2014 Season Highlights


Grey Skies Over Ice

Our correspondent from eastern Quebec Denis Guertin reports small ponds locked in and sends this photo. It probably won’t hold, but we thank Denis for keeping his eyes open. As we’ve said before, be sure to dig out your passport in case we need to leave the country on short notice!

And just for giggles, Plymouth Pond skinned over last night but didn’t survive the warm temps today. Not that we should start getting excited, but paying attention is half the battle.


Tune-Up Clinic Next Weekend!

It’s that time of year, once again. Gather up your gear, roll up your sleeves and come down to the fourth annual Lamb Tune-up Clinic.

Returning once again for encore performances are Eric Anderson on grinder, Steve Lamb on alignment and of course Linda Lamb with an assortment of good eats and drinks for all. Also a special appearance by John Eastman from Rockport, ME to set up his new runner grinder for the first time. Yes, John is taking it on the road.

To help defray costs we will be charging a nominal per runner fee this year.

Fees are as follows:

• Free – Up to three (3) blades to new members joining for their first season. THIS MEANS YOU, LOUISE!

• $5 per blade for members in good standing for the 2014 season

• $10 per blade for non members

To help maintain order please sign up upon arrival at the shop and one set per person while others are still waiting.

If you have any interest in the sport of ice boating, this is a great place to learn more. Informal discussions on alignment safety, runner sharpening, racing, cruising, whatever, will be going on. And there are no helmets, face masks or gloves to get in the way.

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

There will also be an indoor swap meet: bring gear for sale. Steve Duhamel of North Wind Ice boat will be there with lot’s of new and used stuff. Contact Steve to be sure he is bringing what you need steve. Also, Louise Megan-Racine from Kingston Ontario will be there to pick up her new DN. This is her first boat, so we are counting on you guys to make Louise feel welcome and to help her set up the boat and get her pointed in the right direction. She wants to race and she wants to win!

Saturday, November 23rd

11:00 to 3:00pm

Arthur C. Lamb Co

85 Jackson St., Canton, MA 02021

View Larger Map

Take Rte.95 to exit 11A (Neponset St., Canton)

Follow up to light, take left onto Chapman St.

Travel less than 1/4 mile to top of hill look for signs (To Jackson St) Turn right and right again 180 degrees onto Jackson St., “Do not go over railroad bridge”

Lamb Co. will be on your left ( Beige block building). Drive around back.

Whizz #5 Ready To Go

With all the interminable details behind him, Frank is ready for the ice. He’s so excited he was around back of the shop the other day coveting the ice in the rain barrel. Who wouldn’t be chomping at the bit with so fine a boat as this?

We now have five Whizz on the ice in New England. Let’s try to pull together at least one C Class regatta this coming season. Even though all the Whizz skippers tend toward the cruising side, a little good natured racing will hone sailing skills across the board.

The boom looks to be just the right hight. Frank will tuck his elbows in, drop deeper into the cozy cockpit, sheet in and go fast! Thank you Henry Bossett for yet another fine sail.

Frank has now set the bar very high for club spirit. For years it was Fred Wardwell’s CIBC sonotube finned rocket carrying DN gear on his roof racks. Now we have this:

Nice Job, Frank!

Long Island Happenings

Our man on the island Mike Acebo sends interesting news. The Ronkonkoma club will have their first gathering, a swap meet, on the 2nd Sat in December at Weeks Shipyard in Patchogue. Mike sails the J-14 RUBY that we see often here in Maine. His latest project is to build a softer plank:

“I am finishing up a new plank for #242 using a tapered, lightened poplar core with Sitka skins (25 lbs.). Will see how it sails compared to the original ash, poplar, ash (heavy) plank I have been using.”

And speaking of heavy gear, check out this roof rack system. Mike is in a curious situation in that the ferry from Long Island to Connecticut charges a small fortune for hauling a trailer, so LI iceboaters wanting to sail on the mainland are limited car topping. But this cool rig might find broad use, especially if you can pull into the garage, disconnect the rack from the car, and hoist the whole package overhead.

(Note the boat show in the background…)

And ready to go.

Meanwhile, Pete Humphrey and Dave Perry are getting close to closing in their pair of new J-14’s. Sails are on order, and it looks like they are ready to cut out the oak sides. We hope to see them on the ice this season.

Ice is forming as we speak

Finally the blustery wind is dying, allowing the ponds to grow ice in the teen’s temperature two nights running. So tomorrow, a few of us, armed with nordic skates, flotation suits, and skimbats, will be pushing the limits of intelligence on nearby Hobbs Pond. There is a bay there which is shaded by a mountain, and shielded from the NW wind, which was frozen thick enough to hold through the high winds of the past two days. Our faithful spy, Paul Cartwright, was skating there today with a buddy on window-smooth ice at the very limit of thinness.

One of my great joys, as I realize that indeed winter has not been carbonized this year and that we’re about to have another fabulous season, is looking out on my driveway and seeing Doug Sharp’s beautiful trailer, loaded with all my gear, ready to depart at a moment’s notice. No forgotten gear this year. All my ducks are in a row, weatherproof, nestled in Doug’s amazing work of art. The trailer is so compact, light, and balanced, I can lift the tongue with one hand.

Bring it on, north wind: we’re ready!

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CHEAPSKATE, The Iceboat, by Lloyd Roberts

The Alcort Sunfish empire began with a commercially unsuccessful ice boat design, some 50 boats made in the early 1960’s. CIBC member Al Heath bought one from Uncle Henry’s some years ago and has been sailing it hard and maintaining it little for many seasons. It sails well with un-modified Sunfish spars and sail, and is made from a few sticks of wood, ply, nuts and bolts, and angle iron runners.

The CIBC brain trust felt we should build a replica to tempt soft water sailors onto the hard stuff and a healthy ice addiction. Bill Buchholz of Apache Boat Works, Camden, was contracted to construct the craft forthwith.

Forthwith turned out to be 4 hours for the bare fuselage, the big bang. The space time continuum expanded exponentially to five days and $150 worth of materials, lumber yard 2 X 12, a bag of 3/8 ordinary shiny bolts, not even hot dipped galvanized let alone stainless, Titebond III glue, no epoxy, bits of plywood from around the shop, bed frame rails from the dump for runner angle steel (much harder than cold rolled), aluminum plate bits from the junk box, and a hand full of wood screws.

A somewhat worn but serviceable Sunfish rig was applied to what looks like a streamlined life raft.

The expensive items of a DN are missing; no $1000 mast, no $1000 sail, no $1000 runners, no $1000 hardware package, no $100 4X8 sheet of ply wood and $100 worth of Sitka spruce, no $100 worth of Epoxy and fancy varnish.

The time continuum is in the neighborhood of 40 hours. The boat was removed from the Buchholz shop after the fifth day to stop the clock. Some little stuff remained to be done like sharpening the angle steel runners, freeing up runner bolt holes so wet swelling wood doesn’t end the sailing day on a sour note and so forth. The space continuum is garage/basement.

The boat will sail. The Alcort guys paid some attention to DN foot print, tiller/steering arrangement, sheet run, etc. The low aspect Sunfish Lateen rig of 75 Square feet (as much as a skeeter !) will have sufficient power. The 12 inch wide plank should support robust skippers. In case of mishap it will float, even the runners float. No need to retrieve the boat with a grapnel in the Spring as with a “Skimmer”.

The “Cheapskate” can indeed be built on the cheap if the skipper does the work. Basic shop and wood working skills nearer the level of bird houses than stripper canoes or kitchen cabinetry is sufficient. A Thanksgiving start and application evenings and weekends should get onto the ice by New Year. Plans and written guidelines will appear soon.


Earliest Ice


A few cold nights and frozen puddles and we are digging out our skates and sharpening runners. When will it actually freeze enough to skate/sail on?

The easiest clue is to listen to NOAA radio. The key is “mean daily temperature” strangely enough this needs to be 32F or below. In order for big enough ice to use to freeze these cold nights we need to have little or no wind… forecast “light and variable”.

Some 50 years ago when my high school hockey team played on natural outdoor ice (talk about “hardship of the old days”) I was the team manager and responsible for the ice. The main duty was flooding the rink at night for fresh ice the next day, my middle name was Zamboni. We only flooded when the temperature was below 20F. In reality for useful new ice to form or “skim over” the temperature needs to be nearer 10 than 20. If it has been cold snap “Canadian High” cold for a day or two it has likely been NW windy as well with the front coming in. About the third day of the high we can expect the “light and variable” wind to allow skim it all over seize up as the surface water has been cooled and maybe supercooled to 32 or below by the wind and cold air. When the daytime temp is less than 10 and no wind expect real action. I have seen Chickawaukee freeze right over in the middle of the day, you could see the ice grow. Then you can get 1/2-3/4 inch overnight growth and the real stuff. Beaver ponds and frog puddles will jump the gun and Jory will find them.

Right now, Black Friday after T’giving, two cold nights and daytime 30’s may have the beavers holding their breath but so might we.


Almost skating…..Rain a’coming

i have to admit: i love checking ice. what a great way to blow a morning, when, in all probability, there’s nothing happening. Just sitting on the edge of grassy pond, looking out on a whole pond with 1″ of newly-minted ice. Can’t i invent some machine with long, triple runners, a weed-wacker engine and spiked drive-wheel to blast across this virginity?

for the locals, here’s what i saw:

howe hill swamp: old ice=1.3″ new ice =.75 (estimate since i couldn’t cross the old ice) hobbs pond, near fish pond connector: =1.2″ lovely ice

whitetail reflecting pools: shaded ice=2″ (could be skated) open ice =1″ toleman pond: =1.7 (could be skated by midgets with 3′ nordic skates) grassy pond: =1″ very nice ice about to be kyboshed by warm dastardly weather megunticook, bog bay: old ice =2″ could be skated) open ice=.8′ megunticook lake main body= open water

plymouth pond, as reported by your pie-in-the-sky plymouth store: open water

so, shall i go out in the weak yellow 1PM sun and skate those paltry slivers of ice? or, loaded with thanksgiving leftovers, drift off into la-la land. you guessed it…..ZZZZZZ


November on Plymouth Pond.

My basic expectation of any ice season is to be on Plymouth Pond on December 8. And on average, that is usually about right. So today, I was settling into a lovely afternoon nap when the phone rang. It was our wonderful new Plymouth spy, Tim Smith, who had just chopped a 4″ hole thru solid ice at the landing. I immediately called Bill.

Jory: I have crushing news! Do you have a handkerchief handy?

Bill: Wait! let me sit down a minute! Death in the family?

Jory: We missed Plymouth Pond! 4″ of black ice!

Then recriminations flew back and forth about exactly whose fault it was, until, with a sigh, it became clear that we were equally asleep at the switch. 1:40 PM….what to do? Get the hell up there! So we sped up north at high speed, telling Plymouth Pond stories and eagerly looking for the landmarks…..dixmont, home stretch….the water tower, one more hill….and there it was, grey in the afternoon sun. Driving by, it looked like Moby Dick’s old whale hide: drain holes, orange peel surface, sticks and stones. I half expected a harpoon to be lodged at an angle.

But Tim was right–a solid 4″–so we strapped on skates, Bill assembled his Skimbat, and we started swinging our ice axes, as we made our way out into deeper water.   Hooray!  After weeks of piddling ice,  something was solidly talking back to our swings!  Soon we came to smoother ice, without orange peel,  which measured noticeably less than 4″:   2.5″!   Bill abandoned the skimbat, as our worries increased, and I headed back to the pits for a forgotten pair of claws.  This was not going to be bullet-proof ice!

Once we were back together again–Bill not having moved an inch in my absence– we espied two areas about 2′ in diameter, just faintly different from their surroundings,  which turned out to be only 3/4″ thick! We made a note to mark them later, and–still gripped by ‘early ice extasy’– continued on the 2.5″ ice to the South. We soon found that the ice was far from monolithic:  it was a potpurri of textures, overlapping plates, and brash ice sandwiches; which occasionally measured as little as 1.5″ thick. It was almost impossible, in this variety of surfaces, to spot the ice junctions which are so vital to see and check.   Then,  a moment of  total panic set in:       It suddenly  seemed like we were surrounded on all sides by dangerous, unknown, unpredictable ice.  A high-stakes roulette game with nasty odds.    We gingerly turned around and, inspecting the glassy black ice carefully,  exactly followed our skate scratches back to the launch area, where we skated and skimbatted safely  in the light air, keeping to the 2 acre patch of 4″ thick orange peel ice.

As the sun set, we packed up and headed south, thanking our stars that we had not, after all, missed Plymouth. Plymouth at this stage is a disaster ready to happen.   There was no pre-season free lunch.   But she’ll probably be waiting for us, after this next warm spell, with the better kind of adventure we so long for.

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Thetford Mines

I’ve had it: Just as we get ice,

the temperature climbs and climbs!

My ice axe tinkles paltry ice,

though best of all my finds

But I know that there’s an answer,

and we’re off to Thetford Mines.

You say you’ve never heard of,

that place called Thetford Mines?

Just point your car’s nose northward,

and start following the signs

And four and a half hours later,

you’ll spot the lake at Thetford Mines

I thought Maine was just as nifty,

as any iceman finds

‘Til the smokestacks of Republicans

blew heat from southern climes

And now my heart is yearning

for the ice of Thetford Mines

Thetford has a secret,

while our southern heart repines:

When winds blast from Alberta,

and the mercury declines,

The locals smile and cavort about,

on the lakes of Thetford Mines.

I’ll find a sassy French girl,

who dresses to the nines

Who cooks a wicked bouillabaisse

with a broth of lemon rinds

In her cottage on the ice-edge

in little Thetford Mines

So we’ll leave you ice-nuts languishing

in endless weather binds

Bill and I’ll come limping back

when summer’s on our minds

To bathe and tell you fables

of the ice at Thetford Mines


Canadian High

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!

Thursday Morning Rendezvous on Plymouth Pond!

Our spy on Plymouth, Tim Smith, reports ice conditions there, which are identical to what we are seeing on nearby Toleman Pond here in Rockport, Me:

An ice base of 3-4″ thickness with pebbley grey surface, and a 1-2″ dusting of unbonded snow on top, blown clear in the central portions of the pond. It sounds pretty good to ice-hungry ears! So, if you are free, and care to follow the motto: “show up and pray” please join Bill and myself on the landing there about 10 AM.

This is the start of a very cold patch of weather, lasting, without a moment’s thaw, until snow on Sunday, so if the ice thickness and surface are good, and the winds are good, and the creek don’t rise, and our bodies can do another season (please Higher Power!), and the gear is all there and working, we could have a nice stretch of iceboating.

Since it is a wonderful 3 day prediction of goods winds and brutally cold temps, we’ll probably leave our boats on the ice for the duration.

When we were there last week, we noted lots of grass growing through the ice. It’s not clear if the lake is lower this season, or if the aquatic weeds are getting more bothersome in this very shallow pond.

But above all, even though it seems like these single digit temps could freeze anything, let’s scout the whole lake carefully before we go to higher speeds.

hope to see you there…..we’ll report to the stay-at-homes, via web, on Thursday night…..jory

Plymouth last season:

As we begin another ice season, launching out into the uncertainties of mother nature and of health, I sing this little prayer to my iceboat buddies, and to myself:


Sailing Plymouth 12/12

Somedays you have great ice, nice breeze, sunshine and a fun bunch of iceboats cavorting around a beautiful lake. Aligning all those disparate elements can actually be called iceboating. The sailing part is just the frosting on the cake. And speaking of frosting: the six inches of Plymouth ice was frosted with an inch of light unbonded snow this morning at ten. Jory and I walked halfway across to where we knew there was thin ice a week ago but found nothing but thickness. But the 15kt breeze was working on the snow, packing into tight little drifts. Scott Woodman and Jory set up their boats anyway and had a go at the snow.

It was pretty good sailing as long as the wind held, as we needed the power to blow through the thick stuff. But the double edged sword here is that so much wind over snow that can stop a boat can cause some boat busting. Indeed, as Jory turned rather sharply to line up for a drag race next to Yellow Bird he spun out, the mast came down and his chock was removed from the plank. How the mast down and chock off are related we have no idea, but it was the end of the day for Icywood. The anodizing on the top of the chock had not been ground off so the glue didn’t stick, and the bolts didn’t fully penetrate the the chock. Two strikes and he’s out.

We took turns sailing Scott’s new/old ride Yellow Bird. It’s probably a 7/8 model of a Northeaster, and a delightful pocket skeeter. The parts are small and easy to move, and she sails very smooth and easy. With the DN rig she is a good match-up with Icywood, but it will take decent conditions to really get her dialed in.

Did you just hear “decent conditions”? Don’t get your hopes up. We are not going back to Plymouth, but hope the snow forecast for Sunday will miss us and allow some of the lakes that were open during the last dump to thicken. Wind forecast for Saturday at this point is nil anyway. But, we’ll continue with the legwork, see what we can find, and post it here.

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Chickawaukee Ice


AND OVER. These last two nights have been close to zero and she skims over but by 10AM she gets bashful and melts away.

However there is a crescent of ice growing at Heron beach, 1 1/4, 1 1/2, 2+ inches with clearly visible boundaries from each night’s freeze and next morning’s break up trash. It was skatable this morning but I spent my time finishing little details on Cheapskate for the anticipated

slide out on Plymouth, Friday. Which isn’t going to happen. If anyone is desperate we could sail it on the crescent which is maybe 100 yards wide and 300 yards long. You don’t me sailing alone do you?

“The pimp of Chickawaukee”


In addition to Lloyd’s Sliver of Chickawaukee, Lake Wassookeag in Dexter has this to offer: www.lakewassookeag.com

And Lee Spiller describes a romantic moonlight skate on Cochnewagon Pond, about the size of Chickawaukee, in Monmouth, Me:

I got to Monmouth about 8 and checked Cochnewagon Pond right in town. Oh my gosh marvelous interconnected multi acre black ice sections (3″) with pebbly grey ice and some snow in between. Karin Wilson came down and we skated for a long time..lovely black ice and moonlight..making ice sounds. Unless something better pops up we are going there tomorrow. Probably set up an iceboat or two and maybe kitewing.

I can only think there are more places like this…I don’t know why this pond has so much good black ice but it does…and I don’t know what it looks like in daylight. I haven’t been around here to check other ponds but Karin says this is the best locally.


There’s probably still more that we’re missing, but thanks to Lee and Denis for spotting these!

Last Chance Ice

Major snow storm forecast for Sunday; tomorrow will be it for a while. So if we want the last of the new black ice, it’ll have to be Lake Conchnewagon in Monmouth. We haven’t even had the FIRST of the new black ice this season, so when Lee Spiller sent this photo and confirmed the pack was reliable we decided that we’re going.

This is where we need Jory’s voice to describe the angst of getting beat up in the snow covered ice while knowing that somewhere, somewhere, there is great ice just sitting there doing nothing but look pretty. He’s right: and here it is.

There is a nice town beach and boat ramp on Beach Rd which is off Rt 132, Main St, in Monmouth where the railroad tracks cross. Wind forecast is 10kt, fading in the afternoon. It’ll be cold, but sunny, so dress accordingly. The early bird might freeze,

but he’ll be the one what gets the breeze!

Saturday at Monmouth

he said she said……rumbles along the black ice jungle telegraph….she being Karen, he being Lee….and before long a picture of glorious black ice appeared on this site….and it was a forgone conclusion that many ice hounds, hungry from lean weeks of gnashing teeth over misses and maybes, would head for Lake Conchnewagon in downtown Monmouth.

I myself was held up by a deep and lifelong comittment to procrastination: the very best time, the natural organic time, to check out the snowblower, or put snow tires on the car, is the minimum possible number of hours before the first blizzard….alas, my mate doesn’t share this commitment. She’s committed to Christmas Craft Fairs, so, following orders, I slaved away in the driveway and only managed to appear in Monmouth at 11AM, proud to have snow tires on the two right wheels….

Enroute, I was dismayed that every body of water was blanketed with snow. Could it have snowed since that picture was taken? And seeing the lake for the first time was also disappointing: a few shiny black patches of ice in the offing, while snow predominated at the launch area.

But many of the die-hards were there: Lloyd, setting up his new ‘cheapskate’; Bill, setting up his Wizz for the first time this season; Dave Fortier and Jim Gagnon in DN’s; Karen and Lee on skates, with their Gambit set up nearby; “Wolfie” on skates, who was away last year; and our frequent nordic skater buddy, Marty. I put on skates and headed for the first black ice patch; then proceeded South following leads of grey snow ice…..until…..until…there it was: a 1.2 X 0.3 mile plate of perfect black ice.

Each season, one has to experience this miracle anew. The panic of skating off the cliff of white ice, into the miraculous, supspended-in-space, panic of a clear, shiny, green-black mirror of the sun and sky. Surely, this cannot be safe! And yet the occasional subsurface cracks, 3″ or so thick, keep reminding you that it’s safe to keep going.

Alas, in the great roulette game, wind was largely missing. There were little glides here and there, but the day’s glory was just being on the ice itself.

Lloyd was able to set up Cheapskate, a boat which uses a sunfish sail, can be made at home, and may make our sport more affordable.

Bill assembled the gang:

(cheapskate, Dave Fortier’s beauty, Northern Light, and Jim Gagnon’s just purchased DN)

Although the lack of wind punished the sailors, it favored the skaters; with a day which will be long remembered. Skating the circle of the black ice plate was perhaps 2 miles, and each lap seem to call for a sequel. You followed the black ice-white ice junction, finding that sustainable pace, bringing those summer-atrophied muscles back into harness, and watching the sun’s path move across endless varieties of ice. Finally, after almost three hours of skating, stoned with happy fatigue, it was time to socialize as we decommissioned, and head for home.

Three mighty cheers for Karen and Lee for making this amazing day possible. And thanks to the rest of us for keeping faith, and giving us all the safety, the community, as we risk early-season ice.


Where’s the Ice?

In the back of our mind was the thought that Damariscotta had not frozen before the snow. But sad to say, Scott the Guy went to have a look today and it was “all white now”. One part of Muscongus Bay was still open, but access to that plate was across some very sketchy stuff. He reports that the blunt side of the ax easily went through the three inches of ice covered by two inches of snow. Not quite slush, but marginal ice at best.

Megunticook and Chickawaukee are both snowed out, with no sign of recovery events in the forecast. It’s still early, but Jordan Bay could be something. Anyone down there willing to go have a look?

On the other hand, have a look at the web came from Rockwood on Moosehead Lake: http://www.rockwoodonmoosehead.org/images/ftp/ What we see looks sailable, but off to the north appears to be a very nice sheet. We will try to work some local contacts to get boots on the ice.

Doug Sharp checks in from Lakeville: Long Pond Lakeville is 80-90% ice with dozens of holes from persistent wind. Cold to-nite snow to-morrow, still we wait. Christmas to New Years is our usual.

Thanks, Doug.

Meanwhile, meditate on this, thinking ice:

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Smouldering Ice

Tuesday Dec 17 sun up -22F at Heron beach on Chickawaukee and the ice is steaming where it has been wetting our since the 10 inch snow storm 2 days ago. This is very close to record cold. The lake was mostly frozen over with maybe 2 inches as the snow began, usually Chicky waits until after Christmas to freeze. The cold snow drifted exensively in the storm winds.

At the time of snow there were a few pools of water that had just skimmed over. These turned brown/grey, the fine dry heavy snow sinking them immediately. These area are growing now as the ice sinks and snow wets out, these are where the ice was steaming as snow continues to get wet. This is a slow process with the new ice that is quite tight, no cracks. But the thin black ice has no air in it and with little buoyancy it will sink sooner or later. In the meantime we are going to get another 3-5 inches tonight. I have not explored the thin ice with snow on top and I do not have a dog to send out. On a more cheerful note we are likely to get rain this weekend.

David Lampton reports from the shores of Damariscotta that the lake was largely open before the big snow and is now frozen slush with a wind blown surface like Chicky’s. He has not been out on it but his 30 Lb dog has without getting wet. He needs a bigger dog.

We can all look at Jordan Bay at “sebagocam.com”, right now at 9 AM by dawn’s early light, looking West, it looks like either ice or water. The snow forecast for this afternoon may clarify the image.


Boots on the ice-Chickawaukee

2 PM December 17; Axe, ice picks, floatation jacket, spikey boots, off for a walk. The 2 inch ice before the storm is now 5 inches with 6 inches of wind packed dry snow on top. 10 feet from a brown patch there is slush at the bottom of the snow. The brown patch is 2-3 inches of punky frozen slush over 4-5 inches of black ice. The ice has grown under the high “R Value” snow. Probably the smokey vapor seen this AM is moist damp air given off by the heat of fusion released by the freezing slush.


Boots on the Ice,, Chickawaukee Dec 18

BOOTS IN THE SNOW, Chickawaukee, Wed. Dec 18


Our forecast 4-8 inches of snow Tuesday PM turned out to be 18 inches, very light fluffy stuff that is going to drift nicely in the coming NW winds.  We had a minimum 6 inches of wind packed snow yesterday on the ice, that brings us up to 24 inches.  The wind will grind up the fluffy stuff into more dense packed drifts, then averaging around a foot.  Temps. are  forecast to climb through the weekend of mixed precipitation and daytime temps in the 30s.  It will all likely turn into a ghastly crunchy mess.

This morning the “sebagocam.com” of Jordan Bay looks like waves on water so we may well have new ice after Christmas.


Ice Man

Boots In The Slush-Chickawaukee



We are now some 4 days since we got 18 inches of snow on top of 10 inches from a few days before that. Is there any hope? Yes, it has been warm, 30’ to 40s and drizzling with ½ inch of rain, some freezing last night and continuing today Dec 22.


The ice is sinking as predicted.  Will all the snow wet out before “seasonal” cold weather returns on the 24th?  Yesterday there were large patches of grey slush 5-6 inches deep over maybe 3 inches of black ice, not much of a foundation.  This was known and skated ice a week or so ago, I did not venture further.  The wetting out under the snow extended 50 Ft from the visible slush and the overlying snow had firmed up some so that sometimes I was walking on it, then it would give way, disconcerting.  There are widely scattered reverse drain holes where water is welling up from underneath the ice from the weight of the snow on top.


Now the wetted out areas are much larger, 2 days later, and the underlying slush extends to the shore, still 5-6 inches deep. It is supposed to remain near 32 F until Tuesday when it will get cold, single numbers, for several days during and after Christmas.  The surface of the existing slush is slightly frozen and there is possibility of maybe grade 8 granular with some wave pattern from blown snow, very likely worse further down the lake.  Will the whole mess freeze solid? Yes, sooner or later, but not likely for the elusive Christmas Regatta.







Ice Ho

Ron Buzzell called in today to report four to five inches of very nice ice on Lake Sunnapee. Their thin layer of snow was wet out by the rain yesterday, froze last night with no shell, and the forecast calls for smooth sailing for at least a week with some single digit nights promising good icemaking. The surface is good to fair. He checked at the southern launch at the state park, but reports that the main body of the lake if frozen, too, but not checked.

Perhaps Will Tuthill will check in with some observations on north end.

X Mass Slushwitch on Chickawaukee

10F at 10 AM Chicky patches of shiny granular grey ice and white hard snow. The snow is up to 1 inch thick with underlying punky frozen slush 2 inches thick, wet slush a couple of inches, and black ice 3-4

inches under it all. Shiny parts hard 2 in. frozen slush, back of axe bounces off this but sounds hollow. The hollow is slush and water and then black ice 3-4 inches thick I think. I did get through it and total thickness 8 inches when it all get welded together solid.

The snowy stuff would be hard to sail through and seems to be 1/2 of the surface. This may change with sun and warming daytime temps later in week. This stuff is skatable on the shiny parts with fortitude. Ice for sailing grade 0.25. I only went out 2-300 yards from my beach at North end. There may be new thin ice at other end.

Merry X Mass, Iceman

Exploring Megunticook

Merry Christmas, CIBC. Under the tree this morning is a large fine lake with 6-8″ of hard re-frozen snow melt. A little rough in places but very sailable. There’s a large patch of black ice in the middle of the broads which was not checked, but pending diplomatic concessions at the home hearth, it might be possible to make a further inspection this afternoon with the idea of setting up boats tomorrow. Bog Bridge launch is a bit of a mess with snow banks making access difficult. It also has not fully wet out but the frozen snow crust appears to hold up to a runner that I sat on, so this would be the best launch site. Stand by for confirmation!

Looking east across the broads.

Looking North up the Western Reach.

Lake Megunticook

The snow forecast for tomorrow has been moved ahead to the late afternoon, so it looks like there will be sailing for all. Further scouting this afternoon turned up a slush layer under two inches of ice in one spot, and a reduction of thickness to 4″ over an area just north of the first narrows in the Western Reach. I didn’t proceed beyond there. I also didn’t go east of Crane Island, but we can check that as a group before letting it rip!

The ice was a bit rough for skates in spots, even with the Kitewing to hang onto, but then there were the glassy smooth patches, too. They are darker, but are the same thickness as everywhere else I drilled: 6-8″.

Launch at Bog Bridge.

The Boxing Day Ice Gala!

Ice-hungry iceboaters, from as far away as Peaks Island, gathered on Boxing Day on Lake Megunticook…..ahh….actually we were NEAR Lake Megunticook, only 1.4 miles away…. in “iceboat central”, Bill’s workshop…..there we were iceboating away to our heart’s content….you see, Bill has a very inclusive definition of iceboating, which involves doing ANY iceboat-related activity….in this case we were iceboating/talking……outside a light snow was falling STRAIGHT DOWN…..so there was little interest in moving our iceboating over to the lake….

Especially strong commitment to the sport was shown by Curtis, who lives on an island off Portland, and keeps beautiful “Indigo” on a trailer in a garage on the mainland. Also present were Bill; Lloyd, who I noticed had come sans iceboat; myself, also of little faith, having come to rescue an enmired trailer; and Dirk, a friend interested in iceboating. We all agreed that this season, though starting late, will surely last until May in recompense…

Thanks to astute spying, and strong determination, we’ve been able to have intense and full seasons every year, in spite of increasingly-shy ice; yet often there is a lingering fear that, at last, this season will be the season that never was. By now, 8PM, the snow outside is 3″ deep, which really eliminates anything local.

But a few calls have netted this news: Paul Gervais, from the Champlain area reports equally depressing conditions, with lots of snow and crust and now more snow. However, Ron Buzzell actually set up boats today on Sunapee in a blizzard which totaled 3″ and 4-6 true believers are arriving there tomorrow to see if there’s any joy to be had. Winds are predicted 5-10 mph tomorrow, but better (10-15) Saturday….so I hope to call Greg Cornelious, (who is coming up with some of the Mass. gang) during the day tomorrow and see how they’re doing.

Lucky for me, my daughter Chloe, before jumping on a boat delivery to the Caribbean, has inadvertently, I’m sure, left behind a nice bottle of Napoleon brandy….sooooo…i’m being unusually patient with developments….so, ice buddies, let’s rally the faith and THINK ICE!…..jory

aboard 81′ “Sincerity” built 1928, fully reefed, going 9 Kn. reaching across a 25 Kn. Easterly two days out of Antigua, BWI.

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Delirium Ice-Tremens

3AM….sleep was impossible…the disease was obviously taking hold….under the sliver of a new moon, walking over a crunchy 3″ of new snow, i began working with a headlamp to free my iceboat from its trailer-entrapment behind a frozen combination lock….

I think i caught it, when I heard Ron Buzzell’s words from Sunapee, “We set up boats today in a blizzard”….can you picture it?……Ron, like me, is in his 70’s…..”We” might mean 80 year-old Art is there too….a deadly contagion was seeping thru the phone line…

The night before, via Bill, I had received a picture from iceboater, Bill Bernard. It’s of Schroon Lake, near the little town of Adirondack:

That’s 3″ of new ice with no white leprosy, Matilda!….there should be strict laws against sending such trashy temptation over the internet….So by 5AM my bags were carefully packed and I awaited Bill’s phone call….how can he possibly sleep?…..I slipped under the covers with all my iceboat clothes on…

There, I reflected: Brenda is out in Michigan keeping my 98-year-old mother company. She would never have let me get this crazy….besides, is this fair?…..shouldn’t some sort of sexism-alarm be sounding?….man goes off leaving blocked driveway and big stack of unanswered Xmas cards, pursuing fresh young adventure, while wife cares for mother…..alas, I don’t have that alarm….ZZZZZZ

Bill’s call woke me with a jerk, and things quickly began to degenerate. His car had no heater, and, eventually was only jury-rigged by 3PM….Greg Cornelius had called in the meantime, to say that Sunapee was not worth traveling to….also, my disease had been mellowed by an amazing afternoon of walking in the ice-sculpted woods….sadly, it seemed like our little opportunity to resist the Higher Power’s Heavy Hand had passed us by. Bill summed it up: It IS only late December, after all.

Baxter Lake, NH

Paul Delnero sends this report:

Baxter Lake, Rochester NH. Fri 12/27/13 Sailed most of the afternoon. Grade 6 ice under 1.5″ of fluffy powder.



Google Map: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=lake+baxter+nh&ie=UTF-8&ei=aoa-UtTGK8LJsQTWmoLwDA&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAg

Chickawaukee Slushwich healed

2PM Chicky slush has frozen. 200 yds from beach 8 inches of ice, 2 inches crunchy snow, good skiing. There is a gentle swell of old drifts, this assay was through one such swell, less snow in between. If we get likely storm Sunday evening it may well turn to rain in mid coast, that’s us. Hope springs eternal, it would not take much, and then it gets really cold next week, below zero nights.


WHIZZ #7 Hits The Ice

Paul Zucco drove all the way from Connecticut to Squam Lake, one of the only sailable plates in the region, to christen his new Whizz and go sailing. He’s been a’building for a couple of years so it had to be doubly sweet to both find the ice and then sail the boat. Paul certainly looks happy here:

The snow was reported to be light and dry, with Squam receiving much less than surrounding areas. Lee Spiller and others made the most of it while the rest of us spent days digging out trailers and chasing red herrings.

Nice job, Paul, and we look forward to a Whizz regatta some time this season!

Photo Lee Spiller

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New Year’s Rendezvous on Lake Attatash, Mass.

The natives are getting VERY RESTLESS… To quote an old poem:

Then came snow and freezing rain

A combination sure to pain

You couldn’t ski; you couldn’t skate

And harsh words passed tween man and mate.

no harsh words yet….the mate is away, actually….but

So Bill and I, and I hope some others, are doing a day trip to Attatash on New Year’s Day. Our spy, Paul Delniro has been keeping track of some of the lakes in that area, which somehow missed some of our big snowfalls. Access to the lake is via Attatash Road, which runs north from route 110, which is the last exit north on I-495. Just put in “Amesbury” on your google maps site. I may post an update later in the day….happy new year!….jory

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Attatash Ho!

Our boats are loaded and pointed toward Lake Attatash with wheels to roll at 6AM. Here is the Google map for the launch area:


Paul Delniro has called in from the lake and is quite impressed with its surface. Nearby Baxter Lake was a disappointment, with insufficient wetting out and a further snowfall. No news of Bow Lake.

Also good news came in from Pat Keeley that Jordan Bay Sebago has frozen and with no immediate wind to goof things up, may be the place to be this weekend. Jordan bay is 2 miles wide at its widest E-W, and 3 miles N-S; so it’s quite a playground, even though it’s only a fraction of Sebago itself. Just the name will bring up powerful memories to many of us. Right now, tuesday, the ice is just a little more than an inch thick there, and snow is predicted for Thursday….so it represents our typical frustration. Pat will call in as things develop….

so, it’s still full speed ahead for Attatash….see you there, perhaps….jory

Chicky Ice 12/31/2013

Grey granular ice, sailable except for winrows and patches of dense snow up to 1 inch thick. Snow cover 20% +. Just a bit more rain would have fixed it. Too icy for snow mobiles apparently. Chopped a bunch of holes in flinty hard snow ice, only got down to water once at about 10 inches, that was 1/2 snow ice and 1/2 black. More snow at North end. Rode ice cycle around all over lake for an hour, no thin spots seen.

Dusting of snow makes it all white New Year’s day, would be hard to see snow patches to miss them if sailing.


A Happy Start to 2014 on Attatash Pond

It doesn’t take much to satisfy a starving iceboater. Give us the clickity clack of the runners on ice black, the pressure of wind on the sail, an occasional hike and a few other sailors and we come home happy. What does it matter that we need to tack and gybe once a minute and keep a very focused eye on traffic because the pond is only a mile around. No islands, no straights, no bays. But we had all of this and more today on Attatash, a frog pond in Merrimac, Mass.

Luke Buxton came out of retirement for a nice spin in a loaner DN, John Bianchi ( who we thought was permanently ensconced in a cabana in Florida for the winter) happened to be in the neighborhood and dropped in for a visit. We marveled at the energy of Louise Racine, who bought his boat this year, and who has been to every Regatta so far and has signed up for all the rest! Jeff Nabb was there, as well as Rick Hobbs with his quiver of SkinBats. Dave and Kristin Buckley came up from Newport with a lovely new mast from Jeff Kent. Dave is determined to become very competitive this season and displayed some of his mojo by pacing Indigo for a couple of laps. This is significant as Curtis had re-vamped the sheeting on the old girl and seriously boosted boatspeed. He’ll be giving Whizzard company this winter! Thanks to Paul Delnero for scouting this platelet on his icebike, and to Jory for the excellent company on the three hour drive from Maine.

This is what it takes to keep iceboating viable: interested people finding sailable ice and the sharing it with the rest of us. Especially in this apparent drought we rely on teamwork more than ever. NEIYA scouts are scouring New England at this very moment searching for a plate large enough for the Doc Fellows Regatta this weekend. It hasn’t been called ON yet, but if you know of anything at least 1×2 miles please check in here, or with Eben Whitcomb at ebenw3@comcast.net.

When I read the forecast these days my eyes glaze over with the exciting variety of precipitation and super cold temps. Trying to interpolate a small sailing window is like trying putting a split ring into a cotter pin with frozen fingers. It just ain’t gonna

happen. This is all the reason we need to spend six hours in a car for an icy fix on a faraway frog pond.

Dammy Ice

On 1/1/2014 10:57 AM, David Lampton wrote:


My walk about on Damiscotta and my examination of 5 active fisherman ice boring s is almost the same as your report. The fisherman report nothing less than 9inches in the great bay. I measured 8 to 12 inches in my 4 fresh holes. The surface is hard to judge with some of everything. DLWA cam is up and showing the bright white Lake!

Homage to Lake Attatash

830 AM….light snow falling….i’m lingering in the magic of morning toast and tea…..why this trans-like calm?….not the slightest need to stir…is it 40 years of meditation practice?….no!…..its the reunion with a long-absent lover…..iceboating

I wanted to add a short post-script to Bill’s post. I don’t think he adequately described the miracle which greeted our eyes at 9AM yesterday as we left the car and walked out onto sunny, windy, glistening Attatash. I kept blinking away my disbelief….how had this lake maintained 8.8 grade ice, absolutely snow-less, against such impossible odds?….

And the lake is not really impossibly small….not with only 7 boats buzzing around. You point to the opposite shore and you’re there in about 2 minutes…not really frustrating…..before you get there, you’ll see another boat and the inevitable match race will ensue…and though the lake is bound on three sides by cottages and their paraphernalia, so exposed from the lake side…..on the fourth side is a reedy estuary as wild and beautiful as any…..that’s what it’s like in the suburbs…you especially enjoy your snippets of nature. In all the little bays around the shore, skaters had exploded onto the perfect ice, perhaps avoiding the zipping iceboats in the center. Here’s what the lake looks like:


it was a day for sharp runners, and both Bill and I came back for sharpening after the first exploratory round…..screechy spin-outs were a constant hazard in the lovely, all-day 10-15 kn. wind….why were the iceboat hordes not here?…I had to keep reminding myself that it was not only new year’s day, complete with hangovers; but probably a day of some big TV ball game….and tardily, lots of folks did show up, to talk at least. still…i’d swear our sport’s testosterone is trending downward….

It was great to see Luke Buxton again, John Bianci from retirement, Rick Hobbs, more than ever a terror of a skimbatter, and many others I can’t put names to…. an especial treat was getting to get to know Paul Delniro, over a body-warming lunch at the nearby fry-up. It was thanks to his persistent spying, that “The Miracle of Lake Attatash’ took place at all……gosh, what miracles still lay ahead?

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Sailing On Memphremagog Tomorrow

Our spy in the village of Magog, Jean, reports an inch of light snow fell during this last event. He sailed the north end of the lake before the storm and says the surface is pebbly, but very sailable. Temps forecast to be in the twenties Saturday and around freezing on Sunday, with south winds 5-10 and partly sunny. Sounds like a trip to the tropics to me, so I’m gone. Denis and Yves Guertin will be there, as well as Jean. Anybody else who hasn’t forgotten what iceboating is all about is welcome to join us. If the wind allows, we’ll try to sail south the the US border for a quick dip across. See if we can’t rouse the guards! Launch area is in the town of Magog, at the Club de Voile Memphrémagog. Drive on access reported.

Club de Voile Memphrémagog – Google Search

Memphremagog 1/4/14

With a date like 1-4-14 how could you go wrong? All the pieces fell neatly into place for an epic sail on Saturday. The forecast light wind built to a fine 10-15 from the south just as we finished setting up, and the south wind brought a breath of the tropics, boosting the mercury above zero. Amazing how good it feels to go from -15 to +3. Day finished at +10. Were we cold? Of course we were! But we kept going until the headlights of the cars leaving the ice indicated night was coming.It was the three of us in the video below, as well as super DN, a gaggle of kite sailors, and a local Skeeter: a hybrid Whizz/Nite. From the cockpit forward is built from the DN Goodchild Whizz drawings, and the stern from a Nite but narrowed to carry one person.

We carried long tacks down the lake ten miles to the little island just visible in the mist from Magog. Beyond that we found a brash area and stopped. We walked across and found a later freeze of lovely black ice. I wish I could tell you that there was no snow on it, Believe me I do! But there was a bonded inch, and the plate was only two inches thick. So we deep reached ten miles back to the pit area, throwing up great clouds of snow and trying to spot the clear patches to gybe. Yves rattled a pin loose and lost the rig. No harm done as Denis and I carried spares, but do tape your pins on a long tour. We got back to the pits for lunch and then went back out and did it again. Absolutely first class sailing. I was reminded of what Jory said sometime last season while tearing around in the snow. He allowed that Black Ice is way over-rated: miles and miles of the same old smooth. Sort of like the weather in Southern California. What you long for is an Event! Snow drifts give it to you: dodging them, smashing through them and launching the windward runner off the hard ones. As long as the wind holds, and this one blew strong well past sunset.

This morning the wind had vanished and the snow had softened, so we went for a skate on the municipal skate trail which winds along the shore at the head of the lake. It had just been Zambonied with a rather crude rig, but the results were superb. “Magnifique” I told the guy and he seemed pleased.

I asked if he could do the entire lake, but I think the request got lost in translation.

The night before, this was filled with smiling families and smooching young couples. An absolutely enchanting scene. If this lake comes back in, I would suggest you drop everything and go. The food and hospitality are excellent. There’s a bar and restaurant 100yds from the launch site, and the holiest of grails is the one reach-non-stop sail to Newport forty miles to the south when the wind is WNW. Here’s a video that Denis made which gives a much better sense of the day:


If it doesn’t play from this post, go to the web site and try it there. Eric and Eben are scouting the American end for a possible Easterns site scheduled for next weekend. Their local forecast tells of rain tomorrow and then cold temps coming back. No snow expected. And I heard that in English, not French!

A couple of more things.

Firstly, Saturday was bitterly cold, realistic only with hand and foot warmers. My wonderfully supportive wife bought me hi tech insoles for Christmas which were put to the test on Memphremagog. I was wearing boots, soles to the wind in the DN, and they were toasty all day:


Then there’s the issue of the food committee. We all love corn bread and beans, of course, but with a little cash in the CIBC coffers perhaps we should do as the Russians do:

Any volunteers?

After all, now that we have our own clubhouse shouldn’t the food follow suit?

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The Curse On Chickawaukee

Somebody has done something wrong here. At 11PM Monday Jan 6 lights were reflecting from the wet reasonably smooth ice of Chicky, snow all gone at last. Some drain holes from 1/3 inch of rain seen at 4 PM, fish holes up to 18 inches diameter. Ice for sure by Wednesday after drain holes heal up.

Tuesday morning at sunup it is snowing with 1 1/2 inch on the ground/ice. NOAA weather radar showed a small ink blot right here maybe 15-20 miles across, NOTHING ELSE anywhere in New England and 10 inches of ice out there except skimmed over drain holes lurking under the snow. Maybe it will blow off, maybe we will blow off to somewhere else.


The Higher Power’s Personal Vendetta!

6AM…..TARNATION!……fine-powdered leprosy swirls around the eves in the dawn wind…..the drifted disease sculpts the back steps almost 1/2″ deep…. how can this be?….Yesterday, I waded across the almost completely puddled-out Megunticook, and salivated at the ice feast sure to be served up this morning……now….Why would the Higher Power do this?….why carry on a personal vendetta with an essentially innocent old fart in an obscure Maine village?….Why would he/she hold a g……that’s it!…….”she”!….. the HP’s feminine aspect!

I can so easily confess with the Episcopalians, ” I have left undone those things which I aught to have done. I have done those things…”…. the recycling overflowing its container and even the additional “overflow” container…..the compost bucket secretly emptied into the kitchen trash instead of trudged out through the deep snow….this is surely a well-deserved pay-back….

bundled in the familiar gear, I stepped out onto the lumpy white lake…..squish!….the unhealed sandwich–3/4″ of snow ice over 1.5″ of water–hadn’t had any chance of jelling with only 5 hours of 20 degree temperatures…..what will another day of cold bring?…..I can’t speculate now…..I’m emptying the compost ….

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Come Sail Lake Damariscotta!

We had a look there today and found 8″ of solid ice out to the first island, no sandwich aside from an unhealed moat at the launch ramp. The beach was tight. We did not inspect further than that. The ice is very nice between the small frozen drifts that dot the plate. They can easily be sailed around or over, most are very solid. There was a considerable pile of frozen snow blocking the ramp, so we called a guy with a big yellow machine and he’s surely done by now and home for dinner. The access road is clear and well sanded.

The rest of the plate needs to be carefully inspected by a couple of boats slowly sailing around TOGETHER, checking for thickness and hazzards. We found one drain hole the size of a football with just a skim on it, but temps tonight will be in the single digits and hopefully heal it and any others.

The ice looks about like this archival image, except the snow patches are smaller and less frequent, and the ice is grayer but just as smooth. We plan to set up and sail tomorrow, leaving boats on the ice for as long as we can. Weather forecast looks great: temps in the twenties, sunny, 15-20 tomorrow, 10-15 Thursday.

Meanwhile, Lee Spiller found this lovely plate on Jordan Bay and plans to sail there tomorrow (unless he comes to Damariscotta!) He heard that the entire lake froze last week, but then blew out in the recent warm gale. The good news is that she’s ready to go.

Damariscotta 1-8-14

We didn’t exactly rush down the the landing at the crack of dawn today. It was blowing a gale and eight degrees and it seemed much more sensible to go to work for a while. But by ten the sun was high and the temps were into the low double digits with a moderate SW breeze. We don’t often have this wind here, so the sailing dynamics were a bit different. Working our way through the narrows to the south end, into Deep Cove, and then down the river nearly to Damariscotta Mills was a bit dodgy. But the wind held and we were able to sail deep enough to get home without pushing. There are no pressure ridges and no open water: the whole lake is as tight as a wind whipped flag. There are bumps and windrows, and a nasty sheet of shell ice in the SW corner of the main broads. There is a green fish house there, and the shell extends a couple of hundred feet toward the center of the lake.

Bill Bunting set his new sail today and went like smoke. Lee Spiller and Karin snapped the Gambit mast after a short morning sail, but they had a few DN’s along so wasted no time in setting them up. Scott the Guy, Ben Fuller and Wolfie rounded out the fleet. We sailed until sundown, left boats on the ice, and will be back tomorrow. Lee and Karin will be on Jordan Bay, so if that’s more in your neighborhood, please join them.

The ice is like this between snow bumps, which really don’t bother much. I felt no need to slow down because of them, especially as I had to work hard to keep up with Bunting!

The ice is on the move, and with 8-12″ out there we’ll be seeing pressure ridges shortly. At 10:30am this was a smooth, flush ramp. The ice heaved up nearly a foot in five hours.

Come get it while you can!

The Romance

5PM…stepping slowly…almost limping… across the threshold of home….the trees, eagerly scanned at dawn for wind, now rest quietly…..inside, the long rituals of refreshment, even rehabilitation, begin….this red and raw face, blasted by 7 hours of wind….these elbows and shoulders, once adrenalin-stoked, abruptly pulling miles of sheet…these eyes tired from squinting in the half-dome of intense sunlight for tiny objects in the distance….these ears deadened by the screech of runners turning, the bashing over hardened snow scabs, and yet assuaged too by the comforting thump of battens as they unambiguously cross the midline, in a new tack or jibe….feet and hands, hour after hour, on the limit of painful cold….and, in sum, the whole body bashed by the many sharp edges of iceboating.

gradually these insults will respond to the long hot shower, the starchy dinner–usually carefully rationed, but now eagerly scarfed down–and especially snuggling in bed under the quilt with a soft, warm body back to back, in the cozy yellow light of reading a treasured book….slowly every sense, so long overstimulated, will bask in the joy of ‘un-stimulation’….of dark, quiet, unworried, and warm containment….

every ice community probably has one special lake or pond, which more than any other has….with the layering of friendships and adventures… become ‘holy ground’….Damariscotta has become that for me….when Bill and I prospected it two days ago, even seeing the 40% scabbing of an otherwise beautiful surface, we hadn’t a second thought….this deepest of romances….this always open-ended adventure….was impossible to resist. Damariscotta offers the thrill of ‘big ice’ with a northern plate so big that other boats become unrecognizable specs on the horizon… but even more it offers the long, only-partly-known succession of bays, islands, and riverine narrowness of exploring.

1PM….after blasting around with buddies on the great broads, trying to zagg thru the scabs while match-racing, and having a light lunch; Bill and I tried to rouse interest in cruising South….we got no takers, perhaps because with the wind lightening up, this was the dumbest idea in the world. The straight line distance away would be 10 miles!


if the wind pooched, pushing an iceboat back to the pits, could take three hours, probably navigating by moonlight without food, our hand and foot warmers exhausted…..this is drawing cards for an inside straight….we thought Scott Woodman was sailing with us, but soon discovered we were alone, as usual. what made it riskier was the SW wind which, if it held, made getting there ideal. Unlike soft-water sailing, nothing beats a headwind for exploring…..You can easily bleed speed if there’s too much, and you have the best chance of “winding her up” if there’s too little….so, turn by turn, with nagging doubts pushed to the back, we kept going ever South.

The pressure ridges we’re so used to scouting carefully, were absent in their usual places. finally we were in the river itself, remembering fondly the landmarks, the past adventures, and secretly hoping something would justify turning around. But no….we finally came to the open water which always stops us. I was excited to see a hard section beside the open water….perhaps today, for the first time, we could sail the last 1.5 miles to Darmiscotta Mills…but as we considered prospecting the lead, Bill stepped in a slush pit near shore….and, with his wet foot, we were instantly brought to the grim reality of how far we were from support: 10 long, possibly-windless miles! So we began pushing the boats north in the initial calm bays…..praying, praying for wind.

and, as southerly fetch increased, a light tail-wind appeared, and Bill shot off in the distance….tarnation!….only occasionally could i get Icywood going, and as i became more and more frustrated, I forgot how to sail downwind. I made the beginner’s mistake of not remembering the fundamental priority: to hell with the destination; wind the boat up! Luckily, Bill saw my mistake, and came back and demonstrated downwind sailing, and I stayed right on his tail, until I remembered the drill.

Finally, at 3PM, back with relief in the broads, in the beautiful, yellow, almost-setting sun we rejoined Bill Bunting, and did some final racing. I could see that Bunting, with his spiffy new sail, was no longer in my league….But I was only half-there. I was a pilgrim….returned from the Holy City….these stay-at-homes!… how could they know the wonders I had seen?

More is Better

Well, just like Jory said this morning, but with ten boats on the ice, a whole lot more fun. The big feature of the day was Lloyd finally having a chance to give CHEAPSKATE a shake-down. We though it might become a shake-OUT as the wind was NW 10-20. The Sunfish rig just looked to big, especially as the rest of us were carrying storm sails. But he sailed around very stately, even passing a few boats, and broke nothing.

Those guys in the background are getting the heck out of the way!

Down for a nap in Deep Cove. It’s hard work driving these things miles and miles over spectacular ice with a fresh wind.

Into the setting sun for one more run. Boats are on the ice for tomorrow, but rain forecast for the weekend. Back to one day at a time, and what a great start to our home ice season!

Ice Report Chickawaukee, after the rain

A morning after rain Chickycircuit on the trusty icecycle revealed expected 1-2 inches surface ice loss, extensive puddles up to 1 inch deep, residual “pancakes” or old frozen slush often with jagged surface wrinkles, real runner rattlers. Ice fishermen report 10-16 inches of ice.

Drain holes all seem to be mankind related, eaten out fish holes, some runner catchers, no swimming holes, no linear eaten out cracks or old pressure ridgelets. Launch sites suffering from edges eaten out and dark dirt deposits which will likely warm up in the sun and melt out soon. Lloyd’s beach already plank access, public beach soon to follow.

The icecycle continues to please, especially if little wind. Genteel exertion gets me around the lake (2 1/.2 miles) in about 20 minutes, faster than a rowing shell in Summer or skates now. Rough ice/snow tolerance better than skates. Spikey knee boots are nice because of puddle splash from front wheel.

Do mountain bikes float? If anybody knows first hand please e mail me at “lloydroberts@roadrunner.com”. I could put a panel of 2 inch blue foam in the frame of the bike. I suspect if they float it is tires up, frame down, a frame panel would likely convert that to a flat float, nicer to hang onto and retrieve.



To Adventure or Not to Adventure….

I wish there were a clear formula to answer the question, shall I do this adventure? You put all the good stuff in the numerator: the delight; the satisfaction of a life lived far from the couch and the remote; the adrenalin highs; the memory-making; and of course the fame and fortune. You put the awfulness in the denominator: the risks; the terribleness if things go wrong; the financial cost; the shame of failure; the cost of worry to oneself and especially to others.

Then you divide, and if the quotient is 2.7 or greater, it’s “full steam ahead, Melvin. Strap into that bungie-jump outfit!”

The problem is, of course, that both the numerator and the denominator are the muddiest of entities. June 1, 1977. 9AM. London: Queen Elizabeth mounts the royal carriage behind 6 stallions to celebrate her silver jubilee. Meanwhile in Dartmouth, England, at the other end of the social spectrum, Jory Squibb, celebrating his 36th birthday, pushes away from the floating dock to begin a singlehanded transatlantic. Was there delight in that departure? It felt like the clanging shut of a prison door. Rereading the journal of the ensuing 60 days, I see only two days that had the slightest elan: sailing into Madeira on day 17; and sailing into Mystic, Connecticut on day 60. So many of the yellowed journal pages in between are blank, marking days when those intense demons, without the steadying presence of human society, precluded even grasping a pen.

And if the happiness numerator is iffy, the denominator is equally incalculable. August 1, 1977. My mother, having organized her bridge club to pray for me every single day, receives a collect call from a greasy spoon summer restaurant in Shinecock Inlet, Long Island, New York. A familiar voice says casually, “Hi Mom, I’m back”. And her worry has been so intense, that I am immediately balled out with full minutes of uncontrolled fury. How do you put that in the denominator?

I know I’m digressing here, but one more thing: In my experience, even if there were a calculation, there’s never a clear point of decision. Rather, one muddles along in maybe-land, building some sort of momentum for something, and then, almost without thinking, a threshold is crossed.

I arrived at 10 AM on cloudy, wind-less Friday, the third and last day of our Damariscotta idyl.

94-year-old Fred Wardwell was napping in his Saab, waiting for a tell-tale to stir and give inspiration for raising a sail. It looked like it would soon be snowing. I dropped warmers in gloves and boots, grabbed ski poles, and strapped into nordic skates. Ice near the launch was enticing, and when the first hazards appeared 100 yards later, they were easy to avoid. Without any plan, I headed South, on ice so fast, with skates so sharp, I had to keep stopping to check for a tail-wind. No, it was dead calm. This was magic with a capital “M”! Before long, I was passing the islands, and could sight the narrows, miles ahead. Only then did I realize that a destination had already been formulated: I was skating to my beloved Deep Cove, 6 miles away.

On thru the narrows, keeping an exacting eye on the surface ahead…Ice of every type and color crackled beneath my blades, in the steady 7MPH rhythm of alternate poling and skating. After passing the narrows, and now in those exciting less-known vistas, I spied two distant black sticks, waltzing the skaters waltz toward me. They, regular readers of this website, were on a 22 mile circumnavigation of the lake. Equally stoned in skater’s bliss, we gushed our praise for lovely miss D. Still without a wind, the first flurries began to fall, and, crossing more difficult ice, I cautiously made my way into Deep Cove. How I wished for an energy bar, a water bottle. Don’t skaters carry little backpacks with brandy and other goodies?

Now I could feel the remoteness, the risk, the 6-mile stiffness, and, beginning my return, saw that the thickening snow was beginning to cover the hazards. Still, the magic, now small-M, held me. 100 strokes to that island? actually 125…a steady meditation in the growing white-out. Finally, after 12 miles of skating, I re-passed the northern islands, and glimpsing iceboat sails, felt enormous relief in the reprieve from my folly.

By now the wind was 0-6 Kn. SW. And Lloyd with his large lateen sail in “Cheapskate” was footing well, with John in his Mead as a side-kick. Doug Raymond, ever the go-faster, was doing even better, winding up his well-tuned DN in spite of the light airs. Bart Chapin, borrowing Scott Woodman’s DN-Mini-Skeeter, was experiencing the trials of a beginner in light airs. Myself, more dead than alive from skating, could not imagine any further physical exertions, and sadly de-rigged and bid goodby to lovely Darmiscotta. Mixed ‘aggrivation’, perhaps a whole week of it, is on the way….

Chickawaukee, Rain + 2 Days

Nice spreads of ground glass smooth snow ice, also many patches of paper thin shell ice, some with residual water in deeper ripples. Rare areas of smooth 1/4in. shell covered still unfrozen pools, maybe 1 inch deep. Occasional linear and spidery drain holes, mostly in older black ice which is 6-8 inches thick along open cracks but only 2-3 inches under some coarse swiss cheese snow ice with under lying water.

This is skateable and bikeable with some attention, somewhat treacherous for ice boat sailing. Five feet of open water at Lloyd’s beach, plank in place. Public park launch ramp not checked but ice tight to shore away from ramp yesterday. No cold weather for another couple of days.

Public opinion (Mountain Bike Review Forum) on floating mountain bikes, they don’t, 5 votes to 1. Andy Donovan in Biddeford, recent member now Gambit owner, remembers his kids building a jump into the water for their mountain bikes, the bikes sank. Flotation is in order.


Ice on Chickawaukee

5 days into Jan Thaw; ice further from shore so plank just reaches, water level up 6 inches in 2 days from 1 1/4 inch rain and snow melt. Drain holes bigger, no puddles or shell ice left, pancakes have deflated to depressed rough spots. Need 2 cold nights to heal holes to minimum 1 1/2 inch, better 3 nights to 2 inches, likely snow by then. What kind of “sport” is this?


I Have A Dream

I have a dream for this weekend: miles and miles of Black Ice. I have been to the mountain (Kineo) last year and my dream is that all the iceboaters of the world step out of their frustrated lives and go to the mountain and see the promised land with me!Rockwood on Moosehead Lake

Speaking with a snowmobile tour operator in Greenville minutes ago confirmed that there are very few drain holes, 15″ of ice as of last Saturday, and that the pack is tight to the shore everywhere, as far as he knows. The image from the web cam speaks for itself. The forecast is for south 5-10 with a 30-40% chance of snow showers between now and Saturday.

Is there motivation out there? How hungry are we? Anybody want to go?


Moosehead OFF

CIBC sailors have declined to gamble on a marginal wind forecast on the weekend. However, Lee Spiller skated Jordan Bay today and called in a very sailable report. Winds there are better, mainly tomorrow and Sunday. If we can rouse the hibernating membership from their tropical stupor we’ll be sailing there.

Stand by.

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Sebago’s Jordan Bay Tomorrow

Dave Fortier and I plan to meet at 10:30 at Raymond Beach to sail and explore the outer limits of Jordan Bay.

It looks like this; the glassy parts are not water but almost black ice. What a great way to honor the opening of Martin Luther King day weekend. Join us if you can. We’ll get Moosehead another time. Awesome venues don’t come easy.

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State Of The Sport Report

Dave Fortier, Lee Spiller and a few others sailed Jordan Bay on Sebago today in a light southerly. They crossed the pressure ridge and beat out nearly to Squaw Island, but the light wind kept them from going much further. There was a bit of shell ice, but nothing major. Tips of the hemet all around to Lee for scouting this plate yesterday.

We had a nice breeze here along the coast, which looks like the pattern for tomorrow before the snow arrives late tomorrow and into Sunday morning. The coast will get rain, Moosehead a dusting, and then the Northwesterly piles in behind the frontal passage, along with long awaited cold temps.

I will be checking Megunticook in the morning hoping that the plate has survived, access is possible, and cool temps will fix it up for Sunday. Moosehead is still on reserve, Sebago seems likely to be snowed out. Ron Buzzel anticipates 3-6″ on Sunapee. So, while some brave and gallant iceboaters are heading west for the North Americans, the rest of us should plan on heading north!

Please watch the forecasts and see if there is anything we should know about.

Real Time Winds

While we’re scouring the forecasts, here’s a little gem that not only shows the winds in real time, but you can almost get stoned watching it. The zoom will take you to about a 500 mile circle anywhere on the globe, and you can watch wind direction and velocity to your heart’s content. The lows look like whirlpools. http://earth.nullschool.net/

Lake Megunticook has 15″ of fairly strong ice in the broads with only an occasional drain hole, about like Jordan Bay, but now covered with an inch of fresh snow which renders the skimmed over drain holes invisible. So now it’s up to Kevin Grindle, closer to the edge of the snowfall, to get Walker Pond in shape for the masses of iceboaters just straining to bust loose, haul a sheet and fly a runner. We’ll know more tomorrow about South Twin and Moosehead, also on the marge.

South Twin ON

Rick, host of Five Lakes Lodge, tells us they got an inch of dry snow, and that the ice under it is both thick and “relatively smooth”. I didn’t ask him relative to what, but he knows what iceboaters need as we’ve been there often. A couple of us are planning to go up tomorrow, arriving around nine. The forecast for Tuesday looks good, too, with full sun although a bit colder. There is room at the inn and they make a breakfast that will feed the furnace all day. Launch is on Rt. 11, just opposite the lodge. Please don’t use the lodge ramp if you are not a guest there. We want to keep these folks on our good side.

South Twin last year, with Mt. Kahtadin in the background. We’ve sailed only a small part of this vast system because by the time we usually get there in March the northern end has blown out. Tomorrow, with solid intelligence from the snowmobilers, we may be able do as MLK, Jr. did and “go to the mountain!”

South Twin, Martin Luther King Day

In the past three years, we had never sailed more than four miles from the launch on South Twin Lake. By the time the rest of our lakes are rotting out in March, this little gem is still strong. Right up to the edge. We’ve looked north from that undulating frozen edge many times hoping someday to get there. Today was the day. Curtis and I stopped for a gam at the little island that marks the extent of our usual plate and agreed that if we took it slow and kept a sharp eye we could proceed. Another couple of miles to windward and we could see for miles in two directions, Pemadumcook to the west and Ambajesus in the east, everything punctuated by islands and bays. In the near distance, Mt. Kahtadin and her brood of lesser peaks were all white and aglow under the one spot of clear sky.

I reached over to a lone fish shack for some local knowledge and before I had the brake on, a jolly fellow came out to say hello. He knew the lake well, and told us that the worse spot is the way we’d just come! Where the lake (a river, actually) narrows at that little island the flow is intensified often creating weak ice. But today the water level was high, the flow slow, and the ice generally 18″. Rick, from the lodge, concurred with that observation when we met him later in the day. He came out to find us because Steve Madden had called and the North Americans are looking, yet again, for a venue.

Anyway, Dave the fisherman directed us around a distant point into Ambajejus Lake to a small logging museum. The only way in there is by boat or snowmobile, and I have a hunch we were the first ever to visit on iceboats. We short tacked up the near side as this is where the west branch of the Penobscot River enters, hence the “Boom House”. They would yard the booms in this very bay, four thousand cords each. The logs would come tumbling down the Penobscot on the spring run-off into a big loop of floating cable. As soon as it was full it would be towed to Millinocket and the next one made ready. This is all wonderfully documented in the Boom House with artifacts, photos, and indeed in the house itself. It’s preserved pretty much as it was left when the last boom was towed away in 1971. The doors are always open, and they ask for a small donation for maintenance. We ate lunch at the long kitchen table surrounded by the early twentieth century.

It was a deep and lazy run back south in the afternoon. Keeping boatspeed down was the order of the day. Old snow drifts had wet out but never leveled, instead forming four to eight inch ice waves. There was no way around them and I couldn’t help wondering what happens when a springboard breaks. Then there was the shell ice, as if there wasn’t enough noise from smashing and crashing over the waves. All covered in a lovely two inches of dry powder. The fact that we sailed nearly forty miles in this stuff and didn’t break a boat is something of a miracle. If not for the waves, we’d still be there and spend the week exploring all the rest of this captivating lake system. And for all you local guys who haven’t been there yet, it’s only 2.5 hours from Camden.

Still waiting for photos from the photographer, meanwhile here’s all I got.

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South Twin Pix

First, congratulations to the North Americans’ organizing committee for finding decent ice at last. The plate has been sailed, inspected and not rejected. It’s Monty’s Bay on the New York side of Lake Champlain. Racing begins Thursday.See the INDNYRA site for details.

Here’s the Boom House. The concrete pylons used to set up the boom are still there; best to give them a wide berth.

We didn’t have time to make a fire, but it sure was nice to get in out of the wind and have a proper sit down lunch.

These calk boots are still available and are a great alternative to sheet metal screws in the sole that always fall out JORY!

But we do need to be careful when coming off the ice where we go in our spikes. Who’d of thought there was a law against it?

Mt. Kahtadin aglow while we plowed snow.

This just in from Lee Spiller: the main body of Sebago was still open yesterday. This has frozen once already, but was blown out. There’s a chance of light snow there tonight and into tomorrow, but then clear and cold all the way to Sunday. Are we about to see a Saturday on Sebago?

Watching Sebago Thicken

The temperatures are frigid…..1.2 degrees this morning….there is no hope of wetting out our snow-covered local lakes…..in these times, our only hope is the freezing of larger lakes which were open water during the recent snowfalls….Sebago, that mysterious Indian maiden, cuddled in her own micro-climate, is a prime suspect…

I wish I lived on Sebago’s edge, at Nathan’s Beach, looking East into this morning’s bright sunrise.

I would walk….with my dog…i love fantasy!… down to the edge and compare the miracle I saw yesterday: smooth, thin, unblemished ice with darker patches of open water, with what i saw this morning. Then, I would swing my axe and see that the zero degree night had thickened the ice to 2.5 inches and that those open water patches had disappeared. My dog would prance and skitter awkwardly on the crystal margin, waiting for the go-ahead of my thrown stick.

Then, back at the ranch, I would look into the crystal ball of weather, and see another cold night ahead, and a day of moderate wind coming on Saturday…..and that love-fear relationship with new, thin ice would return…..could we be safe there tomorrow?…..could we avoid “thin ice ecstasy”?…..hmmmm

And, tomorrow, if i saw a mighty splash ahead, sailing at speed 200 yards behind Bill’s iceboat, as he blasted into too-thin ice…and i spun into the wind and dismounted on creaky, marginal ice….and i called out to him to claw, ice-breaking, in my direction….and as i watched him use up his marginal energy….would i–regretting the throw rope i never bought–claw, spread-eagled his way, pulled by friendship, willing to risk an older life to save a younger? would some righteous tape: some i-told-you-so, you bastard, after all these years, still no warm, wet-proof clothing; be running through my mind, complicating the need for clarity?

and how would this morning’s clearer dilemma fare, so far from shore… in the cold, in the wind, in the adrenalin of a real-life tomorrow?


Sebago has only frozen around the edges, 100 yards this AM reported by our spy Phil Lowe who lives in Sebago and looks across to Fry Island. High winds forecast for Friday through Sunday, SW at 30-40 MPH will likely blow out what ice has formed, again. Cold will continue so there is hope, but not for this weekend. Status of Twin Lakes not known.

A Pilgrimage to Sebago

people go on pilgrimages all the time…they go to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadaloupe and gleefully throw away their crutches….they hike the Saint Iago de Compostella trail in northern Spain, perhaps on their knees, and are purified and cleansed…

So, the least we can do is drive 99.7 miles to this clear plate of ice, studded with white bubbles, clear to the bottom, clear to the horizon.

(Photo: Lee Spiller)

and what will we do on this pilgrimage? how–on this thin, perhaps impractical, ice– express our gratitude, our wonder?

Recently, our new Pope chose to wash local prisoners’ feet rather than those of carefully chosen Cardinals on a feast day. A tattooed prisoner asked him why. ” Acts of the heart need no explanation”, he said.



Sebago is NOT ready for boats. The photo in the previous post was not meant to be published. Reports this morning indicate that the center is beginning to blow out in the strong SW winds. Please stand by for further scouting reports.

Sebago Blowing Out

Yesterday’s vast sheet of new ice is now piling up on the rocks. It was two inches thick, as you can see in the picture. A lot different from this morning’s shot!

The sheet along shore is thicker and we spent the day short tacking and gybing up and down the beach on clear black ice the likes of which we’ve not seen this year.

This small pack might blow out as well in the strong westerlies predicted for tomorrow. But meanwhile Brian Lamb, Lee Spiller, Buchholz and Squibb got a nice fix. No ideas what or when could be next, unless you can get over to Plattsburg for the North Americans. I suppose they’ll leave the ice in good condition!

There’s three inches right up to the edge. Jory checked!

We sailed with the bottom of this shallow bay in view most of the time. Rocks would loom up and then vanish, submerged moorings and even a few fish would zoom by underfoot. It was mesmerizing, and a few of us nearly wandered onto the thin sheet while flying over the bottom. The illusion of flying was enhanced by the absolutely silent running of the blades.

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four caged butterflies

We’ve always experienced the main body of Sebago as ‘coming in’ usually in mid-February; or ‘blowing out’; or, in some seasons, never freezing at all. On yesterday’s “Pilgrimage” we were able to eye-witness the war of forces which makes these things happen. When we arrived about 1030AM, the weather was a windless light grey overcast, and we couldn’t initially get our bearings in the multi-shaded grey potpourri to the East. We stepped gingerly, skeptically, on the invisible ice which exposed a graveyard of underwater objects, and found it to be a reassuring 3.5″ thickness. We proceeded out a hundred yards and found a subtle ice junction to 2″ ice, and with light wind, saw light grey open water another 100 yards out. Turning left, we followed that ice junction to the North, on foot and then on skates, and established the day’s safe playground:


For the rest of the morning, as the south wind built, we had a blast, skimbatting on smooth ice made more interesting by occasional cracks and a few rare scabs. As the wind built, the open water appeared darker, and from the edge of the safe ice, we watched with amazement, as it munched on the 2″ ice band, until by the end of the day, that band, which we had marked with rocks, had half disappeared, and the far ice on the other side of the open water had also diminished. After lunch, with skimbat muscles having recovered some of their “muscle memory”, we went at it again in the diminishing wind. These were perfect training conditions: each tack and jibe to be perfected so that there was little arm force needed. By 230 the wind grew light, and we decommissioned and, ensconced on Lee Spiller’s tailgate, celebrated a great day with a taste of sweet, thick, maple whiskey. Just the thing!

Then the long ride home….and I mused, why do we do this?…..schlepping the gear…..driving the cars….risking the bones….Why do we set forth from home–so warm and secure–for an uncertain date with nature? Why, with the lingering obsession of a lover, do we examine so closely her appearance and her activity? The answer was so crystal clear, so very certain. Mary Oliver, as usual, says it so well:


Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river? Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air – An armful of white blossoms,

A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned

into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies, Biting the air with its black beak?

Did you hear it, fluting and whistling

A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall Knifing down the black ledges?

And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –

A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet

Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertains to everything? And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?

And have you changed your life?

Chickawaukee ice

Last night, after minimal snow, there were heavy rain showers drumming on the sky light and raising hopes of wetted out minidrifts and the ice looked grey with linear white streaks in the distance. In a fit of enthusiasm I called John Eastman about a morning icecycle ride in the sunshine.

It seems there was a touch of snow after the rain showers and some of that was blowing across the lake at breakfast time. The sun is shining and the wind is brisk (Sunday Jan 26). The ice is coarsely corroded rotted styrofoam with pancake patches of smooth styrofoam sometimes 2-3

inches thick, sometimes with underlying slush. This proved to be totally useless. The corroded stuff was hard pedalling and the pancakes impossible to pedal through, like going up a steep hill. Sailing is out of the question. The edges have stiffened up however. It has to get better sometime.

Back to Plattsburgh

Photos and descriptions of endless black ice are filtering in from the west. The NA plate continues to grow and the snow that dotted the region last night missed it. Of course one never knows, but the scene is bleak enough around here to inspire a six hour drive. Full sun, respectable temps and nice winds are forecast there for most of the week.

Launching at 1 Dock Rd, Plattsburgh, somewhere in the boat yard there. Doesn’t look great for trailers; bring friends and dollies to get boats onto the ice. There are four people planning to go so far, but there’s plenty of ice so come get a piece of it!

This was sent by the Nordic skating group and says it all.

Chickawaukee Ice Tuesday Jan 28

North end (Lloyd’s) not bad ice but scattered scabs of 1 inch high ice from unmelted slush will make for bumpy ride. Further South scabs are more frequent, probably unpleasant. No shell ice at North end. Grade 5. Access at Lloyds fine. Town beach was water at ramp yesterday, probably OK along shore. Awaiting reports from Dammy (Bunting) and Megunticook (Squibb).

Local Ice reports 1/18/’14

After sailing Chicky’s North end, the best end, the grade has dropped to1-2, barely sailable except near the shore. Megunticook reported by Squibb as 80% styrofoam with one patch of nice skateable ice, about 2 acres midway up the lake next to the turnpike that runs along the lake. Bunting and Lampton explored Damariscotta out from the beach and ramp which looks nice in the Dammy cam. Off screen further from shore it is “a wasteland of lumps”. Maybe the wind will wear away the lumps. Maybe there are better areas elsewhere on the lake, we need a drone. Maybe we should all drive to Plattsburgh.

Frog pond ice survey Jan 29

I did drive by’s of smaller ponds we have sailed or skated on on in mid coast area in past.

Mace’s Pond, Rocky, & Tolman Pond, Rockport. South Pond & North Pond, Warren. Pemaquid, (both ends) & Biscay Ponds, Waldonoro and Damariscotta. All have varying degrees of Small Pox with extensive scab formation. South Pond was the worst with a maze of petrified snow mobile tracks. Pemaquid had a narrow band of smooth ice on the far South East shore across from the public launch ramp off Rte 1 featuring a solitary skater. The North end of Chicky here is the best of the bunch, maybe 200X300 yards of widely scattered scabs providing a play pen for learning how to sail the “Cheapskate” which was enjoyable enough to repeat, at least I left the boat on the ice. It looks like Walker is the place to be or maybe Eagle Lake on Mt. Desert, any spies there these days? No wind yesterday anyway.


Great Ice at Plattsburgh

That’s “Great” in the true meaning of the word: epic, grand, historical, Winnie 2010. If Jory had been there he would have given you a long page serenade in blue: the ice. All I can say is here are some pix and you really shoulda been there. Six boats sailed ten miles south from the launch at Wilcox Dock to the southern tip of Valcour Island. There is a big lead outside the islands so we stayed inside Crab Isle as well. Lee Spiller and his friend Karin, local guy Andy, Ramblin’ Rodger from Maryland on his annual ice hunt, and Louise Racine. Bob Dill popped up every now and then on skates to say hello and offer advise on the leads. Thanks for the tips, Bob! Knods of the helmets to the women for taking on the strong winds, and then learning to sail downwind with storm sails as the breeze calmed in the late afternoon.

That’s Crab in the middle distance, and the north end of Valcour on the horizon. The ice was just like this all the way down. The wind was a steady twenty, so you could go as fast for as long as you wanted.

This is Arctic Ice Cove where a bunch of earlier broken up ice blew in and came to rest. This bay had some interesting bergy bits that had drifted in and then froze in the flash of new black ice last week:

It was great fun navigating through the archipelago of frozen islands.

Crossing one of three pressure ridges. These were a bit hard to see because they are flat, and there are also occasional windrows of frozen snow which you could imagine could be pressure ridges.

The ice is eleven inches thick and is so clear that you can see the bottom. These are lacey spider web veins deep in the plate.

For the weekend, there will be the Eastern ISA championships and the DN Easterns held a bit further north at Monty’s Bay. The big question is whether the snow is behind door number one, two or three? Show up, sail epic ice and find out! Local Maine ice continues to be marginal by all reports.

Damariscotta trial

Doug Raymond whizzed into my driveway yesterday, Thursday, all breathless that Dammy seemed better than recently reported in some places and we ought to give it a try. So off we go this AM to Damariscotta Farm with relative desperation and muted anticipation. Breezy this AM but not as noisy here at Chicky as last night. Light to gentle wind forecast for Saturday and messy Wx for Sunday. Its worth a try.


Damariscotta, the ice that got left behind

Three of us sailed Dammy Friday Jan 31, Doug Raymond, Bill Bunting and your scribe. The ice was definitely bumpy but the bumps seemed less obnoxious than two days ago on Chickawaukee, they must have sublimed (evaporated, solid to gas). The forecast heavy air came in predawn and wind was pleasant and decreasing as the day progressed. Doug found that driving his DN hard was unpleasant in the morning. By afternoon there were down periods of light to little air. We had a fine time weaving about to stay on smooth patches. We have raced on worse in past years. It is sailable and we will return Saturday. “Damariscotta Farm” is not labeled as such any more, it is a meadow edged with cabins with a sign “Damariscotta Watershed Association”. The meadow is about 50 yards West of the intersection of Rte 32 and Rte 126 on the NW edge of “great bay”, the largest body of water on the lake. You can see the ice from the road.

If you don’t want to drive 6+ hours to Plattsburgh and would rather sail than twiddle your thumbs come join us. We will give you a sail in CIBC’s economy iceboat project “Cheapskate”, a “Sunfish” rig on a minimum lumber yard frame, it works and is fun.

Saturday on Damariscotta Feb. 1

The ice that got left behind in the rush to Plattsburgh was sailed, bumps and all, by seven ice boats and one wind surfer/runner rig and several more sailors who tried out “Cheapskate”, the prototype low cost entry level lumber yard/hardware store sourced Sunfish rigged ice boat sponsored by the CIBC.

Either the bumps have weathered somewhat or the skippers have hardened somewhat, it didn’t seems so bad. Eight ice boats, one Nordic skater, and a windsurfer rig named Cheapskate. A nice little Southerly came up in the afternoon and hung in there so there was not much pushing. The guinea pig skippers who tried out “Cheapskate”, two of whom had never sailed an iceboat, came back all smiles and thumbs up. The only person who aborted his sail had to stop to corral his dog who was trying to hump a cute fuzzy little dog wearing a pink sweater. Having fun on ice is what it is all about. We should provide dog sitting.

Experienced ice boaters were pleasantly surprised at how well and easily Cheapskate sailed. We are greatly encouraged in the project and will draw up plans forthwith. These will be simple 8 X 11 sheets, as used for “Gambit” plans which have stood the test of time and sufficed for many builders who have not complained. Fred Wardwell wants the plans ASAP so he can retire his veteran DN. We intend to put the plans on the club website in the near future along with accounts of building and sailing which will also appear soon in the CIBC newsletter as the “Cheapskate Chronicles”.

Bill Bunting’s “Trixie” tries out Cheapskate

Damariscotta on Monday Feb 3

The faithful returned to boats waiting under grey sky on rain greyed ice, some of the small bumps smoothed off, the larger ones hard to see. It was hard to find avenues of smoother ice. The wind lightened around lunch time and laden with lunch skippers had a hard time keeping going.

The photo below is Doug Raymond with his vintage home made Cheapskate, somewhat smaller than our current model and sized to fit into his Volkswagon with NOTHING hanging out (take note Squibb). It sports a “Sunfish II” sail, I believe a small Laser sail. The runners are welded up plates. He did not get to sail because of steering problems. It is cute. How small can ice boats get and work?

Whizz Building Taking Off

We have four new Whizz under construction, one hoping to hit the ice this season and the others next year. With W-1 Whizz Kid dominating the C Skeeter class this year it only seems fitting that from this evolving fleet of now eleven boats can be found a worthy competitor.

Carl Jelleme is building his W-9 on Nantucket.

This is a good shot of the kerfs in the stringers that allow you to pull them in and down (and the chines up). Note also the nice radius on the chine in the cockpit. It’s nice to have a soft corner to bump into a you’re bouncing around on rough ice, like today on Damariscotta for example. W-3 Whizzard bottomed out of a pile of frozen stuff today and put a crack in the bottom.

Meanwhile in Quebec, Denis is building W-10 for himself, to be christened Whizzper, and W-11 Whizzkey for his buddy Francois.

Bill Bernhard lives in Adirondack, NY and sails a Nite from his front yard on Schroon Lake. If all goes according to plan he should have W-8 sailing before the end of the season.

As we all know by now, Paul Zucco launched his W-7 earlier this season and reports that he went as fast an he wanted for the first time out, if not faster. Steve Lamb is working to complete W-6, but he appropriated its wing mast for the Renegade El Diablo. She sailed beautifully, Steve reports. Frank Able has yet to find time to launch W-5 Gee Whizz but is just itching to go.

Can we muster this group to a start line some day? The ISA regatta has been called ON for this weekend on Champlain at Westport, NY, assuming the snow doesn’t nail the plate on Wednesday. Could we see more than one Whizz on the line? Paul? Pete? Rodger? Frank?

Ice Reports–February 7

The recent snowfall has left us scouring around for possible ice. Tom Childs reports that part of Sebago was open during the snowstorm, but if that open water now freezes, it will be surrounded by snow-covered thin ice. He wisely suggests waiting until everything thickens. All of our other New England favorites are snowed out, as far as we can tell.

But….we have a nice report from Tom Nichols in New Jersey. They will be sailing this weekend on the Navasink River, in Red Bank, NJ–using the clubhouse of the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club. There may be even better ice nearby on Barnegat Bay from the public beach at Lavallette, NJ.

Tom Nichols gave me a little of the physics of sailing on salt ice, which both the Navasink and Barnegat Bay give us. Salt ice freezes about 28 degrees, and therefore slushes out at about 30 and above. It is noticeably slower ice to sail on, but it forms a level platform for subsequent rain and snow to build fresh-water ice upon. Once the fresh water coating is 1/2 ” thick or more, sailing becomes lake sailing, which is what exists in New Jersey in the unusually cold year.

So…Bill and I are standing by, considering a Saturday-Tuesday drive down there because, even if the boating isn’t spectacular with wind prediction is 5-10 Sunday and 10-15 Monday; still, we get to connect to a wonderful iceboat community and to our own iceboat lineage. We’re gritting our teeth: The drive is daunting, especially with a trailer. We’d be going beyond NYC. But, as with all ‘chercher la glace’ trips, there is the perennial excitement of gambling.

An update may follow on Saturday

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Snow/Ice report Chickawaukee

Our 8 inches of snow had a nice smooth surface just waiting for a wet down rain cure but it has gotten a snowmobile treatment instead and has changed from a trackless wasteland to a wasted trackland. We need a tropical storm. Nice XC skiing though.

Chickawaukee ice report Jan 15

We are building a fine foundation for Spring. Right now a coarse orange peel surface of crusted snow from the storm a couple of days ago which was snow and then rain. The rain caused the dimpled orange peel which would be an impossibly rough surface if it saturated and froze. Now it is 2-3 inches of slush and about the same of snow. The good side of this mess is that snowmobiles don’t do slush, it freezes and gums up their belts, it is even hard walking and crust is no fun skiing.

All of this is likely to be buried this evening under forecast 6-10 inches more of snow, possibly drifting in 40 mph winds. It will all get rained down and frozen up for March we hope.

Dreaming of Ice

While we’re testing the limits of our patience, push play, close your eyes, and listen to this wonderful musing on black ice. The visuals will keep you going a little bit longer. Some of you Cape sailors may even recognize the lake.

Black ice account

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Snow melt on Chickawaukee

Warm temps and thunderstorm have finally started to melt snow. Grey patches of wetting out of snow appearing. Two more warm days in 40’s before the next cold snap late this week. Surely there will be ice somewhere soon.


The seminal work on DN tuning and racing by Lloyd Roberts and Warner St. Claire is now available through the CIBC. This is the latest edition, and all profits go to the Club.

Seventeen dollars to Lloyd Roberts, 140 Porter St. Rockport, ME 04856. Shipping included.

Local lakes are wetting out nicely. Chicky and Megunticook in particular look very nice. This morning Megunticook had a smooth grey frozen surface with 1 1/2″ of water below. Tonights low temps should button that up easily. We are bound to hear something from Lloyd regarding Chickawaukee this morning. Sailing tomorrow could be a long shot, but by Wednesday morning we should be good to go. Of course there’s a fifty percent chance of snow Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, from way down east Warren Nethercote sends this report. How is it that not only do they win the gold in ice hockey and have universal health care, but get the best ice in the known world right now?!

Bob Crinion and I sailed today at lake William (see photo), starting at about 1PM. The surface was smooth with about 3/4 inch of slush on top of a hard under layer. We didn’t try inserts but went straight to angle runners. It was fast running in the beginning and I initially had problems keeping the boat flat, but as the afternoon wore on the wind faded. Bob and I enjoyed our day out: I think it was my 14th day of iceboating this year.

Terry Heffler paid us our first visit at Lake William and reported that he’d checked on Grand Lake, which was in much the same condition, so perhaps we will get to sail there this year, cold weather willing. Tyler Garland arrived later and gave Bob’s boat a go, but by then the wind was in its fading stage. We should have gone sailing in the morning, both for wind and harder ice, but there was that little matter of a hockey game to watch.

Dave Whynott checked on both Sherbrooke and Mush a mush lakes yesterday. Both had benefitted from the rain and sun and were levelling out. The ice surface at Sherbrooke willl likely be the better of the two after a freeze, as long as Sherbrooke doesn’t get too much snow. In that regard, the forecast of 5 to 10 cm of snow mid- week is a bit discouraging. If any of the bigger lakes miss the snow we should begin to think about scheduling the Maritime championship regatta. Next weekend would be good, if we don’t get the snow.


DN 3786

Chickawaukee Slush Review Monday Feb 24

Chicky had the nicest looking slush, 4 inches of it, in midcoast Maine on Sunday. All lakes seen west of Rte 1 between Rockport and Damariscotta have snow on ice.

Monday morning there was enough frozen (30 F last night!) ice to stomp on without cracking, an inch or so on 2 1/2-3 inches of slush. By noon we were falling through sometimes. The surface looks nice in the central part of the lake. Monday night 10 degree forecast may not heal up the entire slush pad but likely OK for skating/icecycling and gentle sailing of light boats like Cheapskate. By wednesday likely all solid and ready for possible snow.

Access at public beach OK for carrying down bank, launching ramp was broken up by vehicles Sunday, should heal in a day or two, be wary. Lots of tracks around Southern edge of lake. Lloyd’s beach road opened Monday. By Wednesday should be OK to drive onto and park on ice. Ice reported 18 inches thick. Lloyd will try sailing Tuesday AM, company welcome. Might be good for the annual Chicky baked bean sail by the weekend if not too much snow Wednesday PM. Pretty nice ice in center of lake for short course racing and “reaching around”.


Sailing Chickawaukee Again Tomorrow

Todays fickle but strong NW wind drove us hard across the bumpy and rut strewn surface of our dear home ice. We’re going back for more tomorrow. The wind might be light until the southerly builds in the afternoon ahead of the light snow. Could be a good day just to set up the boat and push it around for a while so you don’t forget how. Lloyd promises baked beans and a campfire on the beach at lunchtime.

Here’s what we have: better than nothing, and without this little plate that’s just what we’d have…

Let’s wish the best of luck to the home town boys T and Eben going for the Gold at the DN Worlds in Poland!


How Many Boats Can One Lake Break?

If you were on Lake Chickawaukee today you’d know that the answer is ALL of them. It wasn’t the rock solid south west breeze or the deep ruts left from the slushmobiles, but some greater force. Maybe it was the last gasps of whatever it was that has made this such a challenging year.

There were four boats down the lake and a small gang eating beans around the fire when two sails disappeared within the same minute. The other two boats went to investigate and it turns out that Cheapskate had rattled loose one of the snap hooks securing (term used loosely) the shroud to the chainplate. First time iceboater Ted Vaughan, assisted by Frank Able, was able to make sense of the scramble of rigging, get the mast back up, and sail the boat home. Meanwhile, John Eastman had the wire pennant linking the shrouds to the hounds snap clean across. A very unusual break. A truck was dispatched and Clive towed home. So, after all this adventure the Able boys, Frank and Bob thought they could get back to some serious sailing. Bob pushed off first but came back moments later with his steering wheel in his hand. When he came to show it to Frank, we noticed a small tear at the tack in Frank’s new sail. He was the last to fall and now the ice was empty. For some reason, your correspondent had packed up earlier and Whizzard was safely in the trailer.

On an up note, however, we had four new sailors, all very excited to try sailing an iceboat. They went round and round taking turns sharing Cheapskate, and Ted Vaughan has this to say:

” Both Carolyn and I had one of those great experiences like our first flight or something equally exciting and revealing! WE definitely will be back for more! You are all so generous and enthusiastic! Having the “Cheapskate” is a terrific window into iceboating for first-timers like us! Thanks to you all! We want to be new members!”

In addition, this was launching day for W-5 GEE WHIZZ. Aside from the aforementioned sail detail, she sailed beautifully, with perfect helm balance, great acceleration, and very close winded. Nice job, Frank!

Sailing will be ON for the foreseeable future at Chickawaukee, but I would be remiss not to forward this announcement of EPIC sailing on the Hudson. A match race between the mighty stern steerers Rocket and Jack Frost? Sailing on the historical holy ground of American ice yachting? Touring down the Hudson watching the waterfront towns zip by? These conditions don’t develop every year. Make the drive! We’re iceboaters; it’s what we do! This from Bob Wills:

The Hudson River Ice Yacht Club will be sailing the Hudson River from Rhinecliff to Barrytown, if not Germantown! Fifteen miles of ice are within the realm of possibility! Thursday, Friday, and the weekend are the most promising days. For skaters, the ice is snow ice over black ice, so not perfect marathon conditions….But perfect for sailing!

Call me at 845.546.8375 for latest conditions. My intent is to be on the ice both Thursday and Friday, as well as this coming weekend. Currently, my boat, Orion, is at Rokeby. But colleagues have sailed from there to Rhinecliff this afternoon – so a ‘commute’ from Slate Dock is certainly a possibility – as far as you might want to go! Other planned launch points are Barrytown (from the property adjacent to the Red Hook Boat Club).

Be ready with suitable clothing for sub-20 conditions, and prevailing winds, or lack thereof. The Goddess of Ice Yachting is fickle, so be ready at a moment’s notice!

Jory and I would be on the road already were it not for other commitments. Yes, even we have those sometimes. So please go enjoy the extravaganza and let us know all about it!

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Chickawaukee Lake Access Feb 27…….

The public access at Southern end of lake is a mass of frozen railroad tacks from trucks in slush. At the very left edge of the launch ramp you can get onto smoother ice. Lloyd’s beach is at the other end of the lake.

Lloyd’s beach at North end (140 Porter St.) has limited shore side parking for cars beyond driveway, park them in driveway.

4 WD vehicles just go down road in snow out onto lake and park over to right. Trailers go out on the ice, period. The ice is 2 feet thick, safe.

The ice has a thin skim of snow obscuring rough stuff, frozen truck tracks. The mid portion of the lake is not bad but is bordered at the further end by a waste land of bad railroad track like stuff. That is where the Westerly wind blows hardest and you are going fastest, be careful. This is not great ice overall but the best we know about in Maine right now. It should be OK through the weekend. I may not be around all the time.



Chickawaukee Ice Party and NY Hudson Party

NY; I tried to forward a forward to this site about the happenings on the Hudson tomorrow, it didn’t work, sorry.

Meanwhile on our good old home ice Chickawaukee Lake just north of Rockland ME on Rte 17 the snow flurries

we got recently have blown off. Ice is maybe a grade 6 of 10, fine for casual sailing not so great for racing or even

just going really fast due to residual patches of deep ruts and shell ice, now visible and avoidable. Skating not great.

Access at the public beach/launching and parking area at South end is poor and ice terrible. The parking lot is mud.

We will be having our annual fun sail for all with ice side fire and baked beans at Lloyd’s beach 140 Porter St., Rockport

at the North end of the lake. Please leave cars along driveway at house. 4wd vehicles go on down to and ONTO the lake parking over on right side.

The ice is 2 feet thick., you will not go through. Trailers MUST go onto ice. DO NOT PARK AT THE SHORE.

The wind is forecast to be Southerly right down the lake by mid morning to 15 MPH and temperature a balmy 30, as good as it gets on Chicky.

There are red cones warning of thin ice along the shore an left and right. There is very rough ice, like railroad

tracks, at far end of lake, this area is marked by very small cones about 3/4 mile down the lake.

Our club entry level iceboat “Cheapskate” (Sunfish sail and spars on DN footprint simple wood frame fuselage) will be on the ice for anyone

who wants to try it. Helmet and spikey shoes, creepers, etc. required. It sails well in light to heavy air, nothing remotely scary happens, just fun.

Chickawaukee Ice Boat Club Inc.

Hudson River Report Encore aka Epic

Hudson river Report from John Henry relayed through Bill Bunting.

Everything you need to know before you go…

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dear Friends,

For the benefit of those just added to the list, the past two Ice Reports are appended below.

Epic is such an overused word that it has become trite in our lexicon. However, for this one exception, I have to agree with those who have used it to describe the current ice sailing situation on the Hudson. Epic.

Today I took our ice boat the Cold Front down to Astor Point on the Rokeby Estate. Due to timing issues she sits on the ice, but is not quite fully rigged. That will be completed tomorrow.

However, I did enjoy a ride on the Rip Van Winkle, a 37 foot 6 inch long gaff-rigged sloop built around 1905 and owned by our most gracious hosts, the Aldrich family, who also own Rokeby and Astor Point. The Rip Van Winkle is the fourth longest boat in the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club fleet. The wind was howling and we went very fast. We stopped at the channel to salute a member of the HRIYC who is a professional river pilot and he was taking a large oil tanker down from Albany on his final trip before retirement.

There were a half dozen historic stern steerers out today, with maybe another dozen parked at Astor Point and South Tivoli Bay. They are all expected to be sailing over the weekend.

A fellow member, Glen Burger, who owns The Hound with his father, made this video of his 35 miles of sailing today. From end to end, the ice sheet that we are sailing is 20 miles long, which is extraordinary in scope for our current era of warm winters.

John Sperr has updated his blog at


and the current conditions page at


There are some great photos of the ice from the air form the US Coast Guard Ice Flights. The also some update info on some of the historic boats expected this weekend. Yesterday I helped rig the Jack Frost, which at 50 feet is one of the largest iceboats built. It was too windy for her today, but they expect to take her out tomorrow (Friday) and over the weekend.

And Brian Reid, Past Commodore of the HRIYC, Current Secretary of the HRIC and Unofficial Historian of the HRIYC has a great blog at


The “Jersey Boys” of the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club in Red Bank, NY

are arriving today, tomorrow and Saturday with another half dozen historic Stern Steerer, including the Rocket, which is equal in size to our fifty foot Jack Frost. But we believe the Jack Frost will prevail in the Van Nostrand Cup race this weekend between these two behemoths The Van Nostrand Cup is a silver Tiffany Trophy dating back to the 1880s that has only been raced for three times in all those years. (It is very hard to find great conditions for ice sailing.) It was last won in 2003 by the NSIYBC.

Hope you can join us. Come to Astor Point at Rokeby, or park near the old Barrytown, NY former train station ans cross the tracks to come onto the ice.

I am going back on the ice tomorrow and Saturday and Sunday.

Yes, it’s epic.


John Henry

February 26

Dear Friends,

I am told the Hudson River Sailing in our short window here (yesterday through Sunday) is considered epic by the local experts. It has been about ten years since the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club in Red Bank, NY has brought their boats up to the Hudson River to sail with and sail against the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club. From an ice sailing history perspective this is very special. Yesterday I helped to put together the Jack Frost. Built in 1888, at 51 feet overall, she’s one of the largest and fastest ice yachts ever built.

I plan to take my modern, contemporary boat the Cold Front down today. She’s 18 feet long, built in 1992. (Quite the difference and example of how history has changed this sport.)

I sent the following out a day or two ago and am sorry that I forgot to include you on the distributions list:

February 25

Dear Friends,

You have asked to be notified about ice sailing, so here is “the call.”

For the first time in a great many years there is ice sailing on the Hudson River. Earlier today (Tuesday) a few of my friends in the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club (HRIYC) went out on the Hudson River and have successfully navigated from Rhinecliff, NY to Crugers Island in Tivoli, NY, a stretch of over 8 miles.

Boats were mostly set out at Astor Point with some at South Tivoli Bay. Astor Point is on Rokeby Farm. Rokeby on La Bergierie Lane, which is a private road off River Road (County Route 109) near Rokeby Road Extension in Red Hook, NY. The following google map should take you to Astor Point (the last half mile or so is on farm roads not shown on the map):

I had one day of sailng at Astor Point on January 30, before all the snow was dumped on us

I plan to go to Astor Point on Wednesday after 2:00 PM, but without the Cold Front (at least for tomorrow) and plan to catch some rides on the historic Hudson River boats. If all goes well with the weather (always a dicey proposition), there should be sailing after 2:00 PM for the rest of this week and all day over the weekend.

Ice is fleeting and transitory. While it may linger, I think now through the weekend is all we can count on for the Hudson River.

It will likely be crowded over the weekend, with additional historic stern steerers expected to be brought up from the North Shrewsbury Ice Yacht Club in New Jersey. The HRIYC Commodore suggests spectator access from the access road along the train tracks near the old (former) Post Office on Station Hill Road in Barrytown, NY. Station Hill Road is on the following google map:

If this is your first time, remember that it is very, very cold and we hope very windy, so please dress accordingly. Ice cleats or Creepers on your boots are usually necessary. If it’s really windy and you want to take a ride, consider bringing a face covering like a balaclava and ski goggles or shatterproof glasses something similar.

We would love to see you. If you are planning to meet up at the house or on the river, please let me know.

Couple other items. John Sperr of the HRIYC keeps a blog at:


which gives an update on local conditions and activities. The link to “Current Conditions and Sailing Activities” gives some detail on what is happening and (hopefully) what to expect. It can also be found here:


The Current Conditions page also has John’s “Ice Boat Launch Site Maps & Directories for the Eastern US,” which can also be found here:


You can get directions to each site from that page. For example, if you go under New York and then look at the Hudson River sites, you will find both South Tivoli Bay and Astor Point listed alphabetically among the other launch sites. Just press on the Coordinates (latitude/longitude numbers in Column 2 and it will show you the site in Google Maps and you can use that for driving directions.

Hope to see you on the ice.

All our best,

John Henry

Chickawaukee Saturday

We did indeed get the promised SW Chickybreeze, plenty of it, right down the chute after a brief flurry, so we had streaming snow most of the day, quite cold despite Rockland forecast temp of 30. Indeed a trip to Hamilton Marine in Rockland to replace economical fittings on Cheapskate (economy regardless of the cost) was like coming down to Sochii’s palm trees by the Black Sea from the ski slopes.

The Olympic conditions were enjoyed by a dozen or so skippers. The blown off snow made the occasional frozen truck track more or less visible. The snow formed into 2-3inch scattered drifts which were plowed through with satisfying showers of snow, or they could be avoided. The wind caused some minor casualties and kept some from sailing very much.

Sunday is supposed to be the usual daily winter NW cold front with cooler 20’s and lighter 5-10 winds and maybe an early flurry. Ditto Monday but with sun and no flurries. The rest of the week looks like day after day of good sailing warming somewhat. (Who makes up this stuff?) Think slush runners.

If coming to Lloyds by car please try parking diagonally in the driveway where it is wider by the house, OK to block left garage, on lawn OK, and along other side by the cedars all the way up to the small shed so we don’t have so many out on the street, a poor choice. Trucks, trailers, and 4wd cars onto lake please. DO NOT PARK ON THE SHORE AT THE BEACH. By Monday only go to the ice if you are retrieving a boat and if so do it in AM when the lawn is frozen, thank you. ( It does all heal up by June but it looks like hell when the snow melts). If you think the lawn is muddy, try the public parking lot at the other end, or the State Park on Damariscotta.

Chickawaukee Iceboaters, Inc.

Sebago Tomorrow

Lee Spiller and Dave Fortier sailed Sebago from Nasons Beach today and came back glowing, crowing about grade 7 ice as far as they could see. They sailed nearly all the way across to Frye Island, but came back as the wind was feeling unreliable. Tomorrow calls for 10kt NW, sunny, high of 20. Curtis Rindlaub and I will join them there at around 10:00.

Nasons Beach is on the west side, about 2/3 of the way up the lake. Drive on access.

The DN worlds are starting about now in Estonia; good luck to T, Eben and Olliver!

Your correspondent and his wife on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa this past weekend. You could sail an iceboat on this five mile sliver of urban ice were it not for all the skaters!

What we couldn’t do on Chicky with a couple of rigs like this:

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Sebago 2/3

Do you see the iceboat? Yea, it’s just like that. And with today’s wind the photographer could have jumped back into his boat, hauled the sheet, and fell in with the distant spec in less than a minute. It was that kind of day. Go anywhere you want as fast as you felt like. And all of us felt like going just as fast and as far as we could. The plate has areas of thin bonded snow defined by wide lanes of excellent ice. With the 10-15kt breeze today one could sail through the snowy spots, but with all the available ice it was much more fun to tour the avenues.

Once across the pressure ridge just off Nason’s Beach, the next north-south ridge is about half way to Frye Island, making gradually off the the east before levelling out at the Dingly Islands. Just south of Nason’s in an east-west ridge with poorer ice to the south of it.

Seven people showed up: Don Stern is back after a sabbatical, Dennis Glidden, Curtis Rindlaub, Dave Fortier, Lee Spiller and Karin. Dave has plans to host a regatta here this coming weekend, so stand by for updates.

Attemping a line-up during a light-air down wind tour between the E-W ridge and a field of snow. Oddly for the NW wind, it started out light, 5-8, and built as the day went on. On the drive home flags were sharp all at attention.

Dave wants to send lots of love to whomever it is that designed the Super DN. The Orange boat was feeling his oats today and actually caused Whizzard to break a sweat more than once…


Sebago sailing week/Maine DN Championship/Sebago Open regattas

Where have we been while Sebago was sneaking up on us? The ice is there, how long has it been there? No one seems to know but it is thick enough to park on at Nason’s Beach and form pressure ridges, and it is 10 below here in Rockport Tuesday AM. Winds for the next three days in the belly of this cold Canadian high are forecast as gentle. There is even nothing awful in the tea leaves for the weekend. Sooo.

Commodore Fortier proposes racing DN’s on Sebago for those not going down to the Hudson river to feast their eyes on antiques. The not recently raced trophy for the “Sebago Open” is on deck and the Maine Championship beckons as well. Launching at Nason’s Beach on the West shore of Sebago about half way up. See reports below to whet your appetite. Wind forecasts are out of focus for the weekend but to quote the late ice bard, Larry Hardman, “Ice Will Suffice”. See you on the ice gentlemen, details to follow.

Chicky Sailing

There may be a break in this listless pool of lazy cold Canadian air Wednesday afternoon, forecast at 10. Might be last chance before Sebago migration on Friday. Thursday unknown.


More On the Hudson

Just in case you haven’t had enough of the coverage, have a look at this video: breathtaking!


Thanks to John Henry Low for sending it in.


Sebago Regattas March 8&9

CIBC and NEIYA will share the ample Sebago ice for DN regattas this weekend. Which title contest which day to be determined by Dave Fortier and Steve Madden.

Launch site Nason’s Beach at about the middle of the West bank of the lake.

Plenty of drive on ice along the beach for vehicles and trailers.

The hard core will be arriving to sail on afternoon Friday. Good weather forecast with “seasonal temperatures” in 30’s, likely wind, and only small chance of showers.

We have thought ice. It is here.

European Monotype Championship

As the guest of the Russian energy giant GAZPROM, I’ve been given a boat and a crewman with which to compete in the Baltic Cup, European Champs and the Worlds here in northern Sweden. We set up the boats this afternoon after a six hour drive north from Stockholm. It wasn’t until we were only 100km from our destination of Ostersund that we began to see ice. First it was the rotten spring time type, then firming up and filling in, and then vast sheets of grey snow ice. And as a final welcome as we rounded the last turn in the twisty decent to the lake one of the Dutch boats came roaring around the point!

The pits are muddy but happy. Lots of these guys haven’t sailed at all this season and this coming week will all they get for the year. My crewman Dimitri speaks no English, but you can’t hear much at speed anyway. Last time an American team raced here they broke a boom, so my goal is to just finish cleanly and not break anything. Practice races tomorrow with the serious stuff beginning Monday and going all week.

Boats on the ice in their shrink wrapped travel duds. We did get the planks on and masts stepped. The fuselage just sits on the plank positioned with blocks of wood on the bottom and on the plank; no nasty stud plates. It just takes a couple of good butt drops on the deck to seat it, and the the shrouds hold it there. It’s a crude version of Fortier’s balls, which proved their worth last week on Sebago when Dave noticed one of his bolts had rattled out. I sure hope that happened AFTER our mile a minute drag race!

Departing Logan I was sent off with this lovely image from the magazine stand:

Those of you who know the meaning of “Fast Piece Of Furniture” will appreciate the irony…

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Regatta Is On

The Estonian and Finnish teams arrived today, delayed by a storm in the Baltic that kept the ferries in port. There are over twenty boats now, with racing to start tomorrow. Today we explored the lake in a fresh breeze, and I learned how to communicate with my sheet trimmer: thumbs up, thumbs down, turn signals and head nods and shakes. It appears to translate very well into Russian.

The pit crew, Boris, Igor and Dimitri have done a wonderful job of tuning the boat and applying my sail number.

The poor guy in the foreground left his diamond stays at home, so he borrowed a pair of old shrouds and was splicing new ends with an ice pick as the sun goes down. In my country, I think the sun has already set on seat of the pants skills like this.

He teaches a course at the University of Sport, St. Petersburg, on iceboat sailing and construction. Two of his students came along to sail with him. It’s a holdover from the days of state sponsored sport. There were over 500 Monotypes in the USSR in the eighties, all state owned.

Sailing these boats is challenging with all that sail area on a 13′ plank. With the stiff mast there’s no where for the power to go but into a hike, so the trimmer constantly has his eye on the windward runner. Having the sheet trimmed for you is truly the lap of luxury in that “your wish is my command” kind of way. There is a delightful older couple from Germany and she drives the boat while he hauls the sheet. I suspect teamwork is a critical part of sailing these boats well. Dimitri and I seem to have figured it out today, but tomorrow is showtime!

The opening ceremonies, Old Betsy down back for the lone American entry.

And don’t forget to support our sponsors!


Racing Day One

Some of you will remember racing on Sebago a few years bak when we were all lined up ready to start when one of the boats blew over in a gust. The gust never quit so the race was called. It was deja vu all over again today. We were all lined up, the started had walked out with his flag and started the countdown when a DN in the back ground capsized under way and launch the skipper on a long slide down wind. The gust was clocked at 30, so we held the boats steady for about fifteen minutes until the race was formally called off.

We did get one practice race earlier and the US team placed somewhere in the middle. They sail a figure eight course here and I was terrified of being in the lead and forgetting which way to round. Thankfully, that will not be a problem.

We had a lovely long downwind sail back to the pits, which I drew out as long as possible. We had to take back our pit crew boss Boris; he didn’t fit easily into the cockpit, while Dimitri rode on the plank. A fairly intense package in 25kts. But the sun was warm, the ice was still hard, and the scenery spectacular. In the distance are the snow covered mountains of Norway. I sailed us a couple of extra miles to the ferry’s open fairway before gybing around and heading for the pits. I has a feeling we were done for the day and wanted to get as much as this as possible. Indeed, two hours later racing was called for the day.

Ripping along, not wanting to take her home and call it a day.

Sebago Sailing Mar 7,8,9

Sebago, getting on at Nason’s Beach, was a vast expanse of white 1/2 inch of snow on pretty good for this season

ice framed in Alpine pressure ridges parallel to the shore and beach. The ice was thick enough to park cars and

trailers on the ice, very convenient. The Nason family, owners of this lovely beach, are happy to have ice boaters and numerous ice fishermen use the beach which they plow for our convenience.

Friday afternoon was lovely sunny with only modest air of varying strength that did not inspire enough confidence for

long distance touring. Sebago is so big that ice boats disappear before they get to the other side. So we sailed around very pleasantly until about 3:30 when the wind rapidly faded as suspected.

Saturday the NEIYA put on their Don Fellows regatta after standing around most of the day in no wind that finally came in

abruptly at about 3:30 with steady strong air that kept them flying around the course until sundown.

Finish places were: 1st Eric Anderson, 2nd Greg Cornelius, 3rd Dave Fortier, 4th Warren Nethercote (Canada),

5th Peter Van Rosen (Canada), 6th Jack Erickson, 7th Doug Raymond, 8th John Stanton, 9th Bob Haag. See NEIYA.org for details.

Sunday the CIBC Maine State Championship DN regatta was held. Abridged results (race records blew overboard on

return to pits and never found) were recollected as follows: 1st Eric Anderson, 2nd Chad Atkins, 3rd Steve Madden,

4th Ed Adams. Other racers; Peter VanRosen, Wayne Nethercote, Doug Raymond, Dave Fortier?

A forecast major precipitation event in mid week may end the Sebago frolics for a while. Possible rain along the coast may spare or even improve Chiakawaukee and Damariscotta. Stay tuned. .

video of Hudson River Antique Iceyacht gathering

This was sent in by alert news-person, Margaret (Pooch) Buccholz. Many thanks.


Monotype Regatta Day Two

Fairer winds verging on light greeted us at the pits this morning. The night was freezing so the ice was hard, and with the overcast skies it stayed that way. Many boats switched to slush runners, but the top boats were all on plates. We sailed the first race without ballast as the wind felt light, but it piped right up and it was all I could do to keep the darn thing on the ice. But we were favored by a lucky wind shift on the last lap and finished 8th out of 23 boats.

Everybody scrambled for their 50# bags of lead shot before the next start, but just a minute before the flag I felt the wind lighten a bit so dumped the lead and went. It was a drifter, but my crew Dimitri must be an Olympic sprinter because he kept us going in the lulls, and at a very key leeward mark rounding. We took 10th. Last race was just a fine sailing breeze and in spite of a lousy start clawed our way back up to 9th.

Don’t know yet where that places us in this World Championship, but I don’t think the CIBC should be feeling any shame. I do wish we had a club burgee to present to hosts for events like this…

The wind was too light for a fourth race; we had a late start due to some confusion over whether there was wind or not so time ran out. Don’t know why they start late at eleven; when is the first start at a DN regatta?

I just spent the morning before the race doing what we usually do: reaching around witnessing the miracle of flying on ice.

The white boat, Snow White, is sailed by a Swedish father/daughter team, while in the background is one of the heavily sponsored Russian boats. Is there some kind of irony here?

This class is healthy and growing. The Estonians have built four new boats this season, and organize at least a dozen local regattas a year. Two of the new boats are here, and the builders are in their late twenties. One of the guys told me that the girlfriends don’t mind that they go building iceboats on the nights and weekends instead of drinking. “They like we are doing something useful”. You heard it here: building iceboats is USEFUL!

Official results Maine State DN Regatta Sunday Mar 9th 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

2014 Maine State Championship! !!

After a late day wind on Saturday allowing the racers to complete the Doc Fellows

regatta we were hoping for the wind to be early and lasting. It was earlier and more moderate. We were able to finish 5 races. The final race was square at the start, but very soon after the start there was a wind shift to make things difficult.

The RC (me) lost all the registration papers, race results, clipboard, cash on the ice. Getting back to the launch site and finding that nobody had it, I went back out to look for it. Many of the cruisers joined in and helped, but we just could not find the grey clipboard. I will  replace the clipboard and it will most likely be a bright colored one. By the time I returned to the launch the racers were all on their drives home, so I could not reconstruct the  results. I packed up and decided I would email the three racers that I knew were in the top three places, and ask them for their separate recollections. I went home and did my best to remember the afternoon.

On Monday I emailed Steve, Chad, and Eric and asked them to email me what they could remember of the finishes. When I received the replies they all were the same, so we have

the results and the first three finishers of the 2014 Maine State Championship. I apologize to the remaining five sailors for not having their positions, but shit does happen.

Eric! 1+1+1+2=5

Chad! 2+3+1+1=7

Steve! 2+2+3+6=13

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th Races

Race 1: Eric5193, Chad4487

Race 2: Eric5194, Steve4512, Chad4487

Race 3: Eric5195, Steve4512, Chad4487

Race 4: Chad4487, Eric5195, Steve4512

Race 5: Chad4487, Ed5022, Peter2766, Eric5195, Steve4512

Dave Fortier


Day Three

We all know that the big elephant in the room of iceboating is that we like everything associated with the actual sailing and racing: building, repairing, scouting, connecting, traveling, and then, finally, maybe: sailing. We didn’t quite make it to that last item today. Eleven o’clock skippers meeting canceled due to 18-25kt. winds. Ditto at one, ditto at two. So we socialized, old sailing buddies became re-aquainted and talked old times, secrets were shared, and new contacts were made.I learned that the oldest boat in the fleet was built by the same guy who made that incredible movie on Monotype racing in the thirties. It’s on this site under videos. A wonderful connection to the past. And I met the Polish team, and Robert Slavinski, their chief. He has a grand hotel on a lake in Poland called Robert’s Port that sometimes host iceboating regattas. By all accounts a fabulous venue. He has three Monotypes and is a very good sailor. He managed a fourth in yesterday’s World Championship, edging out team CIBC at sixth place. (I’m burying this incredible statistic deep in the text not wanting it to go to my head, but believe me, that’s exactly where it’s gone: WOW!!!)

Between meetings and chit chat my Russian buddies and I went shopping, came back to a sunny spot out of the wind and enjoyed a terrific picnic lunch, watching the ice get darker and softer by the hour. It’s in the low forties here and the SW wind is not cold. Yesterday an ATV towing the trailer full of ballast back from the race pits (remember the long push home? The boats needed to be light) went into a slush pocket, was stopped, and a few seconds later went through in ten feet of water. Some of the sails were pulled out, but all the extra runners and ballast bags went to the bottom. This morning a diver was called and we hauled his gear to the site on a DN. He passed up all the hardware, separated the trailer from the ATV, and then led ropes around both. People were then able to haul the vehicles up, slide boards under, and slide them onto the ice.

We had our own landside gear failure: nail in the tire. But the Russians come prepared:

Tire Repair Kit. When Dima isn’t getting Gold Medals in sprinting, he drives a truck and has done this before. They even brought along a 12v compressor:

Between tomorrow and Friday we hope to get the European Champs in the books. Temps forecast to drop below freezing so we plan on an 11:00 start for the benefit of those without slush runners. The devotion to this class is incredible. Some of the guys will allow that bow steerers are just as fast if not faster, handle better, and are lighter but it’s just not what they sail. The happy result of this is that everyone sails the same boat and agrees to all the rules (most of the time). So if you want to race something that’s not a DN this is what you do. It would be the same as if everyone in New England that didn’t sail a DN sailed a Renegade or a Whizz. But we’re so individualistic, we Americans. Is iceboating outside DN’s suffering as a result? I believe we are holding our own, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could say to a new sailor that “this is what we sail so please build or buy one and join us”?

Anyway, it remains incumbent upon all of us who love this sport to relentlessly promote just to maintain the status quo. The kind of boat we actually sail is just the ice-ing on the cake.

Photos generally make ice look better that it actually is; here’s a rare example of the opposite.


Final Day

Even though we had agreed yesterday to start earlier with hopes for cool temps and hard ice, it didn’t get below forty all night. Wind forecast was pretty good, so the fleet was rigged and heading for the race course in spite of the soft ice when yet another ATV trailer went through the ice. This time it took one of the marks and the starting blocks with it.

Nobody had checked the ice in the past twenty-four hours, and it soon became obvious that we’d lost six inches and the crystals had gone to pencil.

The series was called complete and boats began to de-rig. We were the last to leave the disaster scene, so were treated to a free ride home.

There was a small patch of black ice near the pits just large enough upon which to get wound up, so I sailed circles as the wind built hoping to tempt another boat to play but it was really time to go. Many of these crews had 36-48 hour drives ahead of them, and ferries to meet.

But not the German DN sailors. These guys are on iceboat safari. Every March they hit the road in search of ice, sail when the ice is “up” and chill on the beach when it’s not. They invited me to take one of their boats after we had been wind canceled. He had a tiny storm sail rigged and I went for miles.

These guys are retired, most been sailing for years. This is the furthest north they’ve had to travel; generally Poland or central Sweden have fine ice this time of year. We have our own ice gypsy, Ramblin Rodger from Maryland who mysteriously shows up every now and then. This year he started his season in Canyon Ferry, MT. Like Rodger, these guys live in their vans, cook both alone and communally, a make long tours in the morning, come back for lunch and a nap, and then do it again in the afternoon. One very nice detail I noticed, and it can be seen on the guy in the photo on the right, are rubber patches on the knees. How often are we kneeling on wet ice, or a bit of snow? Not sure I’d go for the tire patch red, but a section of inner tube might be just the right shape.

Lastly, my hosts and sponsors have been incredible. The Russians are really a Latin culture, with all the warmth, passion and approximate scheduling that we uptight Northerners find so exotic. They couldn’t have been more welcoming, helpful and supportive, along with all the other nationalities represented. My runners, for example, where sharpened and polished to an absolute mirror finish, no exaggeration. That’s hard work on our 1/4″ runners, but these were 1/2″! The amount of work to get them to that stage is brutal. I’m happy I could provide Igor with a good finish, if only so he feels his hard work has been put to good use.

And don’t forget to support my sponzor, Gazprom! All those stroriez you hear about them turning off the gaz to Ukraine? Yankee propaganda!

Igor, Gennady, Sasha (first place) and Igor’s son, George, at Igor’s boat, not really rushing to get off the ice: every iceboaters comfort zone.

So, boys, how’s Moosehead looking??!

Chickawaukee Ice Report and Sebago Speculation March 14

Yesterday’s storm, one measured inch of rain followed by 10 hours of snow left3-4 inches of partially frozen slush

with blown snow drifts, only an inch or so at Lloyd’s Beach. This looked like sailable ice at drive by distance.

However boots on the ice and axe in hand reveal patches of now (zero degrees at 7 AM) dry shell ice, one inch

thick and an inch of air. The back of the axe goes through easily, “if the axe goes through you will too”. If that

isn’t discouraging enough there are wet slush pits under some drifts and an ice fisherman reports driving

through 8-9 inch drifts further down the lake. No sailing today, next thaw needed.

Two inches of snow reported from Sebago, ice visible 50/50 snow ice pattern. No boot report.

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Ice, Sebago, Megunticook

Saturday Lee Spiller reports that “Ramblin Roger” sailed in puddles on Sebago. Predicts good ice for Sunday. Should be solid Monday with overnight single numbers.

Sunday 6:30 AM Squibb reports partially frozen puddles on Megunticook. Again, should be frozen by Monday.

Damariscotta at noon looked the best this year 7+. Some widely scattered pools with shell and congealing

slush. Single numbers this evening should heal all. Hope to have glacier at end of launch ramp

removed. If not walk on at left end of earth works on beach. Wind forecast for Monday, less so Tuesday. Hope to see you all Monday AM.

Stockholms Iceyacht Club

Many of us remember when Fred Wardwell sailed his DN, and his remarkable roof top carrier with the CIBC torpedo loaded with gear. At the SIK they have real torpedo hanging oner a real bar in a real clubhouse. It rivals our own Red Bank club for depth of historical continuity.

History of Stockholm Iceyacht Club

For those of us who love crawling through old buildings filled with cool stuff, their boathouse is a gold mine. Located right next to the clubhouse and a stone’s throw from the water there are stacks of boats, rigs, planks and runners.

It’s hard to see anything in this jumble-shot, but I assure you it’s all iceyachts! The one in the foreground left is NORA, built at the boatyard on this island in 1902. She has two cockpits, is 45′ long,and is shown on a video that I will try to load onto the the site.

This is one of two such racks. Note the cast iron runners with the built-in chocks. They have phosphor bronze edges, which at the time was thought to provide the best running edge. Maybe it still does? The longest ones are over six feet long.

Here is one of the loveliest sternsteerer cockpits I’ve ever seen. This poor old girl hasn’t seen the ice for a while, but what great curves, the way a woman’s hips look when she’s sleeping on her side…

Thanks to Ulf and Mats for a fantastic tour, and to Mats wife for sending along coffee and buns. I hope to see you on your ice someday!

One More

I forgot the best of all. This is the previous club house. Here name is Isabella and she was built in the twenties from ferro cement. They would anchor her in a cove and she’d freeze in for the winter. The club had a paid hand living aboard all winter who would keep the ship heated, and make meals and drinks on the weekends during the sailing events. The flag is the yacht club pennant, and you can also see the insignia on the smoke stack. Sure beats having lunch in the car!

Damariscotta Mar 17 2014

Yesterday’s grading of 7.5 from a walk out on the lake yesterday turned out to be optimistic.  It has been a long frustrating winter.

About a dozen boats turned up to sail in a somewhat fluky NW wind.  It was cold and the ice was fast resulting in the blemishes that seemed minor on foot became rather intrusive at speed.  The result was damage to four boats that the boats themselves probably felt was abusive.  The most serious was a spiral fracture of the springboard of Chris Conary’s nice old Yankee that he has justgottentosail.Image

.This  might be glueable but Chris says he has a piece of wood for the replacement.

The most unusual was Dave Fortier breaking off the end of his Super DN plank.  Cheapskate was sailing around enoying the ice scape when he saw Dave carrying something across the lake toward the far shore where his boat seemed parked.  What he was carrying was his starboard runner and a foot long stub of plank.  They met at his boat where, with parking brake off it was resting tilted toward the missing appendage.  It seems that when the runner came off Dave got out, picked it up, and assuming the boat would go no where on two runners didn’t set the front runner brake.  The boat sailed off on the two remaining runners all the way to the far shore.  Now what?  It was a long drag to the pits.  Cheapskate to the rescue of course. He pulled up to the crippled Super DN and offered a roll of duct tape and a coil of frozen line from his ice lined (the rain got in) lunch and parts department.  Fortier applied the duct tape and coiled the frozen line tightly over the fracture.  The stiff line bit into the tape to resist sliding around and Fortier saileduneventfully home to the pits.Image





Jory wanted to sail Cheapskate and suggested I take his icy wood for a ride, offer accepted.  I had heard that Jory had torn his plank loose in the narrows so I looked down at the plank attach plate and wiggled the plank which produced a merry dance of twinkling small screw heads down in the attach plate screw holes.  I declined the generous offer and queried Jory when he got back.  “Oh, not to worry I have been sailing the bejesus out of it since then”.  I wasn’t sure how much bejesus there was left.

Dammy Ice degraded to 5.5.  Hope to see you there tomorrow warts and all, still a lot of lovely ice to sail.


A return to Iceboating

It had been almost two months since I had set foot on ice when Lloyd called, wondering if I were still alive, and reporting possible good ice on Damariscotta. The reasons for my absence were two-fold. For one thing, an illness in my family had brought me into a pain so intense that iceboating seemed a superfluous sidetrack. For another, we iceboaters were caught in the dilemma of either driving great distances for good ice, or banging around on total SXXX.

But the day’s schedule could be tweaked, so I tracked down the gear–now an easier job with a trailer already loaded with boat stuff–and drove with that erstwhile heart flutter of expectation, in the 20 degree bright morning sun to the lake.

I was prepared to sniff the ice and head home, given the evangelical inflation of ice conditions Lloyd is so prone to; but the the ice was far better than I expected. To my fresh, hungry eyes it was just fantastic. And a great crowd turned up: Lloyd, Bill Bunting, Scotty, Dave Fortier, Curtis, Chris Conory, our dynamic duo from Canada, Dave Fowle, Fred, a rambling iceboater from Maryland, and two or three others. I swung off the emergency brake, battled the light airs near the launch, and soon was hurtling across ice both smooth and occasionally scabbed. It was ice that, fueled as we were by ice deprivation, immediately lured us into going faster than was wise.

I soon teamed up with Curtis in Indigo, and we blasted in tandem toward the South. I was determined not to pass south of the narrows, until we had recruited a quorum of those who might want to explore. Many folks did not know the wonders of the south of this lake. Hmmm. I’ll just test how going thru the narrows is, with this wind. But with Curtis, right on my tail, being a perfect stand-in for the bad influence of Bill Buchholz, we stitched downwind before the lovely NW breeze, over-jibing to wind her up each time and maintaining a wonderful boat speed. Soon we were on extra-smooth ice in the sequence of bays and broads to the south.

With Curtis keeping close station, I felt the mounting mania. I saw that another iceboat had also gotten thru the narrows. We should loop back and herd him along. But I was gripped with bad-boy insanity. This was the absolute orgasm of iceboating. We immediately headed for our beloved SW arm of the lake, that long tricky, less windy, downwind 5 mile passage. None of the usual pressure ridges are in sight! This lake is totally bullet-proof! Crash! I dropped the starboard runner in the unseen pressure-ridge which marks the beginning of the SW Arm. My blinding mania deflated like a punctured tire. Luckily, Curtis had tools and screws, and with the rig, unharmed and still standing, we refastened the screws into the plank and, miraculously sailing again, headed for the calm and sun of Deep Cove.

There we sat on a south-facing rock in the bright 1PM sun. Total calm. Total silence. Our boats motionless near the shore. That surreal brightness. My soul, wounded by family pain, sucked it up. An IV of deep nourishment was rushing into my veins. Finally, sharing the last of the banana bread, and fearing the possible loss of wind while so far from home, we guessed and goshed our way out thru the cove’s fluky winds, explored the wide Muscongus Bay arm of the lake, and then easily beat back north through the narrows, savoring the smooth ice as we passed.

Back at the pits, boat gear was breaking dramatically on all sides. I took an absolutely delightful spin in Cheapskate–that quiet, gentle kitten–which easily floats you along, almost like a human body alone in space. It was just the come-down I needed from the earlier adrenalin rushes. I then left my boat on the ice. I’ve just got to–got to!–do this again.

P.S. I can’t help wondering what’s exactly in that nourishing IV drip. What is it that so sooths a troubled soul? I know I’ve quoted this Wendell Berry poem before:

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Can bashing an ice machine into a hole, or sitting in a silent, sun-drenched cove be a “wild thing”? And can that “bad-boy” energy, so hard to stop, be the drive to rest ‘in the grace of the world’?


Wrapping Up On Damariscotta

Bill Bunting sent in this report of today’s sailing:

Ramblin’ Roger the Ice Gypsy, with DN Gingerbreadman; Scott Woodman, with pocket skeeter Yellow Bird; Ben Fuller with the antique gaff-rigged sternsteerer Tipsey; and yours truly with Nite # 86, Red Herring, enjoyed sailing on Dammy today. The light south wind softened the snow ice crust just enough so that ones teeth did not rattle when hitting the reefs at speed, while the lanes of smooth, dark ice that ran through them provided magical, velvet acceleration. Sailing alongside Tipsey and Yellow Bird, I realized how fortunate we are to have such very different yet equally admirable creations in our fleet. At about 3.30, seemingly in a matter of minutes, the crust turned to slush, but all made it back to the farm under sail, including Roger, who had doubled the Narrows Passage. I was very pleased that he had when I realized that my battery was dead — Roger travels with all the necessities of life packed in his caravan, including a set of heavy duty jumper cables.

Bill Bunting

Myself, I went back to work this morning as the forecast had no wind, thus violating the prime maxim: show up and pray. The wind filled in nicely after lunch until I could take it no more, so hitched up the trailer and went to Megunticook to set up. The SE wind blew right up the Western Way, and filled the Broads perfectly. The ice is probably not as nice as Damariscotta, but it was the first time this season with a boat on Megunticook and well worth the effort.

Got Ice, Searching For Surface

Ramblin’ Roger and the Telephone Bills took an optimistic shot at Damariscotta today. At first glance it looked fabulous. At second glance, sailable with slush runners, which I did while waiting for the others. Third glance found Bunting stuck in a deep puddle. He had added ballast against the stiff breeze and it might have been what sunk the boat. Asa Bunting always says: “if there’s water out there, I’ll find it!” We pushed Red Herring through the shell and water, back to solid ice, thankful that it was a glorious spring day in the high thirties as my feet were completely soaked. While Bill and Roger went to de-rig I found a solid plate just outside the pits and had fun riding the strong gusts for a while longer.

Boats are on the ice, Chris Connary has installed his new spring board, and we expect the snow tomorrow to be followed with rain overnight with temps in the high twenties. The ice will probably not be ready on Sunday the same way it wasn’t ready today, but Sunday night will be in the single digits and Monday and Tuesday are shaping up to be great, but a chance of snow Wednesday. Continued cold all week should bring us nicely to the weekend for the Maine States.

Chicky Slush 4 PM Friday

About 4 inches of firm slush everywhere over 18 inches of base ice, much of it black and transparent. By Saturday AM Temp mid 20’s there was 1 1/2 inches of ice over remaining firm slush. Nice surface.


These pictures were sent with Picasa, from Google.

Try it out here: http://picasa.google.com/


Kate Morrone and Ramblin’ Roger scouted the entire lake today and report that it’s good to go. Light styrofoam stayed hard all day in temps low thirties. Should be great tomorrow and Tuesday with temps in the high twenties, full sunshine, and single digit nights. Good wind tomorrow, a bit light Tuesday.

As they say, we shoulda been there today. Sigh…

Congratulations to the racers in Kingston: way to go, guys!

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All Kinds of Fun On Dammy

First, a serious iceboater’s warning: we locals have known of this persistent hazzard for many years, but feel we should warn the greater group of sailors who often come to Maine for our awesome ice. As we haven’t figured out yet how to have catered lunches we all bring our own. But there is a lunch-eating-beast amongst us disguised as a cute Jack Russell called Trixie. Lee Spiller took his next to the last load of gear to the ice, came back for his helmet and lunch, and noticed some familiar cheese bits on the ground near his van. Sure enough, his sandwich was gone. Commodore Fortier has lost so many sandwiches that Trixie’s owner bought him a lockable lunchbox out of guilt and compassion.

Aside from that and a few open leads around points Damariscotta offered few hazzards today. You could go as fast as you dared in the gusty NW wind on the hard smooth ice. General consensus called it an eight. Our Canadian friend Frank was trying for his mile-a-minute prize today; an excellent day for it if you could land in the right gust at the right time. His GPS was calibrated in kph, and we all assumed he needed to hit 100. By day’s end he was far from his cheerful self having attained only 98.3kph and breaking his fuselage in the effort. I suggested that 60 isn’t necessarily 100kph exactly and perhaps he should do the conversion and see what it says. A couple of frozen finger taps and up pops 60.2mph. We have a winner!

A group of early birds took a long tour down the Damariscotta River to the Unpassable Narrows. The photo tells loads about the shifty gusty wind down there. It was out of the west at this point, pouring over a steep hill to windward. We had lunch in Deep Cove later, and returned to the north end to find the lake swarming with boats. We counted twenty, a great turnout for a Monday in March. The wind held all day, the cool temps maintained a nice hard surface, and the sun was full on burn the nose mode.

As always, Lee and Karin sailed off into the sunset with the Gambit while others packed up the boats. A handful will see what comes of tomorrow’s light wind forecast, and then take boats off the ice until the next Magical March (or Awesome April) day.

We’re hoping for a near miss from the impending weather so we can get some racing in on Sebago next weekend. We’ll keep you posted on conditions.

If There’s A Fat Lady Singing, We Didn’t Hear Her Today 3/25

Somewhere it has been written: Don’t believe everything you read. We can now confidently apply that dictum to the weather report. I searched many sites looking for wind this morning and found none. Where did I eventually find it? Ruffling the pines outside as I did the taxes, and then in hatfulls on Damariscotta Lake. By eleven we were sailing in a blustery snow squall, some boats with storm sails. An hour later the sun came out, the Southerly settled in at 10kts, and about a dozen boats frolicked the day away, stopping for the occasional reflective moment:

Doug Raymond organized scratch racing using islands and fish shacks as marks. In the light air we’d do one lap, heavier air two. As always, a great skill building exercise and something we need to do more often. Thanks Doug.

Lloyd got the Cheapskate to hike by offsetting the hull on the plank, creating in effect a seven foot plank on one tack and a nine on the other. He got his hikes, and feels the boat even looks more streamlined with the short plank.

A few of us took a late afternoon gamble and headed for the south end. It’s a long walk home, but with such a lovely plate of ice down speckled with islands that it’s always worth the chance. We made it to the bottom of Muscongus Bay, did a couple of deep gybes on the silent ice and headed for home. The SW was flukey, but held, and one of the boats was able to sail the entire eight miles back to the pits non-stop on one tack, including through the narrows. Many people tell me that performance isn’t really important, they just want to go out, have fun and sail around. But to have a well tuned boat gives you the capacity to rise to the challenge of long tours and get back before the wind dies, all the while marveling at the magic of flying on ice. Back to racing, this is where you learn how to go where you need to get to.

Regarding yesterday’s report of a lunch-eating-beast, we now have no excuse for loosing our food:

Thanks Trixie: forewarned is lunch in the bag.

Forecast for Sebago looks like no snow, but rain later in the week and possibly on the weekend. But please take note of the above comments on the forecast. Rain is coming to Moosehead next week, so we’re looking for wet-out there and then a deep freeze on a Friday…


Fat Lady Blown Away at Damariscotta

After the orgy of ice sailing on Dammy this last couple of weeks with the pits full of resting iceboats nights, sailors weary with epic commuting to the Southern hemisphere, racing around islands and generally taking advantage of typical end of season sail until you drop desperation. Then all of a sudden they left. Even Rambling Roger from Maryland having camped in his van for a week, nothing but ruts in the snow and frozen mud except for the HARD CORE.

Three patient skippers, Ben Fuller with antique “Tippy”, Bill Bunting with Nite “Red Herring” and Lloyd Roberts still doing acceptance trials with newly minted “Chaepskate”, waited out the gale winds of Wednesday intending to pull their boats Thursday before the long overdue Spring warm weather moved in. Just going to Dammy to load boats seemed frivolous so we assembled in late AM for a preload sailing.

The Wednesday gale had sucked in the usual gusty NW wind, but not arctic cold now, about 30. It was sunny and perfect March sailing. No voyages to the bitter end of the lake, just flying around on the ice possibly for the last time. Lloyd made one last trial of the assymmetrical plank testing for the desirability of a 7 foot plank vs. the plans specified 8 feet, the “sport model” Cheapskate. He figured that if the intended hiking was too much he could lower the whole sail. Unnerving abrupt hikes in puffs and one good whack in the head from a modestly lowered boom scuttled the research. Two new members, Ted and Carolyn Vaughn, experienced water sailors, came by to sail Cheapskate in the choppy air. While they played Lloyd offered to provide welcome ballast in Tippy which was already carrying 50 pounds of shot. We had a wonderful classic sternsteerer rumbling sail smashing through shell ice and snow mounds with aplomb and a fair turn of speed.

While we were off reaching the lake the Vaughn’s took turns sailing Cheapsklate having a great although chilling time, not enough clothes. The’ve gotta have one, maybe two. They already have some vintage made in USA bed rails. Then we adjourned for lunch having paid attention to the sign on Bunting’s “Trixie” terrier about stealing sandwiches and locked down the goodies. I dozed off in the sun in my truck after my sandwich, Bunting dozed off in the sun with Trixie in his lap. When we came to the sun was gone and the sky dark grey. Oops, time for one more loop around the pond and then knock them down maybe for the year.

Tippy got the start on Red Herring who was slow getting going. Cheapskate did one of her classic down wind starts and flew by Red Herring in hot pursuit of Tippy finally catching her at the far end of the lake. Then skipper Roberts nipped her around and decided to let ‘er go for the home end.

I couldn’t see much of the ice surface or even tell what the sail was doing with sun glasses in the dark gloom, but there was still plenty of wind. So I told Cheapie, “this is it girl, full tilt boogy for the far end, hold together now for the final leg of proof trials”. Pedal to the metal, both hands on the sheet, tiller between the knees, we absolutely flew the full length of the lake shell ice, unseen snow piles and all. We rounded up gently by the colored buoys near the State Park all pieces still connected together and a rare tingling running up my spine. The Fat Lady didn’t have a chance.

Future Sails

After scouring all the forecasts hoping for a racing window on Segago’s awesome ice, sailing for the weekend has been deleted. We will continue to scout for a good surface at South Twin, Sebec and Moosehead in the coming weeks. Their two feet of ice is still covered in snow, and the chance is excellent for a cold morning after a wet-out event.

Bravo to Lloyd, Bill and Ben for tearing it up yesterday like a trio of spring pups. I, for one, broke the don’t sail alone rule and hoping for some racing this weekend thought I should get a little DN cockpit time. I explored every nook and cranny of Megunticook and found it solid and tight. Jory hasn’t sailed our home ice all season so I had to get that in the books for him. Bob Lombardo was skating the perimeter and also found it excellent.

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A New Supply of Runners

Jeff Kester from upstate New York has an interesting project under way. Don’t forget, the iceboat building season is about to start!

I am about to pull the trigger on a buy for 420HC stainless for runners and I am wondering if there would be any interest in your area. 420HC is similar to 440C, but it is more resilient against chipping and more corrosion resistant. Our plan is to make either 7 or 15 sets of skeeter blades. The sets will have 42” side runners and a 30” steer runner. I plan to do alligator nose style, but I also have a European modified bull nose pattern as well. I’d be interested in supplying partial or complete. At a minimum, I think it would be best to supply after water jet cut and vacuum heat treat. I could also supply edged, or completed. My plan would be to deliver them at the next New England swap meet.

I am not 100% sure of the cost yet, but am thinking a set completed would be under $1000. The runners will have 1-1/2”x2”x1/4” aluminum stiffeners and a 1” UHMW mounting bar for DN style chocks. Basically, these are modeled after Jack Jacob’s J14 runners.

Additionally, I am in the process of building a mast mold. The mast is 7-1/4”x2-1/8” in an aerodynamic tear drop shape. They will be glass and carbon, we will be able to do up to 22’ blanks. In the first year we will just make a few and prove them out. After that, we will be interested in selling a few to recover the tooling cost.

Contact Jeff at: jjkester

Haven’t Had Enough Yet?

The ice on Megunticok is hard frozen granular, essentially frozen slush, but hard enough to support many, many iceboats. The water from the other day has drained and evaporated, taking most of the snow humps with with it. The sun will shine tomorrow and the wind will blow, so even if the surface gets soft, slush runners will bring spray dappled grins to all our faces.

And don’t get the idea that because tomorrow is April First that this is some kind of sick joke. Nope: real ice, real sun and real wind, on one of the most beautiful and intimate lakes we know. Plus, in accordance with a new CIBC policy, Champagne will be served on every sailing day after March 31st. No Joke…

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Drinking and Driving on Megunticook.

6AM…. teacup in hand, I sat in my meditation chair, looking out at the spasms of the evergreen outside: hmmm…tons of wind….a prayer naturally arose: dear Higher Power…..we know you order the many conditions of wind and ice….we know you giveth and taketh away….but you know, HP, this season has been a biggie in the taketh away, and a smallie in the giveth….what would it be like, just to even things out, say, for us to sail until May 1?……

I tracked down the gear, hitched the trailer, and drove the mere 1.4 miles to Megunticook….light cloud, wind 15-25 and gusty NNE….storm sails–could they be reefed?–came to mind….nobody around yet….ice presently hard, but ready to slush-out at any minute…the gear, once unloaded, began skittering off downwind….a quiet intrusion of wisdom: Do I really want to do this?….let’s face it: you can easilylose the hang of iceboating….without your buddies calling at 630….denying, exaggerating, downright lying….without this HYPE….the cuddly koala bear in our souls would take one look at this, and say….warm up the coffee, mopsy, i’m coming home!

but good old Lloyd was there, keeping faith, setting up Cheapskate….Bill was off to buy champaign….typical….I’ve even seen him smoke cigars….I checked in with Bunting, and, as usual, he decided that only fools would go out in this…. so i eased off the emergency brake and luffed and crabbed my way up to the lee of Davy Jones Cove. By now the spring sun was out, the ice was sparkling with crystals, and, with only very few scabs to avoid, it was a delight to sail on….hey, this is great!

and it truly was….the ice was without hazard, thou the boat speed was sometimes terrifying. I often used a tight-sheeted sail while sailing dead downwind, as broad reaches would take you out of control. I kept station with stately Cheapskate, that most forgiving of boats, until Bill joined us, and we blasted up the western passage, a threesome, against the howl….At the north broads, about 9:15, in a momentary lull, I could feel that the ice was softening….but with so much wind to overcome the drag, it was easy to blast thru Chaney’s Narrows and reach Wipe-out Bay…There, alas, the wind was definitely mellower, and the spector of a long push home–my storm sail possibly unequal to the friction of slush…made our decision unanimous: to roll the dice and head home for slush runners…

but once back in the North Broads, happily, the wind was as strong as ever, and we stitched our way South, and frolicked over to the turnpike section….there all three of the “fangs” passages into the turnpike, were blocked by open water….this is, after all, April…and besides you craved the open spaces to bleed off speed when the boat became hell-bent on self-destruct….finally we gathered at Davy Jones’ and opened the champaign…

and there we lounged, in the bright noon sun….clothes stripped off….Bunting, who had sailed after all, and I swapped stories of our blue-water sailing days in the 60’s….we worked slowly down the bottle…even sharing drinks with two passing skaters, who were totally slushed out….then, slightly tipsy, I had another lovely sail in Cheapskate, which brings one back to the excitement of our first seasons of iceboating….when the sport was simple, exposed, elemental….finally, with the slush getting inches deep, we left our boats on the ice for a possible early-morning romp tomorrow …ahhhh….spring sailing….what could be better?


Winds Light and Variable

Winds light and variable….i hate that prediction….my epitaph will probably read: “Jory died in his iceboat. the wind was light and variable”. I slept an extra half-hour, just for spite, then headed for the ice at 645. Bill has been a good mentor….he keeps saying that all ancillary iceboat activities count as iceboating….sharpening a runner…flying to Siberia….its the same as Mach one on black ice…..welllll….but also in this morning’s windless sun, I would be out on my waterfront front porch….and even more, it was a good morning to be out of the house….I had come back from iceboating yesterday tipsy, nappy, and poorly inclined toward husbandry….so short sentences had prevailed….

On the ice, I switched to slush runners, hoisted the big sail, and pushed out around Windy Point, just at 715, not daring to hope….wow!….the battens immediately snapped a salute to the NNE wind, and, with one push, the boat gathered way…. within seconds I was hiking, enjoying iceboating at its best, that is, just barely under control …..”this is a go-anywhere wind, I bleated, this lake is mine!”….but as I gained the eastern side of the South Broads and headed north, I noticed that I had to sheet out and come off the wind a little to avoid a stalled sail….this was not yesterday’s wind…By 8AM I was pushing 20% of the time, by 830AM pushing 70%, and– heading desperately back to Windy Point–by 845, even in this windiest of spots, the tell-tale wasn’t insisting. Jim Gagnon and Doug Raymond were pushing boats expectantly out into the broads….”this is your fault”, Doug shouted….

Back in Bog Bay, Lloyd was setting up Cheapskate. I lingered, after de-commissioning, to see if that marvelous boat could find movement when the others, both definitely go-fast types, were visible standing beside their boats…But as I left, glancing back through the trees, from Davy Jone’s driveway, into that lovely bright Spring scene…. alas, Lloyd too was becalmed….tomorrow I hope to be on the ice at absolutely first light….maybe that was some sort of dawn wind…..

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The Honor of being in Wild Space

I miss my ice buddies just a little…..as, day after day….. this sunny succession of days unfolds on Megunticook….each day seems to offer a magical few hours of good sailing, as I work the roulette game of winds and ice. After yesterday’s slush, today I bet on the hard ice of early morning….any wind at all would move the boat well on this now-level granular ice, before the late morning slush-out….but….why even go out when there’s hardly a wiggle in the trees at home?

I have the habit of early morning walks, so I decided simply to take my iceboat for a walk in the cloud-less morning sun….. I pushed it, without a sail, around the bend into the broads….not a breath stirred….what the hell….I started pushing East….so stoned….so dazzled ….by the sparkle and the silence….

You could see iceboating as a sport….the challenge of using cloth, wood, and steel to move by wind power across ice….you could see it as competition…. to move a little faster than the other guy….But here in my dotage….as testosterone gently moves toward its nadir…I’m increasingly moved by iceboating as a frame, as a context, in which to experience Wild Space….

I pushed East….the slush runners’ grind-y sound adding to the rhythmic crunch of boots to break the windless, surreal silence. gradually the tell-tale increased its flutter….what the hell…I raised the sail….the boat looks better that way….opposite Dunton Rock the boat began moving on its own….soon I vaulted in and we were off….on 1.5 hours of fantastic sailing on a limited playground of mysterious, adiabatic wind:


Playing alone….blasting, for example, toward the lead of sparkling open water near the “fangs”, with the sun just above the mountain….as I say….I miss my ice buddies a little…..I want to share this fantastic experience….but I also don’t miss them….there’s a greediness here….because alone….I can more easily sink into the honor of being immersed in such beauty….

These days, there is so little wild space….sacred space….holy space….I think primitive people were nourished by this….I can’t find many pre-industrial people to ask, but…..just think about the bratty persistence of hunting and gathering, long after agriculture had proven a better bet for delivering a regular meal….think of fly fishermen, ice fishermen, mountain climbers, shepherds….I suspect that the human animal has receptors for this disappearing dimension of experience….receptors which supply a contentment, a peace of mind, impossible to mimic.

when the wind finally pooched about 9AM, I took the time to chop holes in various places…..10 inches of solid, monolithic ice….eventually you won’t be able to get from shore to this beautiful floe….but while you can….I hope to be on it!

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April 6 Aria

Jory and I squeezed one more glorious morning from Lake Megunticook today. 5:30 am: winds strong and gusty, temp 33, a few pre-dawn clouds. We met at my place at seven to lug a 20′ plank down to the lake, which still didn’t clear the slush moat, but we got my DN through it anyway and by 7:30 were beating north. The surface ice in the cove could easily be stomped through, into slush, but outside the surface was hard and smooth and could have been sailed on plates for the first couple of hours. We made it all the way up to Cam’s Sauna, took the scenic route back down to Barret’s Cove and then did it again just for good measure. This means using every bit of the lake, with a couple of island roundings for good measure. I was even able to get through Lamb’s Folly, deep in the corner of Wipeout Bay in the shifty but strong westerly. There were open leads in the typical places, of course. The morning’s long shadows at the tips of islands looked like open water, so we just rounded them, too, but found no surprises.

The start at Barret’s Cove along Rt.52. Notice the cross at the top of Maidens Cliff? Notice as well how the runners aren’t cutting in.

We feel a little bad that we didn’t announce this world wide, but considering we were done by eleven hopefully the greater club won’t be too disappointed. I have to ask myself if I’d have driven four hours for a sail like this, and unfortunately the answer is yes. But how does one actually know what to expect at such a fickle time of year? We called it ON to all the local sailors but still had no takers. I hazzard to say that an aggressive quartet of DN sailors could have pulled off a regatta this morning. First start at seven, four races done by eleven? The only viable course was flanked by waves licking at the edge of the plate, so maybe in the end it was best just drive the boat fast in the hard wind.

Ice aglow in the early light in North Broads.

End of the Road: Cam’s Sauna

End of sailing on Megunticook.

Kate Morrone was planning to sail Sunapee this morning; we’ll post her report here when she checks in. It’s looking less likely that we’ll get a wet-out up north before the temps become too warm for a morning freeze. That said, todays lesson was that 33 degrees after 24 hours of rain and 48 hours of above freezing temps yielded the fabulous conditions today, and because a couple of nuts were paying attention were able to nail it. Many of you are watching the web cams for Sebec, Moosehead and South Twin: we are too. Until you see a fat duck quacking keep the boats at the ready!

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Rich Crucet died today

Sad news from Long Island. Apparently Rich went to bed last night and died naturally in his sleep. On behalf of the entire CIBC membership, we wish to express our condolences to his family.

May your ice be always smooth,

No reefs

or open leads.

Just miles and miles

with sun and blissful cruise.

May you overstand the windward mark

and peel off fast and deep;

and when the racing’s over

find peace with eternal sleep.

The Lake Ronkonkama Ice Boat and Yacht Club will be honoring Rich at their annual awards banquet. For anyone in the area that would like to participate, the Dinner will be held at “The Oar” in Patchogue, NY on Sunday April 13th from 5-8pm, at a fixed price of $37, cash bar available. If you are interested please RSVP to John Ziermann ASAP as he needs a head count ((jzierman@suffolk.lib.ny.us).


Nagging thought: are we missing something?

Is there some ice somewhere being unused? Perhaps on a slightly-north-of-here lake?

here’s a reassuring report from that intrepid nordic skating duo:

We drove up to Sebec this morning because the webcam looked so promising and the temp was 16 at 5am. Most of the lake looked a nice shade of grey but the closer we got I knew things just didn’t look solid enough. Sure enough the slush-wich only had about 1″ on top. So we walked out further to get away from the in-flow or out-flow [whatever that is by Greeeleys landing] and it improved some but not enough to think we could actually skate without eventually taking a few diggers. Shell ice had already started to form and drain out underneath. Just too much material was on that lake to make a good transformation with the limited time there was. Could have been okay with 2 cold nights. Not happening this season on Sebec I am afraid. I am putting away my skate gear and its all bikes till November for me. See you next season


(This is Bob Lombardo)

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It’s Over

Sebec was our Ace in the Hole, but according to Bob Lombardo there are holes in our Ace. The web cam there was indeed looking very good; the best of the northern lakes for wetting out. But the next cold night there will be Tuesday, with days in the fifties until then and light rain on Wednesday morning. Seems like we’re beating a dead horse. There was a false alarm for Lac St. Francois in Quebec the other day: too much slush and not enough cold.

Time to take out the ear plugs and listen to the lovely lady of corpulence riffing on the coming of spring. She’s been in the background for quite a while but now has taken those few steps and moved twenty feet to the front of the stage: now she’s a star!

With that in mind, it’s safe to announce that the spring CIBC meeting will be at Lloyd’s house on Saturday May 3, mid-morning to late afternoon. Bring a dish to share for lunch and any interesting iceboat stuff to show or sell. Club business meeting to follow lunch. 140 Porter St. Rockport, Me 04856

All are welcome, members as well as potential members. We have a lot of followers here at the CIBC blog who tell us what great pleasure they get from following the iceboating. Now, one doesn’t need to be an iceboater to become a member of the club, although as a club that’s our ultimate goal. Also, one doesn’t need to be a member to enjoy the exploits of the club through our posts and photos. But to remain a viable institution the club needs a strong base of supporting members. Won’t you join today? Please send $20.oo cash to Lloyd Roberts, Treasurer, at the above address. Thanks!


Ice On Chickawaukee Saturday April 12

I am looking out the window at a motorboat where the ice was yesterday. I was however the first boat (canoe) on the pond yesterday and had a nice trout rise to a vintage “daredevil”. A little residual along the SE shore will likely disappear by Sunday. Water temp 45 at beach, 8 long months to refreeze.


Ice on Hosmer Pond

We’re a couple of days behind Chickawaukee with four inches of pencil ice. I could get through the dark perimeter with the kayak, but not the white center. Just for the record, four inches of white pencil ice will hold 160# and even withstand aggressive boot stomping. But you didn’t hear it here!

Here is a fascinating bit of ice crystal. The vertical part is the usual rotten formation and I believe the curving part, with horizontal crystals, is an ice fishing hole. They always freeze differently from the surrounding ice and now we see the crystals behaving oddly, like they really want to go vertical but just can’t get with the program.

Fat Lady Balks

Each time she tries to sing either she slips on the ice or her lips freeze. And Moosehead Lake is so hard of hearing that she just can’t get through up there. Those three feet of ice covered with twelve inches of slush refuse to listen. Therefore, it is incumbent upon our club to go give it a shot. By Friday there will have been two cold nights, one low teens and one low twenties. We’ve had many “Miracles on Slush” before, so we believe this surface should firm up enough to sail on. Our snowmobile tour guide spy also reports he’s seen no pressure ridges.

That said, we offer no guarantees and no refunds. Just a notice that Denis, Curtis, Jory and myself will be at the Rockwood public ramp Friday morning about 8:00 and would love to see you there.

The view over the bow on Moosehead last April.

Map of Maine Public Boat Ramps | MapMuse

Moosehead in the Bag, 4/19/14

Dogs just need to be dogs. If there is a scent, it’s not possible for them to ignore it so they give chase. So it appears to be with iceboaters. We sniff ice and there’s just no way to sit still and ignore it. Even if there’s already been wonderful “end of season” sails with all the attendant drama of setting out planks, and wading through slush and self congratulations on how lucky we were to get this particular day. Just over the horizon is a tremendous plate of ice, the biggest in Maine, just waiting for a surface. Three to four feet of shore bonded ice on one of the most dramatically beautiful lakes in the east, with all due respect to Winnepesaukee and Champlain.

The web cam at Rockwood did not look encouraging mid week, nor did the wind forecast. But the temps suggested a firming up of the surface, and by noon Thursday the wind was called for 10-15 with gust to twenty. And that’s just what we got.

The Southeasterly blew right up the lake steady as a train all day. The surface was hard and smooth most of the day and we could cover the lake with abandon. We’d agree to sail to some distant point, island or remote cove and then just do it: miles and miles and miles. No pressure ridges, cracks or holes out in the main body. Some of the shallow points and narrow straights were open but out on the broads you could be sailing along, go below for a cup of coffee and come back up only to find more miles ahead.

Captains Gautin, Squibb, Bunting and Rindlaub. The surface looks like crap in the photo, as it did in the web cam, but the runners ran silent.

The launch called for carrying boats as the proper ramp was rotted out from a nearby stream but many hands made light work of it. The launch at Greenville was in much better shape but was in a deep lee.

A little house on a tiny island a long way from anywhere. The landscape designer needs a deep tip of the helmet.

There’s a half mile of ice between the mouth of this river and Mt. Kineo. The big question now is what to do about all that ice. Rain is forecast for tomorrow which will wet out the few snow drifts and help compact the slush. The slush itself is very thin, maybe a half inch, with fine hard ice just under. Do we keep an eye on it like the dog on a bone just because he’s programmed to? Do we listen to the fat lady and walk away? It will only take another couple of cold nights to provide a good surface. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t want to bury the bone of this season, but who wants to continue chewing on it? Right down to the very marrow? Que sera sera.

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playing the long shot: Moosehead!

8 am saturday….impossible to leave the bed’s cocoon….the shoulders, knees, elbows: each placed just so, to avoid pain…..how to make it down to the magic of toast and tea and Advil?….but the memories….how the body now smiles….luxuriates…Buchholz says there are four cornerstones to iceboating. WIND….how it powers and drives you thru yesterday’s dense bonded snow drifts which covered 10% of the lake…accellerating on the grey, braking on the white. ICE….the dozens of varieties: scollups, pinnicles, caverns, yet magically all so smooth and undangerous…. BUDDIES….our wonderful collection of nutcases, whom we enjoy, bear with, and love….and SCENERY….and here….here…. there is simply no word, no possible concept, to apply to yesterday.

Moosehead is 75K acres….Winniepasaukee 46K…..Sebago 30K….Moosehead is so vast, so mountain-bounded, and so dominated in its center by a dramatic brick-shaped mound, Mount Kineo….. that when you glimpse it driving from the South, you can’t believe your eyes….this is a fairy kingdom…. Yet driving 3 hours due north on April 17 seemed such a long shot. As we loaded the car Thursday afternoon, I warned the strong sun: Don’t kybosh our Ice!…..what hubris….the tilt of the earth was against me…ice was melting willy-nilly at breakneck speed…..local lakes were water…..Plymouth, and hour north was half-and-half, its central plate soon to come unmoored and ricochet to death against the shores. At 2 hours the ice looked solid but puddled at the edges…and at 3 hours, reaching Moosehead, we had ice bonded to the shores. Walking out, at the Greenville ramp, the snow drifts were daunting….my spirits fell….

But 10 miles further north at Rockwood, the drifts were fewer and shallower….we scouted a good launch plan, and then began searching for dinner…..two restaurants were closed, one rattled your dentures with “music”, and we settled down with thankful relief, to wrap sandwiches at a pizza joint….by now die-hard Curtis had joined our duo…..later a cozy motel….a sunny dawn….a great breakfast, eaten without hurry in the calm morning air….and then we swung by the Greenville ramp again and goggled at massive 4WD king-cab trucks, pulling glistening enclosed trailers, disgorging shiny new snowmobiles, shepharded by beautifully high-tech-clad humanoids…wow!…no kneeling in Good-Friday churches for this lot…….nor us, of course.

Soon Denis joined us after a 2 hour drive south from Quebec and we five helped each other set-up in the light SE wind….out on the ice at last, it was great sailing to windward in the 7 MPH airs, but tricky working downwind….the Bills switched to slush runners while the wind slowly built and by 10AM it was absolutely glorious on any sort of runner…the 1″ snow or slush, either hard in the morning or softened in the afternoon was backed by smooth solid ice…

We explored, we snacked, we match-raced at every chance….we hiked lingeringly before imaginary cameras, backed by the drama of Mt. Kineo….we gathered here and there, now and then, in the blazing sun, to compare notes…..everything was so new to me….never have I sailed such vastness….never sailed a surface which looked so dodgy, but was so smooth in reality…and by 3PM, with arthritis now shouting to some, we again worked as a team to wade boat parts thru the slush and pack our trailers 100 yards away….

will there be more?…..sated for now, we imagined this being a fabulous ending….but i’ll wager….i’ll just bet…that if we keep oogling Greenville’s weather….and see two cold mornings in a row in the next two weeks…..these laboratory rats might just pull lever “A” one more time…and hope those tasty food pellets slide down the chute….


Four Whizz a’building

Now that we’ve decided the season is over and the sweet soulful sound of a certain soprano fills our ears, we can get back to serious iceboat building. Whizz # 8, 9, 10 and 11 are coming along very nicely. Henry Bossett is building the sails, hardware by Steve Duhamel, and masts by Apache Boatworks.

Denis Guertin is building a pair in Quebec for himself and sailing buddy Frank. He says that since he’s building two at once he’s able to make twice as many mistakes! Just outside the window of his shop he can watch the ice on Lac St. Francois slowly recede from the shore, confident in the knowledge that when it returns in the fall he and Frank will be ready for it. These guys are not afraid to travel either, so we look forward to seeing them around New England next season. Do I hear rumors of a Whizz Regatta in the offing? Frank, we know for a fact, loves a good race: the more wind the better.

Carl Jelleme in Nantucket has done a fine job with his Whizz. Note the exceptionally graceful stern on his model. Carl says: ” I have had a ton of fun building it and it really is a pretty little vessel….what a great design for its size.” Now that the steering is in and all the other small details taken care of he’s ready for the deck.

Bill Bernhard in Adirondack NY did a wonderful job of hiding the fact that plywood is only eight feet long. We’re not permitted to simply varnish the butt joint on the deck so this solution works great. The pin striping at the sheer and wrap around cockpit upholstery complete the package. And the plank is just the way Dicky Saltonstall liked them: flat at the ends with all the bend in the center. This gives them that nice S shape when loaded up, presenting the runner nicely square to the ice.

We’ve updated the plans, adding some more information and correcting some errors that only the builders are able to find. It’s amazing: you go over each detail, convinced that it’s all good, and then a guy who’s actually doing the building calls up and asks a very simple question about why Tab A doesn’t slot into Slot B, or some such thing, and bingo: he’s right. There it is in blue and white. So now all you potential builders can rest assured that Tab A does indeed slot into Slot B and all is good with the project.

Ted and Carolyn Vaughn are off to Vermont to pick up an Arrow. They showed up a lot this past season and sailed whatever was offered. That’s just how you do it: show up and learn, and now a boat has dropped right into their laps. Maine, The Way Life Should Be!

And don’t forget the Spring meeting and pot luck at Lloyd’s on Saturday. All are welcome. 140 Porter St. Rockport, 04856. Showing up starts now.

Mystery Member

Treasurer Roberts received twenty dollars in the mail, presumably for a CIBC membership. But there was no return address and no contact info in the envelope. The post mark was from Maryland. We’d like to credit this person with membership, so if anyone knows who this could be, or if this is you, please contact us.

Don’t forget about the NEIYA Spring meeting/clinic at Jeff Kent’s Composite Solutions shop this coming Saturday at 1:00. We all need to take one last gulp of iceboat air as we go under for the off season!

The Quebecois know how to live.

After a hard day in the shop, they go outside and sit by the lake for a sundowner.

Thanks Denis and Frank for this shot, and thanks also to Jeff Kent for allowing the teeming masses into his shop while there was real work going on this past Saturday.

Iceboats in WoodenBoat

According to Paul Zucco, iceboats have been featured on the cover of WoodenBoat magazine six times since it’s founding. A little research into the long row on the top shelf confirmed this, and Doug Raymond was kind enough to throw in the missing issue.

The first issue was #14 in 1977. The cover girl was Freddie Krause’s COLD WAVE, and the article by Peter Burckmyer featured and interview with some of the Hudson river Lawrence family members. It’s all about the gaff riggers, fitting for the time when the magazine was all about pine tar and hemp. They clipped artwork from S. Calhoun Smith’s fabulous book “Iceboating”, probably at that time still in print. Find it if you can.

Then came the DN’s in #86, 1989. Joe Norton is interviewed and tells a good story about the boat’s development, state of the art and the future. He predicts exactly how Jeff Kent and others have come to use wood as just one part of a composite structure. WoodenBoat has started with it’s love-hate relationship with epoxy.

#92, one year later, takes us back to tradition with the South Bay Scooter. I don’t believe the Scooter folks had started building in fiberglass yet, but this is a terrific article, quite long by WB standards. There’s even a photo of puddle jumping, but I still can’t imagine how the sail generates enough horsepower to get the boat from the water up onto the ice.

Dan Clapp is the next cover boy in an early bubble boat in #110, 1993. WB is now all about high tech wood/epoxy composites and what a great boat with which to demonstrate it. On the cover, he’s passing Peter Harken in a rumble seat skeeter. That type always had difficulty getting the balance correct enough to actually steer, so the boats by Clapp and Tom Nichols dominated for quite a few years. Tom tells a great story of racing with the guys from the mid-west on Lake Champlain and the Easterners are just walking away from the mid-westerner’s rumble seaters. They called Buddy Melges back in Wisconsin asking him what they should do, but Buddy wouldn’t accept that his guys were getting beaten so badly by such an unusual design and just told them to try harder! The rest is history.

WoodenBoat #182, 2005 comes home to Maine to tell us about L.F. Herreschoff’s SLIPPER. She’s an early fuselage type stern-steerer with a marconi rig. Great photos by Dickie Saltonstall on a beautiful day on Lake Sebago illustrate Bill Bunting’s story, and there is a nice sidebar by Lloyd Roberts. Plans are featured, so you’ll be able to build one for yourself if so motivated. It is iceboat building season, after all. SLIPPER was seen sailing on the Hudson this season, but we hope to see her back in Maine someday, too.

And another fuselage stern-steerer with a big steering wheel is the most recent, this past January. Great photos were taken by Alison Langly that day in 2013 just in case some one might do an article on the Monotype. Bunting twisted my arm pretty hard to get me to write it; I owe it all to him, thanks Bill. The funniest thing, though, is that the photo at the head of the story prominently shows a hole in her starboard quarter. It looks like a bullet hole, and if you squint just right you can imagine that it’s actually a Sopwith Camel you’re looking at, just back from a flight behind German lines. But no, her mooring thawed out in a southerly gale and she swung around impaling herself on another boat’s runner. Another reason to remove your runners at night.

Think Ice!

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Some History

Taking the cue from the NEIYA on posting a bit of history now and again, here are some interesting tidbits clipped from the Grand Traverse Ice Yacht Club:

1896: Kingston Ice Yacht Club forms in Ontario, Canada. The active members’ own twenty-six stern steerers sporting from 325 to 725 square feet of canvas sail. The club deeds the Walker International Challenge Cup for Ice Yachts. This trophy donated by the distiller Hiram Walker & Sons, Ltd. of Walkerville, Ontario, to promote ice yacht racing on Lake Ontario, the Bay of Quinte, and the River St. Lawrence.

1903: Stuart Cup trophy established for competition among boats with sail areas over 600 square feet. First bow steering ice boats sailed. Bow steering lessens spinouts or “flickers.” Biggest safety improvement to date in the history of ice yachting.

1913: The book “Iceboating,” edited by Herbert L. Stone, is published. He outlines various “State of the Art” gaff rigged stern steerer designs, and also the South Bay Scooter. Hotbeds of ice boating activity are the Hudson River, Orange Lake, and Lake Chautauqua in New York, the Shrewsbury River in New Jersey, Lake Champlain in Vermont, Gull Lake in Michigan, and Madison, Wisconsin.

1927: Lake Mendota and Lake Monona Ice Yacht Clubs, active before the turn of the century, merge to form the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club in Madison, Wisconsin. First marconi rigged stern steerers sailed. Stern steerers transported to regattas via railway flat cars. Telegrams sent to alert racers that regattas are on.

1933: Walter Beauvois of Williams Bay, Wisconsin designs and builds the Beau-Skeeter, a front steering iceboat. Even with just 75 square feet of sail, it’s the fastest thing on the lake. Skeeter Ice Boat Club forms on Lake Geneva.

1936: DN iceboat design developed by Archie Arroll, Joe Lodge, and Norman Jarrett in a competition held by the Detroit News newspaper. The DN can trace its ancestry directly to the early Skeeters.

1946: Bill Sarns, a third generation machinist, starts ice yacht hardware manufacturing business in his parents garage at 18 years of age.

1947: Renegade one design Skeeter is developed by Elmer Millenbach of the Detroit Ice Yacht Club.

1950: E Skeeter class dominates open and free for all events at regattas. Hey day of the picturesque and grand stern steerers over.

1951: New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club, inactive for 25 years for lack of safe ice on the Hudson River, turns custody and stewardship of Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America over to the Eastern Ice Yachting Association.

1954: First IDNIYRA “Annual Regatta” hosted by the North Star Sail Club and sailed on Lake St. Clair. Top five finishers are Jack Moran, Skip Boston, Paul Eggert, Bill Sporer and Bill Sarns. Bill Sarns again wins Scripps trophy in regatta on Lake St. Clair.

1960: Jane Pegel first woman to win the DN Annual Regatta. Arrow one design fiberglass iceboat designed and built by the Boston Sail Co. of Mt. Clemens, Michigan. Dacron fully accepted as the sail cloth of choice. Nylon, which replaced cotton, now obsolete.

1962: First set of DN plans, drawn by Bill Sarns, leaves North America for Europe. Kess Kortenoever, a former Olympic ice skater, builds the first DN in The Netherlands. Sodus Bay Ice Boat Club on Lake Ontario in New York State incorporates. Original club goes back to the days of the stern steerer.

1965: Chickawaukee Ice Boat Club forms to promote DN racing in Maine.

1968: Dick Slates of Pewaukee, Wisconsin designs and build the Nite. Two wooden prototypes built. Design refined and fiberglass production begins in 1970. Over 550 of these one-design, side by side boats to be built.

1971: Five European DN skippers come to North America and race in the Annual Regatta on Geist Reservoir in Indianapolis, Indiana. These are first transcontinental competitors in an ice yacht regatta. West System Epoxy first offered for sale by Gougeon Brothers, Inc. of Bay City, Michigan. In decade of the 70s, DNs supercede Skeeters as the most popular iceboat in North America.

1973: First intercontinental ice yacht regatta, the inaugural DN Gold Cup, sailed on Gull Lake, Michigan. Art Teutsch of New Baltimore, Michigan is IDNIYRA commodore. The wedge hull shape is introduced by the Estonians. Ain Vilde of Estonia wins first Gold Cup. Randy Johnson of Gull Lake finishes second. Iron curtain opens so that Vilde, Helmuth Leppik, and Endel Vooremaa can travel from Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to compete.

1988: Composite mast construction begins to displace the aluminum spar as the go fast secret weapon. DN mast weight and balance point specification introduced to minimize performance differences between aluminum, wood, and composite masts. Sending faxes replaces leaving messages on answering machines to alert racers about favorable conditions.

1989: Dan Clapp of Fair Haven, New Jersey, designs and builds the Skeeter “Coming Attraction.” The design is revolutionary. A canopy covers the cockpit in front of the mast. Other innovations reduce aerodynamic drag and total weight to a minimum


1996: Elmer Millenbach passes away. During his Renegade racing days, wins 15 of 17 ISA regattas entered, and every Northwest Ice Yacht Association Renegade regatta he enters. Ron Sherry founds Composite Concepts in his garage in Clinton Township, Michigan. DN mast specification changed to allow composite construction, wood no longer required.

1997: DN official construction specifications now evolved so that boat continuously improves. DN most popular iceboat in North America and the world because of ability to sail in wide range of ice conditions. DN ranks in top ten of all one design sailing yachts competing in a National Championship in North America. Present state of DN evolution allows senior sailors to compete successfully at highest level of Gold fleet.

2000: E- mail and internet bulletin boards become standard for informing racers of ice conditions and regattas

Passing It On

The death of an old man is not a tragedy. It’s just the final act in a life we hope was well lived. He tries to tidy up before he goes, organizing his papers and disposing of things which he’d rather not burden those left behind. We all have our precious stuff, but at some point we need to be honest with ourselves about what we use and what we don’t. Such it was with a gentleman from Colechester, on the shores of Lake Champlain. He bought a brand new Arrow in the early sixties, the latest thing at the time. For over forty winters he sailed it with his children, friends, and those he loved to introduce to the sport. As a side-by-side two seater it’s a very social boat.

But as our fellow found his body failing and the Arrow used less and less, he considered it time to pass it on. Through our iceboat network the possibility fell into the laps of a wonderful couple who’d been out with the club a number of times this past winter, sailing whatever boats were offered. It seemed the perfect match. They travelled to Vermont this past spring, brought the Arrow back to Maine, and the gracious skipper of so many winters died just last week. Another small torch has been passed, helping to keep the larger fire of iceboating passion alive.


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