No, not our beloved ice-making weather system, but the buzz of first ice with good buddies. Rules of Thumb say not to drive excessive distance to ice that hasn’t been sailed, but there is also the “show up and pray” clause. Invoking the latter, based on the bubbly optimism of Denis Guertin I headed for Quebec long before dawn yesterday. He wasn’t sure where we’d be sailing but he promised ice somewhere. As we’ve been feeling the pinch of a late starting season it seemed to be a worthwhile gamble. Besides, the NEIYA racing gang had driven all the way to Wisconsin this weekend; my little jaunt across the border paled by comparison.
I found Denis and Frank on Petit Lac Lambton in an easy four and a half hours, including a search at the border. The Canadians did not believe one could be ice boating so early in the year so must have felt I was hiding something under all those sails and planks.
The guys were setting up in a hatful of wind with streamers of snow decorating the plate. Frank, who can never get enough wind, was thrilled and bent on full sail. My little Davis venturii anemometer pegged a steady twenty with gusts to twenty-five, so it was storm sail for me. The lake is one mile by a half with the wind coming right down the middle, so the logical thing to do was to set up marks and race. In these conditions racing is actually safer than just sailing around.
These guys had never raced before, so I shouted the basics and off we went. Halfway through the second race the wind snapped the 1″ dowel holding the flag at the leeward mark, so we just followed the old skid marks to finish out the race. The little storm sail was just the ticket and won five out of five. We were knackered out by late afternoon, so put the boats to bed and retired to Denis’s summer cabin a few miles away on a different lake for lies and libations.
Today dawned clear, 16 F, with a light breeze rippling the surface of Grand Lac St. Francois, a big lake visible from Denis’s place which will freeze later. By the time we’d packed the calories and slipped in the hand warmers the wind was up to a nice 10-15. Back on the race course today, it was Frank who dominated with Scott Carlson’s old boat. We could catch him with tactics, but for pointing and boatspeed he had the package de jour.
Not much worth reporting in Maine yet, except for this little beauty on Rt. 27 between Stratton and the Canadian border called Lower Lake. The wind was blowing right down the middle and I chopped a few holes indicating five inches. If I wasn’t so beat up from two days in a DN I would have been tempted, but there is that “never sail alone” rule with no caveats or addendum so I present this hidden treasure for all of you. Get it before the snow does:
There’s a lot more of the lake than you see here, with islands and wandering straights. It doesn’t appear to be part of a river system so might not have flow, but it looks deep. Oddly enough, nearby Natanis Pond which appeared to be much shallower only had two inches. Ah, the mysteries of ice.
We’ll be scouting this week and will post it here, as always. Welcome to the 2014 Season!