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!

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Glorious Weekend

I'm still recovering & exhausted from an amazing and magical weekend of sailing.  Two 12 hour days on the ice wasn't quite enough.  We had wind, great ice, more boats than I could count, and an historical gathering of classic antique ice yachts. We saw the launching (and champagne christening) of the rebuilt 1888 North Shrewsbury yacht "Rocket" and the incredible speed and power of two of the largest ice boats in the world - "Jack Frost" and "Rocket." Hundreds of spectators caught rides over the 2 days. Amtrack slowed down its trains for safety and to let passengers catch a glimpse of the spectacle. Sailors from Maryland to Maine arrived to sail one of the few pieces of big, clear ice that could be sailed in the country.
It was great to see old friends, make new ones and participate in a truly unique community of cold weather lovers.  I'll add more pictures and tales over time. For now, a mini diary of the weekend...

6:30am. 7 degrees or so. Sunrise over Astor Point, Rocket and my XV.

Fleet at rest, awaiting sail raising.

Catskills Mountains to the west, glow purple as the sun comes up.

Wind was up by 8am. I sail for an hour, then watch my rig collapse a mile north of Astor Point. A shackle had loosened and let go. Mast and full sail rig drops to the ice. I pull the boat back to "port" and spend the next several hours repairing and re-rigging. Get lots of help from sailors and friends.  (photo courtesy William Finnigan)
Rocket, a 50+ foot yacht from the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club, from Red Bank NJ. Sailors there spent over 10 years working to rebuild this yacht, originally launched in 1888.
Here she is getting ready for her inaugural sail. It was a grand affair with champagne, hoots and hollering and local & national media tripping over each over for a shot...

Jack Frost, (HRIYC: built 1892, rebuilt 1972) and Rocket (NSIBYC: built 1888, rebuilt 2012) chase each other around miles of Hudson River ice. With very brisk, and at times gusty winds during the mid-day hours  it was clear that Rocket was aptly named.  

Cyclone is re-rigged and ready to sail by 2 pm.
We waited till gusty winds died down some before resuming sailing and offering rides.

My son Logan, enjoys the vantage point from the port side runner plank. 

HRIYC Vice-Commodore Frank Wall, Hudson River pilot (just retired) and skipper of Aurora, reaches out to touch the passing tanker Shoveler (Hauling grain from the mid west out across the Atlantic). You could sail this close to the channel. (though we didn't, as a rule). (photo assist from Chris Kendall)
Cyclone, Aurora & Hound, out near the west channel.
5:45 (or so) sunset at the south end of Cruger Is., about three miles north of Astor Point. The breeze stayed steady right till it was too dark to sail. Many of the sailors and friends  retired to the Rokeby house for dinner and stories....

Sunday images 
Sunday morning the breeze comes up at 8:10 or so. It was still for the first half hour i was there, then the breeze went to 10 mph in less than a minute. Again I am off and sailing, lone boat on the river. Shortly after I spot the first visitor to the ice near Barrytown. It is a colleague of mine - David - and we sail down to the Rhinecliff Bridge.  It is amazing to look up at the underside of this massive structure from the ice. 
(Note the northbound Amtrak train on the East shore)
Early afternoon Sunday the the breeze dies. Time for a line up and photo shots. A race is considered. The lull continues. more photos....

Next three pictures courtesy of, and copyrighted by Andy Wainwright.
North Wind (barely visible), Rocket, Princeton, Rip Van Winkle, Georgie II
Cyclone, Phantom, Jack Frost....

The Hudson Valley Brass Band plays for all, in front of Hound. I believe they are students from Bard College.
Could you ask for anything more??   
Probably my favorite shot I took all weekend.

....and it looks promising for next weekend. Stay tuned!