Great Pond Done

The low temps last night did more harm than good. Healed cracks opened up, some forming the start of pressure ridges. There was open water where there was none yesterday. All boats are off the ice. Nonetheless, there was fine sailing with better wind than was forecast and a nice fleet of boats enjoyed lunch on the sunny southern tip of Hoyt Island.

Were it not for the virus we might very well have been in Quebec with Frank and Denis. It would appear from the video they had much more reliable conditions. Sadly, even the remote little border crossings are now closed.

Thanks Denis!

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Great Pond 3/21

A good iceboat racer will attempt to learn something from every race. A touring iceboater should do the same, especially with predicting conditions. Today we learned that even after a fifty degree day with a soft rain falling on spring ice the surface can come through hard with a mere few hours below freezing. The strong March sun didn’t make a dent in the ice all day, except in the pit area. And we had written off today as a bust, best for a quick scout and home for lunch.

But the entire lake, top to bottom, miles and miles of fabulous ice was just superb. Perhaps a 6.5-7. We did the whole plate twice, just to be sure. Both of the south-east arms are good, as is around the little islands at the top of Hoyt just to the east. The straight at the bottom of Hoyt is still open and cannot be crossed. The big crack across the east broads is still there, and wider, but by the dawn’s early light we could see that our flags were still there:

They were knocked down and froze in but did not leave their post! We raised them back up and the crack can be crossed close to the flags on either side. This could change overnight so don’t go blasting across without looking first.

Which brings us to the next two days, traveling and the virus. There are no hotels or restaurants in the area. Traveling is not advised at this time, and indeed, some of you reading this might be in a lock down situation already. For locals to come for a day sail for Sunday and/or Monday, please make your own call. The Irving convenience store a few miles before the launch is open.

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Sailing Possibities

Here’s a shot from yesterday at Pushaw. Bob Lombardo reports opening leads and pressure ridges developing but the surface keeps getting better.

We’re hoping for a similar surface at Great Pond without the hazzards for this weekend and into Monday. Warm temps and rain across the state today will help wet out the northern lakes, with Moosehead slightly in the lead over South Twin. We finally have some good boots on the ice at Moosehead who are very pro-active so I’m hopeful that after two years of not sailing there we’ll get it this year. (You can’t call sailing in slush up to the plank “sailing”, although it was fun for a while.)
Hopefully the rain won’t cause too much damage to the surface and edges at Great Pond. We’ll know more tomorrow and will post the news here.

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Plank Jacks

DN sailors need not pay any attention to this post unless you’d like to do a bit of eye rolling. There’s no way around it: big boats are heavy. In a fresh breeze on a big lake there’s no place you’d rather be, but when it comes time to set up, break down or just put the boat on stands for the night lifting the plank (with the legs, not the back!) needs to be done with care lest you snap something. Here are a few Skipper’s Little Helpers.

The one missing from the gallery below, which is also very effective, is a simple parallelogram When flattened it slides under the plank, and then the handle moves it into more of a square as the plank comes up. The geometry is such that it goes over center and locks.

The one above was invented by J.R. Pepper. You slide the stand under the plank in flattened form and then simply haul on the small tackle and secure with a cam cleat. Something slippery on the feet of the stand will make it go easy.

This is a bit more complex, but also elegant. The geometry should be self-explanatory.

It also locks over center so you can install or remove a runner, eliminating the need for stands during set-up.

And if you happen to have a worn-out shovel, this is the perfect use for it. Does not lock over center, but it’s only a shovel: what do you expect?

For those still thinking ice, here’s a rather gloomy shot of Dammy at Vannah Rd.:

Aside from the obvious, Jim’s photo has a wonderful winter in the English countryside feel to it.

News from Moosehead and South Twin is looking good. Rain through Friday at both lakes will be followed by clear, cold and windy days. Stand by to self isolate in the Great North Woods.

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Great Pond Great

Great Pond is one of the three fabulous lakes in Maine that iceboaters cherish. All three have their times and attractions. Damariscotta has it’s intimate charm, Pushaw it’s great north south orientation, but Great Pond is just, well, great. The majesty of big Hoyt Island dividing the lake into two halves, and then the two deep ends beyond Oak Island south of Hoyt. When the plate is as flawless as it was today you just rack up the miles with a smile frozen to your face. Deep downwind gybes going on forever. Long upwind tacks with an occasional self-indulgent peel off into a power gybe just because you can offers an amazing sense of freedom. And this with well matched boats side by side the whole way.

The great photo of the day was missed due to a frozen phone, but it was of Gee Whizz, W-5, the red boat against a blue sky in a long, tall hike which, from the view from my cockpit, put his windward runner above the horizon, miles away at the top of the lake. The air was crystal clear and the colors vivid. Time stood still.

Perhaps twenty boats showed up, including a clutch of hot DN’ers training around the marks. The NEIYA is hosting the DN Worlds in the eastern region next season so if you’re not in training to get the gold then please consider helping out with the operations end. Stand by for details over the course of the off season.

Not that this is the start of the off season yet. There is still scads of ice up north, so tank up on the ridiculously cheap gas and come quarantine on the ice! We’re all good: we already wear masks and gloves!

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Great Pond Belgrade Maine

Here are some photos taken this morning from the Great Pond launch site off RT 27, in Belgrade Maine.
As you can see in the second photo the condition of the ice which looked to be fairly consistent. Still lots of ice. See you tomorrow.

Sent from my iPad

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The launch is off Rt. 27, NOT 24.

Thanks to Jimi for picking up on this.

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