I think Jory is having a hard time with this word. What it means is that the thickness is over 1.5″, but not enough to call it 2″. So, in fact, it is a conservative assesment rather than a cocky one. (ed.)] plus an old photo from the archives. I have taken baths on solid 1.5? ice! I was ready for some serious ‘grade inflation’ based on ‘first ice extacy’.

….Bill hollered that he was finding 2.5 ” of ice, and as I stepped out on the stark black and white patches, in the absolutely blinding sun of 9AM, I saw a sort of ice I rarely see: monolithic black ice. There were no air bubbles in this ice, no intermediate layers to reflect an ice junction; just black, black, coal black, jet black, midnight black ice. I pounded with my hatchet: not even three of my strongest blunt-end blasts could bring water seeping to the surface.
…..I was learning that the type of ice is just as important as the thickness. This ice corresponded to perhaps 4? of multi-layered ice. By now we had skated across the pond, joined by our trusty spy Jim McDonald, and found no variation in the ice, except for an area of frozen Canadian Goose poops. The surface was 30% covered by thin, bonded snow, which gave us a slight fluffy drag to our skates in the snowy patches. There was a 4Kn. NW wind, and rather than skate the whole plate and have later to fight upwind, we decided to grab skimbats and sail our exploration. We explored our usual plate which avoids the shallows near the dam at the North end, and only goes South a mile or so to the end of the reed-edged point on the East side. Nowhere was there even a spring, a bird hole, or any sign of trouble.

….So we happily skimbatted back in the light airs, which would probably just barely move an iceboat, and excitedly hauled gear from our cars as Fred Kercheis, Bruce Brown, John Eastman and Lloyd were arriving.
…..Bill rigged first and the boat tore off across wind as he tried to restrain it after taking off the parking brake. A few minutes later, he blasted back into the pits, for some fine-tuning for the lack for steering runner grip, and could barely bleed off enough speed on that fast ice. Obviously, the wind had also built in the interval. Soon, the 6 of us were out there cavorting, tuning, match-racing, making excuses for being passed, until one-by-one we saw the lunch gathering forming on the south-facing far shore, and we settled into food-sharing in the warm, windless, bright noonday sun. Gosh, it was great to be iceboating again!
….In the afternoon we were joined by two strong nordic skaters, plus our new Plymouth spy who has a house overlooking the pond. We discovered that there was an ice junction 500 yards south of the reedy point, which we decided not to bother exploring, since we were happy with the plate we had, and the pond was probably doomed anyway by the week-long thaw ahead. The wind held strong and steady, giving us occasionally those long controlled steady hikes we love so well. The sky remained totally clear with vapor trails and a few cirrus clouds. Sun is so very central to my enjoyment of iceboating. But jeesum it was cold. My face was cold, my hands were marginal, and, two days later, I’m paying the bill.
….After hot chocolate at the Plymouth Store and another hour of iceboating with the wind holding, we came to that moment of reckoning, when you know you have a lot of take-apart ritual and driving ahead, but you just can’t can’t can’t stop. Finally as everyone else was de-rigging, I reluctantly joined them.

…..Later, when the others had pulled away in their cars, I sat, as I often do, on Plymouth’s high bank, in the day’s purple gloaming…. Plymouth Pond. Plymouth Pond. How did we ever hear of Plymouth Pond? This little flower blooms only for an instant; but when it does, our world is filled with beauty.


Plymouth Pond Sunday

FLASH: Dave Fortier and Eric Anderson, The Two Commodores, took a chance and made the drive to Plymouth today. They had to hole up in the car while setting up to let a stray rain shower pass, and then got down to business. We know that Plymouth Pond has it’s own secret micro-climate, so while the wind was howling out of the south every where else, is was calm there. They got the boats wound up just once, and then retreated to a push and glide exercise: checking runners and alignment between the two boats.

The other curious phenomenon was that the temperature never went above freezing until three in the afternoon. Here in Camden it was nearly fifty all day, and Dave said that a curious passerby told him that is was well into the forties where he lived, in nearby Dixmont.

Wednesday seems to be the first night of sub freezing temps here on the coast, so maybe Plymouth will survive the warm spell and come in strong for the weekend.

We will keep you posted.


The Fool’s Errand: Plymouth Pond December 7, 2012

If Plymouth Pond’s ice had simply blown out……If Plymouth Pond’s lovely black, virginal, impeccible, lustrous, endless, unvarying, jet black-and-white checker-boarded, 2.5″ thick, plate……had simply blown out in this mizerable, unfair, endless, day-after-day, bleak, unrelenting, i’m-moving-North, can’t-stand-it thaw of the past 5 days……if yesterday’s spy visit (by that equally ice-crazed eccentric Jim McDonald) had reported waves lapping gently on Plymouth’s sands, as her aach-two-ohhh molecules did their unfair and spiteful polka when they could have been majestically waltzing…..then these two ice hounds of the northern frontier would be sleeping soundly…..

you might wonder what ice hounds actually do….i mean professionally, what do they do….ice hounds think ice, they think wind, they think temperature–past, present, predicted, duration, they think ice texture, ….and at 2:37 AM, while others snore peacefully, their depraved minds are crunching, clickety-click, the countless variables of ice formation and safety…..

and equally they are crunching the just-as-vague and equally frustrating human variables…..their own aging, recent debilitation by sickness, the imperfections of flotation clothing, the ability of one ice hound to keep another in sufficient view, the realities of ice rescue in various ice thicknesses….and they are remembering that it is precisely these conditions: re-frozen ice of varying thickness, punctuated by almost invisible puddles, and nasty drain-hole meteors, which have brought on the shocking hypothermic baths of old….

…..and one particular ice hound is wondering if 5 hours on Plymouth Pond last Friday is less than, equal to, or greater than 5 days in bed, fondling a heating pad against the chills, and cavorting with Azithromycin 500 MG. …hmmm….. 2.5 minutes on the ice = 1 hour in bed…….

Because Plymouth Pond’s ice did not simply blow out….because our spy looked out at 269 acres of ice (yes, matilda, that is the meaning of those little blue numbers printed in the middle of the Gazetteer’s lakes) which, at the landing, measured–bless his soul–exactly 1 and 5/8 inches thick with many suspicious shiny areas on the horizon….because of this…two addicted gamblers are looking down at a very iffy black-jack hand….and scrutinizing the Cosmic Dealer’s mona-lisa smile…….and these gamblers, at exactly 9 AM with mounds of gear, but no iceboats, will be dieselling North on well-travelled route 7, to round that final curve, pull on cleats, claws, and helmets….and test again the eternal, gurgling springs of ice optimism.

there is really nothing else to do….i mean professionally…..

hmmm…..unexpected bombs were falling at almost exactly this time…71 years ago….and because of my birth 6 months earlier….my father had the required two children which kept him from active service….hmmm….fate


checking ice is like praying–Dec 7, 2012

Checking Ice on Alford Lake c. 2009

Bill and I rolled around that final curve just at 10 today, and Plymouth Pond looked at least icy and not watery in the morning’s windless overcast and teens temperature. I raced Bill to get ready, but he was already stepping gingerly on the frozen mish-mash near the shore of the landing. The ice was a creaky 2? which gave every indication of trouble as we tip-toed over its surface. Away from shore, it was no better, so we had our moment of truth: for the first time in our lives we would NOT push the limits of unsafe ice. We drove around by car to the far side of the pond, to explore the eastern end of the “crack and brash ice” line which crossed the pond E-W 500 yards south of the dam area, but in the dense cedar tangle of the far shore, we could not approach the crack. This crack looked like a pressure ridge, but obviously the ice wasn’t mature enough to form one.

So, priding ourselves on our new-found caution, we headed for home, which takes you along the western side of the pond. “let’s have a look at it here, Bill said, just as the road was finally leaving the pond. I stomped on the brakes and found a pull-off. we worked our way down the steep bank, and, supported by a tree-limb, inched across the ice with ice-checking gear. Hooray! beautiful 3? ice, which had a faint orange-peel 9.7 grade black surface and occasional 1.5? healed drain holes. As we worked our way South along the shore, always able to see the bottom, the ice never showed less than 2.5?. This was clearly the original ice of the pond, and that which we had seen at the landing, had been blown open in the thaw, and then refrozen in the temperature variations of the early week. This original ice was much stronger, but still not strong; so we donned nordic skates and skated, in close company, dreamily south checking as we went.

Blows with the axe sent serious white cracks propagating left and right, out of sight, and water would usually erupt at the second blow….ice extacy was gripping us… but, working to keep our wits intact, we carefully skated south along the shore, and, swallowing hard, headed across the pond to reedy point, finally breathing a sigh of relief when we could again see the bottom. Still, even though the first signs of the predicted southerly wind, perhaps snow laden, were appearing; and the lure of a good skimbatt session was taxing our minds, we decided to retrace our skate scars back across the pond, and be sage grown-ups. As we crossed one long N-S crack, Bill could feel the ice, weakened by the crack, dip and rebound.

So now we must watch and wait. If this minefield is snowed upon, it would become a real heffalump trap. If it remains clear of snow though, another night of teens temperatures might give the southern half of the pond, south of the E-W crack, the final push into a tentative safety zone. the day was brightening as we reluctantly left the ice. willy-nilly, we had had a smooth and magical skate, skating soundlessly on top of our clear clear reflections. i couldn’t resist a little good-by ice-kiss: So long, my love, i hope we see you tomorrow.


Plymouth Again!

In these early season times, the goal has always been to grow ice. We want the nights in the single digits or low teens that will grow nearly an inch of black ice in twenty-four hours. In no time at all we have strong thickness and the issue then becomes one of surface: will the snow wet out? Will the slush freeze, etc?

But this month the game has been to just hang on to what we got, cause what we got, it ain’t a lot. We’ve had two to two and a half inches on Plymouth for nearly ten days,
many of those days well above freezing, with rain, and nights in the high twenties. Holding pattern weather, just.

It’s no good for boats yet, but we had a fabulous day with skimbats. The ice was spring-like, showing evidence of deep warming. In fact, by noon today the surface was softening to the point where we were breaking the surface. With only two inches under that soft stuff we counted our blessings and left.

But what sailing: a perfectly steady ten knot NW breeze, and the area we’d scouted gave us an up-wind downwind course along the west shore, and then across to the marshes for the same. We checked out the middle of the lake, but found many skimmed over drain holes that were difficult to see and would easily swallow a runner. Standing up and sailing was ok, but in the rush of a great peel off you could easily drop a foot in and break a leg. So we hugged the shore, sailing deep, with short quick gybes to stay powered up. The sun shone, and all was well with the world.

More rain forecast, maybe snow, who knows, but Wednesday and Thursday will be clear and cold with respectable temps overnight. We could be sailing boats on Thursday: pencil it in!



Plymouth Survives and Thrives

Early morning Ice Spy MacDonald found a vast grey orange peel surface on Plymouth this morning. Drain holes appear to be well healed and the main plate much thicker. We don’t have actual thickness data, but as there is no wind forecast for today we will go sailing and scouting tomorrow. There is no snow in the near future, so we may be able to have good sailing through the weekend.

Come sail tomorrow if you can, and on the weekend, too.


a great morning on plymouth 12-13-12

Bill and I arrived on Plymouth just before 9, and found the surface strongly orange-peeled, almost pebbled, but clear of snow, and quite nice skating, with the ice gripping the skates firmly in turns.

in the large, clear areas, involving almost the whole pond, the ice was 3?-4? thick:

with occasional healed cracks which could be skated over:

Since there was no wind to sail on, Bill went back home to work and Lloyd and John arrived, the latter with his ice-bicycle:

Here is the largest skimmed hole 1.5? thick ice

so we had a lovely morning skating, sometimes being towed on skates, by John on his ice-bicycle, water-skiing style, and later lunching on the far shore.

We are excited by the good winds predicted for this Saturday, the lack of snow between now and then, and two cold nights to heal some of the hazards noted. This could spell some great iceboating. Jory



Weekend Ice Boating on Plymouth

Just to add a bit of urgency to Jory’s post, it will be a great weekend of sailing. The Nova Scotia guys are coming Sunday, some southern New Englanders will come, so we might have a little scratch racing. We will probably take a big gulp and launch the new Monotype XV, known as “Fast Piece of Furniture”, on Saturday.

Snow forecast has been pushed back to Monday, sunshine, good temps and breezes for the weekend.


Plymouth Pond, 12/15

We couldn’t have had better conditions for a Saturday in December. A kindly yet firm NW wind that never quit. it was still blowing when we packed up at sunset, which is when you’d like a break from it! The sun shone, the ice was excellent with no bad spots.

There were nearly twenty boats and lots of people. A couple of skate sailors, a Lockly, and two just-from-the-barn DN’s. Al Heath from Bath brought his well worn Sunfish powered triangle riding on angle iron runners. Dave and Kristen Buckly are back, although spending this winter in Newport, RI instead of Maine. How many yachties do you know that head *north* for the winter? Curtis from Peaks Island gets the difficult storage prize: he leaves his car on the mainland and takes the ferry home, so he simply stores the DN on the roof of the car. I suppose it must stay there all winter!

Eric, T, Eben, Fortier, Doug Raymond and some others spent the day racing, getting in at least five races for the Commodore Cup. We will post results when they are official. Thanks to all of you for tolerating we civilians playing on the course and following the fleet…

Tomorrow is forecast light and variable, but there will be DN racing. All DN’s are encouraged to attend, if for no other reason than to improve skills. Sunday night snow is coming so tomorrow is probably it for a while. We’ve had a terrific early December run thus far and expect our good luck to hold well into March.


Commodore’s Cup, Plymouth Pond, 12/15

Seven DN”s managed to get off six two-lap races on Plymouth Pond this past Saturday. Dave Buckley showed up with one of T’s old boats that he had re-built, and Doug Raymond came out of semi-retirement to enjoy a few races.

There was a small crash at the weather mark during the last race. The inside boat was forced down into the mark by the outside boat bearing off too soon. The fouled boat wound up with a bent runner, but the sailors were ok. As always, best to sail defensively even when you have the right of way.

Thanks to Kristin Buckley for scoring and taking pictures.

1st: James T Thieler #5224 12 pts.

2nd: Oliver Moore #5469 14 pts.

3rd: Eric Anderson #5193 23 pts.

4th: Eben Whitcomb #4775 25 pts.

5th: Dave Buckley #4500 29 pts.

6th: Dave Fortier #4690 31 pts.

7th: Doug Raymond # 4272 37 pts.


Video From Last Weekend, New Boat

First time sailor Curtis Rindlaub made this excellent video on Plymouth Pond last Saturday:

Meanwhile, waiting for the ice to return, Apache Boatworks is building a hull and mast for Cody Sisson. It’s a front seat C Skeeter which Cody plans to have on the ice this winter.


Sailing ON For Tomorrow

We have not inspected Plymouth personally, but based on drive-by reports and recent cold snap are fairly certain that we can squeeze another day out of the old Pond. As there is another mixed bag storm approaching Wednesday night, future prospects look dim. The forecast offers us sunshine and NW wind 10-15. How better to burn off all those Christmas Calories?


a bright boxing day on Plymouth Pond–Dec 26, 2012

what a great day to recover from indoor christmas rituals….the sun shone bright on good old plymouth pond….the wind was light, but enough to give occasional thrills and frustrations….and, surprisingly, lots of folks showed up….

note the ice surface….

pictured here at the lunch break were, scott woodman’s outlaw for the first time on ice this year; bill buchholz’s whizz, jory’s icywood-dn, then Scott, who came with his iceboat all the way from Madison, Wisconsin, via a visit to his parents in the portland area, and finally Denis Guertin who came with his brother Yves, from Saint Georges, Quebec, where local ponds are thoroughly snowed out. Both brothers have fast DN’s, and would have given any scratch racers a good run. Knowing them, has added a wonderful northern dimension to our club.

Then there were the skaters Jim MacDonald, Bruce Brown, and Len, a Christmas tree farmer, now freed up from his job. Then the skimbatters, Scott carleson with two sons, Cam lewis with two, Dicky Saltonstall with two. Plus a few others I’m sure I’ve forgotten….

the ice was generally 6-7? thick with a beautiful surface; and the day was one of those days when you just got stoned on being there, no matter what happened. At one point, I sailed to the far south end, glided to a stop, and fell into a blissful post-christmas trance. it was sooo quiet, sooo sunny….and there was no christmas candy nearby….

I just can’t imagine life without this great pond….Coming home last week after our 5th day there, I admit I was ‘plymouthed out’…..but then 9 days later, that iceboating libido came back and i was so glad to be back….

when the wind lightened up about 1PM, Bruce Brown and i donned skates and toured the entire length of the pond, without fear of a windy return….Bruce is a late-50?s retired pedriatrition, wearing antique hockey skates, who luckily was a good skater, as we dodged the rounded scabs near the shores. what a treat,talking in the silence, as we swayed side by side, stroke by stroke, in the calm sunny weather, feeling only that slight apparent headwind which means no true wind…finally we got to the far south of the pond, further than i’ve ever been, where the muskrat wetlands encroach on both sides and the pond emerges from it’s southern riverine beginnings. here, the ice became rough in the reedy shallows and we were occasionally skating on the clear windowpane patches of the last nightly freezes. with my trusty ice hatchet not in its holster, i was unwilling, as Buchholz does, to test the thickness with the back of my precious nordic skates, so Bruce and I reluctantly headed north. Otherwise, i’m sure we would have skated forever….

Now a big storm is due, so we’ll call Tim Smith, our trusty spy first thing in the morning, and see what color pond he sees….grey means get up there quick for a last bash, before the snow. white means…..well….back to bed…..

as always, THINK ICE…..jory|

New Year’s Day: Pass that Christmas Candy!

This season has been good to us so far. The Black Ice Frolics of November and December have yielded 8 days on the ice, six of them at Plymouth Pond. But when we get snowed out, when the dreaded ‘middle season’ begins–and it’s begun in spades here in Maine–we hope for one of two situations for each lake or pond.

We hope the pond in question has been open water through the snows, and will then freeze quickly in windless weather, giving us a second cycle of true black ice. Or we hope that the snow will fall on safe, thick-enough, uniform-enough ice so we can trust the fact that we can’t see hazards through the snow cover, and then, as soon as the surface improves, we’re off!

I came down to Megunticook this new year’s morning, hoping to see window-pane black ice, since i knew the lake was open last week. Alas, checking three locations, I found that unsafe situation of snow covering variable ice conditions. It was heatbreaking, although mitigated by the fabulous X-C skiing conditions, which abound near here.

The wind was 15 knots NW, and I could imagine Bill and I, clothed in the immortality of just a few seasons ago, setting up boats and having a total blast, against the odds. Alas, the boring wisdom of older age….

Happy New Year to all….jory


Doc Fellows ON for Squam on Saturday

DOC FELLOWS REGATTA and directions

The 2013 Doc Fellows regatta is called ON for the weekend of January 5 and 6.

The regatta will be sailed on Squam lake in Sandwich New Hampshire with access from
the Sandwich public beach, address: 533 Squam Lake Road, Center Sandwich, NH.

Reports from our reliable New Hampshire ice spotter Randy Rice are of miles of 4.5” of black ice.

We are looking for a scorer so if you’d like to volunteer and learn by observing contact me at 401 258 6230.

Skippers meeting will be 0930 Saturday morning at the launch sight with racing starting at 1030. Up to seven races
will be held on Saturday. We will have either another regatta or at the very least scratch racing on Sunday.

The forecast looks ideal. See you all there.

Oliver Moore, Regatta Chairman


Looking for the Motherlode: Damariscotta Jan 3, 2013

At 6 AM the computer computed that the weather would feel like -10 degrees F. with the still air at 2 degrees F. and a north wind blowing. So when Lloyd and I stepped out on Damariscotta’s moonscape at 10:30 AM, we each had on every piece of gear on that promised warmth. My body count was 22 items.

We were tingley with excitement: With the local lakes looking like an iceman’s nightmare, Damariscotta–that lake of such vivid memories– was our only hope. Near shore the lake was a swirl of sculpted snow, wetted snow, crusted snow, scabs, moles, warts, implosions, excresences, and smooth black windowpanes. Uggggg. Ah, but out on the southern horizon was a tiny band of black which didn’t sparkle in the bright morning sun, the way open water would. This just could be the motherlode of our dreams: miles of new black ice.

The rough snow/ice measured 5 inches and the beautiful windowpanes of black ice measured 2?. We donned our skates and carefully skated south across the moonscape. A half mile out, our pulses quickened, as the black line was now clearly visible as ice, not water, and had nothing beyond it. It had to be an enormous plate, and we finally stood on its edge ready to bong our axes down.

Horror! The axe passed thru its smooth black 1/4? with narry a slowdown. A squirrel could have marched across it, but a cat would have taken a bath.

Sadly, we returned north, favoring little smooth skates on the windowpanes, when suddenly Lloyd noticed that a transverse crack did not continue across it’s neighboring pane. He tested the latter and, though it looked exactly like all the others, it was 5/8? thick and even open!

We counted our blessings to have spotted it, and gingerly skated back only on the frozen snow.
Damariscotta will definitely need two more cold mornings at least, to thicken the big motherlode, and heal the small hefalump traps guarding it. But then….then….slot-machine’s wheels may finally align on JACKPOT!


Chickawaukee Ice Jan 4,2013

Chicky skated and biked Friday AM. The scary looking black patches are 4-6 inches, mostly 6. Under snow patches we found nothing less than 2 1/2 inches.
Widely scattered snow patches 2-3 inches deep, firm, slow you down if you sail through them. Most of surface finely rippled frozen slush and underlying black ice total 5-6 inches, 4 near my beach. The surface is skatable but not really enjoyable on skates, better than Damariscotta, should be not bad in ice boat with some rattles where wind blown near black ice patches. Shouldl be sort of fun avoiding the rattles and following glassy black ice patches. Racers might be disappointed.
Good access at Lloyd’s beach. 140 Porter St off Rte 17 across from Green Thumb plant polace, number on mail box, drive to beach if with boat, otherwise park in driveway. Public ramp on Rte 17 has 5 foot snow plow drift plugging launch ramp, probably ice fishermen will move that.



Ice Conditions and Sailing 1/5, Monotype Launch

Lake Damariscotta ain’t good for nuthin’…….except Skimbats!

Too rough for boats, too tough for skating, but with a wing and a prayer the whole plate becomes an epic terrain park. Lumps of hard snow become moguls and now you’re an alpine skier choosing your line and just carving them up. A bunch of short quick turns on one tack, find an opening and gybe, and then more turns. Powered by a steady twenty knots there was power to spare.
Our mission was to measure the progress of the large central plate of black ice in the center of the lake. The surrounding snow ice terrain park was six inches so the only risk there was not slamming into an obstruction. Several deep reaches brought us to the edge of the new plate. Jory chopped through in a few places and found two and a quarter. If this was November in Plymouth we’d have been all over that plate, but way out in the middle of Damariscotta with the wind howling and surrounded by all that challenging surface, we decided to circumnavigate it instead.

We worked our way around the north end and bore away for a fast reach down the far side. This is when we realized that we wouldn’t be sailing boats here any time soon. There are old busted up snow ice bergs re-frozen, laid in a grout of black ice. Some chunks stuck up, others down, so we tiptoed across, crossing a couple of small pressure ridges for good measure.

On the beat back up the other side we saw the pressure ridge that neatly divided in two the new plate of black ice. Pressure ridges also divvied up the lovely reach inside the islands along the west side. These were a mere hop and a skip with a wing, but would have a boat for lunch.

Meanwhile, guys had set up boats on Chickawaukee and had a fine time dukeing it out with the shifty Northwester. The ice there is fast but rough. We will be sailing there tomorrow in lighter air, and plan to launch the new Monotype XV sternsteerer. The public launch ramp has now been cleared, but all are welcome at Lloyds.


Chickawaukee Sailing 1/6

Chicky gets the coveted Good Housekeeping Approval for seemingly bulletproof ice after being sailed Saturday Jan 5. A good deal of attention was paid to the scary clear black “holes” that dot the otherwise finely rippled frozen slush surface with occasional 2-3 inch thick wind hardened snow patches covering 3 inch black ice. The rest of the ice is 5-6 inches, snow/black. To go swimming you would need to cut a hole. No pressure ridges. Overall grade 6 due to some rough ripples.

Just sailing around was enjoyable, avoiding snow patches and worst of ripples. Trying to catch up to bunting in sort of racing mode was no fun, didn’t want to go as fast as possible, the quality of the ride deteriorated. Racing might not be much fun.

The emergence of the Monotype “Fast Piece of Furniture” Sunday will be worth a visit, it is elegant standing still.

  1. Iceman


Monotype XV Launch 1/7

We launched US-3 today On Lake Chikawaukee, christened “FAST PIECE OF FURNITURE”, and had some fine sailing on an inch of snow over good ice. The boat handles very well, is comfortable, and really wants to go! The day ended much too soon, as I had a date to see an excellent film called Chasing Ice, about the melting of the glaciers. There are amazing images of all kinds of ice, a subject we iceboaters hold in fascination. Highly recommended!

Note the cool underglow lights…

Lloyd did manage to roll under that boom during jibes and tacks. Bill.


Snow On Chicky

Sunday snow about 1 inch very light fluffy stuff, easily sailed through. Sunday night another dusting at 3 AM with nothing in sight on radar. Should be OK sailing Monday perhaps degrading ice to 6-. It may be the only game this side of Golden Pond.



Epiphany Jan 6, 2013: Forever Young

morning….the snow falls lazily in large flakes….not a touch of wind….it obliterates the evidence, but not the vivid memory, of yesterday on Darmiscotta….as we carefully picked our way across the jigsaw puzzle of dazzling white icecakes in a bed of black ice, exactly idling our skimbats into the howling wind…..if we lost those sails, 2 miles of lake lay to leeward…..and the four wide horizons were bounded only by far-off land…..any mis-step and rescue seemed unthinkable….”big ice”….my pulse quickens with the words…

as the snow descends, i remember that this morning Bill and i were to drive to Squam lake and, while iceboating there, possibly stay with Stu Nelson. We saw Stu, finally slowed by aging, selling off iceboats and gear at the fall swap meet. He now has downsized houses and his spare room is, alas, filled with boxes….

epiphany means a time of sudden intuitive realization….and this morning i realize how much i continually learn from many of the older members of our club….learn about remaining ‘forever young’…..it’s not about longevity….but remaining young in spirit while the hourglass empties….

there are many wonderful role models around me….but i think of Stu, and Lloyd, and Fred Wardwell who are particularly close at hand….and dylan’s song comes naturally to mind. the third verse runs:

may your hands always be busy
may your feet always be swift
may you have a strong foundation
when the winds increase and shift
may your heart always be joyful
may your song always be sung
and may you stay……forever young.

stu nelson on winni

I always like the way Joan Baez does that song…



Massabesic Lake, NH

All reports sing the praise of this lake’s back ice, so Squibb and Buchholz will be there sailing tomorrow. We’d love to have some company. Light air forecast.


“Chercher La Glace”–Massabesic and Sunapee Jan 8-9, 2013

Bill arrived at my house at 6AM pulling his ‘whizz’ in a trailer and we loaded my Icywood-DN on his roof and proceeded South at 615AM, just as the day was lightening. It was our first ‘chercher la glace’ trip in two years. Last season, our local ice kept up happy, and the rest of New England had little; so we sadly didn’t have one of these wonderful ‘punctuation marks’ to our season. I thought, as I imagined the weary miles ahead, that we were leaving absolutely nothing sailable behind us; but Bill mentioned that our local pond, Chickawaukee, would probably be good sailing today. “Why don’t we just turn around and sail it?” I asked. There it was: the tug of the comfortable routine, which so limits our later years. But Bill, 15 years my junior, would have none of it.

And thank heaven! When we stepped on Massabesic’s black gold only three and a half hours later, I immediately sensed we were in another world. Near Maine’s coast, ice almost never freezes as a block. The ballet of freeze and thaw and wind and snow, usually gives us some sort of mixed ice. But this year Massabesic, near Manchester NH, had frozen quickly, consistently, and walking out from the little Yacht Club there, I looked down through 5.5? of clear black ice to the pebbled bottom. This was ice you would ship around the world for cocktails a century ago. As we began to set up in the windless bright sun, we were soon joined by Joel, Bob, Walt, and Craig, each setting up a fascinating, often home-built one-off boat.

What unfolded was one of those magic days which, only a few precious times, grace our season. There are a few elements, none absolutely essential, but which add cumulatively to the magic: Bright, sunny skies; amazing ice; new friends; interesting boats; a lovely hang-out and chat spot; some close, screechingly fast match-racing; and beautiful, interesting, secluded, almost surreal scenery.

We first passed the pressure ridge by its north end, and minimally explored its south end–just enough to see how dynamic and open and scary that end was. An ice flyer had taken a bath there, with injury to both pilot and boat, the day before. Then, we turned south and, to our wondrous eyes, gradually a sort of primeval bay, back-lit by the 10 AM sun, dotted with strange rocks and little islands, opened up before our bow runners. Bill and I stopped near each other…..we had to…..and thanked our stars…..and thanked the perseverance–the simple keeping on keeping on–which had brought us to this new and exciting place.

jory kissing the sweet young ice

two graceful skaters join us at “Hang-Out” Island. That they were on hockey skates, testifies to the amazing ice quality.
Boats left to right: Jory’s Icywood, Bob’s homebuilt with Arrow sail, Joel’s DN, and Bill’s Whizz.


weary hands…
drop the sail….
we’ve lived the tale….
to carry to the shore….
as runners sing no more….
nor strain against the gale…

and the lake….
bids good-by….
the purple sky….
darkens on the joys…
a day out with the boys….
now ending with a sigh…

…..by now the ice had a 1/4? of water and slush slowing its glide, as i loaned lcywood to Paul DeNiro, who had trouble winding up his ancient free skate in the lightening winds. Boatless, I took the passenger seat in Walt’s immaculate Arrow. Finally with the wind in its last gasp, Pierre LeTourneau helped us on our way to spend the night in Martha Goodnow’s home nearby. If you’ve ever shaken hands with Martha, Fred Wardwell’s daughter, you’ve immediately sensed you’re meeting someone warm and unusual, and now getting acquainted with the whole family, confirmed that wonderful first impression.

By 9 AM we were setting up on cloudy, windless Sunapee, where the ice looked just as good as Massabesic. Ever since Wayne Fortier’s death, I’ve had a prejudice, nay, even a spooky feeling, about Sunapee; so I was glad to add a fresh chapter to my history there. And what a chapter it turned out to be! We were joined by Art Menard, Ron Buzzell, Al Peterson, Kate Marrone, and a potpouri of others. The wind came up just as we finished setting up, and we were eager to explore every inch of this vast, almost-but-not-really Winni-sized lake. We slowly helped our runners across the long pressure ridge to the north, and entered the vast, island-studded body of the lake.

We then saw a band of brash ice, too rough to sail across, so we prospected it carefully. As we walked back to our boats, having hatched a plan, i knew i wanted to say something to Bill, but hesitated a split second because i knew it was something we men were not supposed to say. Bill and I had been talking about how lucky we were to find this amazing situation. I told him that our real luck lay deeper: in having each other, having just one other person equally committed, equally crazy, and equally available–to do the things we would not do alone. i was relieved that bill did not push this idea away, but said that when he heard about these NH lakes two days ago, he knew there was only one other person in the club who would immediately, instinctively, say yes to the trip……

we pushed carefully across the belt of brash ice, heading downwind with sail sheeted tight, and, as the sun lent a pale yellow glow behind the clouds, and mountains bordered the horizons, and 4.5″ of slightly bubbled, deep green-black, window-smooth, but partially snow-patched magic held us suspended; iceboating went into that surreal over-drive it sometimes does…..we were ready to sail on forever to the very edge of the planet.

alas, it was not to be. about 2 miles later, heading downwind to the North in increasingly variable winds, chasing without progress the far horizon, exploring each of the jigsaw pressure ridges as they appeared, chopping holes to check thickness….the day-long wind Bill kept boasting about….. totally totally pooched!

here we are, windless, about to turn around. we tried to photograph the surface close-up, but its beauty defied our efforts

…. there we were, miles and miles from home…. the warming, bonded snow patches drove us nuts…..me, unable to push well with my cleats worn smooth after half a season’s use…..but….as we aborted our exploration, and now struggled south…i was about to face the worst experience an iceboater can possibly have, short of swimming: seeing Bill, only a few hundred yards ahead of me to the south gathering speed and cavorting, sporting, proudly blasting about, for a full 20 minutes while, in a separate mysterious micro-climate, I pushed and cursed.

finally, we recrossed the brash ice belt, in the slowly-increasing wind, and again found powerful winds opposite the launch….Here I began match-racing with Ron in his identical icywood-DN and Art Menard in his finely-tuned DN. It was a close match. There’s a wonderful story here. Ron nursed his lovely wife Carol-Anne thru cancer, giving up iceboating, and when, alas, she passed on, he had Bill Buchholz build him an icywood-DN. With his new boat, named for his late wife, he restarted his beloved passion. Meanwhile, Art was growing older down in Rhode Island, and widower Ron, annually goes down to RI, picks up Art FOR THE SEASON, and they break records of days-sailed on Sunapee. If you met 84 year old Art, you’d wonder if his trembly hands could hold a coffee-cup. Yet, prone in a DN, this man is again a teenager! This kind of tenderness and spirit, in both men….just brings you to a quiet speechlessness….

this is Art Menard, 84, or is it 34?

thinking of the long trip home, we reluctantly starting de-commissioning at 2PM, a departure made easier by the dying wind….and after another round of tire-kicking, and finishing off some baked goodies which had somehow escaped our notice, we hit the long trail home. our “chercher la glace” ramble had somehow been another home-run.

I don’t know what weather is coming up, dear buddies, but the ice on both these lakes it almost certain to survive. By all means, keep track of them, and see if you can enjoy their beauty…..



Punky Chicky ice

We are in our third day of above freezing temps 24 hrs a day, two more coming until Thursday night when down to single numbers. The thaw has done wonders to the surface, snow all gone, most snow ice gone, ice thickness down from 8 inches to 6 and sometimes 4 of rather soft black ice, not pencils yet, 2 inches on a couple of old holes. Interestingly the moored ice boats’ horses are not sinking into the ice, almost standing proud. I guess the warm air is melting the top off slowly and the water is just sinking into soft ice. N o doubt it is melting up from the bottom also.

Does iceman want to sail on this premature Spring ice right now? No. Nice little breeze here Monday AM though.
We have sailed on punkier ice at Mallett’s Bay but it was over a foot thick, you could bury the axe head at the launch ramp, the natives stayed off it, we probably should have too, but we had driven 7 hours to get there.
Winter returns Thursday night, should be good for weekend if not too much in the way of snow showers. Be patient.



megunticook is looking lovely–tuesday, jan 15, 2013

testing ice at bog bridge this morning at 7AM, I found 7-9? of mixed quality ice….certainly safe to use, but with a surface which might slush a little in the afternoon…..i walked out beyond bog bay, beyond codman rock, where there was an ice junction a week ago.

there the ice turned dark grey with bubbles, and semi-transparent…..surface is 8-8.3 quality….very skatable, and iceboatable

to more accurately describe the ice quality, it goes like this: you were sure you had things to do, places to go, people to meet. On seeing the ice, it immediately became clear:

you DID have things to do: get the gear;
places to go: megunticook, chicky, or damariscotta;
people to meet: other ice fanatics…..

alas, light air predicted….double alas, snow coming tomorrow….

bill and i will be skating megunticook at 10AM from Davy Jones…..come join us if you’re local…..the wind seems too light for iceboats…..



Chickawaukee Ice Tuesday

Chicky has made good recovery despite anemic coolth, high 30?s overnight. Biked all but SW corner which is uncomfortably rough. 6 inches ice black or white everywhere except right along eastern shore and Western highway shore. Ice has firmed up amazingly. About grade 6 due to rough areas. very gentle Easterly breeze, John E. to try out his Mead at noon.

We might get rain enough to not be wiped out tomorrow, 100% likelyhood of precipitation by forecast but temps in mid thirties at RKD airport. Hope springs eternal.



Very Nice Ice

Just one cool night, not even wicked cold, turned the soft slush of Megunticook into six inches of solid ice. The surface is mystical with frozen crop circles, made by a Maker with a sick sense of humor as we’re scheduled for a healthy dump of snow in the next 24 hours and there wasn’t a breath of wind today. Mt.Washington reported west at 17: basically nothing!

Our hope is that Chickawaukee-by-the-sea will be spared the white stuff, but a couple of us are looking further afield and note that the mature ice west of the storm track will remain. We’re looking at Lake Memphremagog specifically. It will be sailed tomorrow and reported, with up-dates here.

Check the oil and tire pressure and stand by for a Road Trip!


The Love Triangle–Jan 16, 2013

6AM….roll out of bed…can’t stand the suspense….has winter’s leprosy infected the ground?….hooray!….same old black driveway…dash to wunderground.com and click on the radar map…..press “oldest” and see where the snow was at midnight, and then, pushing “next”, watch it in every succeeding period until it hovers a mere hour away from being damnably overhead. Wind 7 knots…..hooray! a tiny tiny window….

Putting every scheduled item aside, I call and wake bill up…..how can he possibly be in bed?…..i desperately need him to tip my teeter-todder fully into “crazy” or “sanity”…..bill will have none of it….no wind in his trees….a fool’s errand to haul skates and skimbats to the lake and see the first snowflakes falling like plumb-bobs….I hear Kalla shout in the background, ” Go back to bed!”

Its the same boring love triangle…..Ice-abella languishes lonely on her feather-bed…..if only handsome but fickle Windalot, would show up for a glorious romp before her curmudgeon husband Snowbert comes back from his business trip…..Tarnation!….he’s just called from the airport, but plans to meet fishing buddies first at the cafe…..there might just be time….if only Windalot would get his XXX’s over here….call him on the cell…..alas, his car is out of gas and he’s overdrawn at the bank….Hell’s Bells!


Friday Ice Report–Jan 18, 2013

Dear Ice Buddies,

Mother Nature is teaching us patience: we have no news of sailable ice over this weekend…Ron Buzzell reports 3″ of snow on Sunapee over ice he’s not too trusting of. Tom Childs reports Sebago is keeping to its usual President’s Day opening, and Watchic, a local favorite, is snowed out.

Jamie Hess, our nordic skater spy, says that recent snows haven’t spared anything he’s aware of. Denis Guertin HAS NOT called with any exciting news from Memphremagog, a big lake on the Canadian border we’ve been watching; and we know he would have called if anything remotely resembling sailable ice had been spotted.

Our local venues, I suspect, are crispy styrofoam in the 6 degree morning temp. I’ll be out there on skiis before long…

so it’s a weekend to ski, and wait…..unless one of you has found a little secret something….in which case we hope you will immediately leave a comment on this website….

as always, think ice…..jory


Chicky Miracle?

Much of Thursday’s snow wetted out and froze last night, now with 1/2 inch or less loose sugary coating, especially over North half, greyer toward center and Rcokland ice to South. (The microclimate on the lake is different from Rockport and changes about at the Rockland town line, warmer there near the big city.)

Under the loose sugar is a finely rough surface that ice boat runners should bridge easily but likely would make skating tedious. Right now at 10:30 AM it is 10 F with a nice little breeze, likely 8-10, I believe sailable. Probably the snow will thin by evaporation with the sun and breeze.
Chance of light snow Saturday but plenty of wind around 20 or so SW and warming up some, Sunday ditto wind and snow but warmer. Not much mud on lawn today.



Chicky Ice Sailed 1/18 Afteernoon

Ice much better than it looks, grade 7 over most of center of lake without snow. Snow in North end but not too deep to sail. Very cold.

Weather forecast changing to warmer from earlier AM forcast. Storm sail winds from SW with snow/?rain likely in PM. Sunday warmer yet with rain possible, still plenty of wind. Warmth and rain might melt any snow from Saturday, who knows?

A quick storm sail dash in Morning might be in order. Check radar in AM.



Chickawaukee Ice Sunday/Monday

We have sailed Chicky Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with varying amounts of snow but now it is all gone. The warm 40 degree winds melted all the snow leaving some puddles less than 1 inch deep. The big deep cold front that has been forecast to grip us from the far Northland has been slow in coming. Sunday afternoon the temps were still around 40, the wind was irregular SW, sometimes none, sometimes plenty but nothing like the 40-50 mph gusts forecast.

Hopefully we will get the cold tonight to solidify the puddles. If so by Monday we will have some pretty nice ice for this time of year, forecast at grade 7-8. Lloyd’s lawn should be hard and the public beach is also in good shape. We don’t know what the “caution” tape at the launch ramp means, I guess no cars. Trailers should be no problem. Don’t rush to get on the ice by sunup, it should be cold and still windy with wind decreasing in late morning. We hope to see you on the ice Monday.



gathering on Chicky for monday

A bunch of us are planning to give Chicky a try on Monday….prediction is for winds is 22 MPH diminishing thru the day….temps in teens….ice, lloyd says, is approx grade 7…..but…..mainly….we’re HUNGRY…..come join us…..jory


R U Icing Today?

R U Icing Today?

Dont shirk!
And be a jerk!

Come on out!
Raise a shout!

If not….Forsooth!
I speak the truth:

You’ll sing in June
The “Shouldda” tune


1/21 Lake Chickawaukee

…..before heading for our rendezvous on Chicky this morning, I walked out from Bog Bridge on Megunticook out to Fernald’s Neck. I knew, from sailing Chicky on Sunday, that the latter would be a quite good surface, and Megunticook, while sailable, was notably less smooth….

The puddles had fully healed in the 12 degree temperature, but the snow ice was more noticeable….So, although, I love and prefer Megunticook, I was now ready to throw in my lot with the gang on Chicky…..Besides, iceboating is almost as much about community as it is about the joy of sailing itself….
And Chicky had absolutely luscious ice, with a wind in the high teens, when I arrived there about 830AM….I re-hoisted my storm sail, left there the night before, and cruised around alone, gradually remembering Chicky’s frustrating wind patterns in todays NW wind. Gradually a large gang of ice fanatics arrived and we had one of those amazing days which stone you to your very soul, when there is absolutely no other hobby to compare. Here is the list of suspects:
Lloyd, of course, played host, and built a fire for cocoa
Bill Buchholz rigged and sailed his “Fast Piece of Furniture”
Frank Able sailed his beautiful gambit, built by Randy Rice
Jory Squibb in the fast and rugged Icywood DN
the indomitable Fred Wardwell sailed his new Gambit acquired from Stu Nelson
Paul Delnero from New Hampshire repaired and sailed his DN from the public landing
John Eastman, with his Mead in the shop, sailed his gambit. Bunting sailed his very well tuned Nite
Mark Hannibal skimbatted long and hard in the powerful wind
Scott Woodman, slowed by a troublesome back, crewed for Bill in Fast Furniture
Dave Fortier had his speeding bullet, the orange DN
Curtis Rindlaub from Peak’s Island sailed his DN and took pictures and videos.
Ben Fuller had his antique stern steerer Tipsy out for the first time this season >

Here is the Furniture with Curtis taking pictures.

Here is the lunch crowd: John E, Mark Hannibal, Scott the Guy and Bill Bunting, Lloyd, Bill Buchholz, Curtis Rindlaub.

Much of the excitement was generated by Fast Piece of Furniture, a reference to a woman of easy virtue, which was in her second shakedown. She has a wicked turn of speed, is a little faster than a DN, and makes a very dramatic spin-out on occasion, with an absolute avalanche of ice chips. Bill sailed her both crewed and alone. Aside from the two flickers, she behaved very well. The seating is comfortable, and the big steering wheel gives plenty of leverage so the steering is very slow and easy. You know exactly how Barney Oldfield must have felt with all that power at hand through those large wheels. With the double ended sheet, the passenger can either work as the sheet trimmer, like Fortier, or let the skipper do the work and just marvel at the whole thing and take video, like Curtis. As the skipper, being relieved of sheet tending duties is a great relief: all you need to do is drive her around and nod to the crew when it’s time to tack. Some get it, others don’t, but no one had their head taken off. For most sailors graduated from DN’s, ducking under the boom is second nature. The downside of the double ended sheet is when the skipper lets out his end every now and then just to ease things a bit and the crew hauls back on his end eventually all the skipper has is a knot at the end of the line. This is where faith in the crew comes in…

It was a day to go very very fast, if you wanted, with great ice and wind in the high teens and sometimes gusty. We were also visited by Lauren, who runs an Inn right on Chicky….see lakewatchmanor.com or call 706 6424. You can probably keep your iceboat right out in front, since the inn is right on the lake.

As is the pattern this year, snow is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow. It might not be much, and will be dry, so it may disappear by the weekend. Keep thinking, and searching for, ICE! Jory


an insomniac’s guide to weather–jan22, 2013

515AM…rolled out of bed….soooo tired of listening…..listening for the muffled rumble of the snow plow, weaving around our illegally parked cars on Central Street, Camden….still no rumble…..ergo: STILL NO SNOW…..ergo: if there’s wind, there may be an iceboating window, this frigid, 9 degree morning.

my father gave me a sailboat at age 8……it answered perfectly for an introverted boy in a large, boisterous family of girls….thus a life unfolded where sailing–the openness of things, the reliance on the vagarities of conditions not made by man, the lessening of distraction, and especially the practice of ‘un-knowing’, of acknowledging the mind’s limitations–became a drone string which resounded throughout.

and imbedded in sailing is the close close examination of weather….a survival-based addiction to weather-watching…..

Then I walked out on megunticook, into the open south Broads…..beautiful ice, a little less smooth than chicky…..a punishing, boisterous wind blasted from the North. The sky had that lonely deep overcast, that makes you think of a chair by the fire, a cat, and a book. Back at the car, my hands were refusing to work, after 15 minutes of exposure….Today would only be possible with hand- and foot-warming pads….

this situation asks you: do you have a life outside of iceboating? i know i won’t go out there alone…..so…my only hope is Bill….perhaps he has a few shreds of existence beyond this obsession, which might call him into balance, into some sensible, warm, and cosy activity……

alas, my morning call to him yields a yellow, not a red, light: we agree that I will fix yesterday’s damaged bow runner, and we’ll rethink the day, in the 15 degree relative warmth and brighter skies of 1030….sigh….just tell me: by what strange alchemy do we persist in travelling contrary to our simple mammalian instincts?


Tuesday on Chickawaukee

We had a micro snow storm. Much of the morning a thin dust of snow drifted out of the grey overcast. The sun eventually asserted itself in afternoon but temps never got above 14. Wind was in the low single numbers. 6 ice boats rested peacefully and apparently their skippers did also after the sailing frenzy Monday. In fact no one was on the lake most of the day. What to do? Out with the icecycle and a brisk ride around the pond, mini studded snows humming across the lovely ice. Most of the old ripples disappeared in the warm wind of Sunday. There is now just a patchy film of dusty snow with micro drifts leeward of stranded leaves. Total snow on ice 0-1/4 inch.

At sunset riding around the Northern rim to the left of the anchorage there was a uniform layer of finely crystalline snow and looking toward the low sun an upside down semicircular crescent shaped thin rain bow preceded me along. This was similar to the circular “sundogs” seen around the shadow of an airplane against a cloud. Another winter treat.
We have 8 inches of good ice now and will be building ice for sure the next three days of near zero temps 24 hrs a day. We need a good base for the best of season March ice boating.
There is now a web cam at the Damariscotta Lake Assoc. office looking out onto the ice at the launch site. Go to: “www.dlwa.org/webcam.html”



frostbite sailing on Megunticook wednesday.

dear ice buddies,

well, we’ve dodged the snow bullet…..megunticook is swept clear of the tiny dusting of snow which fell in the last 24 hours…surface is good for iceboats, a little rougher than chicky was on sunday….winds tomorrow are predicted to be in the 8-12 Kn. WNW range…..partly sunny…….but……Temps are near zero degrees all day!

Bill and I have our boats set up at Bog Bridge, at Davy Jones’ Bay, now called Bailey Bay in honor of lake warden Ken Bailey. Parking is limited there, but it’s not far away if you set up at the boat launch….. We invite anyone to join us about 10AM and later, with any cold weather gear they’d like to put to the test. If we can keep warm, it might be a great sailing day….I have stocked up on hand and foot warmers….there is no snow predicted for a solid week, so if we can relate to this cold, we might be in for some fun….tomorrow marks my 15th day on the ice….so the season doesn’t seem shoddy so far ……

all the best….jory


the swans return to the lake–jan 23, 2013

let’s face it: every iceboater has a ‘home’ lake; and Bill and I both live a mere 1.4 miles from Megunticook. It’s rare when, this late in the season, we haven’t sailed it. So I was excited by the prospect of seeing the lake again, even in temperatures which we have always considered pre-emptive for iceboating: right down at zero degrees.

alas, bill called just before the 10AM rendezvous: Couldn’t we just have a filling lunch first and then burn it off in the frigid afternoon? No way! I had already added 5 new items to my 22 item wardrobe, my hand and foot warmers were activated, and it was now or never. This day would be an experiment to see if there were a lower temperature limit having ice fun, and I was curious to find out. Could I maneuver in all this gear? Would it still be cold, or sweaty?

Down at Davy Jones’ bay the sun was bright, but….everything seemed threatening…..there wasn’t a fisherman, a skater, a bird….it was like every sensible mammal was deep in its burrow…..the lake was bolted tight in the prolonged cold snap….even the blustery 10-20 Kn wind had that nasty little E added to N….So far, my gear was doing its job, as long as I could get sail and boom installed without removing any gloves. Bill and I pushed across the fast, polished ice, around the point, and gathered speed in the windy south broads…

Megunticook can be fickle, even on windy days; but today was a ‘go everywhere’ day and we set off to the north up the 2.4 mile western narrows. I was trying to send an ESP message to Cam Lewis to fire up the sauna for our arrival, but we got delayed by trying to make loops around ‘Lamb’s Folly”, a beautiful tight little circle which was partially snowed-out….After Icywood ground to an ignoble halt in the styrofoam, I drank a hot cup of tea in the sun, and rejoined Bill, who could circle the Folly at will, and was cavorting in Wipe-out bay. We joined Cam at the sauna, only to find Polly Saltonstall on skates there with her usual entourage of two dogs….What a trooper Polly is. A true Saltonstall! But it was time to sail, not sauna. We were anxious to see every inch of the lake, so we took off the brakes, the battens snapped across, we threaded the northern islands, and then blasted downwind the long, long narrows; almost lifting runners with every jibe….it was a lightning-fast passage which often takes ages. What a thrill!

Then on to every other corner of this vast lake, until finally, with fingers cramping, and noses almost frostbitten….we dropped sails at Davy Jones’ and sped for the warmth of ‘huevos rancheros’ at Boynton-McKay in Camden. A little plan was hatching in our minds: Bill Bunting had mentioned that in heavy airs, many boats do better with lead weights added behind the pilot; and Bill remembered he had a pile of lead ingots at the shop, idling away there without purpose…..soooo

We each took 40 lbs and stowed the ingots safely behind our seats. The wind hadn’t diminished in the least and, as we greeted the blast again, the difference in handling was immediately felt….our boats hiked less, the planks flexed more, and the runners gripped the ice as never before. For two more hours we covered every bay, every cove, blasted across the ‘fangs’ with abandon, and gradually that daring, scarey, defiant spirit of Larry Hardmann began to grip us: I don’t care if this boat self-destructs…..just let me keep doing this forever.

Finally, at 330, Bill zoomed into Davy Jones….I cussed him out: You’re crazy! Why are we stopping? Stopping is Madness! But gradually Bill’s wisdom, in challenging the blind addiction, calmed me down. My runners had been knocked out of alignment with the extreme sailing. They were screetching for help at top volume. They obviously needed TLC in Bill’s shop, so we loaded my plank, with runners attached, and after a few more rehashes of magic moments, parted company. We had learned two things: you can have a barrel of fun at zero degrees…and you can sometimes shake the lead out, by putting the lead in….

The Frostbite Tour, Megunticook 1/23

No one ever told us that one could sail all day when it’s five above and blowing 15-25. The ice on Megunticcok is fabulous: no cracks, pressure ridges or holes, and very fast. Surface probably a seven, with occasional shell and styrofoam. But with the wind we could penetrate every small cove and bay right to the end and still get out. It was a treat to make our way into tight quarters not only because it’s fun, but a respite from the wind. Not only was it cold, but we were getting knocked around pretty hard. Jory cracked the side of his hull with his body when coming down from a hike, and later whacked his runners out of alignment. (the glue is drying on a repair as these words are written).

The most vulnerable part of the body is the nose. We both have open helmets with goggles, with the foam mouth and nose covers but the wind still finds its way in there. I had a scarf tied over everything which did the trick. Hand and foot warmers of course. One observation there: the hand warmers are a bit bulky and don’t get to the fingers. Next time I’ll use the long flat foot warmers stuck to the palm and fingers over the mitten liners. It’ll make sheeting and steering easier.

We quit because we were exhausted, not cold. The wind was building and it was the time of day when you begin to make mistakes. In today’s conditions the stakes were too high to screw up or break something and with the hard fast ice and serious wind, it was a good day to bust a boat. We did each add 40# of lead after lunch which made a world of difference in getting the boats to track straight in the gusts, instead of sliding. Thank You Bill Bunting!

Lake Megunticook will be an epic venue this weekend if we dodge what little snow is forecast. The boats are still there and we’ll be back for more, and we’ll remember to bring the camera. We really didn’t expect much this morning: a quick trip out and back, home for lunch. What an absolute treat! As always, think positive, pray and show up!


Saturday Sailing, Too

Just a quick note to add to the previous post that we’ll be sailing Megunticook on Saturday as well. There might be a few boats sailing on Chickawaukee tomorrow and the weekend too, but with The Queen Lake in such great shape it would be a shame to miss it. Temps will have shot up to the low twenties by then.


Ice Frolic at Cam Lewis’s on Sunday

Bill and I had another exciting day on Megunticook today, Thursday, until cold fingers finally drove us ashore in the middle afternoon. Wearing a full-face helmet helped the facial chill. Ice and wind, again 10-25 Kn, were excellent. With lead aboard, both of us are feeling much more confident in winds which would normally require storm sails. I wish I’d known about lead years ago!

But the big news is that an Ice Frolic is planned for Sunday at Cam Lewis’s place, on Fishing Rock Road in Lincolnville, right on the north end of Megunticook. The Sauna will be hot, with a hole cut in the ice as a cold plunge; the grill will be going with Maine-grown steer-burgers; and all sorts of ice activities will be going on: skating, skimbatting, possibly hockey, and iceboating. Bring some food to share, and a swimming suit and towel for the sauna.

If you trust the wind, you can iceboat in to the party from Bog Bridge, which is about 3.5 miles away. Wind is predicted to be about 10Kn and temp a balmy 15 degrees. Otherwise you can see what you can do at Cam’s. Parking there is limited, and the carry to the water is about 100 yards. What you might do is plan a day of sailing from Bog Bridge, and then, if the wind favors, come to the party.

all the best, jory


Megunticook Weekend Continues

Wide eyed with wonder, like kids on Christmas morning, is the best way to describe the small fleet of DN sailors who were discovering the charms of Megunticook for the first time today. At each bend, Denis and Francois from Quebec, and Curtis from Peaks Island, were convinced that this was the end of the lake, but no: there’s yet another straight and bay. We covered the entire lake with abandon in the 10-20kt northwester. The usual hazzards at the Fangs were beginning to show their teeth, but aside from that all we had to watch for were pop-ups and the occasional strong gust. Francois must be a windsurfer in his summer life as he kept asking for more wind!

Dave and Kristin Buckley made the trip from Newport for the weekend, and Hal from Friendship had his second sail in his new DN. John Eastman plans to sail his new Mead tomorrow, as well as the Able brothers. John Hanson and Ben Fuller will have their stern-steerers, parties planned for Cam Lewis’s up north, and at Polly Saltonstall’s at the southern end. Kristin will be grilling burgers at Baily’s Cove. We will attempt to get some sailing in, too!

Hope to see you there. Launch at Bog Bridge, pits at Baily’s Cove. Ice fisherman are driving on the ice, so I guess we can too, but you didn’t hear it here!


Meanwhile, on Chickawaukee

While the young bucks (and young buck at heart Jory) were cavorting on Maguntacook the members of CIBC’s old fart squadron were quite happily blasting about on dear old Chicky. By a vote at the end of the day it was decided to come back Sunday for more of the same — with possibly some friendly sailing around marks — rather than decamping for Meguntaciook,. The major event today was the maiden sail of John Eastman’s new old Mead, a thing of beauty built by Bill Buchholz, which sailed as well as it looked. Fred Wardwell had a great time sailing his skeeter while a group of his friends sailed his Gambit. Frank Able sailed his Gambit Half-Fast very fast, and Doug Fowle’s Super Skimmer had never gone as fast, Also sailing was Bill Bunting in his Nite Red Herring, and of course Lloyd, rocketing about in Cool Tool. Bill and Lloyd decided that they had both reached the state of mind where they decided they were going faster than they really wanted to, and resorted to storm sails. The fire at the beach was hot, the smoke smelled homey, and the beans were excellent. We would welcome anyone who cares to join the old fart fleet on Sunday, but probably we won’t get going much before a gentlemanly 11 AM, after having perused the Sunday paper.Bill Bunting


Chicky and other ice

Chickawaukee Sunday Jan 28 was as nice ice as we have seen in sometime, but too much wind. The “Old farts” and guests had a fine time, some brisk sailing but not really enjoyable for all day the fire side bench saw heavy use. Bill Bunting insisted that I try ballasting my Super DN. I dropped a 20 Lb snake in the cockpit and, as advertized, the addition of this tiddly weight to the 100Lb boat was amazing. Dennis Glidden came up from Southern Maine with his well used “Grey Ghost DN, he and Don Stearns have had epic voyages on Sebago in past years. I asked him if he had his storm sail? “Nope, don’t have one, when the window on my full sail (criscrossed with duct tape) blows out then I will”. Al Heath, new member, sailed his ancient rickety looking iceboat ancestor of the Alcort Sailfish/Sunfish in the heavy air with and without passengers. Nothing bent and nothing broke. What holds the thing together is a mystery, it works just fine. We have a new member Zander Aurbach who thinks a replica of it would be an interesting low cost project. We await further developments. It us just a lumber yard wood A frame, wood runners with angle iron blades, aluminum tube spars, some permanently bent. Super simple. Sort of a wood Skimmer with sailfish sail/lateen? rig.

In the meantime Jory and Lloyd explored Damariscotta, wall to wall washboard surface on 8 inches of ice. The usual pressure ridge system off the the right is just healed cracks. A couple of days of warm wind and rain might fix it right up for next weekend. The outlook depends on how much snow in the mix.


Megunticook Sunday, and Sebago

Buckets of wind yesterday kept the fleet huddled behind the point at Bailey’s Cove yesterday. The tall pines were working hard to remain tall and not fall. We’d poke our bow runners out every now and then for a hit and if we managed to get out of the Broads and into the Western Reach in one piece we could tack north where there are plenty of relaxing lees. As long as you didn’t get nailed by a gust on a lee shore things worked out.

Dave Buckley had his outhaul destruct and get launched into low orbit, and John Eastman snapped the pennant on his reefed sail causing the halyard to scurry for cover inside the mast. He dashed home for a plumbers chase and was back out there for another good thrashing within the hour. Our Canadian friends, who had been calling for more wind the day before, decided they had a long drive ahead of them and quit while they were ahead.

Trying to get back to the pits the long way around.

Mike Acebo from Long Island in his modified J-14. C. Rindlaub photos

Looks like all kinds of precipitation in the next few days with a warming spell at the end. This might Zamboni Damariscotta for next weekend. Also, Tom Childs send this report from Sebago:

The boys and I sailed lower bay of Sebago today. The entire bay is 4-5” of clean glorious rock-hard ICE!! There are rough spots along the shore and other areas, but my estimate would be that 70-80% is 8+ with areas of 10+ (Can you believe that…10+!). WARNING: the main body of the lake is wide open. Use common sense and stay well in bounds of the lower bay proper. Also, there is a good sized pressure ridge along the westerly side of the bay. Cross it with caution and you may find some of that 10+ stuff we all need once in a while. Anyway, if anyone has the day off tomorrow, they would be wise to take advantage of this spectacular, early, plate of wintery goodness.


skating the last encore–jan 28, 2013

The weather prediction is for “mixed aggrivation”: a mysterious blend of snow, sleet–now called ‘ice pellets–and rain which lowers the curtain on an endless, amazing, frigid, sunny spell of ice activities. My other life has been on hold for almost two weeks: handyman jobs postponed, iceboat repairs neglected, household cleanliness–in Brenda’s words–”disgusting”.

So Lloyd and I headed to Darmiscotta to examine the base which will underlie the additions and subtractions that the thaw might bring. Coming to this lake, which we have followed closely this year, is revisiting much-loved and holy ground. Darmiscotta looked like a bad case of small-pox, with smoothed hard-candy bumps well-melted into the semi-transparent surface. We could see the season’s history in it’s patterns: here were previous snow patches, there that lovely central plate of black ice we got so excited about but missed using, over there the black and white frozen ice squares–all still visible below the poxy covering. We laboriously chopped the black ice plate, as being the thinest ice on the lake, and found it a monolithic 8?.

Lloyd was zipping ahead on John Eastman’s ice bicycle, as I labored on nordic skates over the fast, but humpy surface. We stopped near an icehouse, in the geometric center of the north broads, where each horizon is at least a mile away and sat munching grainola bars. These are the moments I always treasure. The slight high-altitude haze didn’t diminish the intensity of the daily-stronger sun. Not the slightest breath of wind. The nearby shack only emphasized the great half-dome–the wide, now-friendly, open universe which holds us in its cradle.

Lloyd lectured on the 10 foot trajectory of blood, which would shoot from a severed femoral artery. We calculated how much pressure was needed to staunch the flow: about 10 pounds. “Don’t cut that artery!”, Lloyd shouted. We were wearing hearing-diminishing helmets. Hanging out with an ex-MD, you get such great free medical advice. “I’m not planning to”, I countered with a bow of thanks…

Joy of joys, Lloyd found a flooded N-S pressure ridge in its usual place near the western shore, which gave me gloriously smooth skating more than half-way back. We said good-by to our wonderful hosts at the launch, and headed home, to catch up on dull old regular life and await developments. But we know…..it’s far from over.




Looks like Chicky for Saturday

Bill just called, and doesn’t want to split the fleet between Chicky and Darmiscotta. Besides, the call of beans and black bread on Chicky is just too strong. So our plan is to sail Chicky on saturday, and then possibly move on, pending snow reports, to Damariscotta or Moosehead for Sunday/Monday. If you’re coming from out of town, don’t forget lakewatchmanor.com for a great place to stay right on Chicky….think ice….jory


Where to Sail 2/2/13?

Scott Woodman took a long walk on Damariscotta and found that there is still 7-11″ of hard clear ice. Not qiute black, but nearly transparent. Drain holes have skimmed over and might be solid by Saturday given the temps forecast. They will need to be scouted before any serious ripping around occurs. He calls the surface an 8+, with minimal ripples.

Lloyd has called sailing On for Chicky, which means beans and bread. So it looks like another split fleet weekend. As of this writing, we plan to have boats on Damariscotta tomorrow. Snow is forecast for late Sunday so we might get two days out of it, although the wind is supposed to blow all kinds of directions but at moderate velocities (phewww) for a change.

Anything changes, you’ll be the second to know! Bill


Warm Storms and Lead Sleds

Two days of record warm gale winds in 50?s, both temps and speed melted inches off stolid old Chicky so that moorings put out when the ice was 4-5 inches came to the surface and the whole moored fleet ended up on the beach.

Two hours later all were remoored, some covers rewrapped, and order was restored thanks to yeoman labor by John Eastman who ended the exercise by stepping in a drain hole and getting more soaked than he had been from rain and sweat.
A few large drain holes persist (1/2 inch ice cover Fri AM) around the mooring and beach area. the gale Southerly winds drove the melt and rain water down the lake to do the holes, fishing holes out to 2 feet! All should be healed Saturday or marked. much of the rest of the lake was scouted Fri before breakfast and NW winds. A lot of the lovely ice in Eastern portions is marred by scars of healing puddles leaving varying washboard too rough to skate on, rattly for ice boats with intervening patches of velvety 10 grade ice. The surface improves toward the Western sheltered parts of the lake and the Southern bay, nice stuff.
There will be a Winter Carnival at the public beach this weekend, launch your ice boats at Lloyd’s beach at other end, 140 Porter St.

The lead ballast does work, however structural stresses will increase proportionately, beware of too much of a good thing. I thought the Gambit sail on the Super DN was the nuts for cleaving through snow drifts, until the fuselage broke.



getting the lead in

It’s a dillemma: gain weight personally, or ballast the boat….Many of us are finding that, when the winds are moderate to strong, 20-40 lbs of lead transform our skittish thoroughbreads into calmer steeds, and boost our confidence in pulling the sheet that last little bit.

if you don’t plan to gain seasonal weight during the iceboat season, scour the house for weighty objects: old roofing lead, lead shot, maul heads, dumbell weights, etc. Load them on a scale until you reach the desired weight. I made two 20 pound packets, for balanced carrying. Then arrange the weight into a convenient size, pounding the lead with a rubber hammer over an anvil.

lay the weight assemblage over a folded piece of heavy canvas, and cut the latter to size. cut two hand holes in the open ends, and sew up the sides doubly with a hefty sewing machine. Turn the pouch inside out and fill carefully with the weighs. Then supporting the packet with one hand so it doesn’t bind the sewing machine, doubly sew the pouch closed both above and below the handle holes.

then find homes for the packets on the iceboat. confine them sideways with fiddles, and secure them down with a web strap and buckle. moderate wind = one packet; heavy wind = two packets

and of course if you’re in an official race, you’ll have to put these packets in your underwear. Ballasting a DN is illegal! i have extra lead, if you need it….jory


anticipation –feb1,2013

weatherman, weathergirl, make me some ice

with narry a wrinkle, oh wouldn’t it be nice?

for four days i cursed out your snow and your rain
and yesterday’s tropics sure was a pain

but this morning the mercury shouts 24
i’ve found all the gear, and shot out the door.

my pulse, it was touching that dangerous cliff
my breathing was shallow, and life was an if

but i got to the lake as the sun topped the trees
i saw not a puddle! got weak in the knees!

i hammered the shoreline, it was thick as could be
but 20 steps latter, what should i see?

the lake served a sandwich of water and ice
a trap for the blissful, which didn’t seem nice

in between you could skate for a week without fail
but then in an instant your head and your tail

would quickly change places, and just quick as that
a old bone or two probably break with a snap

so i sadly turned round one hundred and eighty degrees
i thought now of breakfast, i thought of my knees

and swore that tomorrow, there’s be nothing to do
but come to a lake, with a buddy or two

and life will be sweet, and our season be saved
and we’ll follow our passion to the edge of our grave


Ice in Maine 2/2

Tom Childs reports from Lake Sebago that Pump House bay is like a plate of polished granite. He’s calling it a 10+ and gone to heaven. No word on how far out it goes; the main body is not frozen yet. But the bay is at least as big as Chickawaukee. Don? Dennis? Paul?

And our Canadian buddy Denis Guertin sailed Moosehead Lake today and sent this video.

With the light winds they weren’t able to cover all those beautiful miles of ice, but from the images he sent it appears to be as nice as what we sailed today on Chicky. Which, by the way, was an absolute iceapalooza with twenty five boats short reaching back and forth across Chickie’s belt in a moderate southwesterly. The object was to not kill or be killed, and everybody won! Some people were freaked out with all the traffic, but a natural flow was established and the heightened intensity brought about by the high velocity close proximity sharpened the senses and guaranteed that you needed to pay attention. So much chaos in the end develops order. There must be a rule in physics about that…

There will be boats back at Chicky tomorrow, but your correspondent along with his trusty sidekick will explore Damariscotta, setting up at 11:00. Join us if you want.

Moosehead is penciled in for Monday depending on how close this storm passes.

Small piece of the fleet at Robert’s Beach today. Welcome to the three hard travelers from Maryland. I hope you get that busted headstay fixed in the morning! Bill


Snow on Chickawaukee Sunday

One inch dry snow last night, none left on radar @ 8 AM, patches of blue sky, light NE wind forecast.


error in Belgrade post

there is an error in the next to the last post. The predicted winds for tuesday in the belgrade area are 5-10 knots, not 5-20 knots….we’ve had enough of the latter! do join us….jory


Great Pond Pix

Jory said it all below; here’s what we found:

Very nice launch site with easy drive on. There were recent truck tracks leading onto the ice.

Most of the ice looked like this. I found one large drain hole with four inches of new ice on it, which was reassuring. In the straight at the south end of Hoyt Island, directly behind Whizzard, there is a small patch of open water. It’s like the Fangs of Megunticook: just one of those spots, according to Dave Fortier.

Looking south, along the east side of Hoyt Island.

Look closely at the rock I’m on: it’s a perfect lounge recliner. And I left this to go back out in all that nasty wind?

Everything has its limit. The spruce found his today.


Why not join us on Great Pond, Belgrade tuesday?

We’re sated with good ice….exciting reports coming in from all quarters….So when Bill and I headed out with 2 iceboats aboard his Saab, we weren’t sure of the destination….

Denis Guertin’s saturday report and video from Moosehead was inviting….follow-up calls to nearby motels confirmed that both mini-snow falls had avoided this vast and unknown lake. Three hours were a deterrent without a toothbrush.

Lower Bay (pumphouse bay) on Sebago had rave reports from Tom Childs, but the drive there is boring, long, suburban; and besides we have a date with that lovely lady in a few weeks, when she almost certainly will totally freeze.

Best of all, we got glowing reports about Great Pond, a very large lake merely 1.25 hours from us here; so we rolled into downtown Belgrade and backed the trailer out on the ice via the town’s boat launch ramp….hooray! sun! 20 degree temp! beautiful ice! and already wind a buildin’….

The wind was blowing, even in the protection of this little bay…..should we don storm sails?…..nawww…we’ll come back for them if the wind it too much. (can you spot a little error here, since the lake is 7.5 miles long?)

We luffed our way North, keeping Hoyt Island, and it’s possibly open water strait, to starboard, keeping speed down as we explored the magnificent ice. As we approached the far north end, 4.5 miles from the launch, we stopped to examine a lovely boathouse, and again considered returning for storm sails……nawwww….this is exciting…..(more error: up to now, we’ve been luffing easily against the NW wind. we’re soon to turn downwind)

Then we turned South following now the east side of Hoyt, where the lake has it’s longest E-W fetch: a full mile of it……all hell broke loose! The wind revved up into the 30?s, steering became impossible; luffing, when we could finally get a bow runner to grip enough to turn to windward, was a violent bashing of the rig. Bill sheared off his bow runner’s upper pivot support, and I had my own cast of problems. So we dropped all sail and began to long 3 mile push back to the pits. Bill was able to sail well on his wing mast alone, and I unrolled some of my lashed mainsail and holding it up by hand, managed to push somewhat less in the long broad reach home.

Soon, we’ll send you some photos, once Bill has repaired his spring board, and converted his Whizz to DN components. Our appetite is whetted…..less wind is predicted (WNW 5-10Kn) …. so please join us tomorrow at the town boat launch ramp at about 10AM …great lunch downtown at the Sunset Grill….. think ice….jory


Belgrade Lake Rumor/Report

Jory left brief message Monday morning of lovely ice in Belgrade, presume Great Pond. Access not mentioned.


Great Pond: Round Two, 2/5

With the brutal winds of yesterday in retreat, Squibb, Eastman, Rindlaub and I set off from the excellent public launch determined to cover every inch of this vast lake. About seven by three miles, with two deep southern bays, big central island and numerous coves it is a touring iceboater’s idea of heaven. The best ice is in the bays, while the broads were a bit bumpy. But the ice is so hard that even in the afternoons dying breeze we still could make slow but steady progress over the rough stuff while always finding a smooth patch to come about on.

The pressure ridges are small and easily crossed so far. Here we grouped up while attempting to sail the full length of the lake in light air.

After yesterday’s thrashing and the wing mast hard to control and overpowering, I went with a DN rig today. Of course, it was a perfect day for the big mast, but we had some big puff in the first hour and the small rig was so relaxing! On a lake this big with moderate breeze I was temped to cleat the sheet and go below for a cup of coffee! The boat still sailed well, balance was good, mast bent nicely: what a treat. I’ll keep this on hand for the next big wind day.

Thanks again to the Fortier clan for scouting this ice for us. This is the view from their summer compound in the western of the two lower bays.

Lastly, sorry to report that the Tea Room is closed for the winter so we had to bring our own…Bill


Monday Noon Ice Damariscotta/Chickawaukee

Scott Woodman reports no snow on Dammy, about a foot of black ice 1/2 somewhat rippled but smaller ripples than Chicky, no visible pressure ridges. Ice pile up at ramp.

Ice Cycle ride on Chicky at 11 AM, 80% thin packed snow cover North end, 90% clear ice South and seems sailable, North end might be tedious. Light air insufficient for snowy areas.


Chickawaukee Ice condition

The light snow we sailed in Sunday has been thinned by wind but also quite firmly packed, sailable but slow. Maybe it will evaporate or maybe we wait until possible rain next week, sigh.


Before the Storm

I must go down to the ice again

to the sun, and the blue, blue sky
where a runner, a skate, or a cleated boot
is the key to a door flung wide

where the troubles of land are left on land:
the job and the list of chores
and the only challenge that’s left to face
is to move toward the distant shores

the bay was a patchwork of ice and snow
when I got there just at one
and the snow was bonded well to the ice,
the prospect was poor for fun.

so I ditched the skates, and ditched the sail
and walking would be my game
and when I got to the vast South Broads
my world was not the same:

the wind blew streamers of snow across
grey ice like polished stone
and I lay on my back with the wind behind
and my face like a sun-warmed bone

I’d clear my decks! I’d sail this day!
before the fate of tomorrow’s blow
and every thing I had now to do
would go better when spiced with snow

But a friend was battling cancer
a fight too well I knew
and sure enough I had promised
to help with the kitchen crew.

So I made this day a special day
when I could have sailed, but no:
I helped a friend skating one-inch ice
when I had a foot below

This ice is lovely, shiny, deep
but I my promises will keep
and pray that when, we’ve ice again
that skill and strength will still remain


Snow Chickawaukee Lake

The anchorage at Lloyd’s beach, rest of lake is drifted up to 20 inches deep with both rounded dunes and rough choppy waves, spectacular early and late in day with low sun. Will the ice sink? Will the snow melt in coming warmish week forecast? Will we sail this mess again? Will these boats require a canoe retrieval? Stay tuned. Iceman.



Thinking Ice For Fun, by Lloyd Roberts


I have been sailing ice boats for more than 30 years. The first 20 years or so was racing DN class boats, very exciting, wonderful camaraderie, great fun, and with building and designing ice boats and writing about them, a year round sport. Winter can be the best time of year.
Then I began having stamina problems, the gradual onset of coronary problems. I stopped racing and became more aware of the sublime moments and kinesthetic pleasure of ice sailing. I switched from sailing for excitement to sailing for fun with less excitement. I explored parameters of comfort, ease of sailing and handling, economy of time and money, and choice of ice boat type.
In the following pages I hope to pass on what I have learned in the past few years. Instead of focusing on pushing the DN to its and my limits I have broadened my interests to include designing the Gambit two seater, modifying the DN for pleasure sailing (“touring”), rebuilding a small skeeter (Northeaster), restoring a small stern steerer, and working on and sailing briefly a larger classic stern steerer.
This has all been fun, interesting, and I hope I can catch and help your interest in non competitive “touring” ice boat sailing.
Racing is unquestionably the quickest way to learn how to sail ice boats in varied conditions and especially the art of sailing down wind in light air. Try it if you have a chance, you might get addicted, but if not you are not a second class citizen. Welcome to sailing for fun.

We wrote the original “Think Ice” back in the 1970’s with DN racing as the focus. Thirty years later, DN racing is alive and well and there has been a great deal of refinement of both the boat and the way it is sailed. The racing DN is much faster now and much more expensive. With super flexible “rubber” composite masts and sails cut to suit and proper tuning the DN can handle a remarkable range of wind and skipper weight. But you can’t build the high tech mast out of lumber yard wood and it will cost more than an complete older DN. New sails are pushing $1000 and competitive runners are $1000 a pair. The serious racer often has several sets of runners, hundreds of pounds of them. Henry Bossett won the North American’s with one set of plate runners, likely the only ones he had.
The competitive skipper wears skin tight clothes to reduce drag, wears light weight uninsulated track shoes for running speed at start, and lies down on his back in the boat with the boom on his neck trying to see. Is this the way to enjoy a day of sailing? If going as fast as possible and getting around the buoys first then it is. Racing is exciting.
There is another way to sail ice boats besides racing. Sailing just for the fun of it rather than glory and excitement is called “touring” whether you actually go any where or not. The pleasure of sailing does not have to be directly proportional to speed. Speed is indeed fun but if we are not racing then other aspects contributing to the pleasure of sailing may be indulged in.


The supine DN racing position is not comfortable because we have to hold our head up to see well. The neck tires quickly, even if exercised year round, gaining an inch of collar size. The light weight skiing helmets (eg. “Jofa”) often used do not offer the protection of a Snell approved motor cycle helmet and we do travel at motorcycle speeds. Sitting up like a civilized human or somewhat slouched like the rest of us leaves the head free to turn as we look around which is important for safety, and our neck is more or less vertical which it is used to. Vision under a boom is much better than through a wrinkly scratched sail window because the racing boom is worn on the shoulder. DN’s before the speed mods did have the skipper sitting up and the boom high. The Gambit is designed that way on purpose. Most larger “skeeter” boats are sat in and score high in creature comforts. The only type of ice boat I have sailed that approaches the racing DN for discomfort is the older stern steerer where the skipper often lies down on one elbow facing forward trying to look forward with a crick in his neck and wrestle the tiller with free hand while holding the sheet with the hand he is lying on. If you sit up so you have better purchase on the tiller and sheet you have nothing to lean against and are likely to get thrown out if the boat spins out, which they like to do.
If you have a race DN, just detune it a bit by standing the mast up enough to raise the boom enough to see under, improve the back rest, possibly pad it, put in a foot rest to push yourself back and up and enjoy the view. You may hike more quickly. In the old days we softened the hike by loosening side stays. We also had stiff wood or aluminum masts and depended on limber planks to absorb wind gusts instead of a bendy mast and stiff plank in vogue today. Something has to give.
Comfort includes staying warm. We are likely not working as hard sailing for fun as racing. In the DN, Gambit, and other open boats there is a high wind chill factor. Since we are not obsessed with parasite drag we can bulk up on the clothes, good old snow mobile suit, puffy jackets, warm boots, etc. If the front zipper is drafty a section of newspaper over the chest (poor man’s down vest) works wonders. In a bigger sit in boat like a Nite, Whizz, or any of the skeeters, you can get by with one less layer on the legs.
Cold feet are no fun. Track shoes give great traction with their spikes but they are cold. The various traction things that can be stretched over boots do not have the spiky grip of track shoes. One of the better stretch ones is the “Stabilicer”, you can buy replacement heat treated sharpened sheet metal screws for the Stabilicer that you can then just screw into boot soles and replace when they get dull. The stingy skippers just use hardware store sheet metal screw but they dull quickly. These do not penetrate snow as well as track shoes. My best choice is to buy the track shoes with long spikes, cut off the front sole of the track shoe with its spikes and contact cement it to the bottom of your comfy insulated boots. (Grind the boot sole flat for good glue binding). LL Bean “Snowsneaks” are nice and warm and light but the soles tend to come unglued from dragging the feet to stop as done in DN’s. A leather insulated boot may last longer.
The catalytic toe warmer work really well, giving off heat all day. They are “green”, consisting of iron powder and salt: non toxic. LL Bean sells them, and hand warmers, in bulk bags. At about $3 a day for both they are a bargain. The best hand covering I have found is “choppers mitts” (Cabela’s) made of deer hide with some kind of insulation, XL size with some kind of light glove, such as sold for XC skiing, inside. The mitts and gloves sold for snowmobiling aren’t that warm and don’t stand up to sheeting stress (with one exception, a pair of moose hide mitts from Canada that lasted for many years). Then you can pull off the mitt for finer work and not expose the fingers to cold steel and the heat envelop stays in the mitt waiting to warm up your pinkies again.
The comfiest ice boats are single seater skeeters with upholstered seat, back, and sides of cockpit, like riding in a sleeping bag with everything but head and shoulders in out of the weather. The two seaters are a bit drafty with one person, they are made for a cozy passenger.

Ice boating is inherently dangerous, like most winter sports. You are separated from ice water by a temporary thermoplastic of varying strength and appearance that often has thin spots or holes in it, guaranteed on larger lakes. Your ice boat is highly stressed, travels at high speed, is somewhat fragile, and is prone to mechanical failures. When least expected you may need help to get home or even stay alive. DON’T SAIL ALONE. Sailing alone on known ice is foolish, on unexplored ice it is suicidal, really.
Iceboating safety is a comprehensive subject and is addressed in detail in “Think Ice Safely”.


The race tuned DN can be “easy” to sail when it is set up properly so the rubber mast bends with puffs and depowers the upper sail, the boat accelerates instead of hiking. However, setting the boat up correctly to do this is not easy nor is handling the boat to get it into “warp speed” where the rubber mast really works.
The non racer, often inexperienced, needs a boat that is not tuning critical or handling critical. But the laws of physics are the same, and some attention to detail is at least helpful and may be essential.
The ice boat simply will not work if the runners are “out of line” and not parallel. The tolerance of being parallel is not a visible fraction of an inch but on the order of a few thousandths of an inch. This not tape measure work. This is best done in the workshop and the chocks epoxied into place so alignment is permanent. There are various quick measuring schemes for alignment on the ice, the best being a rifle telescope sight fitted to the edge of the runner and aimed at a distant point and repeated with the other runner. This is most useful to check alignment when in doubt. If the chocks can be loosened for adjustment on the ice they are likely to adjust themselves out of alignment while sailing in heavy air or sliding around buoys or simply spinning out. Before doing the definitive alignment the runner edges should be checked to see if they are straight. Plate runners can get bent, even on DNs, probably during a high speed spin out. They are quite springy and surprisingly hard to straighten. It can be done with a sledge hammer or large “C” clamps. A hydraulic press is easier. Go to IDNYRA.org for papers on runner alignment. Rusty runners simply won’t work. Runners are not truly flat, there is a gentle curve or “profile” to the edge. This is best judged on a flat hard surface such as the top of a table saw, or ideally a machinist’s straight edge, with a light behind the runner. A good all purpose profile is about 14 inches between where an 8 Thou. Feeler gauge stops when slid under the runner from either end, pressing the runner down at the pivot bolt. Runners that have been sharpened with a hand held belt sander or files tend to grow a hollow near the pivot bolt from repeated wear on the ice and resharpening the visibly dull area. These hollow runners are inexplicably slow. Consult with a competent racer.
You only need one set of runners for 98% of your sailing, usually plate steel. Racers have more than one set with varying profiles and blade widths. You might enjoy a set of angle iron “slush” runners for soft ice spring sailing. See the Appendix for instructions for home buildable slush runners and “Skunners” which are the tips of junk skis fitted to plate runners so they ride on top of slush. Sailing in slush on a warm March day is a blast.
Back to the “Ease” of sailing. After we have stood the mast up a bit by shortening the forestay and or moving the mast base backward we will likely find the side stays too short. Additional spacers can be made from stainless strapping which is sold already drilled with holes every inch at marine hardware stores. For the cheapskate, flattened lawn chair tubing works although the holes stretch after a while. The next easy fix is adding two more blocks to the sheet to decrease pulling effort. This may make the sheet too short. It also decreases responsiveness of sheeting so there is a trade off. This is especially effective for DNs and Gambits. If this keeps the sheet from flowing out easily you may need larger sheaves on the blocks (expensive) or smaller sheet diameter or two diameter sheet where smaller stuff runs in the pulleys and the holding end is larger. The racers use these “tapered sheets” so they can have smaller sheaves and get the boom lower. Do NOT go to any kind of “jam cleat” to hold the sheet, you absolutely need to be able to let out sheet right now. The usual ratchet block is just fine. Plain, cheaper, twisted Dacron line is fine for a sheet, it is easy to grip and the ratchet block is effective, it is not as classy as colored braided stuff. Do not use el cheapo poly.
We have used lots of different sails over the years; there is a big choice out there, especially in DN sails due to race skippers feeling they have to have the latest sail or that their problem is that their sail has “blown out” and lost its winning shape. There are sail fads and there are a lot of used sails. I favor a full sail for touring over a flatter “speed” sail. The fuller sail is less critical to sail (less likely to stall) and will get you home better in fading afternoon zephyrs. The fuller sail may not be quite as fast as a flat “speed” sail nor point quite as high. It may well go faster and easier down wind and certainly will on slow ice or in snow. If you are going to indulge in two sails, get a “storm sail”, either a made to purpose smaller sail or a cut down full size sail (18 inches off the bottom). You will find yourself using the storm sail quite a bit. The full size DN sail is larger than it needs to be much of the time. Reef points are very nice, the Gambit sail is designed for two sets of reefs. They can be put into a DN sail by any sail maker. Very old DN sails may already have them. You need a halyard extension, a length of wire to attach to the halyard. A storm sail should have the extension attached to the head of the sail. Both storm sail and full sail should have tell tale ribbons, best with small windows so you can better to see the off side ribbon, the one that counts. Some prefer trailing edge ribbons, easy to install. Ordinary kitting yarn works OK, you can pull it through sail cloth with a darning needle. It also makes fine forestay tell tales, something else you really need at no cost.
In heavy air, attaching the halyard to the head of the sail as close to the mast as possible (if there are several choices in the head board) allows the sail to twist open and spill some wind. Slacking the side stays also spills wind and reduces hiking. This works in any size boat.
The next step in civilizing the DN is to add a “springboard” forward to extend the steering runner 2 or 3 feet. This improves the ride immensely and reduces hiking tendency. An old plank, especially a too flexible one, can be planed down to make a nice spring board. There is a tendency to make skinny spring boards (less wood, lighter weight) but it is better to err on the robust side: look at the ones on skeeters, they look like diving boards. There are high torsion loads and bending loads at times. A broken spring board causes total loss of control. A DN with a springboard is a “Super DN”. Usually a longer plank 9-10 feet long is used too. This really brings hiking under control. A “Super DN” might be somewhat faster on a reach due to increased stability. It is less nervous at high speed. My experience is that it is slower racing, I think due to increased turning radius and speed loss in tacking. There is also more parasite drag from the extra structure.
The super DN fuselage is a good deal heavier due to the spring board, 60 -70 ponds instead of around 40 pounds. You put it on the car one end at a time. No worse than an old style Sarns plans DN built of ¾ inch boards and ¼ ply. The longer plank is heavier and it needs to be a couple of inches wider at the center than the 8 foot DN plank or it will be too flexible. The ride is worth it.
The side by side two seat Gambit is based on the super DN, just widened and lengthened. It uses DN hardware and runners. Originally it was sailed with a DN sail but did not have enough power for 2 people. The mast is lengthened to 19 feet. In heavier air a single reef makes the sail DN size, very useful, and a double reef DN storm sail size, rarely used with 2 people but nice solo in heavy air. The Gambit is easily car topped, one end at a time. Anything larger needs a trailer.


The Lockley Skimmer 45 is the hands down economy winner. They only cost a few hundred dollars complete some 30 years ago and can still be bought used for about the same. New ones, made in USA, are $1475 in the box. Spare parts are available. The Skimmer comes apart quickly for the back of the soccer Mom van or can be carried in the back of a pick up all in one piece. They sail surprisingly well. The only maintenance is taking off the runners and sharpening and greasing them. Hang the boat from a couple of nails, indoors or out. Paint the steel tube frame if it rusts too much. Oil the joints yearly. Used Skimmers are usually for sale because they don’t work any more: their runners are rusty.
The runner up is of course the ubiquitous DN from $1000 and up, way up for race ready. Maintenance can be as little as runner care and the occasional coat of paint or varnish, to hours in the shop for each hour of sailing for the compulsive fuss pot racer. Other than some depreciation for a new boat a used DN nicely cared for will not decrease in dollar value ( the dollar itself will decrease in value). Buy DN’s as an inflation hedge.
For setting up a used DN consult “Think Ice” (buy from IDNYRA.com). The book was written in the ‘80’s and is good for the older DN. The later supplement chapters are pertinent to newer race tuned DN’s. The big difference between older and newer DN’s is stiff wood or aluminum masts vs. newer super flexible masts. The stiff masts are used with flexible planks and the flexible masts are used with stiff planks. The stiff masts often come with quite flat sails for speed. The newer and much older sails tend to be fuller, the latter from age. The newer fuller sails are flattened by the bendy masts. Rigging varies considerably depending on whether the boat was set up with a lot of back rake to the mast, modern, or antique straight up and down. DN fuselages are often owner built with the cockpit sized to fit, check that out especially if you are tall or wide.
Once beyond the DN and its relatives, the cost in everything goes up exponentially, just like water boats. Trailers, storage, size and weight of parts. Often custom or owner built parts, etc. add to time and expense.
After the DN are a variety of slightly larger boats, some open like the D14 and Arrow, some enclosed like the popular Nite and various other designs which were built in small numbers years ago and new designs called generically “Pocket Skeeters” that are appearing from home workshops. The pocket skeeters are trying to fit together comfort, speed, and portability with some success.
The Nite is a cozy two seater or roomy single seater. Most are factory built and are still in production. Spare parts and accessories are available and there is a good class support organization. They are supposedly car topple, but that is pushing the envelope. It is heavy enough that two people are needed to move the fuselage and to put the up mast unless you are very strong and clever. Because of their popularity and class support they are 2-3 times as expensive as the DN. They are raced in the mid-west.
The Arrow is a big open two seater with a heavy fiberglass indestructible fuselage. It was popular years ago but has been nudged into the background by the Nite, which is far more comfortable and better boat.
There is an anomaly, at least in the Northeast, that often older big boats can be bought for prices similar to good DNs, the market being soft due to the inconveniences of ownership. On the other hand, new big boats can run well into five figures. Speed, comfort, ego, pride of ownership, etc. all have their costs.
Then there are the real “Big Boats” generically called “Skeeters”. These designs started to appear in the late’30’s as alternatives to the large 20-40 foot stern steerers of turn of the century origin that got bigger and bigger. The defining designs are the Renegade and Yankee, both bow steerers intended to be “Small Boats” for the same reason “Pocket Skeeters” are emerging 70 years later: size, cost, transportability, performance. The Renegade and Yankee are defined class boats still very much with us today and popular on bigger ice. There are many other big boat designs of similar purpose. These are most popular in the mid-west and in New Jersey where the country’s first boat club, North Shrewsbury Ice Yacht Club, was established at Red Bank. History and nostalgia are strong down there, and the club house is charming, but global warming has made NJ ice inconsistent. There are also historic stern steerers kept and lovingly restored for sailing on the Hudson, Lake Champlain, and Lake Winnipesauke.
Stern steerers are wonderful to look at, the larger ones majestic. My limited experience is that they are often hard to sail, uncomfortable, cumbersome to set up and transport. They do have mystique, make lovely rumbling noises and are totally different from the bow steerers. You might get bitten by the bug if you are susceptible to the lure of antiques and are bored by usual ice boats. As a second or third ice boat to provide challenge and amusement, why not. As a useful all around touring boat, maybe not.
Used boats of any size usually need some attention. Runners are often rusty with hollow profiles from careless sharpening. Runner chocks should be assumed to be out of line. Halyards are often frayed or have pulley problems, consider replacement if in doubt. Steering gear should be carefully vetted, losing control is dangerous. Fresh paint/varnish will protect from weather. Trailers always have bad lights and often bad tires. Scraping and painting will slow down road salt rust. Sails have often been used as squirrel condos becoming horribly stained with squirrel dung and urine. This can be mostly removed by scrubbing and soaking overnight in straight Clorox. Rinse well. Surprisingly the sail cloth and stitching survives this treatment. Battens often need replacing. Changing from old stiff warped wood battens to modern tapered fiber glass/carbon battens can make an amazing difference in sail shape and performance. Replacing old high friction sheet blocks with modern blocks all the same size and appropriate line of correct size makes sailing much nicer. Seat upholstery of the big boat may need redoing for optimal creature comfort.
Big boats are not for the novice. They are faster than DNs and weighing several times as much require space to stop. A capsize, a non event in a DN, often results in a broken expensive mast and may result in a broken skipper if a several hundred pound boat ends up on top.

I have had more fun over a longer period of my life iceboating than any of several other hobbies and sports I have indulged in. Our fellow ice boaters are wonderfully varied people who are always good company. My wife of many years is used to my peculiar priorities during ice season. Winter has become my favorite season. I look forward to seeing you on the ice.

Lloyd Roberts, DN3314 February 2011


Chickawaukee Greying 2/16

Miss Chicky is aging fast, about half the lake is gray wet slush a few inches deep with intervening drifts. This started a few days ago. The weight of snow is sinking the ice and water is coming up through small reverse drain holes. The snow has melted over the last warm days also, about half is gone on land,from two feet down to one foot deep. A good deal of this “melting may be settling and compaction.

How smooth will it get? A spell of seasonal sub freezing temps Sunday and Monday will delay the process. The optimists (two) who left their boats on the ice may be rewarded before March.


Snow and ice on Chickawaukee 2/18

Miss Chickie has slipped under the blanket again after showing a changing stripy congealing slush/drift surface even during most of Sunday’s light snow fall and gale winds. Not all that much snow fell, maybe 3-4 inches but it blew and is still blowing on Monday with snow devils crossing the lake at ice boat speeds, easily 40MPH.

Rain forecast for Tuesday will damp down the drifting and stabilize the surface. This is all part of the usual process for the expected March resurfacing and often fine sailing. The foundation ice was about a foot thick, good clear hard stuff a couple of days ago. Patience.


Damariscotta is ON 2/22!

Thanks for Scott the spy for keeping his eyes open. The surface is smooth and excellent, with some patches of shallow shell ice. No humps of old snow in view. No ripples or waves. Todays snow showers left a trace on the ice, but compared with what we’ve been looking at for two weeks this is nothing. I estimate grade 8 between shell patches, and the shell seemed to diminish the further out I went.

But we won’t know until we sail it, which is the plan for tomorrow. The forecast is NW 7-11 with sun. It will be warm in the afternoon so bring slush runners. Light air called for Saturday, and rain or snow Sunday, so tomorrow looks like the best day.

There is a pile of snow on the ramp which is easy to walk over with boats, but too frozen for Scott’s tractor to remove. The beach looks like the best bet for trailers.

See you there! Bill


Chickawaukee Ice Thursday

Chicky gets an optimistic drive by grade of 6. The ice cycle grade is closer to 2.5, possibly sailable but not likely much fun with much fine shell ice and crunchy stuff to slow down the sailor and make down wind starts impossible. Numerous bumpy areas, few smooth ones. Old drifts only a couple of inches high and mostly hard although white. Rare patches of old black ice look like open holes but all examined had many inches of ice.

Lower ice Grades: 0. Not good for anything, difficult walking. Such as snow. 1. Not good for much 2. Ridable on ice bike, not much fun.
3. Ridable, enjoyable following nicer ice. Sailable, not much fun.
4. Sailable, might be worth doing if desparate.
5. Sailable, might be fun in larger comfy boats. 6. Sailable, tolerable in DN.

Iceman, Ice Robin


Damariscotta Sailing 2/22

We need to have a discussion about the trend toward grade inflation. Some people become so desperate after a spell without sailing that they’ll see any piece of crap plate and dub it the Yellow Brick Road. The Grade 8 ascribed yesterday was just around the pit area and as far out as a fellow might want to walk in a howling wind with driving snow. In actual fact, taken as a whole, it’s probably more like a 4.

The sailing was great when you realized the boat was not going to explode from the rough ice. Sailing fast was actually better because at higher speeds the wind noise began to drown out the sound of smashing shell ice. A few of us ventured south through the narrows into Muscungus Bay, and then down the river almost Damariscotta Mills. The same open water that stopped us last year from going all the way down was still there. So this dream remains. The north wind blew straight down the river and never failed. There are plenty of smooth patches upon which to tack and gybe so keeping the boat wound up was easy. There’s just something so magical about sailing on a narrow river. You need to watch out for overhanging trees as you place you tacks precisely on those lovely smooth spots near the shore. There is a destination: how far will we get this time. The gybes go on and on like free falling or downhill skiing.

The Narrows is in good shape. Again, choose the smooth ice for maneuvering. The rest of the group stayed close to the pits. The ice along the west shore is the best, and especially good in the south west corner. That’s where the only pressure ridge exists, and it only blocks access to the shore there. We didn’t discuss it as a group, but I sailed past what appeared to be a frozen hole about the size of a hot tub, surrounded by a low berm of frozen snow. It looked like there were branches in the ice. This was just beyond the first island. We should mark it tomorrow.

The only damage of the day was Outlaw’s sheet block cassette, which was pinned with a hollow 1/4″ aluminum tube. The tube sheared and the cassette bent. We were deep in the south end at the time, but were able to rig a temporary sheet from a spare block.

Thanks to Ben Fuller for breaking up the snow blocking the ramp. Also sailing today were Lloyd, Frank Able, Bunting, Curtis Rindlaub, Hal and John Eastman
There will be sailing tomorrow, boats are on the ice. Snow storm moving in Saturday night into Sunday. As the case always seems to be: this it it!


Damariscotta Saturday

The snow came and went. The sun came and went. But the when the wind was switched on at 9:45 it settled in at 8-10kts from the ENE all day long. When we finally had all we could take at about three, it was still blowing. And because it stayed right around freezing all day, the ice stayed hard, and we discovered that the north end had the best ice of all, with very little shell, and dare I say, approaching the level of, oh, say, about 8?

One rambling fool just had to have a shot at the narrows, but the wind faded fast down there. You really need the NW to get through properly, so it was a bit of a walk on crusty snow back to good air. But remember how satisfying that first strong pull of the rig feels after a long slog of pushing? There’s no where else you’d rather be!

Our friends Denis and Francois from Quebec made a day trip, picking up a very nice older DN to add to the home fleet. Francois set it up and took off, winding it up
easily and giving Denis a run for his money. We hope they don’t have too nasty a slog home in this new snow storm.

Peter, from Massachusetts, showed up with this very clever DN trailer carrying the hull in the middle and all the gear in lockers along the side, with the mast on top in a bag.

The good news in the weather is that this next spell promises a wintry mix, so whatever we get has the possibility to recover easily. There is over a foot of very nice ice out there; we inspected it through a kind ice fisherman’s hole. The first couple of inches are grey, and then black all the way to the bottom.

Is there any other good ice in New England? Fair ice? Lousy ice? We’ll sail on anything at this point!

Chickawaukee Ice

Chickyice is graying out this morning. Who knows what this week’s forecast of unsettled weather will do, this is a good start.



Mid Coast Ice Mar 5

A walk on Chickawaukee finds crunchy partially frozen slush on rotton snow ice 4 inches on old black ice 8 inches. The black ice is soft but not yet punky or pencillated. Slush runners might do today for a while.

The big problem is 5 degrees above normal average daily temps for last 10 days at least and perpetual precipitation, a little snow and rain every gloomy gray tepid day. The average daily temperature should be a little below freezing instead of a little above freezing which , surprise, degrades the ice.
One good Canadian high would put us in business for the usual glorious spring sailing of the second week of March, none in sight but we have another week to go.



Spring Ice

Conditions in Maine still don’t look good for the near future, and we all know what will happen in the (not too) distant future. But there was decent sailing in Massachusetts, on Quabog last Saturday, with Cody Sisson and Peter Coward both sailing new boats.

Here’s Peter with his Cheeze Whizz; the color is the same as that famous gourmet item. He couldn’t quite catch Whizz Kid, but even to come close on the first day out should have James looking over his shoulder.

This is Cody’s new pocket bubble boat, less the bubble, still in primer. No definitive performance reports yet, but chances are that you won’t be seeing much of this boat over you shoulder, more like over the horizon!

The rest of the New England fleet found Lake Wallenpaupack, in Pennsylvania, this past weekend. The A stern steerers and Yankees from New Jersey, a couple of boats from the Hudson River club, and the NEIYA DN gang all found room to move. The DN’s and Yankees scratch raced, while the stern steerers reached up and down the lake, five miles from pressure ridge to pressure ridge.. The A Stern Steerers from North Shrewsbury have been packed up since January waiting for the Northwesterns to be called on. They are now ON for March 10, but they haven’t found any ice at all in the mid-west. But in Penna, reports predict temps in the teens at Wallenpaupack this week, so if they dodge the snow it might be the only ice in the east that we know of. It’s a long way from everywhere, but come spring you might be wishing you’d made the drive. And if the A’s are back it could make it doubly worth it. Thanks to Andy Hudson for the photo.

So, stand by for more exciting posts, like “how to mouse-proof your sail bag”, and “re-packing trailer bearings”. And if you hear the strains of a corpulent woman humming a familiar tune, turn it up ’cause it’s gonna be all we get for a looooong time.


Damariscotta Sun> Mar. 3

Scott Woodman reports from Dammy that it also has a thin coat of slush, no residual snow in sight.

A blast of Canadian cold air is needed, none forecast, just mid to high 20?s Tuesday and Wednesday nights, maybe that would do it. The second week of March, our traditional Spring ice week is just over the horizon.


Runner Alignment

I strongly believe that definitive runner alignment should be done in the shop ONCE. Epoxy the chocks and chock bolts onto the plank forever. The business of alignment on the ice is frustrating and only good until the next heavy air when the chocks move again. The only use for on ice alignment checking is just that, checking, and is a waste of time if you did it right in the shop and glued them on. For checking unknown chocks some kind of rifle telescope on an aluminum plate grooved on a table saw is fine. Ice needs to be smooth. Make the plate long enough so that the mounted scope is far enough forward or aft and high enough to clear the plank. Sight on a distant building estimating an 8 foot distance between features on the building. In the shop I use a stick with 1/2 inch or larger aluminum rods 2-3

inches long at the ends, one fixed and the other sliding. Both rods are drilled end to end, the sliding one off center, 3/16 is fine, one is threaded and fastened to threaded rod screwed into the wood stick. The other end of the stick has smooth 3/16 rod glued or threaded into it, long enough to leave room for a dial indicator to be mounted on the stick or on the rod and measure to the 1/2 inch aluminum rod that is to slide on the 3/16 rod. The stick is of such length that the two 1/2 diameter aluminum pieces, lets call them spuds, ride on the edges pf the runners mounted in the chocks with the plank upside down. Give them each a whack with a hammer to make a groove that will slide along the runner edge (oiled). The runner edges need to be parallel and the plank ideally should be squished flat, but that is not necessary. The moveable spud should have a square smooth end where the dial indicator will ride to measure movement of the spud. Two people move the spuds back and forth, just the length of the chock is enough, and the excursion of the spud is measured.
At this point you will have drilled out the chock mounting bolts from 5/16 to at least 3/8 so the chocks can be rotated a bit into alignment, but no glue has been applied because if you need to drill out the bolt holes more to get aligned you will have fun drilling the epoxy filled holes.
The actual moving of the spuds back and forth and getting a reproducible reading of near or less than .001 inch on the indicator for alignment requires some patience, a definite learning curve is created by; the helper, the flexibility of the stick, looseness of the spud on its rod etc., if you believe in Zen, use it.
When alignment can be achieved take the chocks off, mix and thicken epoxy, apply to previously roughened chock surface that faces the roughened plank, fill bolt holes in the plank (put masking tape across bottome of holes so epoxy doesn’t run out until you are ready to quickly put in a bolt from underneath) and get it started up into the chock. Wear rubber gloves, this gets messy, the goal of the exercise is to get the oversize holes full of epoxy around the bolts and form epoxy bushings so they CAN’T MOVE EVER AGAIN. Gently tighten the bolts on the chock that won’t be moved, glue and apply the movable chock that will be adjusted, tighten bolts just finger tight. Get the measuring gear and fiddle with the moveable chock to make sure you have adjustment swing enough in each direction. If not loosen the “fixed” chock, adjust it, and proceed.
As you get to within a few thousandths of perfection tighten the bolts somewhat. When you get to the point that rotating or twisting the chock is chasing your tail, get close and then try differential tightening of the bolts, just a little at a time will get you to plus or minus .001 inch over the distance of travel of the length of the runner chock, the principal bearing area of the runners in light air, where the alignment means the most. Now you are done, pick up your gluey tools, lay the stick, spuds, etc aside, turn out the lights and walk away until tomorrow. The last thing you want to do is bump into a runner while the epoxy is half cured, LEAVE THE ROOM.
The bolts should not be cranked really tight, that just squeezes epoxy out of the joint, it needs to be there. Clean up the epoxy drools very carefully and gently before you leave the room, better you have some congealed drools the next day than knocking a chock out of alignment after all that work.
Obviously you are using your best runners, carefully profiled and sharp ready for the season to come. The real fuss pots make sure all their sets of runners have edges parallel to each other, another story.
This is not a job for coffee break, think 2-3 hours when you know what you are doing, plus the time to make the parts, set aside a day. Tools needed are a drill press, hack saw, files and square for making a flat end of the measuring spud, and lastly a dial indicator. A used tool place like Liberty Tool Shop in Liberty, Maine, usually has them for $10 or so. Liberty Tool has no phone, you have to go there, they don’t mail, they might have e mail or a web site. Anyway it is worth the trip, turn your significant other loose in the Liberty Graphics T shirt place across the street and see who can spend less money for stuff they didn’t know they needed. There is nothing else to do in Liberty but it is worth the trip. A friend of mine bought a small measuring tool in a wood case and found a diamond engagement ring in the bottom when he got home. He took it back and the shop owner said ” I don’t know where the stuff comes from, spread the word and keep the ring”.




Chickawaukee 3/4

The ice on Chickie remains in appearance only. It is about a foot thick and covered with varying color gray slush now streaky white but changing throughout the day. This junk is 1 1/2 inches deep and what seems to be hardish ice. As for the last few days I believe with 8-10 wind it could be sailed with plates it just needs someone with gumption to try it.

Suggest launching at public beach, parking lot there muddy. Lloyd’s beach is closed.



ice poetry

Dear Ice Buddies…..As we stand by in early March for this season’s last dramatic hurrah, or its sad fizzle, please note that our website’s new page “Ice Poetry” is slowly taking shape. It’s slow because of the abisymal technical ignorance of we who are doing it, particularly myself. It is nonetheless happening because of the patient tutorials of our wonderful webmaster, John Stanton.

Please add your own favorites, and your own compositions, in the comment section at the end.

Although I am keen to reclaim space in the garage, I can’t bear to hoist the boat on its pulleys to the gable. Here’s hoping for some sort of season-closer, which will assuage the restlessness of these past grim weeks……Think Ice…..Jory


Chickawaukee Slush Report Wednesday Mar. 6

Surprise, yet another dawn at 33 degrees at the house, are the thermometers stuck? Meanwhile down at the iceodrome the slush is slightly firmer granular but full of water and at least 3 inches deep. The white patches are harder and crunchier but still the axe head just dropped dull side down half disappears. A brisk NE breeze makes one wonder if slush runners might work but I think they would be up to their hub caps, slow going and hard on the framework of the boat.

Meanwhile NOAA radio is looking for another 33 degree week of squalid damp air before the possibility of cooler dry air NEXT Wednesday, perhaps the long awaited Canadian High.
Out in the real world edge rot has started both here and at public beach. This may be partly due to snow melt as the water level is up a few inches. It will be plank time by next Wednesday. BUT, we might sail.



Stu Nelson is in Rehab

Judy Nelson reports that our beloved Stu, having completed another round of back surgery, has had complications with his neck and knee and is now restlessly recovering in a Rehab Center. Stu is one of the great role-models in our iceboating community, and I know many of you can imagine the frustration of this active man as the days pass in relative immobility.

Please keep Stu in your prayers, and drop him a line if you get a chance. Stu Nelson; Laconia Rehab Center; 175 Blueberry Ln; Laconia, NH 03246


restless maine natives prepare for war, 3/8

Saturday’s weather report if looking very good for a morning, and perhaps all-day, sail “somewhere”.
So our spies are spying….our crystal-ball gazers are gazing….the gear is handy for a last (dare we say it?) hurrah.

Our Darmiscotta spy, Dave L., this morning reports no slush in sight. thin styrofoam over solid ice. good winds tomorrow…..27 degrees on the lake….. the usual weatherman con game….will we “show up and pray” as our operating instructions read? Clear you decks and stay tuned!

this pressure ridge came up quickly on darmiscotta last spring


sailing Damariscotta Saturday 3/10

As Jory said, we’ll be taking a chance on Damariscotta tomorrow. Reports indicate shallow styrofoam patches on fair ice. The wind forecast 10-15 should be plenty to drive through the crud with plates in the morning, and probably slush rummers later. It’s supposed to be sunny, so a fine day might be had. No wind called for on Sunday, but some rain next week and falling night time temps might complete the healing.

This is what Dave Lampton found this morning. The launch is still tight, and thanks to Scott for shoveling it after the last storm. We’ll be there by 8:30 to get the most from the wind and hard crud. Live a little! Take a chance! Come sailing!


The Call of the Wild: Darmiscotta!

How I love iceboating! It is packed with so many variables–both from mother nature and human nature–that a day of iceboating is almost always unique. We talk excitedly, even dim years later, about “that day on X lake”.

I scrutinized the computer’s weather report at 6AM: Wind dropping from 15 Kn to 5 Kn throughout the day. Temps rising from 26 to 40. A classic “spring ice” day. At some unknown point, those two intersecting vectors would leave you absolutely dead on the ice on a lake, in this case, 14 miles long. You would be “slushed out” without the horsepower to push against the immense drag of runners.
I called Bill and tried to negotiate an earlier start, but with others coming from afar, and the lethargies of the end of a work week, I could only gain a half hour, and we settled on 8AM on the ice. I arrived on Darmiscotta in blinding sun and good wind, and found the classic spring ice conditions I associate with this most beautiful of lakes:

firm congealed corn snow with smoother, dark patches.

I blasted around the vast North Broads on slush runners as the others, Paul Delnero, Curtis Rindlaub, Bill Bunting, Lloyd, and Bill Buchholz, quickly set up boats. Curtis arrived with Indigo, which he had just bought from Bill, in an immaculate quanset-style trailer covered with clear corrigated roofing. A work of pure art. Waiting for the others, my impatience was at the boil: Come on Lads! Time is limited! I came back to the pits and switched to plate runners, since the slush runners were gripping poorly on the firm surface, but decided to carry slush runners with me on the long southern exploration.
Sailing with a better grip now, as the minutes stretched to an hour, I debated calling Bill on our new intercom system: I was deciding to be a “bad boy” and explore on my own today: a pretty dumb decision since I knew nothing of this season’s hazards. Being a “bad boy” also leaves your buddies with a day-long worry about your survival. Thoroughly anti-social! But the intercom, mysteriously set on “scramble”, refused to co-operate, and I settled down to enjoy the fantastic–noisy but fast–sailing conditions. The speed on the GPS, as I hardened the sheet to the limit, edged into the mid-40?s. Whoo-Eeee!
At last Bill and Curtis arrived, leaving Bill Bunting and Lloyd behind to match-race, and we carefully worked downwind through the Narrows in the lighter airs that lurk there. Once again in strong winds of the South Broads, as we circled the wagons for a chat, we found that we had mistakenly left Paul behind. “You’re being impolite!” he protested when he arrived. It was a sentiment which has driven me to anger so many times in the past. And just as frequently, I’ve been the one accused. We’re, indeed, a club full of hopeless individualists. Even this season, I remember driving home in stony silence from Great Pond with Bill, even though we are the best of friends, unable to resolve this sticky issue. Today, circled up, Bill emphasized that keeping together would be especially hard as we navigated downwind these 6 miles of twisty narrows. Everyone would be under the gun to keep “wound up” at all costs.
And so we stitched South, in that amazing downwind dance: Boat A mysteriously passing B and C. B then coming on strong for no reason. This was the sailing–the day, the weather, the sun, the impeccable ever-changing almost unknown scenery, the buddies– that frankly I live for in the late season of my life. I simply can’t imagine a full life without it! Finally we reached that last narrows, the place we’ve never been beyond. I pushed my boat backwards to the rotting edge:

By now it was 11 AM. We were far, far from home, and our carriages would soon be pumpkins! Holy smokes. Let’s get out of here. I switched to slush runners and eventually passed Paul and Curtis in the softening ice, as we beat our way north. This could be the ultimate downer: 12 miles of pushing. But in the South Broads we got a welcome spate of renewed wind, and, giving up any foolish idea of exploring Darmiscotta’s other southern arm, we finally sailed the slow 3/4 mile through the Great Narrows. Praises Be! The north Broads, though the ice was seriously softening, was still blasted by Darmiscotta’s famous winds and, giving up lunch in these precious conditions, Curtis and I match-raced through the early afternoon.
How wonderful to accompany Indigo–now with a less-skilled but fast improving pilot–after a two year absence. The boats were throwing up rooster tails of ice as the slush deepened, and we blasted at occasional warp speed, runner beside runner. Keeping speed became ever more difficult, and I often tried sailing with my bow runner in a previous groove. Finally, by 2:30, it was absurd to keep going. What a day. Paul pushed into the pits as we were de-rigging, exhausted from the long grind home and promptly fell asleep in his car.. Being just that much later than us, and with plate runners, the North Broads had not given him much respite from the slog.
Lloyd, Bunting and I left boats on the ice. Whatever lay in store, I was pretty sure it would be titled, Wild Darmiscotta.


Back for More on Monday

The rain has been postponed until tomorrow night, so with a SW 10-15 wind forecast we’ll be sailing Damariscotta early tomorrow morning in an attempt to beat the slush. Temps will just hit freezing tonight. It’s gonna be close, but this is why we left the boats on the ice: we need to go get them anyway so why not do a little sailing if possible while we’re there?

Ramp is probably still tight, but the parking lot is a mudpot. Try to park in a dry spot to avoid digging it up. The weekend is looking good, so don’t pack it up just yet!

Pits yesterday.

INDIGO is back!


Slush + Wind = Great Sailing, 3/11

Jory and I took turns playing Eore today. He was there first thing, having left his boat on the ice last Saturday, and called me to say how great it was. It didn’t look promising at home as the lawn was still mud from yesterday. But this is what friends are for so I hitched up the Whizz and headed for the lake. The ramp was wet, but solid, so I set up with slush runners in what appeared to be a rather lame little wind. Jory looked like a white triangular ice shack sitting out there. I knew he wouldn’t just sit there and wait for me: he’d be sailing if he could.

But the boat took off easily and almost didn’t stop for another five hours. All of a sudden I was the optimist and Jory was saying nay. But he was pining for a trip to the south end and before he could finish his tea I was off in a spray of slush headed south. I love the way a new wind direction changes one’s relationship with a lake. Sailing is, after all, just an ongoing attempt to make another point, mark, or something. Now with the southerly all the familiar marks were new.

We made it to the mouth if the narrows and short tacked through. The snow mobile tracks had settled down a bit, and we popped out into the great puff that always seems to greet us in the first bay. It took a while to get out southing in because we couldn’t point too high without sloshing sideways but the wind held at a steady 8-10. It was enough for an occasional hike, which in slush reminded me most of windsurfing. There’s really not much down there holding you to earth. We worked down to the bottom of Muscongus Bay and while stopped for a break realized that the sun was coming out and we had no idea how deep the slush could get before becoming un-sailiable. Especially downwind. The wing mast of the Whizz loves these conditions, but Jory’s tired old DN sail had to work a whole lot harder to keep wound up. The downwind tacking angles became as shallow as the up-wind ones.

There was no way either of us could stay wound up in the narrows as the warmth of the shore seems to soften the ice there more than out in the broads. So we cheated a bit and just let the sails out until they lay on the shrouds and ghosted downwind like a soft water boat. It was wonderfully relaxing. Back in the North Broads the wind was right where we had left it. On the southerly, it’s one glorious reach three miles back to the pits. But we weren’t done yet. Now that we were within walking distance of home we ripped around with abandon, carving up the slush in great wonderful triple patterns lines. I tucked in behind Jory at one point and carved a long set of figure eights in his wake.

THis isn’t a great shot, but if you look closely you’ll se the great rooster tail. It was mesmerizing just watching the runners make their way through the slush. It ran more like a long skinny power boat. On the long runs with no traffic, pressure ridges or fishermen to watch for I would just stare at them. Lloyd has said he thinks they actually plane, and would have to agree with him.
So that was our day, and you don’t get them like this without faith and a little help from your friends! Conditions still look good for the weekend, DN racers take note.


Late Ice Damariscotta/Chickawaukee

Don’t worry about Chicky ice, you can’t get on it. The lake rose 10 inches with last 1 inch rain and snow melt and the main plate of ice is further than a plank off shore, some of it stuck to the bottom at the near edge. I was told that the lake was covered with water this morning, that has all gone, down through the ice, bad sign.

However spy Scott Woodman reports at noon Wednesday that he was able to get on the ice at the Farm launch ramp. He walked out a way and found 2-3 inches of loose pencil ice on top and more than a foot of punky ice under that. He did not chop through as the hole kept filling up from underneath. The texture did change as he went down to somewhat firmer but not transparent old black ice any more.
Will this hold until cold nights starting Thursday through Sunday keep things stiff enough to sail on? The end is near and we should be very careful, we had a great second week of March, the third week may be a stretch.



Bittersweet Days

At dawn, I part the curtains

and scan the yard below
I see the grass is gaining
on the dirty piles of snow

I see the spruce bows wiggle
when moved by steady airs
and my mate adds her “be careful!”
as I carefully ease downstairs

I punch my buddy’s digits
as I swallow 7 pills
and I hope they will hold hostage
my growing list of ills

thank heaven for a buddy
whose distractions ne’er suffice
to even pose the question
of a broken date with ice

27 miles pass slowly
with my patience growing thin
but 8 bells find me rigging
on the lake’s deep-crusted rim

Damariscotta’s winds are famous
they almost never let us down
and in 15 years of sailing
I can’t remember hanging ’round

And in today’s wide open spaces
In the clouds and in the sun
those winds have kept us moving
and the deepening slush o’rcome

Another day of magic!
as we sailed and pushed and talked
and my buddy’s sharp bow runner
slammed a hole we hadn’t gawked

How slowly did we linger
as we took our boats to bits
with two day’s rain predicted
we couldn’t bear to leave the pits

soon it will be springtime
and I’ll hoist the boat on strings
and think with some excitement
of playing with summer things

But today I’ve only sadness
As I scan this season’s fun
and remember zen-like moments
That flashed and then were gone.

I feel my eyeballs glisten
as my gratitude breaks free
that somehow in my dotage
ice sailing sailed to me.


Chickawaukee Ice Friday Mar 14

23 degrees F this morning at sunrise, frost on lawn. Got on decaying edge ice with 10 Ft plank, just, the junk the far end was resting on will likely be floating bits by afternoon. Salvaged all the old moorings.

The surface was solid congealed granules 2-3 inches deep, yesterday’s slush. Out on the lake the surface is deeply pock marked, Chicky looks like healed small pox, it would be rattly sailing until the pock marks turn to slush later in the morning. The ice is 8 inches thick, slightly cloudy but recognizable old punky black ice beneath the frozen slush. Water wells up into the axe hole, as observed by Scot on Dammy, and the last 2-3 inches of ice just crumbles away into deep water. So there seems to be 3-4 inches of punky black ice in the middle holding the junk top and bottom together. Perhaps this will hold together for a couple of days of 20?s at night and sunny 30?s during the day. Perhaps it is all a little thicker on Dammy. It is thinner around old fishing holes and near streams. Like salt ice it probably will not give warning cracks before caving in.
Does this ice, and by extension Damariscotta ice get my Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, no. Will it hold up the intrepid? Quite likely. But the winter swimming season may also be here. Don’t forget your ice picks (do they work in slush?), throw lines, dry suits, and dry clothes in the car. Sail with a buddy.



Damariscotta ON for Friday, 3/15

Keeping in mind all of Lloyds excellent advise from the previous post, the Intrepid will indeed be sailing tomorrow on Damariscotta. The surface was still hard enough at noon today for plates, and tonight’s temps will make it that much better for tomorrow. Best wind and ice in the morning; poor wind forecast for Saturday. The ice is eleven inches of lousy quality, not something to drive a truck on, but should hold iceboats. There are open leads around rocks, points and islands which are thin well beyond the water’s edge. Stay clear. No drain holes were observed in the main pack. The water is probably running straight down through the ice. If you were hoping for just one more day, this is the one!

And here’s the news from Quebec:

“Latest news from Lac Saint-Francois in Lambton: my spy told me that all the snow is gone, and there is 1-2 cm of slush and water on the ice. Forecast for tomorrow PM talks about 1″ of snow, 60% probability. But the good thing is that it is becoming a lot colder for the weekend: friday 10F-27F. Saturday 14F – 27F. Sunday 10F – 19F…. With winds between 10 and 16 mph. We should have all we need to sail all weekend. And this lake is really fun to sail. Big ice, with good windy areas.”


Sailing Damariscotta 3/15

The soft stuff hardened like a rock in last night’s mid teen temps. However, it was not as smooth as polished granite. We all concurred that it was about a grade 5, with better spots here and there. The ice itself seemed very strong, with the only bad spots near channel markers, points and islands.

There will be DN racing there all weekend. Moderate wind forecast, but even with the rough surface today I found it very easy to move in the occasional lulls.
Low temps should maintain the surface all weekend. Please don’t park on the grass, but the entire ring road is fair game. it’s also dry! Just pull to the side so others can pass. Thanks, as always, to the Lamptons for their generosity: this access site is one of the best!

A few of us will be attempting to sail South Twin Lake in Millinocket, an annual ice hajj.


DN Regattas on Damariscotta Saturday and Sunday

The DN Maine State Championship regatta, hosted by the Chickawaukee Ice Boat Club, will be held Saturday march 16 on Damariscotta lake. Launch site is Damariscotta Farm. The launch site may get congested, John Eastman will be harbor mastering and organizing launching and parking. There will be a skippers meeting at 9:30 on the ice at the launch site. The ice held up nicely Friday and temps are expected to hover around freezing all day again Saturday and Sunday. The surface is rough and not great but it is still here. The ice is about a foot thick, stay away from the shore, points, etc.

On Sunday the NEIYA will put on their long awaited DN Championship regatta on the same ice. The weather is supposed to hold with temps around freezing during the day and NW winds both days, perhaps gentle in the morning and picking up in the afternoon. The inn at Damariscotta Farm across the road from the launch site has some rooms left and serves dinner.

Damariscotta Farm is located at the NW corner of Damariscotta Lake on Rte 126 just South of intersection with 115. There is a loop drive with cabins on both sides extending down to the lake and launch ramp. This is NOT Damariscotta State Park beach in the NE corner of the lake. There is a sign for Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association at the head of the loop road.



South Twin, Millinocket

Gotta run, but here it is. SUPER ice, wind tomorrow, two hours from Camden…


The Season is Over!

…..laying in bed, musing….time ticks slowly by….730, 8AM….IT’S TRULY OVER!….no more vaulting out of bed in the darkness, driven by curiosity about wind, temperature, and the thousand variables of ice….no more spending whole days in sweaty, clammy wetsuits and float jackets, heaving heavy gear around, driving here and there….worrying endlessly about ice thickness, drain holes, too much or too little wind, boat collisions, or of ironing out the wrinkles of social interdependence in this intense and dangerous hobby.

no more coming home with faces, pink with wind-burn, tense with ice glare, to begin the witches brew of pain killers which might permit a fitful night’s sleep….nursing this shoulder, that elbow, neck, …and especially toes burning with whatever makes them crimp and burn. why, why, why do we do this crazy thing?

…..we do it for…..yesterday……..yes…….my writing slows…….in that quieting, almost holy remembrance…….yesterday on Twin Lakes Millinocket…..and because of that i know….. we’ll keep doing this until–like Stu Nelson–life finally, and clearly, and unequivocally slows us down.

Yesterday, with Prometheus, we stole again the amazing power of fire, and with Icarus, we flew with our waxen wings so close, so very close to the sun of extacy. It was the season-closer of dreams, a day that could not possibly, possibly have been more perfect.

this is your classic shit-eating-grin….i’m just too stoned to get out of that boat….bill has just walked towards me, with his arms flung wide, shouting “shoot me! shoot me, dead!” I have never sailed spring ice so vast, in some places so smooth and quiet, surrounded by mountains, enlivened by 7 ice buddies, and driven by wind so powerful, but just under the edge of abject fear.

but ice that is punctuated also by danger: very occasional healed holes which slam you so soundly, that you are thankful to still have intact runners…or….out of nowhere, a house-sized drain hole, right in the middle of our playground, that we marked with an upright stick.

As we drove our boats downwind, beyond the craziness of the high 40?s MPH, our boats would begin to do a “three-runner float”. The boats were too well balanced to do a spin-out, as they would have done upwind. There you were, out of control, with the only option being to sheet-out, and, with slightly slower speed, to come back on to the ice.

And best of all, was being joined by Curtis, in “Indigo”……this is a big big change…..for two reasons…..

for a number of seasons, as the CIBC ages, Bill and I have counted on each other for persistence, for energy, and for having at least one other buddy to face dangerous conditions…..it’s been like being joined at the hip….with all the intimacy and also the strain…..and we’ve known that if either of us becomes no longer available, a precious thing in our lives will die……and here come Curtis, absolutely brimming with energy and can-do commitment…..who lives on an island, takes the 615AM ferry to drive long distances….who buys Indigo, really top-of-the-line gear….and sails the bloody hell out of it…..this is a long-awaited dream coming true.

And secondly, we have the rebirth of a dearly dearly beloved boat–Indigo. This is the boat, gaining speed each year, whose wake I have generally–except for lucky moments–followed, like a puppy, for 4 seasons. In the past weeks, I have been able to pass her at will…..but now, ALAS!…. Curtis’s sharpening skills put her in her rightful place…

A deep bow of gratitude to Steve Lamb and Peter, who heard of Twin Lakes, and stared at the webcam of “5 lakes lodge”, and brought this amazing place into our purview. The 5 lakes together are the size of Sebago. They are a mere 2:15 hours from Camden, and flash to black ice, just when we’re beginning the difficult ‘middle season’. I hope that more of us will brave the trip.

so, dear buddies, stay tuned for the announcement of the spring ice party, and also for weekend reports from damariscotta….


Or is it over?…..sent by Bill Bunting

“I promised Fred that if he wanted to sail in Monday I would sail too. Who can say “no” to a 90 year old iceboater? I took some longer planks and a pallet over today and with the plank that was there made a decent bridge. It is supposed to get cold tonight and the forecast tomorrow is for 8 mph W wind, which might be just about right to sail over that grade 5 ice without gritting or losing your teeth. It will be the first day of Spring, and the last day on the ice. I hope that others will join us.”

Bill Bunting


Listening to the Fat Lady Serenade Damariscotta 3/18

There was music this morning on Lake Damariscotta. The lake ice was singing it’s death throes. When ice sings in the fall and early winter, it’s a happy song because we know that it’s growing thick and strong. But now those deep roars and shallow crystal pings celebrate the breaking up of the plate. It’s down to nine inches, the pressure ridges are dynamic and the cracks are spreading.

In spite of all this action, we had yet another fine day on the rough ice. As we couldn’t get into the south end where the ice is smoother, we satisfied ourselves with the extreme north end, and the cove at the pits. With the wind backing more to the west later in the day, the pits cove became a great little playground. The ice never softened; we never had to switch to slush runners. Not bad for mid-March.

Lloyd, Bunting, Fred Wardwell, another Fred from York, and an intrepid traveller from Maryland were there. What is it with the Maryland guys? This is the second time this year we’ve had sailors from that far south. Last time it was three guys who drove up from Annapolis in shifts all night to arrive here first thing in the morning for two days of sailing. And we complain about four hours to Sunnapee? David Lampton took Fred’s Gambit for a sail and is convinced he’ll have a boat of his own by next season. You heard it here!

Jory celebrated the end of the season in his last post, and indeed, the trip to South Twin, perfect ice, good company, and expedition energy all combined to create the perfect last day. But remember the younger days, when the morning after a terrific party a couple of early risers get together in the carnage, find a few warm beers, and just sit back and reminisce bit? Yea, today was like that. Time to start building iceboats!


CIBC Spring Meeting and PotLuck Feast 5/28

Fred Wardwell has offered to host our spring meeting again this year on Saturday, April 28. Show up late morning for a stout pot luck lunchtime feast. Business meeting to follow in Fred’s Gentlemen’s Club.


Feel welcome to bring gear, boats, projects, questions, or any cool stuff to share or swap.

Below, Fred Wardwell sailing his new Gambit last Monday on Damariscotta. Built by Stu Nelson some years ago. You can tell that he’s not really taking a nap by the little ice spray from the leeward runner. You Go Fred!


Spring Meeting Date

It has been brought to the attention of the scheduling committee by quite a few members that the 28th is a Sunday, not the Saturday. The event will be held on Saturday, April 27.

Cody Sisson’s steering gear on his new front seater RAVEN.

Meanwhile, under the snow……..

Took a walk on Chicawaukee Friday Mar 22, (where I have been XC skiing).

The open water and honey combed ice at my beach is now 5-6 inches of soft snow ice, no plank needed. 100Yards out under 6 inches of soggy snow, but not slush, there is dark dry black ice. I chopped and chopped this clear fairly hard ice and finally broke through still solid ice at 10 inches!! Where did the 2-3 inches of junky wet stuff on the top and the leaky junky stuff under that all go? No water welled up into the hole while chopping as it did about ten days ago when rain water just disappeared from the surface. This pretty good looking black ice contained no visible air and indeed after breaching the bottom the hole promptly filled with clear, not brown run off, water and overflowed onto the ice spreading out into the snow. Why hasn’t all the ice sunk and wetted out the snow? It seems to have sealed itself in the last week of cold weather and now it does not have buoyancy enough to hold up the snow.
If it is still 10 inches thick it is not rotting out from underneath. How cold is the water? I trudged back to the house for my precision measuring device, a red fluid Taylor out door thermometer taped to the blade of a hockey stick. The water at the base of the ice seemed to be 32 F, at the depth of the hockey stick (junior size, about 4 ft) it seemed slightly warmer, about 33 F. This is probably floating on slightly denser 40 F water further down. The stream flowing into the lake at my beach was ice covered so I could not get its temperature, likely 32 F as it is mostly snow ice covered with very slow flow right now.
All we need is a couple of inches of rain and another few days of cold weather for Easter sailing.



Maine State DN Championships

Ahh, the good old days. You know you are approaching old fartdom when you find yourself saying that very often! But really, what I am referring to is when I first discovered the DN. When I started sailing on ice, it was all about racing, and that was a good thing. It caused togetherness, competition, and fun. I must also add that racing did very much for advancing the performance of iceboats in general. Runner alignment, and sharpening, for one, and bendy masts for the other.

Well the cruisers found the ice on Damariscotta, so thanks, men. When I got there on Friday the cruisers were packing up and heading north to some new ice a couple of hours away in Millinockett! Meanwhile, I made phone calls confirming the ice report, solid/bumpy ice. I then made a wonderful discovery of my own, Damariscotta Lake Farm, Bed and Breakfast/Restaurant and Bar, great place, and directly across the road from the launch site! How many years have I been sailing here and not at the least visited the bar!

Everyone arrived good and early as iceboaters should, and there was wind. Bob Crinion arrived from Nova Scotia after an all night solo 8 hour drive, making the Maine State Championships an international event. Sailors from as far south as New York and Maryland as well. NW winds blowing across the lake were a bit gusty/shifty and were backing to the west as the day went on. I am happy that Doug Raymond came to race, good to have at least two Mainers in the MSC. The boys from southern NE came with their speed, so the race was on. I was not up front so I can’t personally describe the action, but I do know that I suggested that we use the Bart rule! The BUMPY ice gave the leader T some problems with runner chock bolts loosening, but that was not enough to slow him down. It was funny to read what he put on the NEIYA site: “The ice was re-frozen snow or something and the ride was BUMPY but that is part of the game, isn’t it? If you didn’t lose any parts from you boat or fillings from your teeth you are set for awhile….” also from the winner: “Very physical sailing with puffs and lulls coming and going very abruptly- Big changes in direction also meant big sheet adjustments all day and lots of throwing weight around in the boat. And plenty of positions gained and lost!

Thanks to everyone who made it- Especially Bob Crinion who made the trip from Nova Scotia to sail with us and Kristin Buckley for keeping score also the generous folks who kindly let us use the launch site.

C. Dave Fortier


James “T” Thieler US 5224 1 1 1 1 (1) 4

Greg Cornelius US 1019 3 2 (3) 2 2 9

Bob Crinion KC 4536 4 3 2 3 (4) 12

Steve Madden US 4512 2 4 4 (5) 3 13

Doug Raymond US 4272 5 (6) 5 4 5 19

Dave Fortier US 4690 (DNF) 7 6 6 8 27

Dave Buckley US 4500 6 8 (8) 7 7 28

Richard Gluckman US 4334 7 (DNS) 7 8 6 28

Rick Bishop US 916 (DNF) DNS DNS DNS 5 32


Millinocket-The edge of the blizzard

NOAA Weather has real time doppler radar displays showing precipitation of passing weather events with color coding indicating intensity of rain/snow fall. I tracked Tuesday’s storm that dumped 10 inches of snow on us at the coast blotting out Damariscotta and Chikcawaukee, likely for the season.

The blue storm on radar with a central green yellow heavy snow core came up the coat and centered the mid coast but it seemed to just graze Millinocket and the lakes that Bill, Jory, and others sailed on over the weekend with luscious miles of ice.

By Thursday with these images still in mind and not having heard from our intrepid wanderers I wondered if they had snuck off North to beyond the edge of the snow for end of season ecstasy. I called Buchholz and was surprised to find him home. I told him about the edge of the storm radar, was there a chance of spared ice? He allowed that he would check the webcam at the spiffy B&B that looks out over the lake at sunup. We got a little worked up over the prospect.

The next morning I called him as he was dialing up the lake image and I was aleready mentally grunting the boat up onto the truck. Gray or white Bill? White, with snowmobile tracks.

It seems that Millinocket is as far as the radar beam gets from Portland and in fact there was eight inches of snow in Quebec. Apparently NOAA’s taxpayers’ funded wonder beam does not go any further because there are no more taxpayers beyond Millinocket.

Write your congressman.



Iceboating Is Not History

This wonderful painting that Ben Fuller sent in of sailing on Alamoosook Lake in Orland, ME, reminds us that we are not done yet. Nearly all the snow has wet out on Chicky and Megunticook exposing hard ice. It’s much more solid than what Jory and I sailed on at Damariscotta two weeks ago. So if we get a cold morning in the next few days we’ll be sailing.

As a matter of fact, this lake looks rather interesting. Anybody out there ever sailed it or know anything about it? Is there a spy nearby?

Stand by; don’t pack away the boat, yet.


Ice Report 3/27, Maine & Canada

My axe gave up chopping at 12″ on Megunticook today. The hole did not fill with water, even though the ice was not super hard. The surface is a nice uniform grey without any hazzards in view from my vantage point at the west end of the South Broads and could have been sailed today. I did test the waters on Chicky this morning, with Lloyd watching from the beach like a good parent of an errant child. By 10:00 it was forty degrees and small puddles were starting to form but the surface was still hard enough to handle the gusty NW wind with plates.

I sailed nine laps of an imaginary course, then realized how much fun it would be to actually have TWO boats, so I called Brian Lamb after checking Megunticook and he’s game for a bit of sailing tomorrow. We plan to be setting up by 8:00 in Bailey Cove. It’s plank access only in there, but I have not checked Bog Bridge for access.

Meanwhile, things are looking good for racing in New Brunswick this weekend. This from Warren Nethercote:

“Bob Crinion reports hints of good ice emerging from beneath the snow on Mactaquac (Fredericton). So there is a possibility of some spring sailing this weekend, albeit constrained by family Easter commitments. If ice conditions are confirmed we will follow up with another message.”

I will give an update tomorrow afternoon and possibly Friday morning, and am hoping that today’s rain followed by the forecast cold weather will give us some sailable ice.


Rotting Chicky Ice

Intrepid president Buchholz did indeed sail on Chicky Wednesday. It had been in high 20?s and sun was screened by thin overcast. 9 inches of punky ice, plate hard on top. We walked on at Lloyd’s beach. Nice breeze. Nice sail. I was not feeling well, chest cold and indeed sat out the outing after biking around a bit.

Thursday AM, temp high 30?s, no sun, 5 inches punky ice at beach easily penetrated on third swipe of axe but still held me up, probably not tomorrow.

Late Spring sailing on Chicky is always limited by access. Public beach is gone. Lloyd’s lawn is slithery and beach will be gone shortly. Ice along Rte 17 seems to be up against steep rocky embankment and is tempting. I am very wary of that edge as it gets a lot of reflected warmth from the sun shining on its Western face. The water is deep there right up to the shore.

Go to Canada.


Moosehead Lake Saturday

Moosehead has nearly wetted out and spies say that the surface is pretty good. Without knowing exactly what that means, myself and our Canadian friends Denis and Francois will sail there tomorrow. The lake is big enough for more than just us three so please feel welcome to join us.

We are working our way into April sailing. Local temps next week will dip back into the 20?s at night which might give us another day or two on Megunticook.


Miracle on Ice 3/29

It was forty degrees all night, but just to see what had happened to the slush sandwich I went to Megunticook. The water was gone and the surface hard. There was even a skim of ice over holes I’d chopped the day before. The wind was blowing so I called Brian Lamb and he was there in ten minutes. We set out on plates first; that’s how hard it was. An hour later I was on Slush runners having a ball but Brian’s boat was stuck. We swapped boats for a while, this being his first time out this year. We were a bit nervous about getting off the ice as the day warmed to nearly fifty, so we packed it up and were home in time for lunch.

The edge is rotten of course, but the 14″ on the main plate remains. I guess the point of the story is to never assume anything when considering ice. Or, better yet, against all logic assume that the sailing will be great. And don’t forget the slush runners!

Tomorrow to Moosehead!


Moosehead 3/30

It’s been a long wonderful winter and I’m out of superlatives. Besides, words can’t do justice to the wonder of Moosehead. It has the horizons of Sebago and the intimate geography of Winnipesaukee. It also has two feet of ice. So, speaking of Winnie, I am proposing a Hard Way Moosehead for next weekend. The forecast shows some warming followed by sub-freezing nights AND days later in the week. If the cold holds we could sail from Greenville to Rockwood, or visa vera. The warmth might smooth things out a bit, but quite frankly it’s not nearly as rough as Damariscotta two weeks ago.

The most fun was to launch the windward runner from a mound of hard snow and set it into a long easy hike. Even as the ice softened and we switched to slush runners, these mounds would still provide lift-off. The wind built nicely to a steady 10-15 from absolutely nothing. There’s not much that tries the traveling iceboater’s faith more than watching limp flags and straight smoke mile after mile. But it held all day, and outlasted us. Have a look at Denis’s video to see what we were sailing in; it really wasn’t as bad as it looks. As a matter of fact I believe that we risk becoming ice snobs. Sure, smooth ice is nice, but blasting around in sprays of slush, the boat all squirlly, and trying to stay powered up is an absolute blast. (I know, I said that last week…)

This is Mount Kimeo, a major landmark on the lake. It can barely be seen from Greenville, but will be the windward mark if we can pull together enough people for a Hard Way. Winnie Hard way rules will generally apply. Send me an e-mail directly if you want to come.

This is what you’ll be seeing, and I think the surface will not be any worse. The only pressure ridge we found was small and easily crossed. We did not sail the proposed Hard Way route, so we will all be doing it for the first time. That’s one of the Hard way rules that won’t apply. The launch ramps at both Greenville and Rockwood are excellent with drive on trailer access. It’s about 15 miles as the crow flies.

So, put away the potting soil, get your survival kit together, and help inaugurate the new Northern Hard Way. The way it’s going, by the time I’m Stu Nelson’s age we’ll be doing this on Hudson Bay!


Sherbrook Lake – Results of Snelly Cup , Nova Scotia Championships

Seven DNs came to Sherbrooke Lake today, including Doug Gaudet from PEI. We still hadn’t sailed the Snelly Cup, so the Fleet Captains decided that today’s number of entries warranted sailing for the trophy. Special thanks go to Terry Hayward for taking time away from sailing his Isabella to be our race officer.

Winds were right down the axis of the lake so we sailed 2 laps of a 1 1/2 mile course. We started sailing on hard ice that gradually softened over the course of six races, but most people were able to use 3/16th inserts until the very last race when a few changed over to 1/4 inserts. The wind started at about 6 to 7 knots and built to 10-12 as the morning wore on, so that we had adequate power to overcome the softening ice. But wind strength varied across the course, so taking a flier could make you a hero or a fool!

Doug Gaudet showed impressive speed upwind and down in the first two races, and led the series until the penultimate race, but as the wind built he lost his upwind speed margin – although he was blistering fast downwind all day. Going downwind was a challenge. It was easy to forget how sticky the ice was: gybing to too deep an angle would lead to near immediate stalling of the sail and loss of speed. There were lots of place changes, upwind and down.

photo: Terry Heyward, with a little bit of Dick Tracy in his genes when he decided to take pictures standing next to the leeward mark!

Bob Crinion won the championship in the end with consistency all day. Although Bob had but a single win, against two for Art and Doug, he was the only boat able to discard a third. But he was only a point ahead of Art Samson, and another one ahead of Doug Gaudet. Tyler Garland got the bad luck award of the day, first breaking a forestay, and then having the hound fitting fail on his mast.

We had our 6 races in by 1PM, and then retired to Howard Garland’s deck to bask in the sun and tell lies. This spring iceboating is wonderful!


DN 3786


Moosehead, The Long Way. 4/6/13

It’s official: the 2013 Moosehead Long Way is in the books. Of ten boats starting, six made it the thirty-five miles to Mt Kineo and back. How windy was it? Well, we didn’t see dogs getting blown off their chains, but Lee Spiller has to get the raw balls award. He was sleeping in his van at the launch site, but had to move to a calmer spot because the van was getting so buffeted by the wind that he couldn’t sleep! And it’s not just about getting some sleep, but he must have been laying there awake thinking that he actually has to sail in this stuff in the morning.

And this is what the morning looked like: Did I mention we discovered a half inch of snow to add insult to injury?

How windy was it? It was so windy that at one point in the middle of the largest bays there was a shallow white-out of wind whipped ice pellets. The wind was scouring the surface of the smallest chunks loosening in the noon sun and just driving them in a blast-cloud.

Yes, that’s a pressure ridge hiding in the white-out. There were five pressure ridges between Greenville and Mt. Kineo, all easily crossed, some under sail once scouted by the first boat. The ice was very good, probably a 7. Peter Coward spent some time on a particularly fine plate doing speed runs while the rest of us were trying to keep our speed down! Denis Guertin’s brother, Yves, did the whole trip in a DN with a full sail and kept us amused with his gymnastics. He is an excellent athlete.

He nearly wore through the heels of a new pair of boots trying to slow the boat down!
Francois and Kate Morrone both busted stud plates, Denis and Lee both had rigs come down; the rest of the boats held together amazingly enough. Always tape your pins in heavy air. Steering pins included!

This is Mt. Kineo in the distance, our windward mark. The ice was as good as it looks in this picture. The roster: Warren Nethercote, Denis, Yves and Frank, Curtis Rinlaub, Lee Spiller, Bruce Brown, Kate Morrone, Dave Fortier, myself, and the hard-core bros Lamb and Coward.

The happy gang in the shadow of Kineo, too tired to set up a proper line. We sailed into this cove and all just coasted to a stop in a silent lull. There wasn’t a breath of wind in there, and it took some work getting back out with the little storm sails. But once around the point it was fifteen miles of delightful downwind sailing. We had to brave a reach every now and then but generally it was nice and deep. I did get way ahead at one point and thought I should beat back up to the fleet, but a couple of minutes of that was enough so I peeled off and continued sun bathing.

Aside from the ridges and the drain hole over which Denis unintentionally flew his windward runner there were no major flaws. If this is what we can expect from Moosehead in the spring, let’s consider cultivating our spies and make this an annual event. The one change we should make is to take Bruce Brown’s advice and have lunch at the turn-around.

Thanks to Curtis for the maps, Denis for the commemorative stickers, Warren Nethercote (8 hrs from Nova Scotia!) for finding the lodging, Kelly’s Bar for keeping us well fed and juiced, and Christian Jacques for scouting the ice last week which set this whole event in motion, and to everyone who had the faith to make the drive. Faith, after all, is just asking your heart to believe what your eyes can’t see and you mind can’t understand. It’s finally time for some well deferred boat maintenance, and maybe even a little gardening. And as you are sitting on the porch this summer sipping your gin&tonic, the ice cubes will be speaking to you: it’s not just mindless clink-vlink against the glass. What they are whispering to you is THINK ICE!




CIBC 2013 Spring Picnic and Meeting

There is nothing like a good spring picnic with fellow ice boaters (joined by several tolerant wives) to soften the blow of the end of one ice season, and to start us all thinking about the next. For the second year running we were treated to the gracious hospitality of Fred and Ann Wardwell at their wonderful Searsmont farm (once the home of Ann’s father, the notable Maine author Ben Ames Williams). Once again Fred and Ann were ably assisted by their daughter Martha Goodnow (also an ice boater) who traveled from her home in New Hampshire for the occasion. All the food provided by the Wardwells and by other celebrants was tasty and excellently prepared, and nearly all was consumed. Bill and Frank were sure to stock up for their road trip the following day, figuring that they were traveling on ice boat business. On that note, my wife Jennifer appreciated that one piece of her apple pie was considerately left for her to sample. Our sincere thanks to the Wardwells and to other contributors.

Once again we all admired Fred’s barn-full lineup of vintage industrial wood-working machinery, crowned by the mammoth band saw which created such a spectacle when Fred towed it home behind his VW from somewhere between here and a Lake Erie a few years ago. Fred has set the mark or the rest of us — one can never have too many ice boats, or too many tools to build and repair ice boats (or four-masted schooners, for that matter).

Also in the barn is Ann’s father’s magical summer gathering hall, which again was our meeting site. It was decorated for the occasion with numerous enlarged color prints of President Buchholz’s spectacular photos from the past season. They are available for any ice boating promotional event, and copies of any or all can be ordered through Bill. Jory’s hat was passed for contributions to reimburse Bill for his expenses.

The chief topic for discussion, regrettably but understandably, was the dismal subject of xxxcensoredxxx, a problem for which we have no ready solutions. Two years ago, following the advice of people who supposedly know about these matters, we incorporated the club as a xxxcensoredxxx, which presumably protects members from being swept up in a xxxcensoredxxx if another member, or the club, is being xxxcensoredxxx. However, club officers are not so xxxcensoredxxx, and the xxxcensoredxxx we purchased provides xxxcensoredxxx for them. Last year the xxxcensoredxxx nearly doubled, while the doubling of dues, to pay the original xxxcensoredxxx, cut our membership significantly. With the xxxcensoredxxx monster eating up all the treasury, the future of Lloyd’s wonderful and inimitable newsletter — which we suspect is why a number of our far-flung members were members in the first place — is placed in jeopardy. All members present were in agreement that this has left us in an intolerable situation. Between now and next Fall’s meeting the officers will conduct further research regarding options, beginning by contacting Mid-Western ice boaters to see how they are handling the situation.

The attendee who came the greatest distance was John Stanton, our web tech guru who has guided our growing presence on the Internet, and who, I believe, came all the way from Connecticut. The Mainers who came the farthest were Dennis Glidden and Peter Ashley, from York. The would-be attendee who tried but did not make it was Chris Conary, who, carried away by the spring weather, headed out on his faithless BMW which went dead in Union.

Buchhholz and Frank Able were full of plans for a Sunday roadtrip to MA to pick up a partially finished Whizz fuselage and parts salvaged from a defunct skeeter to combine into Frank’s new ride — next season is already well underway! (editor’s note:) Bill and Frank clocked 600 miles on Sunday, picked up two partial boats, and Bill will begin to morph one into the other as soon as the work tide receeds. Stand by for project up-dates. As always, iceboat.me welcomes all manner of iceboat building and repair projects to share.

Respectfully submitted,
Bill Bunting

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