Damariscotta Saturday, 1/27

It was very clear this morning even before the eyes were opened that the predicted southwesterly gale had made landfall. The house was shaking and the trees were a’hum. Hard to get motivated for one more day on the ice with hard winds. The arms needed a break. But Denis was here from Quebec to go sailing, no matter what. At least it wasn’t cold. And then Eben Wilson called from the lake to report that the trees were barely moving. Some forecasts predicted that the offshore gale would not penetrate too far inland; sounded like they were right.

In the way nature sometimes shows us her sick sense of humor, she waited until we were just about done setting up before turning on the fan; we unanimously shifted down to storm rigs. Six students from MIT showed up with one of the boats from the building class year before last, Phil and Amy Sheldon with the vintage Yankee, David Jones and his pit crew Justin and Roland with the mighty Hagarty, Paul with his new Icywood, freshly crowned CIBC Cheapskate Champion Bryce Geele, Skimbatter Mark Hannibal and a yellow mystery DN as well as Denis, Eben and myself.

The ice was an easy nine between the snowmobile ruts, but even they softened as the wind built and the temps rose. Or maybe it was just that we were in the air more than on the ice, or maybe the wind howling in the helmet drowned out the sound of runners bashing ice. Whatever it was, it sure was fun. As far as we know, nothing broke and nobody got hurt, The MIT kids are all soft water sailors, some even in the foiling Moth class, but nothing had prepared them for the rush of a powered up DN in a half gale. They set up camp on First Island for a great view of the boats and a quicker round robin turnaround.

The ice is so flat that instead of puddles forming as they usually do on warming days, the entire surface just became a film of water, and then later about half an inch deep. If we don’t get too much rain this will come through beautifully by Monday. Winds promise to be easier on the gear.

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