Moosehead LUSH, No SLUSH

While the big lake didn’t get as much rain as we would have liked, what’s there is hard. Greenville Bay has more snow than ice, easily sailed through with a fresh breeze, but once out in the main body of the lake and all the way to Kineo the surface is good. Not perfect, but hard, without much snow.

It’s a long beat to Kineo, but there was only one healed crack, no pressure ridges, no holes, all the way up. The small fleet mostly stayed together, and after a small celebration they decided to continue north, around to the back side of Kineo, or at least to drop in at The Birches to see if the restaurant was still open. DN’s have a hard time packing food.

Away they went, giving the mouth of the Moose River a wide berth. Soon there was less ice than snow, and not long after, it became pretty much all snow. Amazing how one can sail so far as to enter different climate zones.

At this point it was nearly thirty miles dead downwind and still blowing well into the twenties with gusts. Down we went. With just that one crack to think about we could bear away and let ‘em run. Just a point or two off downwind was plenty for fast sailing, but on particularly nice patches we’d give her another half point or so and away she’d go. Occasionally two boats would cross on their shallow angles and one couldn’t help but notice the pure joy behind the goggles of the other guy. If he went faster, you went faster. A wonderful feedback loop leading us all to well over a mile a minute.

What started in 2013 as a major expedition, billed as The Long Way: Greenville to Kineo and Back, has now become a routine long cruise before lunch. Last year we could have done it twice, but on the first run up we didn’t want to spoil the magic for the others sailors who weren’t there yet.

An interesting benefit of the warm winter with poor quality ice is that we have noticed far fewer pressure ridges this season. None on Moosehead, and at Dammariscotta only open cracks at stress riser points. None at Pushaw. The thick strong ice probably has much more power to heave itself up.

Tomorrow’s forecast is calling for a nice breeze, probably enough to move through the snow until you can break free onto the good ice. Jeff and Paul are at Kelly’s Landing. Check in with them if you are coming, or just show up early. Drive on at the ramp. We had the dubious honor of being the first vehicles this winter to actually drive onto the ice: Nissan, VW and Mercdes: and this in a community of big tough trucks!

Lastly, there are all kinds of interesting details in this photo from the early fifties.

Simple, yes, but with both hands otherwise occupied, how does one tend one’s pipe?


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