DRIFTER: Now in Stereo

DRIFTER Archives
C Skeeter Archives

Pat Heppert’s seeing double and working like a madman up in MN to get ready for the season.

Best ISA rule ever: “ 5.4 Each yacht shall carry on both sides of her hull a name, of the owner’s selection, in letters not less than 3” high, in a color contrasting to that of the hull side.” It’s an official rule, not a suggestion. But how do you go about picking a name? A proper yacht would bear the name of the owner’s spouse (like the Mary B), but these modern ice missiles are far from proper yachts, I don’t think they even float. Some pick a clever play on words relating to the cold winter (Icicle, Ice Scream, Frozen Asset). Others incorporate the boat design name (Nite Flight, Good Nite, Whizz kid, Wizzard, Cheese Whizz). Some have admitted their personality in their boat name (Instigator, Notorious, Rebel). Still others name it after their favorite things in life (see Ken Kreider).


So what’s with this total lack of creativity to pick a new name for the new boat. It turns out, I don’t have a choice anymore. A while ago, when in high school, I was sailing a DN that was super fun, but when it hit a snow drift, it seemed to either just stop, or hike up, or get kind of airborne. Meanwhile, Dad was right next me in his 700 lb Class E skeeter, and he would go right through the drift which would just absolutely explode into a spectacular white cloud of powder, and keep rumbling down the ice without any loss of speed.


So when we built my Renegade a couple years later, we had to pick a name. I thought “Drifter” because I wanted to blast through snow drifts just like Dad. Fast forward a few decades and the name kind of stuck. Every winter it seems like I am approached by multiple people who don’t really know my name, but instead ask me “Are you the Drifter?”. So I have finally come to terms with the fact that indeed I have no choice, it turns out that I am the Drifter.


Pat Heppert

C-Skeeter “Drifter” I-291

“Tool Porn”

“To Bodge (v), to make or repair hastily, to MacGyver”

Spaight St. Syndicate
The Spaight Street Syndicate expands its footprint. Via Daniel Hearn:

A sure sign that you’re a major dork is when certain tools tickle your loins. Guilty. But come on, check out this bad girl! If you’re like me, you’ve been lusting after the perfect re-saw machine since you skinnied your first board. Miss August, Tilly Tannewitz, boasts a 5 horsepower motor that will rip your hardwood quicker than a sailor draining a bottle of rum. She insists that Sitka is for sissy saws, but she doesn’t judge, so she’ll still entertain wuss wood. Touch her button and she slowly winds up until she’s a screaming mad woman just daring you to test her metal. With a 1″ carbide-toothed blade, she’s not slowin’ down for nobody. And if you think you need a rounded fence to keep her tracking down the center, forget about it! Set your thickness, and she’s as straight and true as they come.


Tilly is a relatively new addition to the Bodgery, a community shop that I joined just before COVID.  Until now, I’ve never found an economical resource for re-sawing lumber. By the time I would pay a set-up fee and then the hourly rate for cutting at a professional shop, it would still be cheaper to waste a lot of wood in the planer. At $12 per board foot, I just couldn’t do it. So, on my current projects, I ripped the boards to 4″ width, then re-sawed, then planned, then glued the boards back together to get the widths I needed. Material efficient, but labor intensive. Tilly can resaw up to 13″ of hardwood, barely breaking a sweat. I’ve completed my Tilly training, so if you need something re-sawn for your next iceboat build, feel free to hit me up.

A few weeks ago, fellow C Skeeter builder Pat Heppert came to Madison to pick up some high-tech foam to build C Class Skeeter masts. The day started in the original compact basement workshop of the Spaight Street Syndicate, then over to the Bodgery to cut the foam, and then finished at the SSS Launchpad shop.

Getting Framed 2: Still Somewhat Confused

Previous: “Getting Framed
Pat Heppert checks in with a note about his summer project, a new C Skeeter build and his continuing travails with “ACME” customer service.

Wide Hull Somewhat Explained, Still Confused

The ACME Corporation. Wide selection, instant delivery, questionable quality.

The next shipment arrived from ACME Iceboats Inc., and now it is clear why the frames for the new hull are so messed up looking. The mainsheet assembly actually is about a foot and a half wide. But it seems to have three ropes instead of just one and definitely doesn’t seem to belong on an iceboat. May have been a shipping error. So I got on the phone with customer service again, and they insist that this is what I ordered. How exactly do you expect me to deal with three ropes in the cockpit? “Well, sir, the problem is that you failed to also order our rope-less cockpit conversion upgrade”. They didn’t have pictures of this in the catalog; apparently, it is still under development and doesn’t come with a warranty. Again with the credit card, will see what shows up. But what are all three of these ropes for? “Sir, you need to pull on one of them for more power and pull on the other one for more speed.” That explains two of them, but then I asked what is the third one for? “You pull really hard on that one when you want to beat Daniel Hearn.”

Pat Heppert

Getting Framed

Pat Heppert’s next Class C Skeeter build begins with Acme, where “Quality is our #1 dream.”

The other day I was so inspired by everyone else’s summer iceboat projects that I had to start one of my own. So I went on the internet and ordered up a complete iceboat frame kit from ACME Iceboats Inc. (www.acme-iceboats.com).

When the UPS driver showed up with the big box, excitement quickly turned to disappointment. This doesn’t look anything like what I ordered, so I called customer service to complain. Why are all the frames black, and why did you overcharge my credit card? Customer service said, “This is because your order clearly specified you wanted the INSANITY option” No idea what that means, but it seems like a Dan Clapp reference. When I asked why all the forward frames clearly looked about 10% shorter than the plans, customer service started getting rude and said, “Well, sir, we are fully expecting you to lose some weight before next season.” FAT CHANCE of that happening.


Then I inquired why the aft frames didn’t seem to look anything like the plans. The tail end looks like it is going to be about a foot and a half wide and tapering down to almost no height at the plank. Why in the heck would any self-respecting front-loader possibly be this wide? The discussion went South, and customer service ended the call by saying, “If you are having so much trouble absorbing the simple concept of how to build an iceboat, then you are just going to have to order up our brand new mainsheet assembly and see how it all comes together.” I have no idea what this means, so I just pulled out the credit card and obeyed—no idea what is coming in the next shipment.

Pat Heppert

C-Skeeter “Drifter” I-291