Mascoma Lake 12/31

Jay Whitehair’s report came in late Wednesday night on the NEIYA site with a photo of incredible ice. It didn’t take long to decide to go out in the dark and pack the DN. Prospects in Maine were exhausted, as was your scout, but the lure of ice is energizing. There were bound to be many boats and the forecast was excellent. What more do you need for a restless night’s sleep? Four easy hours on the road and there it was: a lovely plate of ice.
It always seems to go that the furthest away arrive first, and so it was this day. We have a rule in iceboating that one never sails alone. There are grey areas and caveats, of course: there was an iceboat away in the distance reaching across the lake and then disappearing behind a point. Thinking it was an apparition, I waited, and then he popped out from behind the point again. I put away the binoculars and began setting up: I’m not alone! Chopping a few holes confirmed Jay’s report, so I began sailing slowly downwind, checking the ice every now and then and standing on the plank for a long view. There were a few healed cracks but eventually the DN slipped in behind the point alongside Craig’s lovely antique DN. It’s a complete period piece from the 40’s that he rebuilt a few years ago, and it sails remarkably better than most barn finds.

We headed back up the lake together to find that Kate Morrone was setting up. At the launch site earlier a young guy interested in getting into the sport told me about a yellow Skeeter that sometimes shows up here. And then down at Craig’s dock there was more discussion about this yellow skeeter. A mystery skeeter: the day was shaping up just fine.

Just as Kate was ready to sail off, a familiar red trailer with an outhouse on the tail end backed down. The mystery skeeter was OUTLAW, Scott Woodman’s old boat, so fondly remembered here in Maine. The wind was up to 10-15 with gusts, so we set up a leeward mark and after Kate and I sailed the entire lake the four of us did fast laps for the rest of the afternoon. Rob had OUTLAW well dialed in; she came around the mark without much fuss.

There could easily have been a regatta here; the lake is oriented nicely NW-SE. Considering how little ice we’ve had it was a bit shocking to see so few people taking advantage of it. On the other hand it shows some respect for Covid protocols. On the other hand there were furlongs of social distance and we all had face coverings, as iceboaters do.

Big snow and rain blanketing all on New England tomorrow, but the ice will be back.

Thanks to Kate Morrone for the photos.

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