Hudson River Ice Yachting – A Cool Woody Website For The Cold Weather.

Whiff, sailing off Rhinecliff, February 2005. photo by Chris Kendall Source

Boy, I thought Woody Boater was a narrow subject to talk about. And of course when ever I think I know something, something proves me wrong. Thanks to fellow Woody Boater Gene Porter who made us aware of this very cool group on the Hudson.

Gene Porter at Hyde Park in a less icy setting. Thanks Gene!

This very cool website on historic, antique classic ice boats! A Woody Boater blog on ice boats! Dang, and it rocks. Great writing, great photos, great everything. Brian Reid is fantastic at making sure all the info and passion is presented well. The gang cleary is into the look and feel, the lifestyle and culture of classic Ice yachting. A huge hats off to these guys for reminding us that woody boating is all year around!

Whiff, on the Hudson River, circa 1881. (Image from the Roosevelt library archives) Source

This stuff almost … allllmost makes me want to live on a lake in cold weather. I said almost. By the way, a reminder, just less that 3 months and we will be on lake Dora. but in the meantime , enjoy and bask in the coolnesss of vintage woody ice boating! Thanks to White Wings And Black Ice at Hudson River  Ice Yachting


North Wind on the Hudson River, off Rhinecliff several years ago. ( Photo by Chris Kendall)

North Wind on the Hudson River, off Rhinecliff several years ago. ( Photo by Chris Kendall) Courtesy

20 replies
  1. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    Wow that is cool, it’s also cold. Oh oh, my IPad froze. That’s cold, that really looks like fun. I remember about two years there is a group trying to get this added as an olimpic sport.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I have a couple friends with DN’s, the ice boat named after the Detroit News. The precautions they take in case they go through the ice are sobering. Proper gear to survive the plunge, plus spike tools to give you the trip to pull yourself out on wet slippery ice.

    Other than that, they are very fast and a ton of fun.

  3. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I have seen some cool ice boats here in the Atlantic North East (ANE) but never the size and scope of this one in the header. I don’t recall ever seeing one with a jib. most of them have been about the size of a Sailfish, Sunfish or maybe a Laser.

    Matt you have to remember also that the window/season is very limited, even if you live on a lake, because once you get any significant snow on top of the ice you can no longer sail on it.

  4. Bob Kays
    Bob Kays says:

    Lake Hopatcong was and still is a popular ice sailing location. Last winter our ice sailors were gifted with a few weeks of great ice ( no snow). Hop our friends on the Hudson had the same conditions. A vintage view

  5. Wolfgang
    Wolfgang says:

    Sailed on hard water in Bay City MI area for 40+ years of my life. We averaged 30 to 60 mph. The record was once 144 mph. Most likely higher now. A major adrenalin rush. Cool stuff ice sailing.

  6. Kent
    Kent says:

    The DN World Championships are scheduled for January 24-31. And here is the catch… we wont know the exact location (except somewhere in North America) until 9 PM the 21st. Sailors from Germany, Poland, Holland, Russia, Sweden and other countries will fly into Chicago, Detroit, and Boston and prepare for what could be a long trek to the best ice available. We expect to have over 100 competitors if the weather will cooperate. About 90% of these boats are made of Spruce and Plywood. (There are a few fiberglass ones). About 60% of them are home-built.
    I will try and send some updates on the regatta progress.

    • Cobourg Kid
      Cobourg Kid says:

      Kent thanks so much for Info!

      Please let us know the as soon as the host lake is selected

      I haven’t seen a DN regatta since the 1980s when I witnessed one on Lake Simcoe and I would love to be a spectator again, that is if the event took place in upper NY state, or even better in Ontario; after all you did say it will be held “somewhere in North America”!

  7. Cobourg Kid
    Cobourg Kid says:

    Rhythm in Motion —Set to the sounds of the Bard College Brass Band, a flock of historic “stern steerers” dance their way across the icy Hudson in this captivating video shot off Astor Point NY during March 1 & 2, 2014. Enjoy !

  8. Alex
    Alex says:

    I’m with Troy. Never seen one with a jib. These are also beautiful boats. They look fast just sitting there. Thanks for posting this.

    Incidentally, I looked up the world’s largest iceboat. It’s “The Deuce,” a 54′ stern steerer. Wow! Check out her steering wheel.

    • Kevin Kemper
      Kevin Kemper says:

      Sailing at a speed faster than the speed of the wind has long been possible. Without getting too technical, it is due to what sailers will call the “apparent wind” which is the speed of the air moving across the boat, not the actual wind speed. For example, if you are on a bicycle, the wind in your face is the “apparent wind” because you are moving through the air. Same on a sailboat. As a sailboat picks up speed, you adjust the trim of the sails to compensate for the apparent wind, by hauling the sails in generally. The faster you are going, the faster the apparent wind, and the boat will harness that for increasing speed. The limiting factors in a theoretical sense are friction and direction relative to the actual wind. Perhaps ironically, the slowest heading for most sailboats is on a reach, where the wind is at your back and there is little to no apparent wind factor to increase your speed.

  9. Kent
    Kent says:

    I think what will be of special interest to you folks is the Annual “NorthWest Regatta” You will find the largest array of ice yachts ranging from DN’s to High-Speed Skeeters (with the fighter-jet-style domed cockpits, and of course the Mighty DUECE! This is the one place where you will see the most classic “stern-steerer” ice yachts at once! I am not sure of the date of this event, as it tends to change with the weather. But you are most likely to see it posted (and a whole lot of other iceboating things) at this site:

  10. Tom Bradley
    Tom Bradley says:

    I’ve sailed a DN on the St. Lawrence River for about 20 years.As they say what a rush,your laying down in the hull ice chips flying over you hitting your face shield at plus 40 mph and then you spin. Due to health reasons my ice boat sits in my shed while I spent the winters if Ruskin Fl waiting for the Mt Dora show watching the weather reports close to zero in the bay right now
    great sailing weather. At the turn of the century at the turn of the century they had some large boats at the big estates on the river I have a boom from one of them about 30 ft long. It must have been a large boat. Tom

  11. Erich
    Erich says:

    Here is a 1920 era stern steerer that was updated throughout its racing career. She went from gaff rig to Marconi rig, to a rotating wing spar, to fully battened heavy Dacron sails, etc. It also has a mainsheetbwinch fabricated from a PTO unit off of a 1937 Gravely tractor which coupled with block and tackle yields 144:1 purchase to trim the main.

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