great pond, great fun!

this morning,  i was just about to push ‘send’ on the “fine tuning” post.   It contained the following closing words: “If you do come to Great Pond today, and you don’t have an amazing sail, please plant a not-so-frendly kick on my derriere.”   hmmm, I thought ….that could be dangerous, given the 5-10 MPH wind prediction… i took the invitation out before posting….

this evening,   could i dare say, “best sail of the season”?….when we’ve had other great sails…..i think of two especially on Moosehead….but today had the joy of smooth smooth ice and lots of wind…..and the pure joy of going really really fast. I poked my bow out of the launch’s cove about 930 AM, since i was set up from the day before…. and after crossing the nearby pressure ridge, it took lots of luffing just to keep the boat on its feet. Without hesitation, I returned and swapped to the storm sail…i thought i would need to go back to full sail later in the day, but the wind held up 100% until I left at 3PM.

I blasted up the long passage west of Hoyt Island, and waited for others there in the especially beautiful ice in the NW corner. Curtis and Steve Lamb, both in storm sails, soon joined me and we were off on a romp south in what became our playground for the day: the wide passage east of Hoyt….soon we were joined by many others…..the lake, though large, seemed to have iceboats everywhere….proceeding south, we then encountered the ‘mother of pressure ridges’ and, after searching the west end, eventually found a safe but slightly scary crossing at the east end. Once about 8 boats had crossed, we passed into an enormous E-W broads, with smooth ice in swirling, milky textures.

It seems that many iceboat adventures have a certain point of….dare i say orgasm?….and today it was the smooth ice, pedal-to-the-metal speed, the great number of playmates, the bright noontime sun…. the iceboat tuned, with it’s stormsail, so perfectly…the under-control, but almost out-of-control speed….where we older farts, and perhaps others….fearing for our very lives, sheet back from the limit….out of pure survival.

back at the launch for lunch, i counted 15 boats….no question of lingering there!….we were off for Chapter II, during which a strange iceboat appeared. black in color, a bow-cockpit, with two X’s on the sail: fast, mysterious, and agressive-looking. It reminded me of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner: “The sun’s rim dips, the stars rush out;  At one stride comes the dark; With far-heard whisper, o’er the sea; Off shot the spectre-bark.” A few minutes later, at one of our round-ups, we could ogle this unusual craft, so different from any angle.  I wondered at a mast held up by mere ropes.   the runners could be easily aligned by simply loosening a bolt…the bow cockpit had an ample windscreen and a genuine sheet winch….Three cheers!

though the wind was holding beautifully, and match races were happening on every hand, at 3PM I felt that if i stayed 10 more minutes, my happiness fuses would blow….just how much fun can a person stand?….so I blasted back to the pits, downwind weaving with Ben’s “Tipsy” who was finding occasional blasts of speed even with reefed main and no jib. as i had my final gabs with others, some boats were spending the night on the ice….i suspect that many will gamble on tomorrow’s winds….the stakes—another amazing day—are high.


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