Super Sunday

Saturday in the shop working, sanding runner bodies down to size. I miscalculated (slightly) the amount of carbon that I used on two sets of quarter inch inserts. One set was .040 proud of 1 inch thick, the other about .020 proud. Late in the afternoon as I finished my freaking sanding I decided I should really go ice boating.

I called a neighbor for some help getting my Super DN equipment out of the trailer used for my previous Moosehead trip. Decided to use the Sportwagon and roof rack as the trailer is a bit much for a day trip. Packed the car with three sets of runners, (used only one) all clothes, spikes, sails, boom etc.. Racks on car, boat, plank, mast on rack. While doing all of this I had called Bill to confirm if others would be there to share the fun with, and left a message on his voicemail. Later on, I was minutes from hitting the hay when Bill called back and confirmed all was good. So, to sleep I went after setting the alarm for 0500.

When I woke in the AM the house was a bit cool, somewhere close to 50F. Apparently, I had touched the burner control on my furnace when I was vacuuming the shop after my sanding fest. So I reset that, and checked to make sure all was good while the house reheated so I got a bit of a late start, left at 0700 instead of the intended 0600. I decided to get to the birches by way of Rt 201 rather then the route that goes to Greenville. I drove home that way previously and decided the road was better.

On the way up Rt 201 from Waterville I stopped in Skowhegan for some fuel, and decided to fuel myself with a coffee and a piece of banana bread as well. So I left the Irving station munching my banana bread and drinking my coffee when I should have been watching my speedometer as I cruised through Madison. I got stopped for speeding by deputy friendly, I say that because he was just a nice man and gave me warning. It could have been way worse as my registration and my inspection sticker both had expired January 31st! So the day had some good vibrations.

As I drove up Rt 201, as I said the road is a good road, but it was almost like driving on a sand road. There was so much rock salt on the road it was hard to believe. Once to Jackman, right onto Rt 7 I believe and 20 minutes to the Birches.

When I got to the Birches at around 1100 there were two Skeeters at the launch site. They were about to break down their boats and load their trailers in preparation for the long trek back to Jersey? They were hoping for a third man to help drop their wing masts. At that time Bill Bucholz sailed in to the pits, so he was able to help them while I continued to set up the Super DN. After the skeeters were set Bill helped me go faster as I finished getting ready. Kate sailed in as well. I finished setting up and decided to sail with my Bean boots and strap on cleat things and it turned out okay for foot room in the cockpit.

Me, Bill, and Kate were ready to go, I followed them both out to the pressure ridge and a good place to cross it onto the plate to the north of it. The ice was big and fairly smooth, with a bit of snow, and the wind was strong out of the north east. I will not say that the wind was gusty but it was strong and variable. We made several up wind and down wind runs that definitely got the adrenaline flowing! On the downwind runs we had to keep in mind the pressure ridge and on one round up I did experience a spin out. Luckily, the ice was fairly smooth and the boat and I survived.

We followed Bill into a cove/ harbor where we stopped and parked our boats for a bit of a break, and a photo the boats parked in front of some good scenery. The sailing was great so after a few bites of a cliff bar and a drink of water I/we were ready to go. The super DN was performing great, as was Bills Whizz with his storm sail/DN rig. So, we all had DN sails and that was plenty of sail for this days wind.

So, off we went for a couple of more runs up-and-down wind, and then it was back to the pits. We stopped for a bit and Bill started breaking down his boat, but Kate and I decided to sail a bit more on the southern piece of ice. At the end I wanted to sail over to see some ice fisherman, but sure enough the wind died, so I was unable to find out if they were catching any fish and what kind they might be. When Kate and I got back to the launch area Bill was loaded up and ready to go. Kate and I said so long, and wished him a safe drive.

Kate and I broke down our boats, and loaded them up, Kate’s into her trailer, and mine onto the roof rack. Kate was able to load her rig into her trailer solo, but I was glad she was around to help me lift the super DN on to the roof rack. That would’ve gone well if I had remembered to remove my bobstay post! After removing the boat from the boat bag removing the bobstay post, and zipping her back up we finally got it up on the rack. We both finished our final loading, and were able to drive up the boat launch area with no problem. We had all had a Great Sunday sailing on Moosehead and not only that I remembered that it was Super Sunday! So I stopped into the Birches restaurant to see if I could find out what time the big game started. The start of the game was 1830, so I would be driving into the Portland area at about that time how convenient.


Posted in 2016 Season

Needed, New Ice

Sebagocam viewing Jordan Bay on Sebago from the East still shows open water. Zero temps forecast for this weekend might clinch this if the wind cooperates. What other lakes are open? Did Winny or Moosehead miss this Feb 8 5 inch snow we just had?

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Posted in 2016 Season

testing our mettle on Megunticook

Bog Bridge boat launch….730 am…wind strong and gusty NNE….cloudy….temp 13 degrees, but feeling somehow colder….maybe the humidity of coming snow…..maybe….maybe one of life’s persistent questions coming up: was it really wise to get out of bed? Bob Lombardo was just returning to his car, after a 2 hour skate….talk about motivation….he must have gotten up about 4….he must live with one foot on the accelerator…

I got the boat set up…determined not to remove my gloves…..while Lloyd, Bob MacEvan, Fred Wardwell, and Bill Bunting arrived…then…after happily accepting their “no’s” to my offers of help, I set out to test the unusual ice surface and wind…I soon ran into Bob L’s skating pal, just beginning his circumnavigation….they work together in a construction business, and have winters free….what a life!….out in the open broads, the boat was just barely under control with a storm sail, but underpowered when going north up the west side in the slot between high hills….I had hoped that we could romp up that channel as we do with strong NW winds….not today….I chopped a hole in the pressure ridge bisecting the broads and found the northern half quite safe, and left traffic cones marking the dangerous half….still….a lingering ambivalence about iceboating….

but once the others emerged, the magic began to build…so often, this is basically a social sport….and being with three Cheapskates allowed me to practice what i’ve always wanted faster boats to practice: sheet out and enjoy close company….nothing beats seeing another boat right near you….we frolicked in the broads… drag raced around the islands, which seem to turbocharge you as you emerged from the lee….and then, end-running the pressure ridge, we stitched our way in close formation into the northern turnpike section, noticing that the night wind had maintained open water in the middle turnpike section. Bob M was really finding his footing in the cheapskate rig, and Fred– an honorable 94 now–kept right up with the pack….

by now, my hands were loosing critical sensation and, hoping the others knew enough about the lake, i blasted on a single tack back to the launch, a hot lunch at home, better gloves and an enthusiastic return….i knew snow would come any minute….Fred succumbed to a nap, so there were now four die-hards, and we found that the western passage, once you labored thru the first narrows, was reasonably fast, so we continued up to Cheney’s narrows. The other three were not as enamored of this enchanting northern half of the lake, and, try as i might, i couldn’t beguile them into continuing thru the narrows….so we returned, the three others to de-rig, while i just had to make another final blast to the north turnpike…. good wind, fast ice—who could resist?….I was sorry i did….returning, I saw a white haze to the south, and back at the pitts, a full blizzard was howling….without proper de-rigging gloves, my pants frequently falling down, I felt totally rattled by slanting snow and wind, and gladly accepted the help of Bill Bunting and Lloyd to square things away….

it was a day i won’t soon forget….when iceboating charms you yet again….against the odds….

Posted in 2016 Season | 1 Comment

As the Stock market goes…

So goes iceboating? We all are well aware that the CIBC Ice Index has taken quite a hit this past quarter but were unaware that it tracked the Dow and the price of oil so accurately. And like all the great deals on stocks these days, here’s another great deal on an iceboat:

Outlaw was designed and built by the Jack Jacobs. As is his style, the craftsmanship and attention to detail are outstanding. She has been actively sailing in Maine for the last several years and is well tuned and sorted out. Speeds in excess of sixty are common, all while being enclosed in the comfort of a deep cockpit and sitting comfortably upright protected by an integral roll-bar. She has foot steering, winch sheeting and a wood/carbon fiber mast.

She comes with mast, hull, plank, rigging, all attachment hardware, full sail, storm sail , sail bags, folding stands for pit use, three spring-board lead weights with mounting holes and bolts, plank mounted brake, two runner boxes, two 42 inch Sarns plate runners, one 30 inch Sarns plate steering runner with parking brake, new low stretch braided sheet, Harken sheet blocks, Harken ratchet(selectable) turning block, sheet winch and handle, red cockpit cover, seat cushion (two position adjustable), pushing/lifting handle, dolly wheels, and an enclosed trailer (2″ ball) with lights and trailer spare tire. $3400 OBO 207 446 3918

Posted in 2016 Season

updated map of megunticook as explored feb7, 2016

if you come Monday bring storm sails and sail early if possible. ice surface is excellent, but probably unlike anything you’ve ever sailed on. amazingly level, strong orange peel surface. it was ‘glide forever’ skating sunday, so iceboat runners should also be happy. there may be too much wind. see what you think:

but after my baptism on Lac Joli early in the season, i feel ready to try sailing in this forecast

Lloyd, Bill and I plan to be at the launch before 9 am…..remember….this season may be short…..jory

Posted in 2016 Season | 1 Comment

Moosehead Lake 2/6-2/7, MEGUNTICOOK TOMORROW

On very short notice we called sailing ON for the weekend at The Birches. There had been all kinds of warming, cooling and pending snow. A major blizzard was about to dominate the entire east coast. Weather radar indicated Rockwood was getting it too, but the web cam showed nothing. A quick call to the front desk confirmed it. Final confirmation came late Friday afternoon from Mark and Jordan, who had been driving in the snow for eleven hours all the way from New Jersey. You can imagine they were questioning their judgement the whole way. It was still snowing in Greenville then they passed through on their final leg. Halfway to Rockwood the snow quit and the roads were dry. Sounds to me like some greater force was making up for all the disappointments suffered by iceboaters over the years.

Kate Morrone, Jim Gagnon, Denis and Frank and myself showed up in the morning having drove our rigs down many miles of slushy roads. As we pulled down the ramp onto the ice our cars began to shed road salt and sand: runner killer puddles. The wind was light to nothing but we pushed off anyway. The A Skeeters just seemed to take off like magic.

These boats are the pinnacle of iceboat engineering and it was a rare treat to drag race side by side for miles at a time and just stare in wonder at how they move. The wind came and went all day, and the rough ice wasn’t so great. There is a nice patch along the shore south on the Birches, but northeast and south it’s real junk.

Typical patch of shell ice which the snow filled in and smoothed out today. Bob Lombardo came by after skating around Farm Island and reported that the ice north of the pressure ridge was pretty good. And skaters can be a fussy bunch so we took this as good news. But the wind was too iffy for a tour so we reached around on the nice patch until sunset. So here’s where the paradigm shifts: no matter how lousy the ice or flukey the wind, to be able to head into the lodge for a beer, feet up in front of the fire, enjoy a fine dinner and then roll into bed becomes a big part of the experience. The Birches have improved the cuisine considerably since our early days there three weeks ago.

Jim waiting for wind.

In the morning it was snowing. Nature gives and nature takes away. And as I was saying above, it would have been just fine to dig out the boats, load up and go home because we had that splendid evening and din’t need to make the whole trip in one day. But there was a great breeze, 20mph with gusts, and we knew we would just blast through the drifts. By the time we rigged and shoved off the wind was scouring the ice, giving those long, lovely streamers of snow which so intensifies the wild experience. The ice horizon was obscured by a thick fog of blowing snow. The ice was indeed much nicer in the north end: Thanks Bob! We were back at the old Moosehead game of miles of ice to sail as fast as you felt. The sun was brilliant. More apologies to those I reported the ice as grade 4 yesterday, and who believed the forecast calling for 6mph max. Who knew?

The pressure ridge acting like a snow fence. It has become less active to the point we could sail over it at one spot toward the Farm Island end.

It wasn’t all romping at top speed in the broads. We poked our runners up into a moosey swamp where we weren’t sure where the lake ended and the land began.


Lastly, New England will be hosting a fellow from New Zealand, David McKenzie, who’s coming all this way just to try iceboating. If he shows up on the ice give him a boat and a mighty shove!

Posted in 2016 Season | 1 Comment

Sailable Ice on Megunticook Sunday Feb 7

Jory skated and Lloyd ice bicycled much of the lake early Sunday. As noted earlier the recent snow storm wetted out on arrival. The result is about 5 inches of pebbly snow/black ice, good skating and very sailable. This sometimes has a moist mushy snow ice/ black ice junction and in the few areas of remaining snow slush pits remain insulated from the cold night air. There is still an ample black ice under the slush. The only real hazard found is the old pressure ridge on the far side of the “broads where we sailed before the snow. The pressure ridge has subsided into black open pools. We will put out a line of small red buoys marking this tomorrow. We did not venture beyond the old ridge and very thin snow ice so the whole NE side of the lake along Rte 52 is unknown. The “Northwest Passage” ( hard left beyond the launch site) is in fine shape but the small channels at the end look treacherous. The wind was light to none Sunday morning as forecast. It supposed to be in the teens and “Blustery” NE Monday with snow likely coming in late afternoon. Since no one else could be found Sunday AM who wanted to sail it was not sailed alone. We hope a few folks will show up for a vigorous sail Monday.

Your scribe was tempted to put his boat together and leave it over night in “Davy Jones Locker across from the Rte 105 Bog Bridge landing just North of Camden. Davy’s locker is one big slush pit, not hospitable. The launch site has plowed snow banks to climb over but is otherwise just fine.

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Posted in 2016 Season