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

About Lloyd Roberts

Long time ice boater. Creator of the Gambit and Cheapskate boats. Author of the first definitive book on ice boating "Think Ice"One of the original members of the Chickawaukie ice boat club in Maine. Lloyd also lives on Chickawaukie and has played launch host to countless ice boaters over the years.
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