Bill and I will be sailing from The Birches Sunday and Monday mornings at 10 AM, if any cruisers want to join us……Lloyd may also join us….we hope to explore the southern parts of the known plate for a possible regatta next weekend…..Bill has shopped around and found a nice weather prediction….winds from the north 5-10MPH, highs in the mid 20’s….my shopping yields 6MPH, which I guess is actually in that range….
it’s all i can do not to kiss my ice-widow good-by and de-camp for the entire week….when i remember that this is actually ‘the middle season’ …..a snowy time when i would normally be crying into my hot rum punch….and here i am a mere 130 miles south of amazing and almost endless ice…..then i know that if i don’t jump on this, i will have lots of months to cry into my mint julep…..
Jory just about covered it. But I wanted to apologize to all those who went to the Rockwood public boat launch and found no one there. We failed to send out an update to announce the launch had been changed to the Birches. This all happened once we were on the ice and realized that we could indeed launch from the Birches and that the best ice was in the north end. We will try to improve communications for next time.
Looking north through Hardscrabble Straight. This goes on and on as far as the horizon. We only made it about a third of the way.
Kudos the Ramblin Roger, who set up at the Rockwood ramp, for actually sailing over the brash ice separating north and south, over which I wouldn’t have dared even push my boat. Then he took a nice three mile down-wind walk in the rising moonlight to fetch his van from the old launch site and drive back in time to join us for dinner at The Birches. And two tips of the helmet to Brett and his mom Helen, who drove all night from New Jersey. They popped in to say hello as we were eating breakfast and then went directly to the ice to set up. I believe they were still sailing well into the afternoon. Their exploit destroys all excuses!
They are packed full with iceboaters tonight. The NEIYA is running regattas today and tomorrow. There is no snow in sight, and there will be sailing at least through Monday. Yesterday we probably had close to twenty boats, with more showing up by the afternoon. The Birches will have open space Sunday night and beyond. But if you do come, please co-ordinate with others so you don’t wind up there alone. This is not the place to sail off by yourself.
On the circumnavigation of Farm Island, with the Presidential Range in the background. Fast Frank missed the shot as he just circled us, beseeching us to get moving!
Jory was right on the mark with his observations of this group. We all stuck together, leaders circling back to pick up the stragglers, all crossing ridges together at the same time, and after gamboling about on scattered plates of 10+ ice, moving on as a group to the next place at top speed. Nicely done, gents.
Not the best shot, but how often do you get to sail up to the door of your own little cabin? You pop in every now and then to stoke the fire, warm the toes, have a cup of coffee and just marvel at the Magic of Moosehead…
I promise this will be short….i’m exhausted….i arrived as The Birches Resort north of Rockwood, Maine about 5PM on Thursday, just as 3 wind-reddened, eyes-glazed fanatics (bill, denis guertin, and his even-wilder partner-in-crime Frank) staggered in….they excitedly showed me a GPS showing 77.45 MPH and talked sketchily of the ruination of Franks new Whizz….that perfect storm….fast ice….strong winds…big unexplored ice….had brought on a collective ice extacy.
i spent a troubled night….did i want to sail with these kooks in the AM?…..maybe just skate?…too windy…..skimbatt?….too windy….I decided just to cruise with Charlie, Rambling Rodger, and any other sane souls….and finally i nodded off to sleep….In the morning, i awoke to a iceboaters heaven….the orange sun was rising above the distant mountains to the SE….i sat in the dining room with a favorite cup of tea….beautiful ice stretched for miles in the eastern half-circle….i sat there quietly sobbing….my senses were completely overloaded.
but i had decided to cast my lot with the crazed core group, but to remember the fundamental lesson from group motorcycling: ride your own ride…..never let the presence of the group blind your own instincts and wisdom….over breakfast Frank gave details of blasting into an unexplored pressure ridge at high speed….being ejected from his Whizz by flying hardware (without decapitation)….the plank being shredded, the cockpit now enlarged….etc….it gave me the what-could-have-happened shivers….
bill oriented us to the lake….i’ve sailed here three times from three different launches….each time i haven’t even connected with the previous area sailed…..its like eating an enormous cookie….you nibble the edges….the big hazard lay between Kineo, the big, brick-shaped island which dominates the entire lake….and the island just to its north….on the south side of that strait lies “hardscrabble” marked by a hazard buoy…otherwise the lake was crisscrossed by randomly changing pressure ridges of varying danger.
maybe later today i’ll tell about the amazing day we had together—6 boats—staying together….finding a ‘group wisdom’…..scouting dangers…then…..turning back onto known ice …..and ……putting the pedal to the metal as never before….
Sorry about the limited access to the map posted yesterday…..it should work now….later this morning i’ll post some pressure ridge details…jory
i’m sure bill joins me in being too exhausted and too blissed out to report tonight….but i wanted to post this map, in case anyone is heading to moosehead over the weekend:
this is how the ice looks right now….bill says those little snow bits are inconsequential….best winds are today, thursday, and tomorrow, Friday…weekend might be good but who knows…lots of sun…bunch of us staying at The Birches…..www.birches.com
Well, at least in iceboaters time. The forecast is clear of snow well into the future. Ice is six inches, clear marbly stuff with mature cracks. The limits haven’t be scouted yet, but there will be boats there tomorrow to complete the exploration: Frank and Denis, myself, Ramblin Roger and possibly Chad and Oliver. If anyone else plans to come, please check in. All are welcome to eat your lunch in Cabin 12 at The Birches. We’ll have a cone or flag on the shore indicating where to moor.
This view is near The Birches, where three of us will be staying. South, to the right a couple of miles, is the public boat launch at Rockwood which is getting plowed out tonight and will be the main launch area. There is a strip of brash ice between this view and the launch which extends across to Kineo and needs to be checked for crossings and quality.
The NEIYA will be holding Regattas all weekend, so come racing, come touring, come what may this is the only known ice in New England at the moment. And just to show how badly Mother Nature feels for screwing with us all season, the BIg Winter Storm forecast to drench the entire northeast will miss Moosehead. Driving could be tough for some but just come early and leave late!