“Madison or Minnesota?”

“Madison or Minnesota?”

Madison or Minnesota? Minnesota C Skeeter sailor Pat Heppert posted the photo and question on Facebook over the weekend. Unfortunately, the Madison area must live vicariously through our Minnesota friends for some time. This Wednesday’s forecast of 64F will not help with ice making in southern Wisconsin, but it’s all downhill temperature-wise from then.

The former Jerry Simon boat SIMONIZED IV belongs to Mike Maloney. Pat and Mike sailed on some beautiful ice north of Brainerd, MN, on Round Lake while the MN DN crowd crossed the highway to sail on 4″ of black ice at Gull Lake.

DRIFTER: Now in Stereo

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

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Coming soon, a new driver in this seat.  Photo: Sean Heavey

Iceboat shops are busy this spring, including Daniel Hearn’s Spaight Street Syndicate. Here’s the latest report.

Is it Groundhog Day, or is this one of those automated Facebook anniversary posts? Well…neither. This is “Weak Moment,” the second C-Skeeter that will come out of the Spaight Street Syndicate. Wisconsin’s C-Skeeter Fleet is doubling in size! A different butt will be seated in the “Original Gangsta/Black Ice” when we’re back in-season.


I must clarify that it makes me uncomfortable talking about other guy’s butts, but I’ll reveal that the owner of this one knows how to make all sorts of sailboats go fast. Whether he’s at the helm, or helping one of his customers. I’ll leave it up to him to expose his butt. Just doesn’t seem appropriate for me to encourage such behavior. At least from another dude.


Not much will be different with boat #2. Hard to improve on Pat Heppert’s excellent design, though Pat is exploring the next generation. The evolution of “Drifter” will be called “Traveler.” Hint…hint. Maybe he’ll shoot Deb some post content to share what he’s been up to. [Yes, please, Ed.]


Weak Moment will be 7% smaller in height and width. That was my original intent with boat #1. In fact, I had completed a full set of bulkheads before getting cold feet hearing stories of claustrophobia. So, I started over. I would have been fine, but I didn’t know any better at the time, so I stuck the work on the shelf. Turns out, it gave me a nice jump start on boat #2.

The ORIGINAL GANGSTER in its original livery.

Cold feet generate a WEAK MOMENT.

Minnetonka is Simonized

Minnetonka is Simonized

At first glance, I had to look closely at this photo, wondering if I’d missed the news that Madison lakes had frozen over while I was at the Western Challenge!
Pat Heppert posted this on his Facebook page on Saturday, December 14th, 2019.

Had a great day on Minnetonka today. A true pleasure to sail along side Mike Maloney and his Jerry Simon built Renegade “Simonized IV”. Unbelievable craftsmanship on that Renegade, and truly legendary. My boat went fine, even with shorty runners. Anyways, sailed Gideon’s Bay, Excelsior Bay, Echo Bay, and along Big Island East to about Harry’s. Ice was rough and snow drifted, but we did fine all day. Many Nites out and 1 DN. I didn’t sail main lake because unknown and unscouted and snow covered so harder to see thickness. But others did and reported main lake had less snow, no drifts, and much smoother. All the usual pressure ridges were in their usual locations on main lake.

DRIFTER Getting Dirty

DRIFTER Getting Dirty

Worlds colliding!

Pat Heppert is temporarily converting his C Skeeter DRIFTER into a land sailor for the September 28 – October 6, 2019 gathering at Alvord Desert in southeast Oregon. Pat writes:

Here’s the latest evolution of iceboat craziness from the shop that is home to the Drifter C Skeeter in Belle Plaine, MN. John Eisenlohr has graciously extended an invitation for iceboaters to join him in the desert for a week of sailing, even going as far as promising iceboaters some seat time in the mini-skeeter fleet.

Sounds like fun, but it seemed like I should be taking a “mini” skeeter of my own. With much advice borrowed from John’s extensive landsailing knowledge, Drifter is in the process of being converted for the task. An extra plank that was previously too short and too soft was stiffened for the added width of landsailing axles. The springboard is completely new just for landsailing. The axles and steering hardware was ordered from Amazon, just search for “C skeeter landsailing conversion kit”, and all the pieces are in the box. Needs paint and trailer modification, but should be ready. Not sure how that canopy/greenhouse thing is going to work out in the hot sun.

Come join the fun! https://www.iceboat.org/2019/07/18/mini-skeeter-invitation/

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