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!

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