Moosehead Report

After a mixed bag of precipitation late last week, the plate is struggling to wet out. There is the rest of today with warm temps, and then we have three days of cold and wind Monday through Wednesday. If we get a surface all three of those days will be fantastic.Snow in Quebec wrecked the lakes there, for now, and it appears that Moosehead is in better shape than the Millinocket lakes. We will have a report from our spy on the ice later today or first thing tomorrow on what the surface has become.
Last season at about this time we took a long shot on Moosehead and it was epic.

Stand by for an update.

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One Big Lake, Two Rivers

It didn’t look hopeful pulling into the small village of Lambton, a little over an hour from the border in Quebec. Snow was falling into a wet matrix on the ice, the howling wind was whipping it into frosting and the temperature was dropping. That’s iceboating: you get what you get.

But in the morning it appeared the wind had worked its wonder, and was still at full force. Steady in the low twenties with gusts into the thirties. Just the kind of conditions a Whizz with a good DN rig thrives in.
Grande Lac St. Francois is eighteen miles long and the plate is flawless the entire way. No cracks, holes or pressure ridges. There were still lumps of frosting in some areas which the wind made easy work of. The NW wind allowed the entire length of the lake to be made with just a couple of tacks, and back down the gybe angles were very tight. The boats would barely stay on the ice if we got to cocky and headed up at all on the downwind leg. The miles rolled on and on at top speed, all three Whizz closely matched in speed.

The lake is fed by two rivers, Riviere Muskrat close to the north end and Riviere Sauvage at the south. Sauvage has a new higher bridge spanning its entrance. The old foundations present holes in the ice, as well as some damage from where construction equipment was set up, but there was one clear lane that could be sailed, so in we went.

The river twisted and doglegged its way deep into a wilderness area. The ice was perfect. There was one dead spot that took some getting through, but then back came the wild wind for the run to the bottom.

The river peters out in fields of boulders.

When the lake level is dropped in early winter in anticipation of spring runs-off the big rocks poke themselves up through the plate, above.

In the summer those fragmite are just about in the water. The ice is dropped 15’ over the course of the winter. But now the lake is beginning to re-filled and the influx of water is coming up around the edges, presenting access challenges.
From here it’s a long way to Muskrat River, but off we went, happy to be back in the big wind blasting to windward. Denis led us in and we fetched up at the source with this massive boulder zit as the turning mark.

At this point the only sane thing to do is run back down to Sauvage, work our way up the the end, run back out and beat up to the top of the lake again.
Here’s the result:

By now it’s 6:30and the sailors are sore. But the beauty of spring sailing are the long days without the cold. It was right about freezing all day, but even after seven hours of sailing no one was the least bit cold. Even with the apparent wind at who knows what strength. Just know that lifting the gloved hand out of the cockpit to reach forward to the pull the sheet required some effort to push that hand against the wind. And yes, we did pull those sheets.
Here’s a short video montage that Denis put together for us.

That’s all well and good, but the big news for anyone who wants to sail is that Lac Megantic is ready. Sixteen inches of good ice observed in a fishing hole, smooth grey surface with no snow, good access with no moat at Piopolis on the west side of the lake.

And it’s an hour closer than St. Francois. Weather tomorrow puts it at risk, but our goal is to sail it. No one to our knowledge ever has put an iceboat on Megantic.

ANY TAKERS? The border crossing is easy. Quick test in Kingfield and an on-line form to fill out for customs and you’re in. And the road from Eustis to the border is in great shape and surrounded by absolutely stunning scenery.

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Spring Sailing

Happy Day One of Spring. It’s a lovely day to clean the yard, roll out the soft water boat, cut brown tail moth nests from trees. This is also the time of year where we have big temperature swings. If your runners are in a trailer or in an unheated space there’s a good chance they will be covered in moisture as the cold steel condenses water from the warm damp air. Result: rust. If they don’t get attention the rust will deepen and eventually cause nicks in the edge.

Here’s Lac Ste. Francois in Quebec a couple of days ago as reported by Denis Guertin. It’s only gotten better since. Looks like Tuesday will give the magic combo of good wind, low temps and hard ice. Your editor has navigated through the Covid Curtain and will be there.
Tuesday might be a good day for South Twin as well for those more domestically inclined.

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18 March, 2022 19:47

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