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.
In 1878, Harper’s Bazaar Magazine recognized Madison’s prominence in the sport in an article with a now famous engraving that depicts ice yachts and the scenic isthmus. We are still here.
The Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club elections were held Wednesday evening, and our new officers represent every fleet in the club. Daniel Hearn, who sails a DN, C Skeeter, Nite, and Renegade, is our new Commodore. Nite sailor Lars Barber is our new Vice Commodore. Treasurer Jerry Simon will serve another year along with myself as Secretary.
The club extends much gratitude to the previous Commodore Don Anderson and Vice Commodore Tim McCormick for their service.
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.
ESMERELDA was my first iceboat purchased by my parents in 1955 to distract my interests in motorcycles. They bought the boat for $200 from the Bill Rider family, who lived on Lake Monona in Monona, Wisconsin. This picture was the only one I had until the Tim Murray picture arrived.
I am standing next to my aunt Dorothy Chambers, with my cousin Larry both with skates on. The photo was taken off of Yahara Street Park on Lake Monona at the end of Dunning Street in Madison. We sailed out of this park back then and had to carry boats down rock embankment to get on the ice. The iceboaters welcomed us younger guys because lots of labor was needed to take and set up the boats.
Bob Brockel, Harry Fields, and other neighborhood kids were happy to help, hoping for a ride. Phil Sawin would park his “Land Lark” motor home on the grass, which became our headquarters when not on the ice. His white iceboat was called “ICE LARK” and was likely made by the group of early Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club sailors such as Tom Krehl, Paul Krueger, Dave Rosten, Bill Ward, with Bill Mattison and Jack Ripp’s guidance.
As to the name, there were several, depending on the day’s outcome on the ice, but “ESMERELDA” sticks. She was big and slow and would toss you out if you didn’t treat her right—one big momma. We had the most fun when it was windy, sometimes with two or three aboard and one on the end of the plank. The boat slid around because it was impossible to sharpen the runners with my tools. She would spin easily, tossing us out as we would peel off the wind and lose steerage.
Another problem was that the metal bobkin would break off when sailing over rough ice, so I made a wood pattern and cast an aluminum one. Tim Murray’s letter mentions that the boat sat too low on the ice, especially under the mast. Modifying a Carl Bernard creation was not a good idea.
I used her for 2-3 years before buying Jack Ripp’s 2nd Class A Skeeter (a modified Renegade) that I named “PAR-A-DICE.” The Skeeter was faster, lighter, and easier to set up. I’m not sure who bought ESMERELDA from me, but I faintly remember a family off Morrison Street in Madison.
Knowing that Carl Bernard built many Madison-style iceboats, it was likely one of his. Someone said he made nearly 100 over the years in the Bernard Boat Shop, which is now the Hoover Boat House owned by the City of Madison, next to James Madison and Conklin Park.
The Madison-Style Stern Steerer before Jerry Simon owned it. Tim Murray is next to the tiller.
Via Tim Murray:
I came across a slide that my Dad took in the mid-1950s of the iceboat you bought from Bill Rider. My Dad took the photo soon after Bill purchased the boat for his son Gary, my age. The four people on the boat are Dick and Harold George (both deceased), Gary Rider [deceased), and me at the tiller.
I know my Dad took this photo soon after Bill purchased the boat because the boat was already set-up when Bill bought it. The next winter Gary and a few of us set it up once we had good ice. We did not support the middle of the plank correctly when putting it together.
Gary’s idea was to cut some inches off each of the angle planks between the runner plank and the upper plank. I told him not to do that because something just wasn’t right, and we needed to figure it out. Against my advice, Gary proceeded to trim a few inches from each board to fit them in the notches. The modifications caused plank to lose the crown, which meant the boat barely cleared the ice. Rider’s lived on Winnequah Road, so we always had to man-handle the boat when crossing the pressure ridge that ran from roughly Tonyawatha Trail where it meets Winnequah Road to the old ESBMA building on Monona Drive. Dave and John Rosten had to do the same as they lived just a few blocks north of Rider’s.
Many thanks to Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club DN sailor Tim Sugar for sharing this good-news story.
In the Season of Giving, the Sugar families were greeted with not one, but two exceptional surprises.
DNer Mark Isabell was selling his DN trailer to Tim and Hugh and “threw in” two, hand-crafted, Ice Optimist hull’s built by Mark. The only ask was to outfit the hulls and get them on the ice. You’ll see one of these beautiful hulls in the picture of the Sugar kids practicing their Opti skills in the front yard! Thanks so much Mark!
The second surprise came two weeks later, when Renegade sailor Greg Simon, emailed Tim offering two complete ice Optimist programs to the Sugar clan! These hulls were built by Jerry Simon for his grandkids Meta & Fritz. Greg Simon completed the programs by hand sewing Optti sails! Meta & Fritz have outgrown the Optis and the Sugar kids are the proud new stewards of these beautiful boats!
At delivery, the Simon’s rolled out the red carpet. Cheese, sausage, beers, and personalized rigging instructions from the Simon kids were the order of the day. It was an amazing evening of fun! Thank you Simon family, we’re beyond grateful for your generosity.
If there are any families that are interested in trying the Optis, please give Hugh or Tim a call. We are happy to continue the Season of Giving with any interested kiddos.
The Sugar kids have been waiting for this since first being on the ice in 2013 with dad Tim at the Western Challenge.