Original plan. Freezeout Lake, near Choteau, MT, east of Glacier National Park, out on the great plains east of the Divide. Sun, and temps in the forties predicted, but with 30, gusting into the high forties. Too much! So we gaze further east, and a little further south, to Canyon Ferry, which has delivered big fun in the past. With the added bonus of Glenn’s fabulous clubhouse accommodations, and enthusiastic local iceboaters and skaters!
We back down the ramp around 1 pm in glorious sunshine and 8 to 10 kts of breeze, fifteen minutes and we’ve got three mini skeeters rigged, and we launch onto the big lake. Jim’s christening a brand new boat he’s just completed, as well as taking a first bite at skippering his own ice yacht. Ice is a bit rough, diminishing refrozen drifts sapping hard won speed. But we negotiate the obstacles enough to wind them up on the smoother sections, finding sustained speeds in the thirties, bouncing over the bumps. John takes a break to hand off the Kestrel to his brother Scott, who immediately shows that his soft water acumen translates nicely onto the ice.
We pull the new Wingnut V out of the trailer, and begin assembly in the tropical conditions. First time on ice for this machine as well, and when rolling she absorbs the irregularities effortlessly, and powers up quickly, occasionally hiking in this light air. She’s drop dead sexy sitting still, and somehow even more so in motion. But he only gets a half hour of glee before some critical parts land in his lap, and the maiden voyage comes to a close. So he jumps back in the mini skeeter and racks up the miles til sunset shuts off the pressure.
The evening festivities leave us well fed and nicely buzzed. The wind builds thru the night, to boat breaking strengths. With the temps dropping overnight into the twenties, the morning windchill is brutal! We lounge about casually with coffee and conversation, waiting for the predicted moderating. We straggle to the beach after noon, kick the tires, shoot the shit, and eventually rig the small sails. The morning’s squall has further smoothed the surface, leaving a pebbled surface which provides great grip for runners. Which is most appreciated, as maintaining control in the hugely gusty conditions has become a high priority.
This is what we’ve come for! Totally powered up, teeth rattling speeds touching 60 mph, astounding control for boats so small, a welcome confirmation of this terrific design’s high wind capability. The locals stream onto the ice, and the party cranks up! DNs, Nites, and a host of custom machines. Those with high wind sails venture out first, with others following as the breeze eases and settles. Miles are covered. Another big sky sunset drives us ashore, all sporting that iceboat grin!
Sunday morning again dawns clear, and the enthusiasts again assemble at the ice’s edge. Zero breeze, so the drones emerge, the wrenches come out, and skaters set forth. The sunshine and good company is intoxicating, and when the decision to pull the plug finally comes, there are no regrets. We stuff it all back in the trailer, and motor westward, planning the next foray.
Dave and John