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When I posted some articles and photos about an exhibition of ice yachts at the Franklin D Roosevelt Library some time ago (long time ago now) several MSW members suggested that I build a model of one or more of the ice yachts. Drawings with accurate measurements of these historic ice yachts are hard to find and since they spend most of their time safely stored out of the elements, only to be pulled out and assembled when the lakes and or river produces ice of sufficient thickness and quality to sail on; getting hands-on measurements is also hard to do. Fortunately, this winter provided an opportunity to obtain some measurements. But before I begin a little history is in order. About the History of Ice Yachting Sailing on ice began as a utilitarian mode of transportation for the Dutch, who attached metal and wood runners to the bottoms of hulled working boats, beginning sometime in the 18th century. Imported to the Dutch settlements of the New World, there are accounts of cargo in the form of sheep and people being transported on the Hudson River by ice boat from Athens to Albany in the early 1800's. The Dutch are the grandfathers of ice boating. They were the first to add cross planks and runners under sail boat hulls for moving cargo over the icy canals of the Netherlands. Dutch settlers of New York’s Hudson River Valley brought their custom of ice boating to the New World and ice yachting spread across North America wherever there was ice to be found. The recreational potential for sailing on ice quickly took over the imagination of Hudson River Valley residents. Ice boats were redesigned as light frame craft without traditional hulls, but utilizing the traditional gaff-rigged sail pattern of Hudson River Valley sloops for propulsion, and cast iron ice skates (or runners) as media. These became in fact the fastest vehicles on earth at the time, regularly beating the trains racing up and down the shores of the Hudson. It did not take long for the landed gentry of the Valley to compete against one another for the biggest, fastest, most beautiful of ice yachts, commissioned by special builders. The Hudson River led in this vein of maritime history, attracting prominent America’s Cup sailors & investors based in New York City - - along with many others, notably the Roosevelts. The Roosevelts competed with their club, the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club, against members from ice yacht clubs in Chelsea, New Hamburg, Orange Lake, and Athens. John Aspinwall Roosevelt and his neighbor Archibald Rogers were two of the most competitive and successful Captains, successively building many boats, two of which, the ICICLE and the JACK FROST, went on to win the most significant prize in ice yacht racing, the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America - - several times each. John A. Roosevelt’s pennant-winning ICICLE is currently on display, unassembled, at the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston NY. Archibald Rogers’ ice yacht JACK FROST is owned, and sailed, by the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club. About the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club The Hudson River Ice Yacht Club (HRIYC) grew out of the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club, which was founded in 1861 and was the first ice yacht club established in the country. The HRIYC formed in 1885 out of a dispute during a race for the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America in March 1885. Several skippers in the race made a claim of a foul against a competing yacht. When the claim was not upheld by the regatta committee after review, hard feelings resulted, followed by the resignation of many members of the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club. Days later, yachtsman in the breakaway group formed the Hudson River club. The HRIYC was known as having the speediest and finest-built ice yachts in the country. The club book of 1908 lists 52 ice yachts in its roster, including John A. Roosevelt’s Icicle, Vixen and Kriss, as well as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Hawk. FDR served a term as Vice-Commodore of the Hudson River Club. The growth and success of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club in races for the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America eventually led to the demise of the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club. It was all but defunct by 1899, when yet another club was formed, based out of the boathouse of the Roosevelts’ neighbor, Archibald Rogers: the Hyde Park Ice Yacht Club. Many local sailors at the time were members of both the HRIYC and the Hyde Park Club. The sport of ice yachting on the Hudson faded in the following years. The reasons included the passing of many of the older and most enthusiastic ice yacht sailors, the opening of the Hudson River channel to winter barge traffic, the World Wars, and the Great Depression. HRIYC went dormant from 1929-1964. It was re-organized by Ray Ruge, Bob Lawrence and others in December 1964. The HRIYC and its membership currently have the world’s largest collection of historic stern steering ice yachts. While races between the antique “stern steerers” still occur, the boats are mainly used for pleasure. The club is committed to the preservation and restoration of the yachts, as well as sailing the boats on local ice and providing rides to curious onlookers. About the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club The North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club (NSIB&YC), organized in 1880 is the longest standing active iceboat club in the world that has its own club house. The racing capital for ice boating in New Jersey is Red Bank, N.J. on the beautiful Navesink River or as it is called the North Shrewsbury River. Rocket The ice yacht Rocket was originally built by the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club in 1888 My knowledge of its history is somewhat vague, but I do know it fell into disrepair, was found and restored by the NSIB&YC in a project spanning 10 years. More on it's restoration can be found at Rocket Ice Yacht Restoration Project . In March 2014 members of the NSIB&YC brought the restored yacht from Red Bank NJ up to Barrytown NY to join the HRIYC for a weekend of sailing on the frozen Hudson River. This was the first time the Rocket had been sailed in about 100 years. A YouTube video of that event can be viewed Rocket Launch - YouTube . The Rocket measures 50 feet in length with a runner plank of 30 feet with a sail area of 900 sq ft; its weight is 2500 US lbs with a crew of 2 or 3 to sail her. The Jack Frost is similar in size, weight and sail area. I've chosen to model the Rocket first and later the Jack Frost and maybe Franklin D Roosevelt's Hawk, a smaller ice yacht. I will be doing it in 1:24 scale. First some photos I took of the Rocket as she appear this past February (2018) on Orange Lake near Newburgh NY.
In the early 1970's I built a DN class Iceboat that I sailed on Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park which is located in western Pennsylvania. I am now building one at a reduced scale of 1 1/4 in. to 1 ft or 1 : 9.6 scale. The plans that I used are from the International DN Ice Yacht Association. I am using walnut, bloodwood, and dogwood for construction of the model.