As we wait for the first “first” (ice), here’s some philatelic news. The U.S. Post Office released the 14-cent Iceboat stamp on March 23, 1985, at ROPEX, the annual stamp show in Rochester, New York. The postcard and envelope, featuring a Nite, was one of 324,710 first-day covers cancelled and was in a collection of postcards and ephemera mailed to me by Don Fischer of Michigan. The stamp’s artist, William H. Bond, created 58 U.S. postage stamps, including a series of 50 World War II commemorative issues. Tip of the Helmet: Don Fischer
Andy Gratton and Michael Kroll were the first in the Oshkosh area to iceboat this year off south shore, launching from the Fugleberg Park landing recently. Both live nearby in Oshkosh so when any equipment breaks or needs replacement, it is a quick trip home for the needed parts. Continue reading.
Via WSSA Secretary Andy Gratton:
The Wisconsin Stern Steering Regatta has been called on for Oconto City Park which is about 2 miles south of Oconto, Wisconsin on the bay shore. The intersection to Hwy 41 is at Frog Pond Road.
Ice access is from a 400′ beach with the ice close to shore frozen to the bottom. It is not recommended to drive more than a few truck lengths onto the ice. A four wheeler will be available to pull trailers onto the ice. Heavy trailers can park on the ice next to shore to off-load. The wind forecast is not great but this may be the last chance for WSSA this season. First race is scheduled for Saturday, March 6 at noon.
There is an EconoLodge in Oconto with rooms at $70 with pool, hot tub, and continental breakfast.
600 Brazeau Ave, Oconto, WI 54153 Phone: (920) 834-5559
An example of a lateen rigged stern-steerer with an A-frame style mast.
Wisconsin Stern-Steerer Association Secretary Andy Gratton passed along this story from Steve Maniaci of Michigan about Little Bay de Noc and a stern-steerer with an unusual mast.
That capsizing photo (see “Who Did It Better?“) brings back memories on Little Bay de Noc, back in January of ‘69. My girlfriend and I were in my dad’s four-place stern steerer, going east and west along the leeward south shore of Gladstone’s waterfront with a strong north wind. Things were going well until I went beyond the power plant point and caught the full broadside blast of wind coming unimpeded from Rapid River.
We went up and over in a heartbeat. Thankfully, my girlfriend was wearing an insulated snowmobile suit that cushioned the blow. I was never so thankful for my old motorcycle helmet as that day.
I don’t know what the technical name is for that type of mast. We just called it a wishbone mast. The two parts of the wishbone were anchored to a metal bracket on the cross plank and were quite a ways out towards the runners. They came together with a metal bracket that held a large pulley for the mainsail halyard. The masts leaned forward and were held in place by two metal bars anchored to the nose bracket that also anchored the guy cables to the plank to the nose.
My dad bought it in the mid-’60s from Atley Peterson, an old Swede from Escanaba. Atley and his family built it, and he said they had clocked it at 90 mph back in the ’40s. The solid wood beam that makes up the body that everything attaches to has weakened with age and is no longer safe. The last time I sailed, it was on Little Traverse Bay in the late ’80s.
Iceboating is exciting and exhilarating, but it is so loud. I much prefer sailing my Boston Whaler Harpoon 5.
Michigan’s Bill Parker converted his grandfather’s 8 mm ice boating films and uploaded them to YouTube. Take a look.
My father, Bill Parker, and my Grandfather, Howard Parker, built, sailed, and raced iceboats in the Battle Creek, Michigan area. These 8mm films are from the WWII era, primarily after the war. They were scanned from very neglected originals, and the quality is really bad. The original “cinematography” wasn’t great, and Dad was good at taking film of rig or boat details. Much of the footage is relatively static in nature, but there are action shots of iceboats here and there.
The most common iceboats shown are C-class, there is an A class boat or two, and also Skeeters. Grandpa owned an A-class boat for a few years called the “Gossoon”, and later, a Skeeter named “The Duchess.” Dad’s C-Class boat was “Valkyrie”.
I am sure of the Gouguac and Crystal lake venues, but unsure if the other venue is Lake St. Clair. I know they raced there, but also in Wisconsin venues. If you have any information about the venues or the boats, please feel free to comment. [On the YouTube page.]