Monday, January 6, 2014

Ice Sailing on Sprague Lake, WA.

7 am, and the thermo reads out a nice round number, 0 degrees F, the low point in this week of Arctic air sittin' on the Inland NW.  Just enough to finally skim over the shallower lakes in my neighborhood.  Wind predicted, maybe 15 out of the NNE.  I still need to load up, and attend to a task or two on the boat trailer, slow work in these temps! 

Frank and I roll up to Sprague Lake just before noon, under a cloudless sky, greeted by some of the sweetest ice we've ever seen in these few year of pursuing this bizarre hobby.  The breeze is less than predicted, but that makes the low temps tolerable, and this slick surface promises easy gliding.  We've picked up an assistant, a local pilot and skydiver who recognized the contraption atop Frank's Subaru as an iceboat, and pulled him over to inquire.  He helps us rig the two craft, and we launch into light air and glorious sunshine!

For the first time, I've got the runner alignment spot on right out of the box, and with an ever increasing sensitivity to my machine, I can coax her up near 30 mph in the maybe 10 mph puffs, and by studying the telltales and steering lightly, I can keep rolling in the lulls.  So rewarding to be able to see progress in my ability to keep her powered up when there's nearly no pressure.

We carefully expand our terrain, watching for thin ice, and even a couple of holes of open water.   The surface finally froze over when the winds we've had all week finally subsided enough to let it solidify, so there are rough patches separating  magnificent expanses of hard, hard plate so clear you can see bottom 10 feet down.

The precious sun allows us extended rides, with few breaks for adjustments, feeding, and warming up.  The breeze diminishes as the sun seeks the horizon, but I stay for the show, and the ever optimistic hope the wind might wind up for just one more ride, such is the addiction.  I  tear down in the afterglow, and motor home with that ever sought after inner smile.  Season on!

Article by Dave Farmer of Spokane, WA.

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