Sunday, December 28, 2014

Thomas Newbold was FDR's neighbor & a former state senator at the time.
His boat was Nansen, built by George Buckhout. 
With no sign of ice here in the Hudson Valley, we at least get to enjoy raising sail and talking iceboating. We had two glorious days (Fri. - Sat.) at the FDR Museum and Library - sunny and mid-forties. It was a busy weekend with tourists in town for the holidays stopping in to tour FDR's house - Springwood - and the museum. A good number of visitors stopped by our "line-up" of historic ice yachts.
Greyhound (1908), Whiff (1876), Vixen (1885), Kriss (1898)
outside the FDR Museum, Hyde Park, NY

Tours of the FDR home start at the Wallace Visitors Center, next to FDR's Hawk.


Several members of HRIYC worked with the guides of the National Park Service to give short introductions to FDR's connection with Ice Yachting before the guided tours through his home.  One factoid we relate is that FDR's mother - Sarah Delano, gave FDR his ice yacht Hawk as a Christmas gift in 1901.   His Uncle John A. Roosevelt was certainly an influence on the young FDR and likely took him sailing on yachts on display at the museum - Kriss and Vixen. Roosevelt served as vice-commodore on HRIYC in 1908. His yacht raced in several club races in '08, though always with someone else at the helm. I find one reference from 1902 in which Hawk, with FDR sailing (or so it seems),  raced in a 4th class race against Ariel and Dutchess, placing third in an 8 mile race for a silk pennant.  

These types of events are wonderful to meet folks, some who have never seen an ice boat before. We also meet people who have their own stories of ice boating, or of friends or relatives who have sailed in the past. This weekend was no different. I ran into a gentleman who showed me a beautiful gem - a club book from the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club from 1886.
The New Hamburgh club was the second oldest Ice Yacht club (founded in 1879) after the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club (founded 1861). It's first commodore- Irving Grinnell - built many ice yachts and was a competitive racer. He also created the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America - the pinnacle of supremacy in Ice racing.  The Grinnell yacht Whiff, is one of the boats we have on display at the museum this week.

NHIYC was founded December 1869.

The club book of 1886.

M.W. Collyer - Moses Collyer - co-authored the 1908 book "Sloops of the Hudson."
That book was part of the inspiration that led to the construction of the sloop Clearwater, by Pete Seeger and others.
Interesting note that in 1886, Whiff was under command of Temple Bowdoin, Grinnell's neighbor. Later on, in the HRIYC club book of 1908, Whiff is again listed with Grinnell as owner. 

Puff (circa 1871) is still sailed today, owned and sailed by Emilie Hauser. Also, note here that Rogers rigged his Ariel as a lateen. He later sailed it as sloop-rigged, as she is still today.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Ice Boat Expo opening at FDR Museum & Library

The opening of the iceboat exhibit at the FDR library in Hyde Park was well received on Sunday. Several hundred folks came through during the day to see FDR's personal ice yacht "Hawk" and to see the display of antique ice yachts, with sails rigged, on the lawn in front of the recently renovated library.
Lynn Bassanese, Director of the FDR Library, welcomes HRIYC and the public 
to the Ice Yacht Expo at the Wallace Visitors Center at the FDR site in Hyde Park, NY.

FDR's grandson, David Roosevelt, was on hand and he admitted he wasn't too keen on actually trying to iceboat himself. Still, he enjoys the efforts made to keep the boats sailing and the stories told of ice yachting from his grandfather's era.
David Roosevelt joined us at the Ice Yacht Expo at the FDR Library & Museum. 

Historian Wint Aldrich recalled an interview he had many years ago with Erastus Corning, long time mayor of Albany. Corning spoke of his one and only meeting with FDR in the early 40s, when he was a state senator. Corning wanted Roosevelt to order the Coast Guard to keep the shipping channel free of ice so ships could get to the newly opened Port of Albany. The Port was suffering in winter as the ice locked up boat traffic. In short, FDR told Senator Corning that if the coast guard was to break up the ice, then his children and grandchildren would be unable to ice boat off Hyde Park, as he had as a child with his uncle John, because  the channel cut close to the east shore. As they gazed out over the River from Roosevelt's home FDR commented that, while he appreciated the "good senator's" presentation and efforts, 'No,' he would not order the river broken up by the ice cutters, and, he added, "the reason was strictly off the record." 

Wint has a long-standing connection to iceboating and the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club. FDR was friends with his father, Richard Aldrich, and FDR asked him to come and rescue the Jack Frost, the famous ice yacht his neighbor, Archibald Rogers, had raced. Federal troops were stationed at the Rogers estate during WWII (and rumor has it troops cut up and burned some of the boats for warmth during the cold winters stationed there) and the Frost was neglected down at the Rogers boat house. Attempts were made to move the backbone, but moving the 50' piece of timber proved difficult and it was left along the railroad tracks. Other parts of the boat were collected and taken to Rokeby, the family home. 
Fast forward 30 years: members of the HRIYC are rebuilding Jack Frost at Orange Lake;  a conversation arises, and Ricky Aldrich, Wint's brother, digs out the sail and other parts of the original Frost and donates the parts to the restoration. Rokeby is home to almost a dozen old yachts, many collected by Richard Aldrich. Rokeby was the launching point of last years amazing sailing, with boats accessing the river through the private drive at the property. Ricky and his son Ben continue the tradition of maintaining and sailing the old yachts of yesteryear.

George Buckhout's tool box, complete with rigging tools, planes and a few ice boat parts. 

The toolbox of George Buckhout was also on display at this opening.
This chest of tools was  likely on hand during the building of FDR's Hawk. It is a fine link to the creation of these beautiful works of art that still sail on the ice today. In yet another link to the past, in talking with an old friend of the club, I learned that her grandfather worked for George Buckhout, building boats. She was thrilled to see the tool box here. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Setting up Ice Yachts at the FDR Library & Museum

FDR's Hawk, getting set up in the main room of the Wallace Center Visitors Center in Hyde Park. 

The only actively sailed lateen-rigged ice yacht, Vixen.
This boat belonged to FDR's uncle John A. Roosevelt.  

Pulling Whiff out of its home barn in Staatsburg. 

Someday we'll have a longer truck...

The FDR Museum has a section called :behind the scenes." In conjunction with the Iceboat Expo, they have displayed several iceboat items from the Roosevelt collection. There are two iceboat models, including this model  of a Hudson River Ice yacht, called "Mo-Wa-The"  built circa 1914 by J. Sterling Bird. Bird was a long time member of the HRIYC and presented this to the President in the 1942.

Detail of the model "Mo-Wa-The"

Two ice yachts that were owned and sailed by John A. Roosevelt: (L-R):
Kriss (built 1898) and Vixen (built 1885). Other boats on display include Greyhound and Whiff, as well as  two "bow steerers,  "a circa 1960 Arrow class design, and a DN..

Whiff, built for the Philadelphia Centennial (1876) by Jacob Buckhout.
One of the oldest ice yachts still sailing.

FDR smiles down upon seeing ice yachts on the lawn in front of the Presidential Library, dedicated in 1941.

One of three trophies on display in the museum.
This is a trophy of the HRIYC, won by the ice yacht Eclipse, sailed by Samuel Rogers, in 1908.
Eclipse was a fifth class ice yacht owned by Edward H. Wales, commodore of the Hyde Park Ice Yacht Club.
Many ice boat sailors were members of both the HRIYC and HPIYC in the waning years of HR ice sailing (1902-1920).

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??)