No one has accused the CIBC of not pushing conditions right to the limit. We’ve had some fabulous sails over the years on super marginal conditions. But today the limit pushed back. The plate took a hit from the sun yesterday and we didn’t get the cold we needed last night to firm it up. Fortier, Gagnon and myself plowed upwind through deep slush hoping to find some better ice. A few miles north of the pits, approaching Sugar Island, shades of grey did appear. In these hard spots the boat would accelerate, letting us head up higher until the slush hit again and we’d have to bear off a bit to maintain speed. A great game.
One of the hard spots. As long as you tacked on these you’d carry speed through the tack. It never would have happened without the 12-15kt. breeze.
I really need to apologize to Rick Bishop and his gang for failing to mention the importance of slush runners at this time of year. The plate was hard when checked yesterday morning, but things change quickly when it’s almost to May. They made the drive up from Cape Cod yesterday, got the boats nearly set up this morning when it became obvious their plates would work, and they probably made it home for dinner. Slush runners and storm sails are two of the most overlooked and forgotten bits of equipment that can usually mean the difference between sailing and going home. Call Steve Duhamel: buy the nicely shaped stainless angles. Make slush runners. Sailing slush is fun!
The run back down was more water sailing than ice. The boat would get airborne out off one slush pit and make a very soft landing in the next, feeling like soft water waves in a motorboat. There were a couple of very deep ones, but as long as the boat was going fast she’d pull right out in a fountain of ice balls. Dave Fortier, of all people, was caught going too slow and was swallowed up to the fuselage in one of them. Jim and I took a deep breath and actually sailed back out into the stuff to help him.
No regrets today, we had over two hours of very dramatic sailing, but this is SO what done looks like. There was no chance for tomorrow. Doug Raymond and Bryce showed up, but the Cheapskates’s runners finally net their match, and Doug was in a cautious mood. One of the guys from Mass was running a drone as we came blasting downwind and I hope he got some footage. I’ve never seen a slush sailing video, and today would easily qualify as the most extreme ever. As Lloyd always said, there’s no shame in pushing your boat nearly to the point of destruction on the last day of the season. I wonder if he feels that way even though it was with his old boat today!
It’s been a challenging winter, as we all know, and a long one. Our first sail was November 17, and today is April 21: six months of watching the forecast for countess lakes, calling spies and scanning web cams. We didn’t get in quite a few regattas, and even the mighty ISA didn’t happen. Well, not yet anyway. They are big on postponement; is has been postponed until November. Which is a great way to approach the off season: a mere six month postponement. So sharpen and oil the runners, take the sail to the sail maker and endure his abuse for for bringing him iceboat sails in May. They’ll never understand. Most importantly, it’s the start of the iceboat building season. Start now. Be ready. It’s only a short postponement.