Copyright John A. Sperr

Preserving and Sailing the Historic Gaff Rigged Ice Yachts of New York's Hudson River Valley


 Monday, February 19, 2018

"Rocket" sailed on Saturday

Huge Warm-up in the Forecast

"Spring, my friends, is just around the corner."
Larry Cosgrove, Meteorologist, WeatherAmerica Newsletter

Rokeby Ice Yachts at Astor Point

Weather  Links

Iceboat Launch Site Maps & Directory for the Eastern US

Email John Sperr      On-the-Ice Cell # Request

AIS Ship Tracking

ADS-B Aircraft Tracking


right click and select "view image" to see photos in full resolution


We are Done!

A glance at the jetstream map to the right shows the powerful stream of warm air invading the central and east coast of the country in the coming days. Record temperatures in the mid-seventies are anticipated by Wednesday with some rain to follow. The lake lost 5 inches of thickness last week and given the near certainty of going critical this week, the fleet began disassembling late Saturday afternoon bringing the short season to conclusion. Snow began falling shortly after sunset -- amounts ranged from 2 inches here in Northern Dutchess County to 6 or more in Orange and Westchester Counties. Saturday gave one last day of good sailing. "Rocket", the recently rebuilt large stern steering ice yacht of the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club made the best of it on ice that stayed firm and fast under a lowering overcast and darkening skies.

Do not be fooled by the amount of ice in the Hudson River in the coming weeks. The 17 mile ice jam on the Mohawk River and the ice on the upper Hudson River are forecast to break up this week and flow over the Federal Dam at Troy into the tidal reach of the Hudson. New York Harbor could be uncharacteristically clogged with ice in a week or two as this slug slowly makes its way south.

This site may go dark in another month or so, but I do expect to be back with a new hosting service and perhaps in a different format. If you have any suggestions for how or what to change, or what you would like to see, now is the time to speak up as I plan and work through the change over.

Email John Sperr



February 6, 2018

Ice is on the move on the River
Open Water Everywhere

Rain and Snow Sunday and again Wednesday

USCG Air Auxiliary Ice Flight Pictures -- Feb 3, 2018
Iceboaters -- check out Tivoli Bays in the Saugerties Photo


USCG Air Auxiliary Ice Flight Pictures -- Jan 27, 2018
Annotated and Corrected

USCG Air Auxiliary Ice Flight Pictures -- Jan 13, 2018

USCG Air Auxiliary Ice Flight Pictures -- Jan 1, 2018
Annotated and Corrected


February 4, 2018

As the wind slowly built into a steady south west breeze yesterday afternoon, roughly 20 ice yachts from the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club, the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club, and the Long Branch Ice Boat and Yacht Club all had a full afternoon of good sailing. The ice was a bit sticky from the snow that fell at the end of the last rain event, but by late afternoon with the wind becoming stronger and steadier, most everyone was able to power through it and break in their newly sharpened runners.

It was a short run -- at this hour it is snowing again here in the Hudson Valley with the forecast calling for a change to rain this evening and then back to snow on Monday. Wednesday a heavier round of 2 - 4 inches of snow has been forecast to fall followed again by rain or freezing rain -- this could build a crusty layer when it freezes on Thursday or a layer of "styrofoam" that makes ice boating impossible.  Most people have chosen to leave their boats on the ice in the hopes that a good surface will rebuild over the 12 inch thick base ice in a few weeks.

Stay tuned -- I'll try and add more pictures tomorrow.


February 3, 2018

Feb 3, 2018 the largest remaining floe at Rhinecliff drifting on the tide

Looking South from Rhinecliff on January 27, 2018

Alternating periods of warm weather and brief intrusions of a near zero arctic air mass have resulted in a steady loss of ice on the Hudson River. We will need another polar outbreak or a significant snowfall if anything is to happen there this winter.

This coming week will see more of the same. Mixed rain and snow will be with us most of the upcoming week. Today will quickly warm as a south westerly breeze kicks in -- by mid morning Sunday, snow and rain will be the order of the day. Orange Lake to our south has been the focus of activity lately, but snow and rain again Wednesday could make a mess of the ice there, Tivoli Bay could get a much needed resurfacing in the coming seven days depending on the storm track and how the mix of snow and rain play out, but the lack of thickness may restrict the sailing to the south end of the bay even if the surface should come in.

January 15, 2018

Tivoli Bay is such a mess, that people have given up on it. We will be down there about 1 pm to take the boats apart, carry them off the ice, and truck them home. Extra hands are always welcome -- getting them up the steep bank at the shore can be taxing without a good crew on hand. With little or no wind this afternoon, and the temperature in the mid twenties, it should go fairly quickly. High tide will occur shortly after 2 pm so the ice may be wet near the shore.

Forecast snow amounts are on the rise for Tuesday and Wednesday. Some of the models from the latest run show a coastal low developing, which could bring increased amounts of snow, mixed precipitation, or rain to the Hudson Valley. It will then turn warm again to close out the week. Our early ice on the Hudson River has come to naught so far -- I don't see any possibilities looking ahead at the next ten days for it to become a safe and viable sailing venue. The polar vortex is fading and does not look to be replaced for another three weeks in the long range forecasts -- look for a warmer and stormier end of January 2018.

CPC Outlook

January Outlook

January 14, 2018 am update

Heavy runoff from Friday's rain and warm weather had the river running very high yesterday so we had to scramble to get two iceboats off the ice at Athens. A dozen or so friends and members heeded the call to help disassemble Vixen and Boreas and move them off the tiny spit of ice they were tucked in on and hanging on by a thread.

Where they sat -- that tiny plate of ice in the center framed by the
dead falls stuck in the ice and the crack near the shore

Ice was breaking up above us and flowing down Murderers Creek while the small piece we were working on was ever thinning and showing signs of fatigue. It was high tide and the water was at the top of the bulkhead at the boat launch. Fortunately we were able to complete our work without mishap -- going through the ice would have been a very bad situation.

Bob Wills reports that Tivoli Bay is a mess -- the ice is brown with mud and littered with debris. I suspect that the ice was stuck to the mud at low tide and got flooded by the deluge coming out of the Sawkill and the small stream in the south end of the bay. I'll try and get some pictures this afternoon. Wear creepers if you go out walking -- the snow is gone but there is a layer of very slick black ice covering the trails.

The temperature dropped to 8° F last night here in Red Hook and it might be as cold again tonight -- that will help a bit to stabilize things but until the river sets up again and rebuilds thickness we won't see any sailing there. Given the lack of any enduring zero to ten degree weather on the map beyond this evening, there will not be any safe ice on the Hudson anytime soon.  The latest pictures from the USCG Air Auxiliary show the damage -- the ice is gone south of Sturgeon Point below Rhinecliff. We probably lost half the thickness above the Rhinecliff Bridge and we are almost starting from scratch with the tide and wind shuttling what's left around.

BUFKIT shows both the NAM and GFS3 forecast models predicting an inch or two of snowfall on Tuesday for the area from Newburgh to Albany. Six inches or more would serve us better, but I doubt two would put Tivoli Bay back in business next weekend even should it wet out quickly.

Boreas back on the safety of its trailer

Cheviot looking Southwest


January 13, 2018

Friday's temperature rose to 62° F at the Poughkeepsie Airport and 63° F at Albany -- both new record highs for the date. Accompanied by heavy rain most of the day, the ice sheet on the Hudson River loosened up with many cracks and drain holes forming to carry away the surface water. Ice Station Glasco awoke this morning to see a 20 foot swath of open water and ice damage to its waterfront.

Similar conditions likely exist on Tivoli Bay -- the snow cover was melted and the warm water working down the drainage leads has likely thinned them to the point where they cannot be sailed safely. The Sawkill has likely opened up its channel across the bay as well. The high volume flow will be cut off by this evening, but it will take a week of cold weather to seal the drainage leads again, keeping the fleet boxed up in the south end of the bay.

We will get out and explore tomorrow after a cold night has firmed things up a bit and the ice is safer, but I expect the thin spots and the high wind, gusty conditions will prevent sailing. Monday may be better if a second cold night firmly seals up the south end of Tivoli Bay again.

Snow is in the forecast for early Tuesday -- the computer models are wavering on this event with the trend being the forecast amount decreasing while the hand crafted extended forecast discussion cautions:


A good shot of snow at this time could do a good job of leveling out the rough ice on the river and burying the flotsam on Tivoli Bay to set us up for some good sailing come mid or late February.

Stay tuned -- I may get out this afternoon for a drive and receive other scouting reports that warrant an evening update.


January 6, 2018

USCG Cutter "Hawser" breaking ice in the track off North Germanton Landing
(Note the green AstroTurf covering the landfill in the background)


Thursday's snowstorm caught many forecasters off guard and produced double their predicted amounts. Combined with the powerful wind field of this cyclone and a warm and wet start to the precipitation in the upper levels of the atmosphere, the snow is now hard packed to the ice of Tivoli Bay and has shut down our sailing from the south end. With today's bitter cold wind chill, it was a day to retreat to the relative comfort of my vehicle and visit the various venues where we could be sailing in the future.

Looking Northwest from the Rhinecliff Town Dock

At the Town Dock in Rhinecliff, the sheet has taken a set and is nearly fully closed. There's some open water in front of the water plant -- frazil ice has been a problem the past two days in several municipal water supplies that source their water from the Hudson River. The sheet of ice is a jumbled mess of  plates frozen together at every which angle and height caused by the high tides of the super moon shuttling them back and forth in a series of collisions until finally they are thick enough to weld together in the frigid air and form a structure than can resist further breakage.

Should we get a good dump of snow in ten days or two weeks, this field of ice could level out as the water bleeds up from below and makes "snow ice". There's an old saying in our sport -- "Snow in January, makes ice for February." -- stay tuned.

Further north, above the Rhinecliff Bridge between Barrytown and Saugerties, the River narrows and the forms a choke point for ice on the move. Here large hummocks have developed as millions of tons of ice collide with nowhere to go but up or down. Shallow water accentuates the process outside the navigable channels. Looking down from the Rhinecliff Bridge, it does appear that a decent sheet of ice could develop off of Astor Point if we get some warm weather to reduce and level the snow.

Last Week's Photos

View from Rhinecliff to Kingston Point


January 3, 2018

The river has taken a set over the past few days and it appears there may be a good sheet of ice just north of Cheviot. We'll have to take a better look at it after the snow ends on Thursday evening. The big questions are how much snow will we get and will it blow off or drift into a sticky unsailable mess? We'll know by the weekend.

The Coast Guard Air Auxiliary grabbed a few photos on the weekend -- I'll post them here when I get a chance, probably this evening. There may be a new set by then to add as well. Off to work now -- more later with perhaps some excellent user contributed photos.



December 31, 2017

Having been skunked for the past two seasons, it is very encouraging to see an early season Arctic air mass draped across the mid-west and northeast. The average temperature in Poughkeepsie was 8° F Thursday and 9° F Friday -- Drift ice measuring 2 - 3 inches thick has accumulated in the Hudson River from West Point to Albany and is filling about 50% of the surface from shore to shore. With even colder air moving in tomorrow and New Year's Day, the sheet will likely be fast by Tuesday morning even with the moon waxing toward full and producing strong tides. I think the sheet will continue to gain thickness throughout the week, although it may be a jumbled mess and impossible to sail in the near future. There is always the possibility that high wind may blow part of it out and create some black ice in the void, but that is difficult to predict -- we just need to wait and see what happens. Quite likely, we will get a strong nor'easter or Type A Miller storm hooking up out of the Gulf States dumping a foot or more of snow across the northeast as the cold air starts to retreat in another 10 days. Over time, this will saturate with water bleeding up from below the ice sheet, refreeze, and become a fine sheet of ice around Valentine's Day.

Tivoli Bay was subject to several "blowout" tides this week. With the bay so shallow and partially cut off from the main river circulation, one might expect that the water would quickly freeze and build thickness. Such is not the case there anymore. The bottom sediment has accumulated to a depth that during low tide, the bottom mud flats are above the water level. For two of the coldest mornings this week, there was no water available below the thin surface ice to be frozen into additional thickness during much of the tidal cycle. The situation has improved since as we advanced through the lunar cycle and the blowout high wind and coastal low pressure conditions have eased.

Four ice yachts arrived at Tivoli Bay yesterday afternoon and more may find their way onto the ice today. Through the courtesy of the Unification Theological Seminary, we have access to the south end of South Bay. Visitors should following the parking signs and directives to "Father's Trail". It will be a very cold day on the ice -- if the wind comes up above 15 mph as forecast, things will likely wind down quickly. Dress in layers for sub-zero (-15 F) wind chill conditions.

Ice has also been reported to our south, but snow from the Christmas storm accumulated on the sheet and did not completely wet out. Central Massachusetts reported similar conditions where the snow froze to the ice and created a "Styrofoam" surface that cannot be sailed. The US Coast Guard has just begun issuing daily ice bulletins for the season -- if tomorrow is clear, perhaps their air auxiliary will get a plane up and we will have some aerial photos to examine.

More news tomorrow after I get out and explore the latest developments.



Ice Flight Photos

Current Jetstream Forecast and Surface Conditions -- Image by Environment Canada





Feb 3, 2018 Ice above Rhinecliff Bridge at Barrytown is broken and on the move

Georgie II was very fast all aftenoon



Looking North from Rhinecliff


North Germantown looking Northwest -- lots of open water Jan 27, 2018

North Germantown looking North toward the Rip Van Winkle Bridge

North Germantown looking West

Cheviot looking Northwest -- large floes of wind driven ice piled up on the shore

Doing a jig at Cheviot -- the license plate on their car read "South Carolina"

Cheviot looking South -- the whole sheet was on the move



January 6, 2018

The Northern half of South Tivoli Bay

Where we launch in the south end of South Tivoli Bay, there are heavy drifts of wind packed snow that cannot be sailed through. Above the Sawkill, the situation appears better, With warm weather and a bit of rain forecast for the upcoming week, this area could clean up nicely, although we would still have a problem of getting boats up there. Perhaps the south end will saturate enough over the next two weeks to get things working there again.

Looking southwest from the riverside park in Cheviot

Cheviot, being farther north, received less snow than the venues in Dutchess County. Areas both north and south of the old steamboat causeway could clean up nicely this week. If the current forecast holds for light rain next Saturday before turning colder again, my current thinking is that we will be idle again next weekend. Then another snow storm will hook around the base of the arctic high and give us a good shot of snow. That could set us up for a good run around Valentine's Day or President's weekend.

Looking west from Cheviot on the north side of the causeway



Last Week's Photos

Ice mounding up at the north end of the Rhinecliff Dock


ROCKET Restoration News


Web Page Archives

May 10, 2016 Archive     March 3, 2016 Archive

February 15, 2016 Archive     January 24, 2016 Archive

December 6, 2015 Archive     June 30, 2015 Archive

June 6, 2015 Archive      April 25, 2015 Archive

April 1, 2015 Archive     March 26, 2015 Archive

March 3, 2015 Archive     February 19, 2015 Archive

January 24, 2015 Archive     January 15, 2015 Archive

December 13, 2014 Archive     September 1, 2014 Archive

April 20, 2014 Archive     February 5, 2014 Archive

January 18, 2014 Archive     January 3, 2014 Archive

December 8, 2013 Archive     September 22, 2013 Archive

May 24, 2013 Archive     August 1, 2013 Archive

April 14, 2013 Archive     May 1, 2013 Archive

February 20, 2013 Archive     March 17, 2013 Archive

 September 23, 2012 Archive    December 22, 2012 Archive

June 4, 2012 Archive        July 14, 2012 Archive

January 16, 2012 Archive

Wreck of the Galatea Archive

December 26, 2011 Archive     December 15, 2011 Archive

October 2011 Archive          Early Summer 2011 Archive

May 2, 2011 Archive                    March 1, 2011 Archive

February 24, 2011 Archive     February 19, 2011 Archive


Our new well in Maine










Weather Links

Stevens Tech SSWS & NYHOPS Zone Forecast Tivoli Bay 15 Image 5 Day GFS Forecast
Northern Hemisphere 850 Temp  Regional Summary -- NY, NJ, CT, MA 5 Image 2 Day Forecast Maps
USA Radar from Intellicast Jetstream Forecast Snow and Precip Type Forecast Loop
NE US Radar from Intellicast Current Snow Depth Water Vapor Forecast Loop
Albany Storm Precipitation Totals North Germantown Landing Live Webcam US Hazardous Weather Outlook
Day 1 Quant Precip Forecast Map  Interactive Radar 10 day GFS Forecast
Day 2 Quant Precip Forecast Map Northeast Wind Speed (Kts) & Streamlines 31 Frame Forecast Animation
Day 3 Quant Precip Forecast Map US Temperature 5° F Contour Quantitative Precipitation Discussion

Top of Page

Links to Field Reports of Ice Conditions

IDNIYRA Ice Conditions Reports

Yahoo Group  "IceReports"


Iceboat Launch Site Maps & Directory for the Eastern US



Note: new racing rules were adopted in 2015

Galatea's runner plank failed where the plank was bored for the gammon strap through some very funky wood. Rigging carried the left side runner and plank across the boat.
With no gammon strap securing the backbone, the cockpit rolled with the mast and the rim broke.
Pilot and passenger were gently ejected into the sail. No injuries were sustained.        photo Copyright Dock Shuter, Feb 2010



Email John Sperr



HRIYC.ORG is neither the official website, nor am I the webmaster, of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club. I am a long standing member of the Club and during the sailing season  I frequently post photographs and information on this, my own personal website, about current iceboating activity in the Hudson Valley and beyond. I am the sole person responsible for the presentation of content and the opinions expressed herein. Interesting photographic contributions are welcome and appreciated -- I spend most of my time on the ice skippering and far too often fail to capture the best images of the day.                    ŠJohn A. Sperr MMXVIII