There wasn’t the excitement and activity that surrounded last year’s ice boat rally at Rokeby in Barrytown, but it was a real treat to look out the window and see four boats scooting around at Cheviot Landing several days this week.
At the opening of the Ice Boat Expo at FDR Library and Museum in January, Wint Aldrich, historian and member of the Aldrich family that hosted last year’s event summed up 2014’s rare ice-boating conditions:
This past February brought the most “exceptional conditions of ice-boating on the Hudson in living memory … 15 miles of practically skate-able ice, 15 inches thick,” Aldrich said. “We have all our fingers crossed that this is going to happen again and again. What a treat it would be.”
John Vargo, former commodore of the Hudson River Yacht Club agreed. “It’s once in a lifetime . . . I”ve never seen this many iceboats together on the Hudson, and I’ve been coming here 70 years.”
Over thirty boats and thousands of spectators gathered on the ice. Some of the ice yachts were over one hundred years old, and two, the Jack Frost and the Rocket, both restored and both about 50 feet tall, sailed with each other for the first time after about a century. Spectators dragged coal stoves down onto the ice and danced around the boats to music from a brass band from Bard College.
But no, it didn’t happen again this year. Our little ice boat rally was much smaller and quieter.
The 2015 season started when Lee was walking the dogs down by the river. He met some of the hopeful boaters who had driven up from Newburgh looking for suitable conditions. They came back with friends and boats the next day and we watched them set up and take off. They’ve been back several times. Lee spent time down by the landing filming, and one of the boaters asked him if he wanted to go for a ride.
I would have said yes —