ten days on the ice!

2PM: I sat in that heavenly situation: a sun-facing, windless shoreline, back to a rock. Although it was 25 degrees, you could see the snow melting on the black rocks as February’s brighter sun gained now against the cold. Along the shore were the varied ice caves of dynamic ice meeting static rock. My sated being radiated peace and gratitude: Wow: ten ice adventures in a row!

Eleven days ago, I looked at a forecast direct from ice heaven: 10 days without a thaw, without a flurry, and usually with sun and wind. I wondered: would this old body, used to intermittent abuse, hold up if I committed to be on the ice every one of those days? I decided to add to the fun by leaving my boat set up on Megunticook’s impeccable ice. I would miss the vastness and community of Darmiscotta, but be able to seize little snippets of activity– sometimes even two a day–yet return to the flooring project so dear to my wife’s heart.

The experiment started with spectacular sailing over the weekend. Surrounded only by skaters, I found myself a lost puppy, following them around, sheeted out, sometimes chatting as we moved along. I found that a good skater could make progress to windward almost as fast as a tacking iceboat. Then followed two windless, amazing days of skating—so good that my wife threw caution to the wind and joined in the mania which gripped our little skating community.

And then it snowed! Long-term forecasts proved their basic unreliability. Yet, wonder of wonders, a strange thing happened: the snow made no difference. The weather was so consistently cold, that skates and runners simply pushed the un-bonded snow aside. More days of bliss followed, including fellow iceboaters Lloyd, Bob, and Ted. We even set up racing marks to add inspiration, and though my mini-skeeter, “Ice and Easy” had a faster boat speed, I had to keep on my toes as the cheapskates made amazing speed downwind toward the leeward finish. My confidence, as I lollygaged around the course, was often shattered.

Then today, the last day. I frankly just wanted a rest. Each day I felt older, moved more slowly. It surely was the effect of the flooring project. Now, out on the ice, the wind had piled half the snow on the other half, leaving deepish snow drifts and bare ice. Worse, tumbled by days of wind, the snow was now dense, and gave a strong braking force, even as the 10 knot wind did its best. By early afternoon, the wind mellowing, the challenge of movement was lost, and I sadly loaded the gear. What an amazing season: 17 days on the ice so far.

At some point, I hope to write about the trials and joys of our newest iceboat class: the mini-skeeter:

(Saltonstall Photo)

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