Sunday, March 14, 2021

Video Round up of Winter 2021- Athens & Orange Lake

 A collection of some of the video taken this winter at Athens & Orange Lake.  enjoy!


Athens sailing 2/13/21   courtesy of Jesse Turnquist 

Athens, Flare sailing:    (this will take you to the page in the blog where originally posted)

Orange Lake:

Glen's videos    Orange Lake1  3/6/21            Orange Lake2   3/6/21 

Red Bank sailors' Video:     Orange Lake Stern Steerers 3/6/21 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Last Day Orange Lake New video from Saturday! Season over

 One & done as it is said...  It was a short few days but some great sailing took place at Orange Lake. 

There were a few hours this morning of fickle winds, but half the fleet got in a few tacks and a race or 2 took place. By noon boats were being dismantled as the strong sun, softening ice and dying winds spelled the end for this season.  

Georgie II and Genevieve toward north end of the Lake, taken from the Lakehouse. 

Kevin, with kids, aboard Ice Queen.

Reid taking the tiller of Ariel as winds begin to die. He first sailed Ariel with Ray Ruge at EIYA races at Croton in 1970. 

 Boreus, ghosting back into the pits.       Warm weather made breakdown a lot easier! 

More edited footage from Saturday sailing. Watch first 30 seconds for A Boat race start & a wild hike!  Also DN sailing with 3rd generation iceboater from the Burger family.  Nice hiking here Daniel!

Saturday, March 6, 2021

One last sailing weekend - with an awesome collection of antique stern steerers! March 6, 2021 with new video.

 After a few good weekends of sailing on the Hudson at Athens, the river ice was quick to break up after a few warm days and strong winds.     Those warm days though,  were enough to help local snow covered lakes to smooth out & with a string of cold nights we were rewarded with nice hard surfaces with sufficient thickness.  This set up nice ice at Orange Lake, which had been snow covered for some time, and the southern fleet of ice yachts were rigged for sailing this first week of March. 

High winds limited sailing late this week but Saturday saw some spirited racing and a strong hand on the tiller was needed to keep the boats down! It was cold, gusty and a fabulous gathering. The Lawrence family again extended themselves most graciously making visiting sailors most welcome & well fed.  A big contingent of ice yachts from Red Bank, NJ arrived and we had a great showing of big & small classic stern steerers for  racing & pleasure sailing. Other ice boats included Arrow class, DNs,  & Lockley skimmers.  

Hudson River Ice Yacht Club boats included:   Ice Queen, Ariel, Whirlwind, Sweet Marie, Genevieve, & Boreus. 

 The fleet from the North Shrewsbury Ice Yacht & Boat Club included  Ymir, Georgie II, Ruth, Phantom, Icicle, Trudle, Old 33, and another D class stern steerer.  

Many of the Big "A" boats ( sail area in the 350 sq ft range) spent the day racing on the North side of the Lake. Gusts up to 20-25 mph had boats hiking at times.  The Whirlwind came down hard from one hike resulting in a break in the starboard side of its hollow backbone. Repairs will be forthcoming before she is ready to race again.   Boats traded first place finishes over the many races, including Ariel, Georgie II, Ice Queen & Ymir.    

Ice Queen, Ymir, Ariel ready to race.   These are considered "A" boats - "A" being class size of ice yachts with 350 sq ft of sail area.                                                                      photo courtesy of Dave Drawbaugh

Outside the race course Skippers gave rides to friends and onlookers. Don sailed Sweet Marie , which he recently acquired from the Gilbert family, who had sailed & maintained her since 1900 at least. 
Capt. Steve took young and old out on Boreus &  Brett used the party boat cockpit of Genevieve to take many out for rides.  

Looks like there is one more day of sailing at Orange Lake, boats will likely be dismantled as the upcoming second week of March is bringing very warm temps which will end the season. 

Here's a short video from Glen. It captures the very beginning of one of the A boat races - if you look carefully you'll see Georgie in a nice hike;  The majority is Glen in his DN, chasing Capt. Steve on Boreus, around the Lake.  Nice capture Glen!

So great to see Sweet Marie ( circa 1900) back in action!  She last sailed in 2004 on the Hudson at Rokeby.  I recall former long-time owner & skipper Tom Gilbert sailing her on Orange Lake in the late 90s.  He told me the story of he and his family fashioning the new backbone for her in the 1930s.  

Captain Steve, giving some young sailors their first ice boat ride.  Ice Yacht Boreus ( circa 1924) 


the"pits".. there were about 20 boats on the ice. Boats took a break from high winds for a wonderful feast on shore. 

Food nourishment, giving old bones and muscles a needed break...  Thanks Rick & Jane!!

It was so nice to be at Orange Lake again. There is a lot of ice boat history here, and  nice to be part of a new chapter. 

GeorgieII, Ariel, Ice Queen.    Georgie & Ariel have been racing and sailing for over 110 years!  


Ymir was built by George Buckhout in Poughkeepsie. 
She eventually ended up in NJ with the Red Bank club.

Ruth, formerly known as"Red Jack" She sailed at Orange Lake in the 60s. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Incredible Day at Athens 2/21/21


Photo courtesy of Bob Wills

Beautiful sunshine; good wind (shifty winds with sudden puffs, but less intense as Saturday); there were 2 more DNs and 2 Arrow class boats.  The large expanse of ice got a lot smaller today with many boats, people, dogs, kite skiers and even more people.  You needed to be very alert to keep clear of the throngs.  All went well!  also... Hot pancakes and muffins;  an impromptu accordian-tuba band; Spinning tops; lots of smiling faces.  A glorious day on the ice! 

Steve's Boreus; took many guests for fast rides! 

Greyhound - Her first sail with new caretaker John. Fine day sailing with family & friends! 

Took a nice late afternoon sail on Vixen. Sail plan looks a bit different from this angle.  Vixen's owner, Reid,  again gave many many rides to young & old alike. John A. Roosevelt's yacht, built in 1885. 

You never know what might materialize at an Ice Yacht gathering....  accordions and tuba serenade the ice boaters...  ( You may remember the Brass Band at Astor Point in 2014)

and giant spinning wooden tops! care of Paul ... 

Breakfast Crew provided pancakes, muffins, bacon & coffee...  photo courtesy of Bob Wills


Boats wrapped up tight in the cove.  Maybe more sailing in days to come??  Will watch ice conditions this week - always ready to mobilize quickly if we need to get boats off the ice.  

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Athens - 2nd weekend 2-20-21

 A large crowd gathered on the ice in the cove behind the historic Van Loon  House in Athens on Saturday. The snow left from the storm of Thursday-Friday reduced to about 2 inches. The brisk winds helped the boats runners cut through the fluffy snow well.  Boats navigated in gusty and shifty winds, making for some tricky sailing with a steady hand on the tiller and keen readiness for wind shifts. Some folks were able to catch a ride, and Reid gave a steady stream of on lookers fast rides on Vixen. Puff caught a strong gust resulting in a tear in her old mainsail. We'll have to locate another 250 sq ft mainsail to get her up and running again.

The marconi-rigged Boreus (circa 1924)  arrived, bringing the total number of stern steerers to six.  There were 2 DN class bow steerers, an Arrow, and a Lockley skimmer. It was a lovely day on the ice, with Chef Kendall brewing up a pot of hot dogs. 

Another day on the ice Sunday! 

The boats are in a nice protected cove with easy access. Close to a hundred folks came and went over the morning & afternoon.
     2 seater Arrow class.  

Vixen, Dan the kite skier, Puff, Mary Ellen
Puff just wrapped up her mainsail after it tore. 

 Vixen, Mary Ellen, Puff (earlier) 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Wednesday at Athens...from above!

Some beautiful images from Wednesday, 2/17/21
Aerial photos courtesy of Daniel Spitzer 

These photos courtesy of and copyrighted by Daniel Spitzer. 

And, here's some great drone footage of Flare on the Athens ice sheet, 2/17/21.  
Many Thanks to Derek Brown for sharing. 

Video courtesy of Derek Brown

Another great video, courtesy of Jesse Turnquist 

Waiting out the latest snow...


 Greyhound (circa 1905), with her new caretakers arrived Thursday. She is originally from the Huntington estate in Staatsburgh.  There was no wind & no sailing.  3-4 inches of snow fell Thursday into Friday. Will be seeing if surface recovers enough to be back out on the weekend.

Meanwhile, here is a movie made by Sam Sebren, with footage from the last time we sailed Athens in 2009. Ice Boating in Athens.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

"In Their Own Words" - Ice Boating narratives - courtesy of Dutchess County Historical Society. Ice conditions--->

Picture image from PPLD

another boat, just south of the RR Bridge - circa 1890s ( photo via Bob Wills)

The Dutchess County Historical Society has been digitizing some of their books and putting them on line. I recently stumbled on In Their Own Words - Telling Dutchess County History.  I had seen this book in the past - Reid Beilenberg had a copy - it contains a chapter on ice boating reminiscences by various ice sailing figures from the 1800s.  There are some great first person narratives from Norman Wright, John A. Roosevelt, and Archie Rogers, along with other Poughkeepsie figures or journalists.  excerpts follow:

Norman Wright was a skilled ice boat skipper who sailed in many of the early races for the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant, at the helm of his yacht  AEolus. He was a well known rower and sportsman in Poughkeepsie in the late 1800s: this is from 1887 on his scull on the Hudson.  Pok Library

John A.Roosevelt talks about his daughter Ellen, who is a skilled skipper. Archie Rogers talks about the challenges of downwind sailing. A journalist tells of getting a ride on Vixen on a blustery day.  

There's another short story about getting a ride with Lewis Buckhout on his boat Willie. Lewis would

set up at the foot of Main Street and give folks a ride on his iceboat (not sure if he charged!) 

I have seen ads for his services in old news clippings. A brief news report from 1886.: 

In Their Own Words

You can purchase your own copy at DCHS

Visit the Dutchess County Historical Society for more Dutchess County history. You can access some of the yearbooks that have articles on Ice Yachting.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Athens, Happy Valentines Day!

Well, the wind was not fresh today! Nary a puff came up till a few late afternoon teases. Still, it was a wonderful day on the ice with many visitors. It was nice to be with people again (distanced and masked, for the most part) and see old friends. I ran into one old timer who lives in Athens and recalled iceboating here  60 years ago.  No new boats arrived and talk was about what to do with upcoming storms. For the time being boats are battened down and we may move them on Monday up to Hagers Harbor, a quarter mile north, to ride out the upcoming weather. 

Sails up, wind down.  

Vixen, chasing a light breeze, late afternoon, Valentines Day.  MaryEllen in background.

following photos courtesy of,  and copyrighted by Robert Near.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

A day at Athens-on Hudson!

 I finally got up to Athens today. Conditions are good still- 5-6 inches of ice with an inch of dry snow on top. We sailed a roughly 1/2 mile wide by 3/4 mile long stretch on the west side of Middle Ground Flats - the "island" that separates Hudson & Athens. This stretch comes in now and then as the channel - and  River traffic -  travel the east side. We had great sailing here in 2001 & 2009.  

By the end of the day there were 6 antique stern steerers and several dns; Good friends Glen & Daniel Kite Skied the sheet. We look to get a dusting of snow overnight, though wind forecast is not looking too good Sunday.  Boats will be out regardless.

There was some nice sailing today. The wind came and went and there were some lulls. Still, many folks who wandered onto the ice got their first iceboat ride.  Out on the ice were Vixen (1885), Icicle ( circa 1920s); Puff (1872ish), Lady (1940s?); Mary Ellen (1870s)  & Commodore Bob's new Herreshoff designed boat were fully rigged as the day came to a close. 

The week ahead looks to be snowy, but potential warming and rain at the end of the week may give us good conditions next weekend.  Stay Tuned...

Mary Ellen ( circa 1875)  and Vixen ( 1885)  These 2 boats raced in 1968 on Orange Lake for the Hudson River Challenge Pennant.  At the end of the day , Vixen took pennant home. 

New addition to Hudson River fleet.  Commodore Bob's stern steerer, designed by Herreshoff.  

Chris, New Skipper of Mary Ellen.  John Vargo was long time owner of Mary Ellen. John found "Wildcat" in the rafters  of a railroad shed in Ossining in the earl 60's.  He renamed her MaryEllen, after his wife. John sailed her for 40 years, winning many races on Orange Lake in the 60s and 70s. Ironically, Mary Ellen last sailed Athens in 2001 and afterwards was stored in a warehouse there. Chris & Annika recently acquired her and here she is rigged for the first time in 20 years, back on Athens ice!  

 Mary Ellen's design points back to the 1870s, based on the wooden side-rails and mast step placement. She's had some modifications over the years.  

Young adventurer and his dad getting a sail on Vixen with Reid.  We need young sailors!!

Icicle, a D class stern Steerer from the New Jersey Ice Boat and Yacht Club.  Skipper Mike has brought Icicle  up to the Hudson Valley several times to sail in recent years.  This Icicle is from the 1920s.