The Iceboating Song

Illustration from St. Nicholas magazine, February 1879.

The classic book Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates deserves a slot in any iceboating book collection because it describes ice yachts in beautiful detail. The author, Mary Mapes Dodge, may have acquired some knowledge of ice sailing living in New York and New Jersey. Dodge edited a famous children’s magazine for many years, and she included iceboat plans and articles in several of the issues. In 1879, the magazine St. Nicholas published “The Ice Boating Song.” Dodge put music to the song from her famous book.

From Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates

Just then a beautiful iceboat with reefed sail and flying streamers swept leisurely by. Its deck was filled with children muffled up to their chins. Looking at them from the ice you could see only smiling little faces imbedded in bright-colored woolen wrappings. They were singing a chorus in honor of Saint
Nicholas. The music, starting in the discord of a hundred childish voices, floated, as it rose, into exquisite harmony:

Dutch Iceboat Art School

Dutch engraver Claes Jansz Visscher, 1608

While researching for another article, I reacquainted myself with the iceboating art collection of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Along with being the first to add runners to a boat, the Dutch appear to be the first to document the beauty and grandeur of ice sailing visually. Wikipedia says about those early days, “Dutch painters, especially in the northern provinces, tried to evoke emotions in the spectator by letting the person be a bystander to a scene of profound intimacy.” The paintings and engravings in the collection date from the early 1600s to the late 1800s and can be downloaded from the Rjiksmuseum in higher resolution.

4LIYC Racing Update for February 13-14, 2021

The Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club will not be holding racing this weekend of February 13-14, 2021. The sign above explains all – too much snow on area lakes. Next 4LIYC racing update is February 19, 2021.
Meanwhile, over in Holland, the birthplace of our sport, they have ice for the first time in 10 years! Every iceboat in the entire country must have been sailing in Holland today.

Distraction of the Day: Curious & Rare & BERZERKER

Ye Olde Party Boat

Museums and archival websites have flung opened their virtual doors and allowed access to their archives to help us while away the hours. Stumbled across this print dated from around 1600 on the British Museum website. It’s purported to be the earliest representation of an iceboat – Dutch, of course. The artist took some liberties because a 10 person iceboat would need some good breeze to get going not to mention the impossibility of handling the boat around such a twisty narrow track.

Seeing this 10 person iceboat brought to mind one of the greatest ice sailing projects ever seen, executed by the Toledo Ice Yacht Club in 2007, the BERZERKER. She was built to be a one-weekend party boat, a stern steerer assembled from what ever they found laying around. BERZERKER gave many people their first iceboat ride during that Winter Carnival weekend on Lake Erie.