Henry Bossett discovered a vintage cartoon panel that may only make sense to an iceboat builder. When I was a kid, my dad and his fellow 4LIYC members built Skeeters in our basement. Extracting the finished hull out of the basement was a carefully orchestrated affair requiring the removal of doors and windows to navigate the boat out to the waiting trailer. Iceboats are sometimes built or repaired in a dining or living room that has been transformed into a workshop for iceboats.
The cartoonist Quin Hall had a successful career, including a stint at the New Yorker Magazine, but I couldn’t find any connection to iceboating. Perhaps he had a neighbor who faced the same problem when living in New Jersey, near Red Banks.
Tip of the Helmet: Henry Bossett
Just like in the cartoon, these kids are having a blast in their home-built iceboats.
PREVIOUS: From Skeeter Iceboat to Sunfish Dinghy
Dan Heaney has made steady progress with his Alcort Skeeter restoration project in Neenah, WI. As some of you may remember from a previous post, it’s worth noting that the Alcort Company of Connecticut, which initially gained fame for developing the Sunfish, has roots in iceboat manufacturing.
Via Dan Heaney:
The boat is a work in progress as it required some repair and tender loving care. I hope to have it on the ice this winter. A photo shows the remains of the original “Alcort” identifying decal. The decal is located above the steering wheel. The boat has a 75 SqFt sail.
I completed the following work:
Added a Springboard
Adding foot steering
MISS MADISON Archives
In the early 19th century, the first American ice yacht designers tested their ideas near Poughkeepsie, New York, giving rise to the Hudson River style of Stern-Steerer iceboat. Eighty years later, William Bernard, owner of a boat livery on Gorham Street on Lake Mendota refined the Hudson River design and named it after the city where he had grown up.
Many Madison-style iceboats came out of the Bernard Boathouse, winning prestigious ice yachting titles such as the Hearst, Stuart, and Northwest. Eventually, the Hudson River style became more popular, and William and his son, Carl, built the last Madison-style iceboat in 1927, naming her MISS MADISON. MISS MADISON actively raced with the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club. She also competed in the Northwest Regatta and for a famed trophy donated by newspaperman Randolph Hearst. Newspaper accounts and captions from the Bernard scrapbooks mention her skippers as Carl Bernard, Herb Teztlaff, and William Van Keulen. Carl Bernard stated that MISS MADISON “was the best hull ever built” in an interview on tape in the Wisconsin Historical Society archives.
The Bleck family of Monona, WI, bought her sometime between 1940 and the 1980s. Mari Ann Lichtfeld purchased her from the Blecks to surprise her husband, Richard Lichtfeld. Lichtfeld strived to keep her in period condition, which is unusual because most iceboat owners refashion vintage crafts with modern hardware. Lichtfeld and his kids would play hooky from work and school to take advantage of a perfect ice-sailing day on Lake Monona.
MISS MADISON is one of the best-preserved Madison- style ice yachts in existence, thanks to the efforts of her late owner, Richard Lichtfeld.
Mari Ann Lichtfeld donated MISS MADISON to the Iceboat Foundation this week. She’s now safely stored indoors, like she was at the Lichtfeld shop, with MARY B. Thanks to the Lichtfeld family for donating this piece of history.
On her way to join the MARY B.
Dick Lichtfeld left detailed instructions and photos showing how to rig this vintage boat.
Here’s another intriguing discovery shared by Henry Bossett. At the dawn of the age of composites, Popular Mechanics suggested creating iceboat hulls from repurposed jettisoned plastic Naval fuel tank shells.
UPDATE: Here’s a note from someone who actually tried this.
After seeing your last post about discarded fiberglass fuel tanks, I thought I would send you two pictures of attempt by two knuckleheads putting together five pieces of the discarded Navy tanks for soft water version of our boat, later to be converted for use on the ice. The plan was by two seniors in high school to launch our dream boat in Northbrook IL. To then travel down the Mississippi to New Orleans and on return, to add runner plank, mast, runners and sail for our great venture in to ice sailing. Alas, we only made our river trip as far as Wheeling, IL before our spring trip became the second version of the Titanic! All former plans canceled.
Nite 433 & 72
An unusual iceboat from the Richard Lichtfeld collection is up for auction on a website. Many years ago, Richard purchased the CRAWFISH from the Eibisch brothers in Columbus, WI. They presumably built the boat using plans published in a DIY magazine, potentially Modern Mechanics, in the 1930s or 1940s. Download the plans in a pdf file. The auction ends on July 19, 2023.