It’s always good to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. With the C-Skeeter, I buddied up to Pat Heppert, and so far, he’s still taking my calls and responding to my texts and emails. When I got intrigued with fixed wing boats, inspired by Dan Clapp’s W28, I reached out to Wing Wizard, John Eisenlohr, who lives in Montana. I had the pleasure of meeting John and some of the other Montana Ice/Dirt Cowboys on our last trip to Fort Peck. Before I knew it, my W28 wanna-be with DN parts had morphed into a 18 ft. tapered wing and flap, with 30″ removable top sections. Plus, a largely enclosed 13 foot hull, 6 foot springboard, and a 12 foot wide plank. I think they call this phenomenon, “project creep.” What is it with iceboaters, anyway? In the immortal words of Dan Clapp himself, “it’s not like we’re racing!”
Here’s a shot of my main wing as it sits now. I’ve just installed the leading edge pieces, but have yet to shape. My hinge boxes are also ready to be installed on the appropriate ribs. After that, I’ve got some additional internal reinforcing to do, and it’s on to skinning. John normally installs the leading edge blocks after the skinning, using ropes with tourniquet-type devices. I decided to mount leading edge blocks first, so I could just use clamps. Guess I’ll find out if this makes the skinning more difficult.
The Spaight Street Syndicate has a guest columnist this week, DN sailor Erin Bury US5397:
Since the December Spaight St. Syndicate wrote about me, I bought my own iceboat (DN 5397) and sailed it on two occasions – the day I bought it and at the U.S. DN Nationals. At Nationals, it seemed like anything that could go wrong did go wrong – boom jaw broke off, outhaul on the boom that was loaned to me in the wake of the broken boom jaw disappeared mid-warmup (sorry Daniel), and I was catapulted from my DN in a 40 mph gust. What I learned – my boom jaw was overtightened, things can shake loose on chunky ice, and how far a 109-pound human missile can fly when launched 30-40 mph. The launch was due to my plank being too stiff for my body weight and this would need to addressed in order for me to stay competitive (and in my boat).
It may be indelicate for a lady to discuss her weight, but in this sport, weight matters. (Plus, let’s be done with body shaming already.) In ice sailing, one can use her weight to her advantage. An ice sailor gets to tailor her boat to her body instead of tailoring her body to her boat. Imagine having precise input on how something fits you and you do not have to change anything about yourself to make it happen. Cue plank shaving!
Over the course of a weekend, Daniel Hearn (DN 5352, walking encyclopedia of all things sailing, ranked seventh internationally as of the 2020 Gold Cup, and a killer catamaran sailor) and Dave Shea (motorcycle number 426, engineer who races dirt bikes on the ice and motorcycles in the road race circuit) helped me customize the plank on my DN for my weight. First, we measured how much it was bending under my weight, which was around 21 millimeters, while the ideal range is 42-44 millimeters (translation: I was having zero impact on it). We decided on an arc that could be described as “sexy” and began planing the plank. After shaving off large chunks, we started sanding. Once we achieved the desired shape, it was time to set it in stone (or glass). Once the fiberglass was set, it was time to sand it again to remove stiffness and maintain that “sexy” shape. The goal is to have it ready in time for the Western Region Championship; thanks to Daniel and Dave this will be possible.
These are usual growing pains of buying a new toy and learning a new sport. When trying something new, I ask myself “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” I’d get flung from my iceboat a hundred more times if it means I get to learn something. I cannot wait to get out on the ice to see how my boat performs and what I am capable of with a new boom jaw, a secured outhaul, and a newly formed and customized plank. Anything worth doing will come with challenges and opportunities for growth. As my late grandma/best friend/inspiration (who was third in the world as an All-American triathlete) would say, “Live while you are alive.”
Thank you to Dave Shea for being hands-on in helping with this new endeavor and supporting this little lady at the helm!
Extra special shoutout to Daniel Hearn who is a marvelous sailing mentor. I would not have had access to the same resources nor be exposed to as many opportunities in ice sailing. Thank you for all you do for the sailing communities and for supporting newbies like me!
Not a PC headline, but what can you expect from a sport dominated by old white dudes with hair growing out of their ears. Long past time to change our demographics.
Meet Erin Bury. She’s the size of a gymnast with a personality as big as the Deuce. Still in her twenties, she calls the Twin Cities home. She showed up on the catamaran racing circuit last summer with another Gopher and thought ice sailing sounded rad, when she heard us talking about it.
Last weekend, she stepped off a plane from Hawaii jet-lagged, took a quick cat nap, and headed to Lake Christina where she knew we were going to be. After checking out the boats big and small, she was convinced this sport was her kind of thing. Erin also brought her boyfriend, Dave. He’s cool. He brought his dirt bike with studded tires. He even let a couple of old dudes ride it, chiding us to lay it down like we mean it. He’s young and invincible. We know better. Sort of.
Also joining us from the Twin Cities for some tiller time was another cat sailor, Gretchen Wilbrandt. Gretchen’s first DN experience was the World Championships two years ago when she casually mentioned that ice sailing sounded like fun. Another first-timer, Renee Fields, also flew in from Arizona for the Worlds. First time…world championships…no big deal. Chicks rock!
Anyway, back to Erin. This weekend, she and Dave met us at Lake Altoona. Erin was itching to give it a go. Wind was light, but so is Erin, so with a little boost from a powered kick sled, she was up and going. (Side note: We discovered that the sleds are great coaching tools, too. My brother Brian sat on the seat, while I drove. He could easily get Erin started with his foot on the stern, and we both were right there for instructions). Next weekend, Erin will be meeting us on Lake Puckaway, if the weather cooperates for that regatta. Who knows…maybe she’ll be an iceboat owner by then.
Thanks to our friends Tim Mower and Bill Ecklund for inviting us to come and sail with them. And it was great to meet other locals, Dan, Dan and Rolf. Hope to sail with you again sometime.
Hi all. Been a while. Life moves on during our global pandemic. On May 5, I officially became a real old dude. A grandpa. Haven’t started building Dash (Dashel) Daniel Percevecz’s first iceboat yet, but it’s on my list. Much joy, but also heartbreak, as I lost my mom the same day.
Daniel with first grandchild and newest Ice Optimist sailor.
Since my last update, I’ve pimped out my trailer. It’s set up to haul a C-Skeeter, a Renegade and three DNs; with sails, planks and runners for all. Along with a powered kick sled or two. I’ll give you a tour in a future update. Good ride for a Northwest!
Also meet “Tug,” the newest addition to the Spaight Street Syndicate garage. She’s a real tomboy—an electric powered trailer mover built from readily available parts, complete with lights and cup holders. Many thanks to Ken Whitehorse for the welding. I may have understated the task when I mentioned I had a few pieces of metal to weld up. But Ken was a great sport, and we had fun working on the project. I often need to move trailers around by myself, and Tug makes it really easy not only to move, but to position in tight spaces.
The other active project is repainting my Renegade components. Haven’t paid enough attention to the old girl in a while, so she’s getting a new dress. Plank and springboard done, mast going into spray booth tomorrow. Thanks to Jeff Russell for the booth. Left over from his airplane painting years ago, so all I had to do was reassemble and buy new plastic. Came complete with intake filters and an exit fan. Fumes disperse quickly.
So much for now. Grateful to the veterans out there for all they have sacrificed for our freedom. And to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, Rest In Peace. You will always be remembered.
The delivery was scheduled for 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 30. The natural way was not going to be possible, and after nine months, my beloved was ready for this to be over. So I let my household duties slip a bit—what’s a clogged bathroom sink when we’ve got sinks on other floors? And so a couple of kitchen cabinet doors fell off—makes it easier to put stuff in and take stuff out? Little sympathy, here! Can you blame a man in my condition?
I’ve been crying myself asleep nightly ever since she told me she wouldn’t be right at my side. I know she loves me, but she said there are just some things she’s not equipped to handle. I’ve come to understand that the miracle of birth is not just about bringing a new life into this world. It’s also an incomprehensible feat of physics. That… is going to get from here to there, how? Many a visitor, starring at the large mass late in my gestation period, offered their unsolicited input, “dude, that ain’t happen’n.” I appreciated their offer of help.
Now I don’t have the smartest friends, but they weren’t completely wrong. This was not going to be your normal delivery. Only way this girl was coming out was a surgical extraction through a window under the back porch that’s never been opened in the 29 years we’ve lived in the house.
Admittedly, I’m a wuss, so I told the doc to use any scientific crutch available. Accordingly, she instructed the operating team to remove the bubble. “No need to stress the incision any more than necessary.” I nodded my head in agreement, my mind racing with marginally rational thoughts. What if she’s b(road)reach? What if the sheet is wrapped around the steering wheel? What if they drop her? What if she’s an Ohio State fan? I requested the epidural, even though I was having a C-section.
Next thing I know, my little bundle of joy is resting peacefully in her 25 foot aluminum bassinet with tandem torsion axles and electric brakes. Crazy the gear they have for the little tikes these days!
Time to learn to sew, because now my little girl is going to need a blankie.
“What, are you thirteen,” she said rolling her eyes? I had to take a quick mental inventory. Let’s see—I still think there’s nothing funnier than a fart in church. I have many names for my male member, and each includes an adjective found on the Thesaurus page for huge. I burp out loud when I think no one else is around. I sometimes forget to put the toilet seat back down. I think Hershey’s is good chocolate. Even though I know I’m not supposed to, I often cut all the food on my plate at one time, because it’s so much more efficient. “Yeah, pretty much,” I replied. “So, what you’re saying is that C-Man is not an appropriate name for a C-Skeeter driven by a man my age who has four children—three of them daughters?” She just walked away, so I took that as an affirmative. Maybe I can still cancel the decal order.
Probably needs to be more sophisticated to win the approval of my Mrs. I hadn’t recalled asking for her approval, but nonetheless, it became clear that she thought she had a vote. I had carved up the districts within our household trying to prevent that, but clearly my gerrymandering was ineffective.
Maybe something from literature? The classics? Or how about mythology? Those Greeks were so sophisticated they convinced people to see pornography as art. I think the sculptors were just as juvenile as me. Their wives were certainly rolling their eyes when the Mr. was out back in the shed chiseling the fine form of a woman with a righteous amount of junk in the trunk.
There must be a cool-sounding “C” name in mythology, with deep meaning, that would be a fitting reflection of my masterpiece. (Well, it may not be a masterpiece, but it’s the best this paint-by-numbers kind of guy can do). That’s it—Callipygian! I think it’s perfect. And I’ll score points with the Mrs. when I tell her that I named the boat after her. But this time, I’m not disclosing the name until the fat bottomed girl hits the ice.
Now that you’ve Googled my name, let me know what you think. Will I be sleeping on the couch again, or will she be flattered by her juvenile husband of 32 years?