Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ice Yachting

There's a sheet of clear ice locked in place on the banks of Athens, just 20 miles north of Tivoli on the Hudson's west shore, and ice boats are taking full advantage. If you've been around here any length of time, you've heard about ice boating. You may even know that FDR had a boat named The Icicle. You probably also know that the ice just doesn't set up every winter, but this year the wicked cold nights have been kind to the yachting set.

The ice in Athens is so good, in fact, that cars from as far away as Maine and Quebec are parked in the DEC Boat Launch this weekend. And a half-dozen boats from the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club are in the mix. (I hear the guys from Montreal are itching to race, and they were just pulling in when I left.)

If you don't know ice, you'd think this year's snow would make skating along in an ice boat impossible; but sunny days melt fresh snow, thickening the ice and forming a perfectly level surface. Good thing, too, because these boats can get up to 70 miles per hour with the right wind.

Today was a little gusty, but tomorrow's another day.

The guys ('cause it is mostly guys) who own these boats love the history of their sport as much as they love wind, ice and speed. You'll see rigging that reminds you of the schooners that used to grace the River, and the sound of wind-whipped sails will make you grin. The Hudson River Ice Yachting Club keeps tabs on ice conditions off Rhinecliff, Tivoli Bays and Athens, and the guys can fill you in on the local lore of their sport, which has been going on here since the 19th century.

Parking's tight this weekend, but don't let that deter you. Head up to Athens, now. Cross the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Turn right onto 385 North. Through the Village to the DEC Boat Launch just north of town, and get out on the ice. Dogs, kids, sleds and skates encouraged.

Addendum: The guy out on the ice with the big camera must have been from the Times. Camera envy.


  1. Hi Pam, I had to comment on what really beautiful pictures these are, especially the bottom one. Well, and the top one too. Perfect composition, and color, really classic! Cary Kittner

  2. Thanks, Cary. Hope you got to see the boats this winter.

  3. Tivoli made the Casa Cara blog today...