Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve Sailing!

 Happy New Year!

Beautiful ice on Tivoli South Bay, located on the east shore of the Hudson at Barrytown-on-Hudson. 
  A handful of intrepid sailors and friends embraced the brisk day to get a small fleet of ice yachts onto Tivoli South Bay these past 2 days. This is the first time in quite awhile that we have gotten boats rigged in December.  Galatea, Cyclone, Puff & Orion are all on the ice, along with an Arrow class bow-steering boat. It was taxing with a steady 10-15 mph breeze and temps hovering at 10 degrees.  And, it was fabulous!
Galatea (with Reid Bielenberg at the helm) had the first exploration of Tivoli Bay and took several guests out for a spin.  Cyclone (with yours truly) also tested the Bay for two blustery sails. Frank Wall, between helping rig boats, got out on his bow steering 2 seater.  Puff & Orion will finish being rigged in 2018.  More sailing on New Year's Day.  Best access is to use the Greenway trail from the campus of the Unification Theological Seminary in Barrytown.

Galatea,  rigged and ready for its shake down sail 12/31/2017. Galatea, circa 1885,
is from the former Clarkson estate in Tivoli. It is just over 32' long, and carries about 350 sq ft of sail.

Starboard runner on Cyclone. That is the eastern shore of Tivoli Bay.
 Montgomery Place, now owned by Bard College,  is inland a few hundred yards.

Sun setting over the Catskill Mountains to the west.

Cyclone, built in Hyde Park around 1900 for Herman Livingston Rogers, youngest son of Col. Archibald Rogers. It is just under 20' in length and carries about 200 sq ft of sail.

Looking southwest down the Bay; Light covering of 1/2 inch of powder over nice ice. 

The continued cold looks may well lead to finding a good stretch of ice on the Hudson proper. By the first weekend of January, we may be launching boats onto the river locally. Stay Tuned!

Lastly, reports note that at least 4 antique stern steerers are sailing at Orange Lake, near Newburgh.  I hope to have pictures soon.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Happy New Year!

From the photo collection of Marge Spratt, Hyde Park.

Carthage Landing Ice Yacht Club

Fleet off of the Chelsea Ice Yacht Club's clubhouse. This club was located between Beacon & New Hamburgh.
The Carthage Ice Yacht Club was organized January 1881. First Commodore was Benjamin Merritt,
considered one of the most expert ice yacht sailors in country (NYTimes article 1900). Brothers
Charlie and Bill Merritt were well respected Ice Yacht builders and sailors. They built several fast
lateen-rigged yachts, including Vixen (which still sails today) and Ranger. The last race of the Ice
Yacht Challenge Pennant of America by the old stern steering yachts was won by Frank Drake,
sailing for the NHIYC, defeating boats from the CIYC, in 1922.
Later on, Carthage Landing Ice Yacht Club  changed its name to Chelsea  Ice Yacht Club. This club eventually became the Chelsea Yacht Club, still an active soft water club today.


Members outside the Clubhouse in Chelsea, 1911;  Club house still there today;

Racing at Chelsea, 1911:  Maud M. (owned by Frank Brockway),Junior (owned by Frank F. Collyer),  ? ,  Artic (owned by Moses Collyer)

Lateen rigged "Junior".  I've seen this boat labeled Junior in several photos. This is from Ray Ruge's collection.
Marge Spratt, (who is a Collyer and grew up in Chelsea), has photos with this boat labeled Junior as well.  Still, it sure looks like Vixen (Built in Chelsea in 1885 by the Merritt Bros. - the backbone is quite distinctive)  Vixen sailed out of Chelsea by 1911 -  Frank Drake raced her and  I understood that Joe Jova bought her from JA Roosevelt sometime in this period. Another reference on a photo says that Junior was acquired by Moses Collyer from Archie Rogers.

Collyer Brothers off Chelsea. 1911. 

Moses Collyer, in cockpit; Frank Collyer Sr. Cheslea 1911.  



Charlie & Bill Merritt "ice fishing" on the River off Chelsea 1911.
The Merritt Brothers were builders of many fast yachts at Chelsea (including Vixen, and Ranger);
The were sought after skippers in Challenge Pennant races as well.

Moses was co-author of the book "Sloops of the Hudson"
That book was one spark that helped  inspire Pete Seeger to build
the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater in the late 1960s.

Photos from this post come from the private collection of our friend Marge Spratt. She has been generous in sharing her ice boat photo collection and stories of growing up with the Collyers in Carthage Landing/Chelsea.   (one or two come from Ray Ruge's collection at the Hudson River Maritime Museum. I believe Ray got copies from Marge's originals)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

winter 17-18...

To start off a new season.... a rare photo of an unnamed ice yacht off of Poughkeepsie, just south of the Railroad Bridge (now the popular Walkway Over the Hudson). Classic gaff rigged Hudson River Ice Yacht. Circa....1910??
(from a photo in Rick Lawrence's collection) 

December in the Hudson Valley 2017....
managed to get the skates out on the 17th... ice was about 2" thick on Heron swamp. Will check Tivoli Bay the day after Xmas - a cold snap looks to be arriving then - at this point suggesting 4-5  nights of single digits. That's what we need! Get your runners sharpened!

Dec. 12. 2017 - A light covering of snow didn't hinder the skates, though slowed down the puck a bit.

Heron Swamp is a hidden little skating gem in upper Red Hook. Surrounded by hills on 3 sides, it is a pretty place to navigate the trees and bushes in the shallow swamp. 
see last photo for the nests of the namesake birds.  

 Reid Beilenberg set up the 1885 ice yacht Galatea on Warren Street in Hudson the first week of December for that city's annual Winter Walk. We talked with dozens and dozens of folks about the boat and sailing on the Hudson. 
Dock & Reid answer the common questions:  What is it? How fast does it go? You sail on the Hudson??
Galatea is from the Clarkson estate in Tivoli. Robert Livingston Clarkson was an original member of the HRIYC, joining in 1885.  He had 2 boats in 1888 - Galatea and Dashaway. Galatea is 32' in length and originally carried 410 sq ft of sail.  Dashaway was smaller - 220 sq ft; Dashaway later went to the Suckley fleet, at Wilderstein in Rhinecliff. 

Reid demonstrates the sailing position of the skipper. Galatea's cockpit is one of the larger ones, stretched out to 8 foot!
Galatea has had some exciting sailing since getting back on the ice a few years back!

waiting for the cold...
Merry Christmas!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Old Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant documents turn up in Jersey...

I went and visited with an old friend and fellow ice yacht historian - Greg Strand - down near Red Bank in April. Greg has been sailing A boats since the late 60s and has had a hand in acquiring, restoring and sailing dozens of big stern steerers over the years. He is a long time member of our Hudson River Ice Yacht Club as well as the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club. He has been collecting history pertaining to ice yachting in Red Bank, and other Jersey ice yacht clubs.
He recently was contacted regarding a box of papers turned over to the village of Red Bank. He was amazed to see an incredible cache of ice yachting documents, race records and more dating back to the early 1880s.
Included was correspondence between the North Shrewsbury and Hudson River Ice Yacht Club. Starting in 1883, the NSIBYC sent their speediest yachts up to Poughkeepsie in attempts to capture the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America.  Some of the documents pertain to ice conditions, acceptance of challenges, race summaries and telegrams between secretaries.  a few documents are included below:

Telegram from Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club Secretary Thomas Ransom.
This is early correspondence that led up to NSIYBC's first challenge for the Pennant. 

Letter from PIYC secretary Thomas Ransom. The race for the pennant took place on Feb. 23, 1883.
Scud was sole entry for NSIBYC and finished last. Seems they got the cold snap to firm up the ice.

Rare correspondence under the moniker 'Hudson River Corinthian Ice Yacht Club,'  as the HRIYC was briefly known. 
Archie Roger's brother Edmund Pendelton Rogers was first secretary of the HRIYC
 (formed a few weeks before this letter).
A curious correspondence about a 'National Ice Yacht Association.' I've seen no further reference to this, though various attempts to create a 'National Authority" have come up many times in the next 100 years...

Correspondence ahead of the Challenge Pennant race of 1893.
Two days later it was raced between HRIYC and the Orange Lake Club. 

Seems the Secretary of the Orange Lake Ice Yacht Club was also corresponding with Commodore Weaver of the NSIBYC.
Clearly the Shrewsbury Club wasn't able to race for the Challenge Pennant that year. Meanwhile the Orange Lake boys were looking to race for the
Van Nostrand Cup, which they lost two years earlier. 

"....a thorough sportsmanlike character....
.... showing them every possible courtesy.... "
-A letter of appreciation to the Shrewsbury Club from the HRIYC.
second page follows...
Always good plan to flatter your rivals, especially when they hold the silver cup you may want to race for!
1891 letter written shortly after NSIBYC captured the Van Nostrand Cup at Orange Lake.
It would be 87 years before HRIYC would race for that Cup!

NSIBYC challenge accepted to race for the Pennant.
Hyde Park druggist John Hopkins is HRIYC secretary.

Ice Yacht Georgie, 1904. From the Red Bank club.

Early 1900s on the Shrewsbury River at Red Bank. Speed skating races and ice yachts.

Many thanks to Greg Strand.  More to follow....

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

We are finished! Ice Conditions------------>

Boats are packed up and store away till next winter.

All Boats were dismantled on Friday - time to varnish and tweak rigging till next winter.

Do check back to this blog for more on the history of ice yachting on the Hudson River. We are still finding & restoring old boats, and discovering articles and stories.... 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Happy Super Bowl!

Compare ice on Super Bowl Sunday this year:

Two Whirlwinds, on blocks, awaiting the return of frozen water....
3 weeks earlier, they sat on 5-6 inches of ice....

Compare to Super Bowl Sunday ice in 2010:  First sails for ice yacht  Orion, after its return to the Hudson valley.  Vixen sails as well...
Tivoli Bay Feb. 7, 2010

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Last sailing before the thaw...

Classic sunny day on the ice. Teasing breezes that gets you and the boat a couple hundred yards out of the pits; then it dies. You're then pushing the boat back in.  You keep getting sucked in. But you never know. About 2:00 a stiff breeze came up for 20 - 25 minutes.  Some nice runs for Whirlwind, Whirlwind III and Lady.  Breeze died. Boats were then pulled up on shore to wait out the upcoming thaw.   We accept the hours of set up for that 15 minute spin after 2 years of no ice.  

A bit distant, but Whirlwind dances up on 2 runners across the Lake!

Lady, here piloted by past commodore Brett.

Whirlwind pushes out, looking for a breeze.  
The coating of last night's snow didn't slow the boats down at all.

Whirlwind experimented with different runners  - 2 sets with different angles -
to see how she handled in these conditions.


After the rain  & several days in the 50s, ice at a local Hudson Valley Lake managed to hold on and Friday night's cold firmed up ice and, just as important,  the mud in the front yard.  
Whirwinds I, II, and III, L-R.

There was a harmonic convergence of Whirlwinds outside of Newburgh as Whirwinds I, II, & III took to the ice. 2 of the 3 put runners to Hudson Valley ice for the first time ever.  A few puffs of wind mid-afternoon got 2 of the 3 out for a few nice runs across the Lake. We have about 40 hours until the next "January thaw" puts the boats on blocks for a spell. ( How many January thaws are allowed??).
Take the opportunity while one can.

Brand new plank for Whirlwind.

Whirlwind. Built by George Buckhout, circa 1920. 31' 350 sq ft of sail.
She's fast!

Whirlwind II, circa 1920, originally from Vermont.Was discovered in a barn in Maine and restored by
Chickawaukie Ice Boat Club wizards Bill Buchholz & Lloyd Roberts ( and one other craftsman I can't remember).
I acquired her last winter and this was her first time on the ice. She's a beauty!

Whirlwind II is 22' long. A storm sail was rigged initially to finish her restoration. Plans are to convert it back to gaff-rigged
perhaps a cat boat or sloop rigged.  Not enough wind today to push the small sail area. That's where teenagers come in.... 

Whirlwind III, circa 1930; ~250 sq ft of sail; 30' long. 

Whirlwind III was built in Syracuse and sailed on Lake Onondaga.
Now sailed by the Lawrence family, 2nd owners.

Beautiful double cockpit.