Damariscotta Lake 3/11

Here we are nearly in the middle of March and the spring sailing has been slim pickings. But yesterday was just about how it should be this time of year. Long days, warm, healed pressure ridges, and fine sailing with good buddies. Eight or nine boats showed up to take advantage of the short window. The ice had healed nicely, the SE wind picked up right on schedule, and so the only thing to do was head south. The ice got better down behind Wavus, and then very rough in the approach to the narrows and in the middle of the narrows itself. But along both sides was glassy smooth ice where you could pinch a bit and then glide silently into the next tack.
After all that smashing and crashing we popped out onto the most remarkable plate of the lake. The entire first bay at the south end of the narrows was a Pushaw 10. Absolutely silent sailing, the only sound the hum of the wind in the sail. We romped around on that until all the boats got down the narrows and then soared on through the rougher ice on Muscongus Bay, past Red Roof Island and into the river. There are a few point leads to watch, but the ice down there was nearly as nice as that first plate, especially along the edges.

We had been going upwind the entire way, and once at the end were faced with the long slog downwind in light and shifty air. Very challenging and technical sailing as the wind would swirl and fade around the many points and islands. But with the narrows facing NW-SE, the wind was funneling right through and by working the smooth spots at the marge got through in fine style. Then the wonderful romp back home in the broads. It’s an amazing sensation working your way slowly along shore, picking spots to tack, watching for trees overhead and open point leads, and then popping out onto big ice where the wind is full and you can put the petal to the metal and let the boat run.

The Mini Skeeters and Cheapskates were happy to say in the Broads and match race all day, along with a few others.
One clever skipper, tired of messing with clevis pins and split rings, went brutal:

We all know, of course, that the typical Phillips head screwdriver is 1/4”. A long pin with a handle, basically!

Up in Quebec on Lac Ste. Francois, Denis and Frank have the entire lake to themselves with excellent spring sailing conditions. Today is going to be just about as good as it gets with strong SW wind, sunshine and miles of big ice.

Hopefully next year the burdensome testing regime will have been retired for good and we can cross the border at a moment’s notice. You wouldn’t be getting this report if that were possible now!

There are good ice reports coming from Winnipesaukee, so don’t count that out just yet.

Further south, Bantam Lake is done. It had a decent plate of ice on and off all season and was well sailed.

Sunday might be our last shot at local ice before it begins to get really warm next week. It’ll be a long shot given the mess forecast for Saturday, but how hard it it just to show up and see?

Then we will start looking more seriously at the big upcountry lakes.

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