Friday, December 19, 2014

What's Under Your Tree this Christmas...?

OK, think back in time....your nineteen... if you celebrate Christmas, you're kind of beyond the whole thing, but deep down you're still looking for a cool gift under that tree... Think back to those gifts... a sweater?  a flannel shirt? the latest calculator?? You're home from college perhaps and waking up to join the family to unwrap presents is not high on your list. No doubt sleep is.  So what was Franklin D. Roosevelt thinking as he awoke on Xmas day as a 19 year old 113 years ago... Imagine looking under your tree and finding a 28 foot lateen-rigged ice boat with 286 sq ft of canvas sail... And custom built by the foremost builder of ice yachts at the time, George Buckhout.  Yes, FDR's mother Sara presented her son with an iceboat on Christmas day 1901. Maybe he really wanted the sweater... FDR sailed Hawk for several winters on the river while he was a student at Harvard, and later on was elected vice-commodore of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club in 1908. Ice boating was very important to FDR, though his time sailing on his beloved Hudson River was short-lived.
Sketch of Hawk; created by long-time HRIYC sailor Reid Bielenberg.

Years later, as president, FDR planned a museum to house his papers and artifacts from his years as president.  In 1941, he donated his ice yacht Hawk to the National Archives for exhibition in his newly constructed Presidential Library. Hawk  was displayed until 1995, at which time it was moved from public view. As part of preparation for this Sunday's opening of an Iceboat exhibit at the museum, the boat was taken out of storage today and moved to the Henry Wallace Visitor and Education Center for display.  Under guidance of the National Park Service and members of the HRIYC, Hawk will be on view for just the second time in almost 20 years. If you are in the neighborhood, join us Sunday, December 21 in Hyde Park for this event.  Five antique stern steerers (along with a DN and an Arrow) will be rigged up outside the FDR Library, while Hawk will be inside the Wallace Visitors Center.

FDRs Hawk is loaded onto official HRIYC transport truck...
Hawk leaves its climate-controlled top secret storage location in Hyde Park, NY.

As if we are on the ice with the boats....plenty of standing around and talking....

One of America's National treasures about to pull out into Friday afternoon traffic on Route 9.
The most dangerous part of the 1 mile journey...
(did i mention Friday afternoon traffic??)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A New Season!

A New Season
We have had our first snow here in the Hudson Valley.  We had a solid 11 inches dumped on us the day before Thanksgiving and last night  temperatures dipped into the teens. There has been some ice boating in Maine already (short lived and on “just enough” ice). As always there is optimism for a great season on the ice. Time to get the boats ready to put on the ice.
In the meantime there are a few events upcoming to get us in the mood.

On Sunday, December 7  the Annual Meeting of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club takes place in Poughkeepsie.  We will be joined by Rahul Chadha, producer of the Ice Boat short film,  Against the Wind,which was shown at this year's Woodstock Film Fest. Rahul and others who helped film and direct the piece will be on hand to show this ~ 8 minute short. See the film trailer here. This is a potluck affair and there’ll be plenty of photos and videos of last year’s sailing season.  Drop me an email for further details.

On December 20, we’ll be setting up boats at the FDR Library & Museum in Hyde Park. This display corresponds with the 130th anniversary of the founding of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club. We will be helping to set up and display FDR’s Ice Yacht “Hawk” inside the Wallace Center.  Outside the Library will be a display of antique yachts from our club. Tentatively planned for display are: Jack Frost, Whiff, Vixen, & Kriss. The opening reception takes place on Sunday Dec. 21 and the display will run through January 3, 2015.
Further details to follow.

FDR’s lateen-rigged  Hawk, on display at the Wallace Visitors Center at the FDR site in Hyde Park. This was a one day event in 2012 when the boat was removed from the Museum and placed into storage.
(Low ceilings prevented the sheer legs from being fully set up)

Members of the HRIYC are taking inventory of the boat and looking to fabricate missing parts to fully restore the George Buckhout-built lateen rigged yacht Hawk. A new canvas sail will be made as well.
IMG_7446.JPGview from the stern runner


More ice boating news…
Long time ice yacht enthusiast, and past-commodore John Vargo has put together a nice piece on last season in his publication Boating on the Hudson.
(     click on the cover on the right side to see the entire issue.)
Also check out the piece on HRIYC sailor Brett Kolfrat and his voyage to Bermuda.
from John A. Roosevelt’s scrapbook.  Icicle??

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How Many Boats were there??

An Historic Gathering of Ice Yachts

I've attempted to create a  list of stern steerers on the ice the during  March, 2014.  I include some info re: age and in some cases, original owners.  It was truly the largest gathering of ice boats I've seen on the Hudson River.

Hudson River Ice Yacht Club:

Jack Frost (1892, 1972) Archibald Rogers yacht, Hyde Park
Rip Van Winkle (1906??)
Vixen (1883) John A. Roosevelt's boat
Ariel (1888) Archibald Rogers, Hyde Park
Ice Queen (1910) Buckhout built, Orange Lake yacht
North Wind (1908?) Orange Lake ice yacht
Orion (1906) Malden Brick Yard Boat, Malden-on Hudson
Puff (1872) Irving Grinnell boat, New Hamburgh
Reindeer (circa1900) From R. P. Huntington estate, Staatsburg
Aurora (1910?)
Hound (circa 1910) Huntington estate, Staatsburg
Cyclone (1901) Rogers boat, Hyde Park
Boreas  (1927)  New Hampshire ice yacht 
Flicker  (circa1940)
Cold Wave ( 1908) hollow backbone, new plank, second cockpit added in the 70s by the late Rueben Snodgrass.  420 sq ft sail; likely an Orange Lake boat.
Dash (1908?)  George Ruppert boat, Rhinebeck
GreyHound (1908?) Huntington boat
Genevieve (1908) Percy Ashley design. built in the Bronx;  originally owned by the Wrigley family.
Helen C. (circa 1939) originally from Red Bank class C and gaff rigged - re-rigged as Marconi in the 40s

North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club & Long Branch Ice Boat & Yacht Club

Rocket (1888, 2010)
Daisy (1890; originally lateen rigged)
Georgie II

From CT
Slipper  (1925) designed by L. Francis Herreshoff.  She's 26 ' in length. 

Pop (?)
Great South Bay Scooter from Ct (newer built - circa 1984) - for more on Scooters, go here.

I focus primarily on the old stern steerers in this blog. That's what this blog is about. But I'll note a few of the more than a dozen smaller, bow-steering ice boats. These are club member boats that I have come to know or folks who introduced them selves over the weekend.

Red Baron, Doc & Kate Shuter
Patrick L's  Blue DN
Dana & Julian's    Red DN, "Tide"
Cold Wave (Nite Class) John Henry

 Photos courtesy of and copyrighted by Ned Gerard. (except as noted)
Georgie II - this yacht has a long history with the Red Bank Club.
She is beautifully maintained and sailed. 

Flicker, a smart little cat boat.

The largest of the Rokeby fleet - Rip Van Winkle.
She sailed well with her new tulip poplar plank, recently finished by Reid Beilenberg.

Great South Bay Ice Scooter.
Photo Courtesy of Jack Norton
Marko sails his steel-tubed bow steerer, with a skeeter class bow steerer (Kemosabee, I believe)  just beyond.
Rocket passes further south near the Rhinecliff Bridge

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Sailing 1994 - 2014

Today is the first full day of Spring - March 21.  For me, this is the latest date I've ever sailed. 20 years ago on this day - March 21, 1994 - a bunch of us sailed on the Hudson River off of North Germantown (Columbia County). It was the first year I sailed a boat on the Hudson - I was care-taking the Rokeby yacht Pathfinder.  That year we had been on the river almost 2 months - ice, then snow - then thaw - cold, good ice, repeat....I recall at least three significant snow storms that shut us down temporarily that season.  On this last day, the ice was still good and the winds quite strong.  We were out sailing by 7am and the day was done by 10am - warm temps and soft ice signaled the end. I blew out the sail of the Pathfinder as gusty winds and soft, sticky ice strained the old sail. I recall MaryEllen broke her runner that day as well!  We took the fleet off the ice and retired to the Odd Fellows Lodge in Germantown.  
So on this 20th anniversary, I headed down to Orange Lake. I heard there was still thick ice and good sailing, just as spring has arrived. It was close to 50 degrees when I arrived late afternoon and the lake was empty and the winds quite gusty. I was told that Brett was out sailing earlier in the day. Spring sailing 20 years on!   The stern steerer Lady and a skeeter were wrapped up awaiting firm ice on another day.

As I crossed the Hudson over the Rhinecliff Bridge on my way home I could see that much of Tivoli Bay  to the north was open water. No sailing to be had there.  There are these small, shallower lakes -- Orange Lake near Newburgh  and Bantam Lake in Ct. that, at times,  can extend the season a bit past springs arrival.  
For this moment, though,  I'll recall that amazing day 20 years ago.
March 1994, North Germantown, on the River. A line up almost as big as 2014.  Aurora, Sweet marie, Vixen, Pathfinder, Mary Ellen, Hound,  others...

Allons & Pathfinder, 1994

Odd Fellows Lodge, Germantown 3/21/94. Always liked this shot with Ricky Aldrich.

After getting on the ice to sail by 6 am, Johnny Vargo is out by noon...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Last Day

Sunday the 9th looks to have been our last day of an incredible month of sailing on the Hudson River. As of today, almost all the boats are off the river - with the exception of a handful that are pulled into the shallow cove at Astor Point, awaiting a tractor ride up to the farm at Rokeby. The river ice is deteriorating rapidly, and all are strongly advised to stay off the ice. Bob Wills sailed Orion to Rhinecliff on Sunday to dismantle and remove it there. On Monday, a part of the ice sheet he was on the previous day let loose and there is open river there now.

Sunday started off the no wind once again. A dozen boats or more raised sails and lined up awaiting a breeze. Hundreds of people streamed down long the tracks over the course of the day to check out the boats, many hoping for a ride. The big boats - Jack Frost, Rocket, and the A boats of both clubs began disassembling. It takes many hands and a coordinated effort to drop a 30' mast and take apart these big boats.  Around noon the breeze finally came up and several dozen boats started zipping across softening ice. At times it felt overly crowded with dns, many stern steerers, and the public all over the ice. Cracks in the ice continued to multiply, Everyone worked around each other nicely and many in the crowd got rides and we all enjoyed our last sail on the River. By 3:00 the ice softened to the point that it was time to pack in. One last glorious day.     A few images of the day...

Sunrise, Astor Point, 3/9/14, Hound almost ready to go.

No breeze all morning, but boats are rigged and ready. Hound is out first.

Wind is up! - Ice Queen spent much of her sailing time on 2 runners!
(Photo courtesy of Andy Wainwright)

Cyclone and passenger, Hound beyond us.
(Photo courtesy of and copyrighted by William Finnegan)

Dash with her "new" mainsail. Eric had her out for the first time in over 40 years.

Don Schreiber and Helen C. -circa 1939 -  her first sail on the Hudson.
In the back ground - Pop - a tiny stern steerer that arrived Sunday. 

Many hands needed to carry the Rocket's mast.

Another fabulous brunch - blueberry pancakes were served all day.

Mimosas too.

I'll add more photos, media links and boat histories in the days (weeks?) to come. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday March 8 - No wind, great food

Windless day. We were on the ice by 6:45 am. no breeze at all.  Big line up of boats. Lots of visitors, unfortunately no chance to get a ride. It was still. A bit of breeze came up mid afternoon, but by then the ice was too soft. So what to do with no wind? Talk with friends and visitors & eat! We had a mighty fine pot luck on the ice.  Sunday winds look better. Come down early. see you then.
Many boats lined up in still air. From the bluff at Astor Point.

The Pot Luck table...

Cold Wave rigged and ready to sail. Just needed the wind.

The cat-rigged Dash got an old main sail from Hound. She looked great - first time in almost 100 years??

The North Shrewsbury sailors were quite gracious and presented our club - HRIYC - with a framed photo of the Rocket & Jack Frost and their thanks.

Oysters on ice!

Our Bayport friend Peter Zendt - skipper of Great South Bay Scooters - once again provides
our pot luck with oysters, as well as an expert hand at shucking!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Last Hurrah this weekend

Before i get into this update on boats, do know we will have another great weekend at Astor Point. Find your way there  ( Do not drive through Rokeby - the access road is a mess); and join us. Sailing will likely NOT go beyond noon or so do to softening ice. It'll be an amazing day none the less. Sunday may be cooler and sailing may go later in the day.  How to get there and what to expect??  Go to John Sperr's site  and all you need to know is in his most recent post. Thanks John.

Friday - Got down to Astor Point at 1:30 or so. Caught a  glimpse of the last boat slowly ghosting in to port... a diminishing breeze, and, more problematic, softening ice. Huge grooves were cut into the ice by the big boats as they sailed for a brief time today as the sun shone and the temperature rose. It was just 35 degrees or so when i arrived, but the strong rays of the sun made quick work of the hard ice. There was no sailing after 1:30.
Three Buckhout boats: Ariel, Ice Queen, Jack Frost

Saturday , we'll likely see sailing end before that time, if there is any breeze to push the boats.
Regardless it will be an amazing sight. More boats continue to arrive.
New Stern Steerers on the Ice:

Cold Wave - Fred Krause arrived from Long Island and set up this beautiful 40' boat, with 440 sq ft of sail. It has a unique double cockpit and has a long history in the Hudson Valley. She sailed in Red Bank in 1978 in an historic race for the Van Nostrand Cup.  It is one of the finest boats in the club (in my opinion...)

Dash - Wow!  was I ever excited to hear Dash made it to the ice. It has been in the hands of Eric Jappen of Rhinebeck for over 40 years and I might venture that it hasn't been on the ice in 100 years. Dash is a pretty little Cat boat - one main sail, no jib. 23 ' in length, 198 sq ft of sail.  Unfortunately it currently has no sail, but Eric is searching for one to fit  for the time being. Built by George Buckhout of Poughkeepsie, it originally was part of the George Ruppert fleet in Rhinebeck. Another Ruppert boat - North Star - is up at the NYS Museum in Albany.

Genevieve - Built in the Bronx for the Wrigley family. It sailed out in the mid-west until about 10 years ago. Based on a design by H. Percy Ashley, it has a huge cockpit. Brett Kolfrat of Cornwall brought her to the river this week. (I'll have more history soon).

Helen C. - a Red Bank Class C boat, circa 1939. She was originally gaff-rigged and was re-rigged as marconi rig in the 1940s. She is about 24' long. She is owned by Don Schreiber of Marlboro.

Greyhound - Originally from the Huntington fleet in Rhinebeck, this boat is 24'.

Eric & Neil work on setting up Dash, a Buckhout Cat boat, circa 1905.

Genevieve, with its skipper Brett.

With a nod to its original owners - the Wrigley's. 

Helen C. formerly a Red Bank NJ boat; This design was popular on the Navasink River in the 1930s-40s.

Teamwork to step the mast of the Cold Wave.

Genevieve's huge cockpit.

Resting up for another big weekend of sailing!