Welcome to iceboat.org

The Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club is one of the most active iceboat clubs in North America. We’ve been building and racing iceboats for over 100 years in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

Ice Is Never 100% Safe.

Our ice reports are strictly for iceboat racers. Recreational iceboaters, kite boarders, cross country skiers, and ice fishermen should not rely on our ice reports. We have safety equipment. Do you?

Buy or Sell Your Iceboat

One of the best pages in North America to buy or sell iceboats and their parts. There’s also a complete list of vendors who will supply iceboats, sails, and their components.

Common Questions:

How can I get started? How fast can they go? How much do they cost? Is it safe?

Regatta Watch

Information about the ISA, NIYA, WSSA, Nite, and DN regattas.

Iceboat Classes

Learn about Skeeters, DNs, Stern Steerers, Renegades, Nites, and Ice Optimists.

The Rules.

The purpose of iceboat racing rules is to prevent collisions.

Ice Yacht Clubs

The best way to learn about iceboating and make life long friendships is to join a local club.

Why We Sail.

“If all our ice were glass, slightly wet, and all our air reasonably steady with lifters just where needed, sailing would be perfect. Sometimes we do find this, and it is worth waiting years to have. Meanwhile we must accept the more ordinary ice conditions, ordinary weather and wind, and gracefully accept snow, sometimes for weeks. Our ideal comes from time to time, the Great Maker gives only so much of the very best.” Charles H. Johnson.

Iceboating for Kids

Ice Optimists were created specifically as a youth trainer, designed to be easily built using commonly available materials, and to keep costs to a minimum.

UPCOMING:
BURGEE: Order your 4LIYC Burgee
4LIYC Meeting: November 2022

Mystic Seaport Iceboat Zoom, August 4, 2022

ICICLE, the first iceboat of John Roosevelt, uncle to President FDR. Read more about ICICLE here.

UPDATE: If you missed the presentation or want to watch again, here is the link and passcode kindly provided by the Mystic Seaport Museum:

https://zoom.us/rec/share/JeusYR_cuzzidWo1I40-lrhcH7ZdMfOyTDkIb1CRi85HXZLdUCkjIjFypkeJuTQe.ndPvabifFjIR7cId?startTime=1659633604000

Passcode: U5S9h=C*

Please join Henry Bossett and me today on Zoom as we discuss the history and current state of North American ice sailing. Here are links to explore further some of the topics we will delve into today. I’ll add more after the presentation if necessary. You’ll find links to iceboat clubs and class organizations in the right sidebar (on a laptop) or towards the bottom of the page (on a phone.)

Mystic Seaport Museum Facebook Page
Let’s cool off

Ice boating experts, Deb Whitehorse and Henry Bossett, will discuss the sport of ice sailing on August 4, at 2:00 PM ET in a free virtual presentation.
Click here to register: http://ow.ly/EHL550K1uEg

HUDSON RIVER HISTORY
White Wings & Black Ice: Hudson River Ice Yacht History
Hudson River Shorts: Footage of VIXEN in action
Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant History by Ray Ruge

DN CLASS
Bend It Like…a DN Mast
DN Ice Sailing World Portal
International DN Ice Yacht Racing Association
For the Glory DN Racing Video

SKEETER CLASS
Ice Sailing Speed Records
Ride the Runner Plank with Steve Orlebeke Video

VIDEOS
How Does Iceboat Racing Work?
4LIYC Video Channel
DN North America Video Channel

 

Ice Sailing Zoom Presentation August 4, 2022

Iceboat Race Committee

Previous: Mystic Arrow
Mystic Seaport Museum Facebook Page

In conjunction with their current exhibition, Story Boats, Mystic Seaport Museum is hosting a virtual presentation about ice sailing on Thursday, August 4, 2022, at 1 PM CT/2 PM ET. From Stern-Steerers to Skeeters, Henry Bossett and I will discuss the roots, social history, and development of North American ice sailing. Henry is a DN class champion and retired sailmaker who has spent years combing through newspaper and museum archives finding the stories that define our sport.

Let’s cool off
Ice boating experts, Deb Whitehorse and Henry Bossett, will discuss the sport of ice sailing on August 4, at 2:00 PM ET in a free virtual presentation.
Click here to register: http://ow.ly/EHL550K1uEg

The Oshkosh Models of 1931


In the annals of what-great-timing, iceboat sail maker (retired) and iceboating historian Henry Bossett recently sent this clipping about a model building contest in the 1930s Oshkosh, WI area. I forwarded the clipping to Lake Winnebago ice sailor Mike Peters. He replied, “I picked up another of the original model stern steers that were built in Oshkosh in the 1930s

Mike Peter’s latest model acquisition.

.

Previous Posts about Ice Yacht Models:
One More Model: ACE OF SPADE
Sculptural Stern Steerer
Super Models
Model B
Ice-Boat Racer Says…
Frank Lloyd Wright & Iceboating

Arden Scott: A Life in Art, Ice Sailing & Madison Connection

Arden Scott Metal Sculpture Photo: Mike Acebo

Dan’s Papers :Arden Scott Shares Her Art & Life with Pair of Greenport Harbor Brewing Shows

Orient Ice Yacht Club (OIYC) member Mike Acebo shared news about a sculpture exhibit. OIYC member and highly accomplished artist Arden Scott’s minimalist metal sculptures, inspired by iceboats, are on display at the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company in Greenport, NY. Scott’s artistic journey brought her to Lake Mendota’s ice when she was a University of Wisconsin student in the early 1960s.
Arden Scott recalls:

Fond memories of Lake Mendota- the iceboats I remember were old Stern Steerers. A friend found one under his back porch, and the landlady said, “Oh my, by all means, use it! I have the sails somewhere.” Someone must’ve known what they were doing – I was only 17 or 18 at the time. Coming from New York, I’d never experienced ice like that! Exhilarating, to say the least! I was unaware of anything organized about it, although many were affiliated with the Hoofers sailing club. My memories seem to be dramatic speeds and terrain. The lake had what they called pressure ridges; navigating these sometimes had us airborne. Oh, and did I mention cold! But ah, youth, anything that exciting….It ’twas a long time ago and much ice under the bridge.

From the Dan’s Paper article:

Another major component of Scott’s life informing her work is her passion for sailing. The artist has been addicted to the sport since she tried it as young girl in summer camp. During her college years, she sailed on lakes with a sailing club, even during freezing winter temperatures, sailing to class on stern steerer ice boats. Continue reading.

“Arden is a member of the Orient Ice Yacht Club, the home of East End historic Stern Steerers. She has worked on restoring these boats and sailing them on local ice. I had the pleasure of working with Arden for many years at the boatyard in Greenport that I managed, Arden worked in the rigging department.” Photo and caption via Mike Acebo.

The Iceboating Song

Illustration from St. Nicholas magazine, February 1879.

The classic book Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates deserves a slot in any iceboating book collection because it describes ice yachts in beautiful detail. The author, Mary Mapes Dodge, may have acquired some knowledge of ice sailing living in New York and New Jersey. Dodge edited a famous children’s magazine for many years, and she included iceboat plans and articles in several of the issues. In 1879, the magazine St. Nicholas published “The Ice Boating Song.” Dodge put music to the song from her famous book.

From Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates

Just then a beautiful iceboat with reefed sail and flying streamers swept leisurely by. Its deck was filled with children muffled up to their chins. Looking at them from the ice you could see only smiling little faces imbedded in bright-colored woolen wrappings. They were singing a chorus in honor of Saint
Nicholas. The music, starting in the discord of a hundred childish voices, floated, as it rose, into exquisite harmony:

4th of July Ice Sailing Celebration Begins Today

Pete Johns at the 2021 DN Centrals in Michigan.

It’s time to kick off the long weekend to celebrate the 4th of July with two of the most patriotic iceboats in America. Hoping we can photograph these two boats together somewhere during the 2023 season. Happy 4th of July!

JD and his Class A Skeeter on Lake Michigan at Menominee, Michigan in March 2021.

Magic Bones

World’s earliest wind surfer? “Ollerus traverses the sea on his magic bone. 16th-century woodcut. Olaus Magnus, “Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus.” 

Summer Solstice is behind us; we are on course for the next ice sailing season. Nordic countries have marked Midsommer since Pagan times when Thor and Odin ruled the north. I stumbled upon Ull, a Norse God who was the fastest deity around and patron of our favorite time of year. Ull could transform the shield he carried into a boat and bones into skates. With that much power, it’s not a stretch to believe his bow was basically a mast. Put his boat, bone skates, and mast together, and that’s an iceboat. In some Norse mythology accounts, Ull married Skadi, the Goddess of winter and cold. It’s five months until the Western Challenge, the season’s first fun DN regatta. Sharpen those bones!

Paul Krueger’s Class A Skeeter on Lake Monona, March 2022.

Iceboat Virtual Hall of Fame: John Buckstaff 1888-1960

Carl Bernard, Camp Van Dyke, John Buckstaff, and Andy Flom sitting on the DEBUTANTE on Lake Winnebago in 1934. John Buckstaff is holding the Stuart Cup.

John Buckstaff Archives
If iceboating had a hall of fame, Lake Winnebago sailor, John Buckstaff would undoubtedly be among the first to be nominated. Buckstaff’s Oshkosh roots go back to his grandfather, who was born in 1799 and came from New Brunswick, Canada, to Oshkosh in 1850 and started a sawmill.

An early mention of Buckstaff in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern newspaper was in 1903, when he was 14 years old and recognized as a skilled scow sailor. “His first experience was gained, when as a boy in knickerbockers, he constructed an iceboat and sailed it on the frozen surface of Lake Winnebago. Here he learned to be quick and certain with the tiller and to handle the sail and tack.”

Buckstaff was in Menominee, Michigan, when the Menominee, Marinette, Wisconsin, and Oshkosh ice yacht clubs formed Northwest Ice Yachting Association in 1913. The morning after a banquet at the Hotel Menominee, where 200 ice yachtsmen gathered for a feast, they organized the Northwest, which they patterned after the Inland Lake Yachting Association, a soft-water scow regatta still going strong today.

In addition to his Northwest victories, Buckstaff won two prestigious stern-steerer titles, the Stuart and Hearst Cups. In 1903, The Kalamazoo Ice Yacht Club in Michigan persuaded F.A. Stuart, maker of Stuart’s Dyspeptic pills, to donate a trophy for ice yachts carrying 850 square feet of sail or less. Later that year, a Kalamazoo club member wired newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, asking Hearst if he would donate a trophy, in his name, for the ice boat race. Hearst complied and deeded a gold-lined silver cup.

Buckstaff was a stern-steerer man and would point BLUE BILL, FLYING DUTCHMAN, DEBUTANTE III to victory on the ice at the Stuart, Hearst, and Northwest regattas. FLYING DUTCHMAN has remained on her home lake of Lake Winnebago with Dave Lallier. DEBUTANTE III is in Menominee with Mike Derusha.

DEBUTANTE III was a Hudson River-style stern-steerer built in the famed Poughkeepsie, New York iceboat shop of Jacob Buckhought. The “DEB” with 600 square feet of sail was considered the most lightweight iceboat in the world per square foot of sail carried. DEB was the first iceboat to use aluminum runners, a much superior material than the cast iron runners traditionally used. The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern reported that the “DEB” held a speed record of 119 miles per hour clocked on Gull Lake in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

John Buckstaff passed away on the morning of Sunday, January 10, 1960, the weekend when the iceboating community gathered on Lake Winnebago for the Northwest, the regatta he had helped to begin. In a movie-like ending, DEBUTANTE III, skippered by E.W. Stroshine, won the Class A championship trophy that same day.

John Buckstaff Obituary

Northwest Class A Stern Steerer
1923 BLUE BILL, J. D. Buckstaff
1926 BLUE BILL, J. D. Buckstaff
1939 BLUE BILL II, John Buckstaff, Owner; Tom Anger, Skipper

Hearst
1932 (December) FLYING DUTCHMAN, OIYC, J. C. Van Dyke, J. D. Buckstaff (skippers)

Stuart
1920 DEBUTANTE III, OIYC, J. D. Buckstaff
1939 DEBUTANTE III, OIYC, J. D. Buckstaff

 

 

Wisconsin State Journal. February 14, 1935. A time when sports columnists followed the stars of ice yachting and rooted for the home team. The 4LIYC’s FRITZ with Carl Bernard at the helm won the Stuart that year. 

 

Sydney Royal Yacht Squadron’s First Iceboat

Previous: Sail Australia in Montana
“I’d Like to Get Into Ice Sailing”
In November 2021, Australian sailor Michael Dunston emailed me about continuing his ice sailing journey, which had begun in the Netherlands.

I’m from Sydney, Australia. I have grown up sailing all my life. I tried ice sailing on a DN for the first and only time last winter opportunistically in the Netherlands, and I loved it. This year I moved with my family to Bozeman, MT, which is where my wife grew up. I would like to find a way to do more ice sailing!

If there was an inexpensive, entry-level ice boat (a DN, or similar), then I would be interested to buy. Naturally, it would also be great to connect with some like-minded folks. Is there a club or a group that sail on Canyon Ferry MT that I could connect with?
Michael Dunstan

Michael is one lucky sailor, having been in the Netherlands 2021, the birthplace of our sport, for their few days of ice sailing, then landing at Canyon Ferry, a place of legendary North American ice.

I forwarded Michael’s email to Canyon Ferry iceboaters Dale Livesey and Dave Gluek, who welcomed him into the community and pushed him off the line.

I wanted to update you on Michael Dunstan, the Australian sailor. He’s an awesome guy and a good addition to our fleet. He purchased Dale Livezey’s DN and is a quick learner. He has been fun to sail with. Mike’s Dad is visiting Mike this week, and we sailed a Nite in big wind the other day. Both of them are accomplished sailors! Thank you for introducing us.
Dave Gluek

Michael’s mother, Judy, wrote an article about their visit to Big Sky & Ice country for their yacht club’s newsletter, the historic Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. In addition to receiving a British empire Royal charter in 1862 and challenging for the America’s Cup in 1962, the RSYS has added Michael’s DN to their Squadron Yacht register in 2022.

Hard Water Sailing by Judy Dunston

Mystic Arrow

Arrow iceboats push off to race at Red Banks, New Jersey. Photo via Dan Clapp.

More information from Mystic Seaport Museum.

May 29, 2022 UPDATE: Long time friend of Prescott Shreeve, Tom Nichols, emailed with some of his memories. See text below.

The exhibition, Story Boats: The Tales They Tell, opens today at Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport Museum. One of the story boats is WHISTLING WIND, an Arrow iceboat owned by Herbert Prescott Shreeve. He was president of Lake Hopatcong Ice Yacht Club in New Jersey.

The Arrow iceboat holds its value (they sell rather quickly on the Buy & Sell page) and remains one of the most popular cruising boats, though east coast ice yacht clubs have racing fleets. The Boston family in Michigan developed the Arrow in their sail loft. Martha Boston Youstra recalls, “The Arrow, as I remember, was 16-feet with a 12-foot runner plank. The first boats were gel-coated by Judd Harrell and later sub-contracted to Custom Flex in Toledo, Ohio. Bill Sarns made the hardware, and we added the finishing touches at the loft. We had a trailer that held ten boats. The molds were sold to someone in Michigan’s thumb area and left to rot. [I’ve heard the molds are now in New Jersey. – Ed.] Originally they sold complete for $350. Some current boats have springboards added, and some now are selling for $5k. I believe Dad wanted a lighter-weight boat as he aged, yet with Lolly in mind. Her boat was called ICE TEA. Howard and his third daughter Sue won the first Arrow Nationals. I raced one time with Bill Mattison at the helm. That was awesome. I can’t remember how we placed. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the exact year, thinking 1964. I do have a couple of photos of our family fleet. Red Bank, N.J., had a large fleet, and Erie, PA, had a small fleet.”

I knew “Press” and his wife Madge very well. They always came together to sail. I don’t think I have ever seen a couple more devoted to each other. Press was active during the “Golden Age” of the Lake Hopatcong Ice Yacht Club. I believe he was one of the original founding members. He sailed a stern steerer for most of his ice boating career. He got into the Arrow when they realized the Stern Steerer was just too much for them handle. The Stern Steerer runners were just too much for Madge to carry.

He bought the arrow in the late 1960’s, I think. He was an excellent sailor on both hard and soft water. One year, the Arrow Nationals came to Lake Hopatcong. I do believe that Press beat Skip Boston in a couple of races. Jack Andreson from Greenwood Lake won the regatta. I think Press might have been third.

Press did not build the Arrow from a kit in his living room but that was the workshop for his ice boat parts. I am sure Madge never complained a bit. Press was a very competent and meticulous craftsman. His equipment was always in first class shape.

Press and Madge were very devoted to ice boating and almost always were on the ice wherever the club was sailing. I those days the club “traveled” together. DNs, Arrows, Yankees, Skeeters all showed up at the same lake. Press and Madge loved the sport and never looked for an excuse not to go sailing. They realized you had to be there when the ice was ready, not necessarily when you were ready.
Tom Nichols

From the exhibition program. Courtesy of Mystic Seaport Museum.

Regatta Dates 2022

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Click for 4LIYC Meeting Dates

2020-2021

  • November 18
  • December 2
  • Elections, Elect Fleet Captains. Vote on ISA & NIYA Agenda Items
  • December 16
  • December 30
  • January 13 Honor Roll Nominations
  • January 27 Deadline for By-Law or Racing Rules Amendment Submission
  • February 10
  • February 24 Business Meeting
  • March 10

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Time: 6:30 PM

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