Southern News

Andy Hudson sent this in about his sailing on Great South Bay last weekend. The ice is out there:

I sailed on Great South Bay, off Sayville Yacht Club last Friday and Saturday. The conditions were epic; I may never see them again. Most of the bay is frozen in a light breeze state. We sailed most of Patchogue Bay and out 3 miles or so most of the way to the beach. The limit was more about how far away was comfortable than anything else. I suspect I could have gone for miles in a westward direction. The YC was most welcoming. Blue point winter ale on tap was excellent. The club itself is located in Blue Point, so they were “early adopters” of the beer.

The “we” is interesting, as the racers were at Mecox Bay and Lake Ronkonkoma. At Blue Point, it was me in a gambit and about 12 scooters. They actually ran and maneuvered well, which is in itself an interesting thing. I am faster of course, but not 5 times faster. There is no rudder; you steer with the jib. There are 4 parallel “runners” running the length of the boat, with angle iron on top. Usually 2 are on the ice, at a time. They are a foot or 2 apart. It’s odd to see their “tracks.” They are designed to float, go over open water, and then (with luck) go back up onto the ice. It is a very comforting thing to follow a scooter over unknown territory. At 300 or more pounds for the boat, and 2 or three people, if they don’t sink, I surely won’t either. If they do, I can do a sharp turn. This does not apply on a pressure ridge. They get a nice little jump. It’s not quite the same for the rest of us. There were some areas that were obviously frozen later. I avoided them, but saw several many with the “tracks.”

The hydrology of the bay has changed. Bellport bay was the spot that usually came in, if only for a short time. Now this portion of Great South Bay does not freeze solid. A new inlet opened courtesy of Hurricane Sandy. The “old inlet” marked on the chart is now “a new inlet.” There is lots of nice warm salt water from the ocean pouring into Bellport Bay now. That makes for a much nicer, cleaner bay though, a good thing. A boat did go through the ice at Bellport Bay, after launching from Shirley, NY. They found some really rotten ice there. After looking at the bay, I am very surprised that they launched at all.

Meanwhile, the forecast for Red Bank is looking dodgy. Might wind up being fine for the big sternsteerers if Thursday’s snow does indeed come down white, but if it goes to rain then record lows Thursday night will flash freeze it. Carol Mittlesdorf took some great shots there on Sunday which will be posted soon.

We’re all rooting for T at the European Championships in Estonia!

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