Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sailing Update - Thursday

Got down to the ice at Astor Point at dusk. Wind was howling and there were on and off snow squalls. Just left a dusting of snow. It was bitter. Still, Logan & I ran out to see what boats were out:
Jack Frost, Ice Queen, Ariel
Vixen, Hound, Orion
Reindeer, Rip Van Winkle ( 2 Rokeby boats, Rip is almost 40' long, Reindeer about 25')
John Henry  has his Nite ColdFront.
Doc Shuter & Patrick L. have Dns which they sailed today.
I think I'm forgetting one or two.
Red Bank boats are to arrive Friday.

There is a plan to meet at Tivoli South Bay at 4pm Friday to carry the fleet of 4 stern steerers over the tracks and onto the River. Join us if you can to help with the effort.

Regarding access - Club member Glen Burger has been making informative videos on sailing the river.    His most recent Video  describes conditions wonderfully and he also utilizes Google Earth to show you how to get onto the ice at Barrytown.  Note that you can also stay on  Barrytown road driving past Barrytown College and park down where the road dead ends at the RR tracks (you'll be just past the Red Hook Boat Club) there is a path to the ice just off of Steamboat Lane (before the boat club)
This map might help:,-73.9277765,16z

Glen's video with map and access:


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We Have a Ball Game!

....That's what Bob Lawrence would say when it all came together and it was time to drop everything and sail.  And has it ever come together.
The River has shaped up amazingly since the snowstorm and we are looking at an incredible bunch of days sailing from Rhinecliff to..... Germantown??? (that's over 15 miles)
As of Tuesday, Reid Bielenberg has sailed Vixen from Cruger Is to Rhinecliff. Dock Shuter sailed Floater on the west side of the channel from Glasco to Turkey Point. Tivoli Bay is being sailed again with Steve Schwartz on Boreas and Hal Hahn on Puff.  The plan is to carry those boats over the tracks to the River later this week. Rick Lawrence has brought up Ariel, Ice Queen & JACK FROST. They are setting up boats at Astor Point off of Rokeby, in Barrytown. Glen Burger sailed Hound from Magdalin Is. south to Rhinecliff on Wednesday. There is 12" of river ice and we are still looking at 2 nights in the single digits. Here's to hoping more area ice boaters dust off their varnished boats and pull them out of the barn. Lots of hands will be around to help assemble. 
It is very likely that 4-5 'A' boats will come up from the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club, Red Bank, NJ. Not only that, there is talk of the possibility the Shrewsbury sailors bringing up their big boat Rocket -
What a sight that would be - Frost and Rocket speeding across miles of ice.  This is shaping up to be a once in a ...long,long,long time... opportunity to sail distances on the Hudson River.
I will plan to post possible access locations by Thursday night. There is access to the Hudson River in Barrytown, near the Red Hook Boat Club. More details to follow.

Some of the boats that should be sailing this weekend:

Jack Frost - built 1892 by George Buckhout. This was Archibald Rogers 1st class ice yacht and was 4-time winner of the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America.  Rebuilt by members of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club in 1972. The 50' backbone and 27' plank are made from Sitka Spruce. It has 750 sq ft of sail.  

Ariel: Also an Archie Rogers boat, built by Buckhout. Rogers sailed serval versions of Ariel, including a lateen rigged version. It was a favorite smaller yacht that Rogers often raced in club races. In one oft-reported story in 1903, he and his wife - Anne Coleman Rogers - were rescued after the Ariel broke through thin ice off of Hyde Park and they were both pitched into the river. There is actually video footage of Ariel in the Hudson and Mrs. Rogers, cloaked in heavy furs, walking back to the boathouse after the rescue. 

Ice Queen - Built   by Buckhout for Commodore H.C. Higginson of the Orange Lake Ice Yacht Club. It appears as early as 1900 in lists from the OLIYC, though I am not certain it is this same version of Ice Queen. She was restored by the Lawrence family about 15 years ago. They increased its sail area to almost 350 sq ft. She has a hollow backbone and spars. It is one of the fastest boats in the club, often winning club match races.    

Jack Frost flanked by Sweet Marie (r) and Kriss (l) north of the Kingston Bridge. Feb. 2004
(photo courtesy of and copyrighted by Chris Kendall)

Ice Queen, prepping to race Vixen, off Astor Point, 2004.

Ariel hiking on Great South Bay. Photo courtesy of Glen Burger.

An early version of Ariel, lateen-rigged, at Rogers Boat House, Hyde Park, circa 1888.  

Jack Frost, 1902, sailing off of Hyde Park.

Jack Frost, with Dan Clapp's Now Then, off of Rokeby, 2004.

Jack Frost, left, followed by four old stern steerers from the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club,
from Red Bank NJ. Hudson River, 2004.
You can be sure that there was no wind that afternoon  when you see the boats lined up  for this sort of photo op....

Monday, February 24, 2014

Miles of River Ice!

We MAY have some pretty incredible sailing conditions by the end of the week. The 20+ inches of snow has almost disappeared from the surface thanks to saturation from below, rain and two days of warm temperatures. Temperatures over the next four nights are forecast to be in the single digits, so that should build some additional thickness over the next week.  There are grayed out smooth patches interspersed with a crusty, styrofoam-consistency snowy surface.  A decent breeze should push the stern steerers through that crusty surface. We are seeing smoothed out ice from Barrytown up north. There could be miles of sailable ice ahead. Club members are looking for new access points for the weekend as launching other boats on the Bay or at Astor Point is now difficult to impossible due to snow on the field roads. Look for updated information by late week. Don't make other plans for this weekend yet...
Looking southwest toward the Kingston Bridge
from Tivoli South Bay. The shiny patches are smooth ice.

Due west from the south end of Tivoli Bay.

Looking North up Tivoli Bay. Note the gray smooth ice along side
a thin crusty layer of snowy ice. There is plenty of thickness on the Bay.

North again, on Tivoli Bay. Four boats are on blocks awaiting the ice
to firm up with upcoming cold.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

John A. Roosevelt's scrapbook

John A. Roosevelt
John Aspinwall Roosevelt, FDR’s uncle, was an avid ice yachtsman and a competitive sailor. From his early days as a founding member of the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club in 1861 (he was just 21 then), his ice yachts were named Icicle. He had Jacob Buckhout build many fine ice yachts for him, including the largest one of all – (Icicle, of course) which was 68’ 10” in length and carried a sail spread of 1070 sq ft.
The largest Icicle at 68' in length!
He was a founding member, in 1885, of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club and its first Commodore. A later version of Icicle (50’ in length, 750 sq ft sail area) won the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America four times.
John A. Roosevelt, at the helm of Icicle.
Two of his “later” boats continue to be sailed regularly today : Vixen and Kriss.
JAR also kept a large collection of all things ice boating. You can look through the collection at the FDR Library in Hyde Park

. His nephew Franklin was keen on preserving ice boating material for inclusion in his Library and museum, including his uncle's ice boating scrapbook. Until roughly 15 years ago, both his uncle’s boat Icicle and FDR’s own Hawk were on display in the museum (subject of a future post…) It is fascinating and informative to spend a day looking through the materials in the library at the FDR museum and library in Hyde Park. Here are a few clippings from the book that I will add to over time.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Books on Ice Yachting...

from 1913
 for fun...
copyright 1919; This one's from 1948.

Published in 1964; this is an autographed copy.

I have what appears to be an original early manuscript version of the book; I believe it was sent to Ray Ruge for feedback
before the final draft was completed. It has many hand drawn illustrations of race courses and tacking and jibing strategies. 

a page of the typed manuscript.

An early sketch - this is not in the book.

a few great old photos are tucked into the pages of this draft.

Published in 1938. Lots of pictures from the 1930s.

from Wings on the Ice.

Published 1913.

Basically a collection of writings from Rudder magazine and elsewhere. Interestingly, two chapters go to William Stanbrough, who worked on his designs out of Orange Lake, along with Percy Ashley. Neither of his design modifications went much further than his writings from what I can tell.

published 1978.

Published 1974; This is a 2nd edition from 1976. Andresen raced Arrows. 

Sailing on Ice focuses on bow steerers.

Published in 1962. Again, focus is on bow steerers. Designs, building, racing.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Boats Out (and snowed in) on the Ice so Far...

Valentines Day 2014
The storm on Thursday brought over 20 inches to northern Dutchess County.
I'm off to dig out boats from this amazing blanket of white. Buried boat photos follow...

Boreas, Cyclone, North Wind.
Masts sticking up out of the snow.

Flicker is barely visible over the bowsprit of North Wind.

Plank of Cyclone buried by 20+ inches.
There is a layer of slush under all this snow,
which is quickly diminishing through saturation.

The back deck in Red Hook.

February 6

Well, Wednesday brought  9" of snow at my house in Red Hook, about 6 miles east of where the boats are currently buried.   We are out of commission for awhile, although I have seen 12 " of snow reduced to a beautiful surface of snow ice within 6 days.
The table on my back deck with 9" of fresh
powder - the skiers are happy!
We'll see how the ice transforms over the next week.
Meanwhile here is an update of the old stern steerers out on the ice, waiting for the ice to clear up. We've had great Valentines Day sailing in past years!

Tivoli Bay:

Aurora on Tivoli South Bay. Photo courtesy of Chris Kendall

I don't know much of the history of Aurora, though I'll venture it was likely built around 1910.  It carries about 250 sq ft of sail.  Aurora  is a good example of  a later design period (post 1883) in which the mast is stepped forward of the runner plank and wire rigging is used.  This created a lighter, more balanced boat that didn’t spin out as easily as the earlier designs. It was previously owned by the late John Rose and is now owned by Frank Wall of Ghent, NY. 

North Wind    

Current HRIYC Commodore Chris Kendall at the helm of the 1896 yacht, North Wind.
North Wind (circa 1896) is 29’ long and has about 240 sq ft of sail.  Designed by H. Percy Ashley (a well-regarded authority on ice boating and iceboat design), at Orange Lake, it sailed there for many years, owned by the Hughes family.  It was involved in a serious collision with the Gale, a sister boat, on Orange Lake in the 1930s.  It demonstrates a design evolution with its lighter weight hollow backbone and hollow spars.  Earlier yachts were created from solid lengths of timber. It is owned by Reid Beilenberg of Germantown.

Historical note: North Wind and Aurora have sailed together for over 40 years. In 1973 they raced each other during the Eastern Ice Yacht Association’s Championship on Greenwood Lake, January 18, 1973.
According to an article in the Evening News (from Newburgh?):
“Aurora,” owned by Chuck Merkel of Montrose and a member of the Hudson River (Ice Yacht) Club took second in Class X. Reid Bielenberg of Garrison sailing “North Wind,” formerly owned by the late Ed Hughes of Newburgh, was third.  (Class X boats have a  sail area up to 250 sq ft.) 

Cyclone on the Hudson River at Athens, 2009. Photo by Lawrie Hill

Cyclone was built in 1901 in Hyde Park by Charles Van Loan.  It was originally owned by Herman Livingston Rogers, son of Archie Rogers.  The Rogers family had one of the largest collections of ice boats in the mid-Hudson area at the turn of the century.  Included among their boats was Archie Rogers’ Jack Frost, 4 time winner of the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America.  Cyclone likely sailed the Hudson River off of the Rogers estate in Hyde Park.  The runner plank and sails are not original.  It is owned & sailed by Lisa & Brian Reid of Red Hook. 

Emilie Hauser at the helm of her boat Puff, one of the oldest boats on the ice.

Puff (circa 1874) is 27' in length and carries 236 sq ft of sail. It was originally part of Irving Grinnell’s fleet of ice boats and sailed with the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club. It is very similar in design as Whiff (see earlier post on Whiff), though a bit smaller. Grinnell, a good friend of FDR and an avid champion of ice boating, was a founding member of the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club, established in 1869. In 1881, Grinnell put up a 30 foot silk pennant to signify supremacy in ice yacht racing. The "Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America", was never won by Grinnell, but was claimed four times each by John Roosevelt's Icicle, and Archie Rogers' Jack Frost.  Grinnell was also a commodore of the New York Yacht Club.
Puff was in disrepair when HRIYC members Roger Hausch, Peter Mund and Krum rebuilt her at Orange Lake in the early 1960s, at which time the rig was redesigned. Puff won many races on Orange Lake in the 1960's, its home ice for many years after it was removed from the Grinnell estate. Subsequently,  Puff was owned by John Allen,  R.Cobe from Verplank, B. Benson of Sleightburgh / Pt. Ewen and then acquired by the late Michael Corey of Kingston in 1998.  Puff is now owned by Corey’s family

Sloop Captain Steve Schwartz, at the helm of Boreas. photo courtesy of Chris Kendall

Boreas was built in New Hampshire in 1927 and sailed lakes in that region until it came to the Hudson Valley about ten years ago. Boreas is 24’ long with 198 sq ft of sail. It is marconi rigged.  It is owned by Steve Schwartz of Poughkeepsie.

Flicker, on its first sail back on the Hudson River in 1996 after returning to the Hudson Valley,
on beautiful black ice at Esopus Flats.

Flicker has a unique style and was known as a 'Westchester One Design'. It was designed by Dick Moeller, who helped establish the Eastern Ice Yacht Association in the late 1930s. It is cat-rigged and at least 8 of them were built. They were owned and sailed by members of the Westchester Ice Sailing Club, which was quite active  from 1947 into the late 80s. Art O’Connor of WISC obtained Flicker (then called HIC) from John Childs. John Hardeman and I obtained it from Art about 15 years ago. It is one of only 2 known surviving examples of this style boat. Stefan Hydacker has been maintaining and sailing it recently.  

Astor Point

Vixen                built 1885         Length: 31’                            sail area:  340 sq ft 

Reid Beilenberg at the helm, sailing off Astor Point, Barrytown-on-Hudson. Photo courtesy of Ned Gerard.

Vixen  was built by the brothers Charles and William Merritt of Carthage Landing (now Chelsea) in 1885.  It was the first successful lateen-rigged ice yacht.  Originally named Eugene, the Merritt brothers sailed the boat up to Poughkeepsie in 1887 where races were taking place. This swift, and well-balanced yacht quickly caught the attention of FDR’s uncle John A. Roosevelt who purchased it on the spot and renamed her VixenInterestingly, when FDR's mother commissioned George Buckhout to build an ice yacht as a Christmas gift for her son, it was a lateen-rigged boat (called Hawk)  that he received. Vixen was later acquired and relocated to Orange Lake, outside of Newburgh where it sailed for many years in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.  It is now owned and sailed by Reid Beilenberg of Germantown.  This is the last surviving lateen-rigged ice yacht from that era. 

Hound       built circa 1905           Length: 25’                 sail area:  240 sq ft.

Skipper Glen Burger taking the kids out for a fast sail on Hound.
Photo Courtesy Ned Gerard.

Hound  was originally from the Hull Estate in Staatsburgh and likely sailed the Hudson there in the early 1900s.  Hound  is a good example of  the later design period (post 1883) in which the mast is stepped forward of the runner plank and wire rigging is used.  This created a lighter, more balanced boat that didn’t spin out as easily as the earlier designs. She is owned and sailed by Glen and Emerson Burger of Staatsburgh.

Orion             built  1906           Length: 25’                 sail area:  230 sq ft.
Past HRIYC commodore Bob Wills steers his yacht Orion off of Astor Point.
Photo courtesy of Ned Gerard.

Orion was built at the Malden Brick factory at Malden-on-Hudson in 1906. It eventually relocated to Long Island where the McInerney family sailed her on Lake Ronkokoma. The boat was nameless when she was obtained by Bob Wills, who christened her Orion on Tivoli Bay in 2010.  Owner: Bob Wills, Rhinecliff 

Floater            built circa 1900        Length: 16"6"            Sail Area: 90 sq ft
Doc Shuter at the helm of Floater, Tivoli Bay.
Photo courtesy of Chris Kendall.

One of the smallest boats in the fleet, Floater was built in Glasco circa 1900. It is named after an incident involving a previous owner/skipper who discovered that it did indeed float after sailing into the channel. Fortunately all were rescued safely. Current owners are Doc & Kate Shuter, of Glasco.