Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An afternoon at the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park

John A. Roosevelt's ice yacht  Icicle won the race for the
Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America on Feb. 25, 1889

I had an opportunity to check out some of the iceboating artifacts at the FDR library this week. FDR was keen on including items in the Presidential Museum from all his interests in life. Ice yachting was one of those interests. The majority of the items came from his uncle, John A. Roosevelt.  John A. Roosevelt (JAR)  was a charter member of the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club, which was established in 1861. He was an avid sportsman, a competitive sailor and a collector of ice boat items. He left several scrapbooks of news articles on ice yachting, from 1862 through 1902. His Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant medals for the 4 victories his yacht Icicle claimed are also housed at the Museum. Icicle was originally displayed at the museum until renovations in the 1990s led to its removal. It is now on display (partially) at the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston. Here are a few of the items I documented on the visit.  (The next several blog posts will feature other items)

The pennant JAR flew on Icicle. This pennant signified the club commodore.
His name appears to the left of the red stripe.

The Club signal of the HRIYC. This flew from JAR's yacht Vixen.

The private signal of JAR. According to club by-laws, the private signal was flown
 from the top of ice yachts in regattas.  This flew at the top of
Icicle's mast.

The 4 medals JAR won between 1888 & 1899.
The 30 foot silk Challenge Pennant transferred from winner to winner.

Ice yacht Whiff in miniature ..

Ice Yacht Whiff; model built by Jacob Buckhout. 

FDR was an avid collector of ship models. One can spends hours checking out the tremendous collections of models (not all are on display of course)  at the Roosevelt Library. There are two ice yacht models - neither of which are on display. The Mo-Wa-The was built by J. Sterling Bird. See pictures of that model here.
The Whiff model was built by Jacob Buckhout around 1875. It is a fabulous example of the early side-railer design that Buckhout was building in the 1860s & 1870s.  Some of the history of Whiff can be found here.
The model was set up in a work room in the basement of the museum, thus the backdrop wasn't ideal. But you can see the detail fairly well.

I love the detail in the cockpit & the tiller. 

Detail of gaff and hoist rigging. The sail is the only piece showing wear  on the model.

Graceful lines of the cockpit. 

Alternating strips of spruce & red cedar form the floor of the cockpit, as on the real boat.

There is a little rot, or wear in the cockpit, starboard side against the outer edge. 

Mast step detail. Mast stepped directly over the runner plank. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Fair Winds...

Robert Lawrence
December 10, 1925 - March 19, 2015

All smiles on the day Jack Frost was launched on Orange Lake, February 1973.
(from the scrapbook of the Westchester Ice Sailing Club)

Ice boaters throughout the region mourn the passing of Bob Lawrence this past week.
Bob was a life long ice boater, member of Orange Lake Ice Yacht Club and one of the original members who reorganized the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club. He was past commodore of both clubs. He helped lead the rebuilding of the Jack Frost in the early 1970s, which took place in his basement in Newburgh. Bob was a passionate iceboater, storyteller and giver of advice. Our condolences to Rick, Danny, Kevin, his wife Vonnie and the rest of the Lawrence family.
Fair winds & smooth ice Bob....  
Bob Lawrence, with a bronze tiller that was presented to him,
during a recognition dinner in February 1998  for his life long achievements in ice boating.
Reid Bielenberg, to the left, had the tiller forged for Bob for the event. 

At work on the cockpit of Jack Frost, in his basement, 1972.
(photo courtesy of the Klose family photo archives)
Talking with Ricky Aldrich about Icicle, John A. Roosevelt's champion yacht.
This was the day the
Icicle was removed from the FDR Library in Hyde Park. 
With the Frost, Lake Winnipasaukee, NH, early 1990s. 
John Rose & Bob swap stories, in the shop where
the mast of Jack Frost was being lengthened.
circa 2003.

Bob & John Vargo on Orange Lake, Feb. 2008.

Rick, Bob & Kevin Lawrence- 3 generations of ice boaters, on Orange Lake Feb. 2008.
Bob's father & Grandfather were ice boaters and members of the Orange Lake Ice Yacht Club as well.
At the HRIYC spring pot luck, April 2013.
A few more thoughts and connections on Bob here.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Always optimistic...

Rumors of ice boats on the river near Germantown were corroborated this evening. The set up of a new boat in the fleet was accomplished on a breezy late afternoon, joining Galatea for a last hoped for sail. No sails were raised though, and the deteriorating surface may not allow for a sail regardless. Ice is sufficiently thick, though rough, and spotty shell ice may make it difficult for the runners to stay on top of the ice. Rain on Saturday may chase away any sailing this season.  Meanwhile, Jack Frost is home from a week of sailing in Red Bank, NJ as of last weekend.  All of the stern steerers have been dismantled from that ice.
We'll look for daytime photos soon to showcase this recently renovated iceboat from Columbia County. Always exciting to see an old, previously unknown boat back on the ice.  For now, stealth shots under the cover of darkness....

Nicely rebuilt cockpit.

Late sunset over the Catskill range.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Jack Frost sweeps inaugural race for "Class 1 Ice Yacht Challenge Cup" in Red Bank


Rocket takes it to the limit!

 In what must have been some spirited racing, Jack Frost, of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club, defeated Rocket, of the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club, in three rounds to claim the Class One Ice Yacht Challenge Cup. The cup was recently donated for racing specifically between the biggest (Class One) ice yachts in the two clubs. 

Both boats are historic and restored. Rocket, originally constructed in 1888,  was said to have been built to race for the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America against the Jack Frost and Icicle of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club. It never was entered, though the Red Bank NJ-based club regularly faced off against Hudson River clubs with two other big yachts - Scud and Dreadnaught. Neither was able to defeat the Hudson River yachts. Jack Frost - the later version from 1892 - defeated the Jersey yachts several times in Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant races, the last between these big yachts occurring in 1902.
The Frost, maintained and sailed by Ricky, Danny and Kevin Lawrence, was rebuilt by members of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club in the early 1970s and relaunched on Orange Lake in 1973. She is just under 50 foot in length and carries around 750 sq ft of sail.
Rocket was rebuilt over a period of 10 years by members of The Red Bank club, an effort spearheaded by Bob Pulsch. She is 50 foot long and hoists 900 sq ft of sail. She was officially launched last March 2014 on the Hudson River at Barrytown. Her launching was covered by NBC Nightly news that day. 

If the ice holds out on the Shrewsbury, there may be more racing in the ensuing days. Congrats to the crew of the Frost for her victory. And kudos for the hospitality and generosity of the Red Bank Club.                                   (I'll add more details of the race as I find out more). 

Kevin, Danny and Rick Lawrence (center 3) with the Class 1 Cup,
outside the NSIBYC clubhouse, in Red Bank, NJ.
Bob Pulsch, Rocket builder, is on the right.

HRIYC commodore Brett Kolfrat &
 crew member Alex Innis on the right.

Line up of vintage ice yachts on the Shrewsbury River, Feb 28, 2015.
Jack Frost far right, Rocket, 2nd from right

Rocket, (c) Frost (r)

Rocket capsized while sailing in a stiff breeze on March 2.
Note Jack Frost behind, with a reef in its mainsail.
The sail was recently modified 
by Henry Bossett of NJ to add those reef points for high wind sailing. 
I understand the capsize happened during sailing outside the Cup races.

Hiking on a Red Bank Stern Steerer.

All photos courtesy of and copyright by David Disbrow.