Prince Edward Island Long Shot

This web site often posts long shot ice reports that turn out be be top rate sailing days. The follow up, with lovely photos and smiling, windburned faces goes on to browbeat those who didn’t take the long shot for not coming. It seems to be a recurring theme, especially this year with our challenging conditions with numerous winning days.

So it was only a matter of time before the luck ran out and the tables were turned. Iceboating, as a sport, is generally presumed to be about organized competitive events. That’s a basic definition of sport. But what we do has another layer of sport involved, and that is getting to the ice. We use weather forecasts, web cams, local knowledge and networking to play the game. Those are the tools: to win you must get yourself upon a plate of sailable ice with a nice breeze and other boats. If you do that, you win. If not, you loose. That’s sport.

With reports trickling in from PEI and no ice anywhere else it seemed like just another long shot, with the added benefit if travel to a new place and to meet a remote tribe of new iceboaters. They were sailing, after all, so how bad could it be? We got to the launch ramp on Cove Head Bay in time to set up and have a sunset cruise.

When an iceboater gets to a new lake and there’s snow around the edge, the first thing he does is walk out past the snow to have a look at the ice. We met out host there and the three of us walked out to inspect the plate. We walked, and walked, and slowly it began to dawn on us that this was it: the six inches of snow we were trudging through was our plate. We looked at each other and the shock on our faces must have been obvious as our host quickly said that this is no problem, we can sail in this. He told us there was a guy sailing a Nite earlier in the day. We later met that guy, Butch, and he told us he pulled his Nite about a mile through deep snow to find a small strip of thinner snow with big drifts. He sailed back and forth, getting stuck in drifts, getting out and pushing, sailing some more. Four hours of great fun. We, who sail on ice, were dumbfounded. We were in a different world.

We tried short plates, long plates, slush runners and skunners. The plate runner, above, struggled to keep his head above water. In the end the skunners worked best, riding on top of the dense snow, rolling nicely over the hills and into the dales. With just the right amount of wind the boat would go. When it piped up a bit the boat would slide around with no grip on the surface. Then it would lighten up and we’d park, push, repeat. When the wind began to come on strong it was all the poor boat could do to maintain some sort of direction, loading up with all kinds of nasty loads. It was absolute boat abuse and by noon it was obvious that we weren’t made of the same tough stuff as these island boys.

One old time iceboater who showed up for lunch said that this group here on the bay were relatively new to the sport and they just don’t know yet about waiting for wet-out. They’ll sail in anything! But the hospitality was top notch over the top. We were put up in a house by the bay, served a lovely dinner with fascinating conversation, and learned a lot about the Island. Cove Head Bay is famous for its oysters; Peter shucked a couple dozen for lunch. Absolutely world class oysters, nearly worth the trip just for them. He said we were sailing (and pushing) right over the beds.

There were a few thin spots, one near the launch that made for a decent pit area.,-66.7958615,13z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m6!3m5!1s0x4ca6198dbe0121e1:0x86b1c30e1435ae1c!8m2!3d45.1584639!4d-66.794851!16s%2Fm%2F026gsk_
We broadened our horizons and took a walk on the beach. The sea ice on the north shore protects the beach from winter storm erosion. That ice extended to the horizon and was dotted with tall piles and long ridges.

The sport of iceboating: did we win? Did we loose? Hard to say, but we met good people in a cool location that is reported to sometimes have grade ten ice tickled with a cool arctic wind. We’ll have to go back to see for ourselves.

Meanwhile, the search continues. Hopes are high, spring ain’t nigh. Lakes in Maine are getting grey.

Lastly, if there was ever a lake that needs to be sailed, it’s called Lake Utopia, just across the border in New Brunswick. Check it out on Goggle maps. With a name like that, how bad could it be?

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More From PEI

Peter MacLaine enjoys a sunset cruise on Cove Head Bay yesterday with his daughter on board the Yankee:

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Sailing In Canada

On the north shore of Prince Edward Island, at Cove Head Bay, iceboats have been sailing on and off over the past few days. If you look closely at the photo you’ll see some patches of ice between the snow. With the winds they get, coming straight down from the Labrador over the Straights Of Belle Isle, blowing through that snow shouldn’t be a problem.

They’ve been building a nice fleet of boats over the past few years, mainly Nites and DN’s. There is one Yankee in the fleet, new this season.

They were expecting light snow last night, and then a gale of wind today to either blow it off or pack it down.

How it looked yesterday. Commodore Peter Maclaine will give an update soon. It appears the snow last night might have slipped away to the south. Lots of snow headed their way next week so this might be a good opportunity.

We’re getting another big dump in Maine tomorrow which will set back out wet-out a bit, but don’t give up yet!

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Storm Report

There was an optimistic pause in the snow yesterday at which point Pushaw had received less than an inch, while surrounding areas got between five and seven inches.

But then phase two came pounding in overnight and finished the job. Good news is that this lake probably got less snow than most, so could be the first one to recover. At the other end of the possibility spectrum, Jordan bay is still impending this morning. Deep cold coming the next few days might just lock it up. Keep an eye on the web cam, and maybe some of you local guys could go have a look at some point.

One of the great benefits of marginal ice all winter is the lack of snowmobiles, ATV’s and trucks on the ice. There have been no ruts all winter. The Narrows of Damariscotta Lake are notoriously stove up this time of year. Have a look the them now, in this video put together by Denis Guertin. Actually, look at all the wonderful ice, but be careful not to drool in your keyboard. Hopefully you’ll watch this on the big screen, not a phone:

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We’re Not Done Yet

But if we were, today on Dammy would qualify as one of the best, one to put in your pocket and hold as a keepsake for the long off season. Perfect #10 ice, sunshine, good company, beautiful lake. The wind was west, so we can’t blame it for being less than perfect, but it blew hard and it blew all day. The sailing was full speed all the time, go wherever the wind sent you. Minor imperfections alongshore; just the usual.

The course d’jour was from the top end at the state park, all the way to the end of the narrows where a ridge blocked access to the south end. A few tight island rounding were thrown in for good measure in both directions. About an eight mile round trip. Do it often enough and you begin to feel transcendent.

Always time for a rest at a friendly shore.
That’s Bob MacEwen, Chris Malliet, Jos VanDyke and your reporter. The three Cheapskates didn’t make it down this far but had a great time frolicking in the broads: Linc Davis, Bryce Geele and Andrew Davis.

Tight sailing in and around the islands.

Jos had this to say:
"Best day of the season; nearly perfect ice, cleatr sky, good breeze with strong gusts, trying to keep up in my old dn warhorse (wooden mast, old sail), keeping up with 2 mini skeeters and Bill’s Whiz. Tried to find my limits and was frequent on two runners. Scarey and adrenaline pumping.
Long, fast stretches and fast approaching horizons. Had to sit up to be able to see what’s coming and to stretch my painful neck. Thank you Bill and Chickawaukee club for this new, exiting thrill in my later stage of life."

Top it all off with a fine lunch in the sunny window of the cafe and you almost are grateful for the impending white doom scheduled to beset us tomorrow. Today will seem so long ago and far away as we dig out.

Long term forecasts look great: don’t give up!

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