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.

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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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