On very short notice we called sailing ON for the weekend at The Birches. There had been all kinds of warming, cooling and pending snow. A major blizzard was about to dominate the entire east coast. Weather radar indicated Rockwood was getting it too, but the web cam showed nothing. A quick call to the front desk confirmed it. Final confirmation came late Friday afternoon from Mark and Jordan, who had been driving in the snow for eleven hours all the way from New Jersey. You can imagine they were questioning their judgement the whole way. It was still snowing in Greenville then they passed through on their final leg. Halfway to Rockwood the snow quit and the roads were dry. Sounds to me like some greater force was making up for all the disappointments suffered by iceboaters over the years.
Kate Morrone, Jim Gagnon, Denis and Frank and myself showed up in the morning having drove our rigs down many miles of slushy roads. As we pulled down the ramp onto the ice our cars began to shed road salt and sand: runner killer puddles. The wind was light to nothing but we pushed off anyway. The A Skeeters just seemed to take off like magic.
These boats are the pinnacle of iceboat engineering and it was a rare treat to drag race side by side for miles at a time and just stare in wonder at how they move. The wind came and went all day, and the rough ice wasn’t so great. There is a nice patch along the shore south on the Birches, but northeast and south it’s real junk.
Typical patch of shell ice which the snow filled in and smoothed out today. Bob Lombardo came by after skating around Farm Island and reported that the ice north of the pressure ridge was pretty good. And skaters can be a fussy bunch so we took this as good news. But the wind was too iffy for a tour so we reached around on the nice patch until sunset. So here’s where the paradigm shifts: no matter how lousy the ice or flukey the wind, to be able to head into the lodge for a beer, feet up in front of the fire, enjoy a fine dinner and then roll into bed becomes a big part of the experience. The Birches have improved the cuisine considerably since our early days there three weeks ago.
Jim waiting for wind.
In the morning it was snowing. Nature gives and nature takes away. And as I was saying above, it would have been just fine to dig out the boats, load up and go home because we had that splendid evening and din’t need to make the whole trip in one day. But there was a great breeze, 20mph with gusts, and we knew we would just blast through the drifts. By the time we rigged and shoved off the wind was scouring the ice, giving those long, lovely streamers of snow which so intensifies the wild experience. The ice horizon was obscured by a thick fog of blowing snow. The ice was indeed much nicer in the north end: Thanks Bob! We were back at the old Moosehead game of miles of ice to sail as fast as you felt. The sun was brilliant. More apologies to those I reported the ice as grade 4 yesterday, and who believed the forecast calling for 6mph max. Who knew?
The pressure ridge acting like a snow fence. It has become less active to the point we could sail over it at one spot toward the Farm Island end.
It wasn’t all romping at top speed in the broads. We poked our runners up into a moosey swamp where we weren’t sure where the lake ended and the land began.
IF YOU’VE MADE IT THIS FAR DOWN THIS RAMBLING POST, THEN YOU’RE JUST THE ONE TO MAKE IT TO MEGUNTICOOK TOMORROW. LLOYD AND JORY SCOUTED IT TODAY AND HAVE NOTHING BUT GOOD TO SAY. NINE AM AT THE BOG BRIDGE LAUNCH.
Lastly, New England will be hosting a fellow from New Zealand, David McKenzie, who’s coming all this way just to try iceboating. If he shows up on the ice give him a boat and a mighty shove!