Saturday, November 26, 2016

Big Boat Gallery 1870-1900

Ice Yacht Virginia, with owner Judge H.A. Gildersleeve; circa 1880.

As it is the 140th anniversary of the Philadelphia Centennial, I thought I'd offer up a gallery of images of the historic big ice yachts of the Hudson River.  It was at the 1876 Centennial that Irving Grinnell displayed his newest Ice Yacht Whiff. That display was the first time many Americans saw an ice yacht, one that was beautifully crafted by Jacob Buckhout of Poughkeepsie. Buckhout, and others, continued to build beautiful, big, wooden gaff-rigged ice yachts into the 20th century.  Here is a gallery of some of them.

Viva, with owner J.C. Barron; circa 1880. 49' long; 493 sq ft of sail. 

John A. Roosevelt's Icicle, circa 1883.

Vesper - one of the oldest photos (I venture) of a Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht - circa early 1870s?.
Vesper appears in an 1861 listing of ice yachts sailing off Poughkeepsie.
A good representation of the style of construction from the 1860s.
A very early photo of John A. Roosevelt's Icicle.  This is the big 68' version, with 1070 sq ft of sail.
This photo comes from his ice boat scrap book - it was affixed to the inside cover of the very large leather bound book.

Another shot of ICICLE, off Roosevelt Point, likely from the late 1870s.

Irving Grinnell, aboard Whiff.  Here's a news piece from that time that I love 

Ice Yacht Haze, circa 1876. Aaron Innis, mayor of Poughkeepsie, sailed Haze for many years. This is the early version, built much like Whiff, with her mast stepped directly over the runner plank; big jib; long overhang on the boom;
heavy wooden side rails.

Another shot of Haze, from 1879.

Haze again, this time from 1883; Here she has been rebuilt in the "Scott" design.
Haze captured the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America in 1884 and 1885.



Northern Light. She was owned by J.C. Barron of Poughkeepsie. She won the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America in 1885, the 2nd race for it that season.

a great write up of ice sailing at the end of the 1890s:  Norman Wright


John R. Roosevelt's Santa Claus.

E. Harrison Sanford's Avalanche - 841 sq ft and weighing 3000 pounds!  Not long after this, a squall threw him unceremoniously from the boat. He promptly dismantled this lateen rig and had it rebuilt as sloop rigged.

Archibald Rogers' Jack Frost, circa 1900.  

Fleet off of Roger's Rock;  Jack Frost center.

Thomas Newbold with his yacht Blizzard.  I believe Blizzard is an early version of Jack Frost that Archie Rogers sailed.  When Rogers had a new Frost built, he renamed the older version Blizzard.  Newbold was his neighbor in Hyde Park.
Here, Blizzard carries 560 sq ft of sail and is 39 feet in length.  

Arctic. This boat was built around 1860 and sailed through the 1920s.  She burned up in a fire on the Hyde Park dock in the 1920s. She was owned by many of the well known ice yachters through 50+ years of sailing.  

Here is the historic yacht Robert Scott. This was the boat that Jacob Buckhout & Captain Relyea re-designed, using wire stays and a mast stepped forward of the runner plank. The result: a better balanced, better handled speedy yacht.  This boat had 499 sq ft of sail and, on its first real race in 1881 with J.A. Roosevelt's Icicle ( the huge version), easily out sailed her.  Harrison Sanford quickly purchased her and re-named her Great Scott - as seen here.

All photos are digital images I took from historic  pictures at the FDR Museum & Library.


  1. Judge Gildersleeve was great great uncle of mine. Heard stories of him and his ice yacht when I was very young. Thanks

  2. I know where Haze is. Taken apart and stored in a barn. What should be done about that?

    1. is this the Haze on Long Is.? email me with more info please -

    2. What ever you do don't let it get left outside, keep it in a barn