Spring Sailing 11/23

text and photographs by Bill Buchholtz

Editor’s note: Although originally posted by the Chickawaukie Ice Boat Club in late November, we felt today’s weather warranted a repost here on The Maine. Stay tuned for more updates from the CIBC as the ice thickens — we hope!

Lloyd Roberts can’t remember ever sailing this early in the season, nearly a week before Thanksgiving, and he has a looooong memory. The pond probably skimmed over last Wednesday, was discovered on Thursday, checked Friday and then sailed yesterday and today. And now it’s done. We barely got off with dry feet as the launch area was breaking up because of the concentrated weight of boats and people at the end of the day. The ice was still 2.5″, but was quickly going to pencils. It became so flexible that if two people were standing side by side it would begin to dish and fill with water.

Speaking of water, Jim Matthews found one of the holes we had marked yesterday.


Lloyd, dressed in his dry suit and still recovering from heart surgery, scootched in to get a line around the airborne runner. It took him a minute, just enough time for the ice to slowly stretch under his weight before breaking. We used his line to haul him out and he found that he was completely dry except for a couple of wet toes. As often happens, the wind prevented us from rolling the boat out of the hole, so we took down the rig and used the mast to lever the plank up and out. Here, Jim Gagnon hauls from the bow after Jim Matthews flipped the bow runner up over the edge.

Jim had been informed of the hazzard locations, but the lesson here is that once you’ve been told where the bad spots are, go out and find them. Plot them on your mental map of the lake and update your location relative to the hazzards continuously. Thankfully it was fifty degrees outside and there was no harm done. We saw this exercise more as a pre-season drill than a rescue operation. Thanks to Jim for providing us with an excellent learning opportunity. Two of the three boats that came to help were carrying throw lines. Is there one in your boat?


Bart Chapin had his maiden sail with Yellowbird, ditto with Jory’s new rig. The Icy/Whizz sailed beautifully, and combined with work Jory’s done on the steering and upholstery, ICW is a whole new boat. He’s got Red Herring in his sights! Bart was so excited to sail today that he left home at 5:30 for the two hour drive to Plymouth, arriving there first.


Lloyd continues his fascination with Cheapskate this year. We wonder if we’ll ever again see Cool Tool…


Doug Raymond arrived right after Bart and said that the runners ran absolutely silent until the ice began to soften at around 10:00. But even then the little zippering was only in the surface and we pushed our luck until about 1:00. Oddly enough the wind held all morning and was still blowing as Jory was wading out for the last of his gear.


Stand by for the next round of Black Ice! Commodore Fortier still wants to hold the Linc Davis Regatta while we’re still in 2014.


The Chickawaukee Ice Boat Club was founded in the early sixties by Warner St. Clair and Paul Wolter to promote the building, racing and cruising of iceboats by. Lloyd Roberts entered the scene in the eighties and has been a driving force in the club ever since, co-authoring with St. Clair the definitive DN manual “Think Ice”. Building and racing DN’s were originally what the club was about. We built our boats and trophies, organized regattas, and sent the best sailors to regional and nation races. We still run a few regattas each season, but cruising and touring have become the dominante activity. We offer prizes for one hundred miles sailed in one day, and for exceeding sixty miles per hour.