plan b

Anarchist US772 gives us more insight into the alien world of iceboat sailing, this time from the corner of Montana and a backup plan for a regatta that didn’t happen.  If you’ve got questions about the boat or iceboating, hit the thread. 

Last Tuesday a friend and I set off from Montana to attend the 100 year anniversary of the North West iceboat Regatta held at lake Winnebago in Wisconsin.  I drove the 5 hours from Flathead Lake down to Manhattan, Montana to pick up my friend Lance. We loaded his boat in my trailer and headed East  around 3 am the next day for Wisconsin. We had to leave before the event was officially confirmed to make it on time, if it even happened. We had a back-up plan just in case. 650 miles into our trek the event was postponed. We turned the rig North and head for plan B other wise known as Fort Peck Lake. It was another 150 miles. We arrived about 2pm. The temp was 6 degrees the wind 10 to 20 wind chill -15 degrees F. .

We met Tim there. He informed us earlier in the week about the Lake freezing over with perfect ice. We drove the rig on the ice and unloaded our boats and set them up. It took about an hour and a half to set up due to the extreme bitter cold. This is the first time I sailed the boat that I brought. Its a solid winged boat that I use as a dirt boat. I built it in 2008 and it has been a joy to race and sail as a dirtboat. We proceeded to sail cautiously out on the newest of ice that was about 3.5” thick. The rig was parked on ice that was 24” thick then it went to about 7” thick then 3.5” as the ice froze in stages. We sailed about a half hour and I turned back to get some gopro footage because you just never know if the conditions will be destroyed the next day. I got set up and headed back out until the sun set. I got a bit disoriented trying to find my way back. I couldn’t focus my eyes because it was so cold. I had to intermittently lift up my face shield on the helmet due to it fogging up.

Eventually I figured out what bay I came out of and de- rigged the boat. Fort Peck is part of the Missouri river that Lewis and Clark went up to find the Northern Passage. The dam was constructed during the dirty thirties. Its used for hydroelectric. It’s about 130 miles long with more shore line than the coast of California.   We headed for Glasgow for some warm food and got a place to stay.

Day 3 the temps were a balmy 34 degrees in the afternoon compared to the day before. The winds were forecast for 20 to 30 gusts to 40. The morning was lighter and building as the day went. We arrived back at the lake about 9am and rigged the boats and went sailing. Since it warmed up the several expansion crack formed. We negotiated around several of them to get to the best ice. We sailed until 12.pm before the winds got to strong. We waited until 3:30pm for the winds to come down. It was blowing a steady 18 mph. Lance and I found the next bay over that was about a mile deep and a quarter mile wide at the top and widening as you sailed out of it. We felt it was safe and predictable ice since it had no expansion cracks and was thicker older ice. The wind was piping right down the canyon the bay was in. We sailed until sunset again. It was enough wind for me to reach over 80 mph on the nearly perfect ice. We logged about 40 miles that day.

Day 4 the winds were forecast to be 5 to 10 in the am dropping in the afternoon. We rigged up and went out  about 9 am. The winds were 8 to 12 mph. The ice had healed itself on most all the open cracks from the day before. We sailed until lunch time and logged about 60 miles. I reached a top speed of over 69 miles in the light air. Tim hit over 48 mph in his DN.During lunch the wind died for a bit. It came up again 180 degrees different than predicted at 3 to 5 mph. We pushed out boats about a half mile out to the good ice to go sailing. We got hooked up on the perfect black ice. Lance and I sailed for hours in the steady light air with out having to get out and push once. His boat is smaller and lighter than mine and carries a deep wing mast and a cloth 9 (Cuban Fiber?) sail. When the wind dropped down to 3 he could beat me. When the wind came up to 5 I could beat him. Un fortunately after about 2 hours of sailing I dropped my leeward runner in a crack. Luckily I was not going that fast and I got out unscathed. I ended up bending my runner chock. A nico press let go on my whisker stay allowing the sudden stop to twist the runner plank and fracture my hull at there intersection. For the most part it’s an easy fix since I build the boat. In the 3 to 5 I topped out at about 43 mph. Most likely the top speeds were in gusts. What those were who knows. We logged 106 miles that day.