The boats and history of our southern friends at the Skeeter Iceboat Club are featured in the winter 2021 issue of At The Lake -Geneva Lakes Area Magazine. Check it out here. Tip of the Helmet: Jane & Susie Pegel
Some of the ice sailing community may be spending more time at home this winter than on the ice – depending upon local conditions. If sailing is impossible this season, let the internet help you explore more about the sport and its history in the form of online books. This is the first in a series of posts about ice sailing books.
I stumbled across a new-to-me resource, the HathiTrust digital library. What a surprise to find a complete digital version of Frederic Gardiner’s Wings On The Ice. Published in 1938, Wings On The Ice has been one of the most sought after ice-sailing books in North America for many years. My copy was an eBay purchase that cost the equivalent of a gallon of epoxy and hardener.
I learn something new or relearn something forgotten each time I open Wings On The Ice. For instance, Harry Melges Sr. is listed along with Walter Beauvais -Beauvais is credited with originating the Skeeter class – as a designer of the Four Runner Iceboat. (See Iceboating Tech That Never Caught On.)
Wings On The Ice is loaded with such a great wealth of information that I could devote a whole year of website posts to it. Speaking of relearning things forgotten, the book also references some of the earliest plans for ice yachts from Fredrik Henrik af Chapman’s book, ArchitecturNavalis Mercatoria published in 1768. (See Chapman’s Iceboat Plans of 1768.)
If ice sailing building, racing, and history interest you, pull up a chair to the virtual fire, turn on the e-reader, and immerse yourself in the details of this sport.
Via Susie Pegel:
Williams Bay, Wisconsin (“Iceboat Center of the World”) is celebrating its Centennial in 2019. It has been 100 years since being incorporated as a village. Four booklets are now on display at the Barrett Memorial Library in Williams Bay:
1)”Iceboating and the Skeeter Ice Boat Club”
2)”Jane Pegel—Iceboat Champion”
3)”The Williams Bay Sailing Club”
4) “Dr. Clifford Y. Wiswell—Town Doctor”
A series of special events will be taking place during the year culminating on October 19 with the big blowout celebration including food, beverages, entertainment, bike parade and more!!
Waiting for ice sailing conditions to return gives more time to post the historical items. The invaluable Brian Reid of New York recently shared some history in the form of a letter from the Palmer Boat Company written in 1936 to a New Jersey iceboater. Brian wrote:
I was going through some images on a snow day here and came upon a few things from out your way. These come from a scrapbook that Greg Strand recently acquired on behalf of the North Shrewsbury Iceboat & Yacht Club of New Jersey; Greg is archivist/historian of the Red Bank crew.The scrap book belonged to George Seger – an active NJ ice boater in the 30s and 40s – he’s in Wings on the Ice (p. 59). Greg called me and I took digital images of as much as I could. Great stuff.
As you see in their elegant letter head, the Palmer Boat Company of Fontana, Wisconsin was an early builder of scows and iceboats. Many vintage Palmers have come across the Buy and Sell page of this website over the years. A quick internet search about Palmer boats turned up some interesting facts. Buddy Melges’ father, Harry Sr., worked for Palmer before starting Melges Boatworks. Maine iceboater Bill Bucholz wrote a story about a Palmer, LINGWES, for the Chickawaukee Iceboat Club that referenced the same Richard Moeller as in this letter to Mr. Seger. Thank you, Brian, for sending this out our way.
Previous: Palmer on the Prairie,, December 2, 2016 on iceboat.org.
If you interested in the early history of ice sailing in the United States and efforts to maintain and sail historic Stern Steerers, Brian’s website, White Wings and Black Ice is a must read.