Today I did something I never would have imagined or even attempted previously. I walked on the Hudson River on top of the ice. A co-worker was telling me about the ice boating near Athens, NY last winter. Since the weather was cold for several days I decided to venture up that way to see if I could catch this activity.
I stopped locals and asked where to see ice boaters. They pointed me north of town to the boat launch. There were several people on the ice and I reasoned if they can do it, it must be safe.
Many of the boats I saw are antique and still going strong. Some were built in the 1800s. The time period when ice boating, or ice yachting was in its heyday was 1880-1910, however there are stories prior to that time frame when it is documented that ice boats were used for work or pleasure. Franklin Delano Roosevelt raced an ice boat, mainly during his university days.
The weather today was ideal in some ways, but not in others. The sky was clear and it was bitter cold. This is great for ice. However, it snowed the previous day, and snow on top of ice does not appear to make good conditions for this activity. In addition, the wind was intermittent, not good for maintaining movement. When conditions are right these ice boats I am told can reach speeds of 100 miles per hour.
There are people who walked across the river. I saw a couple walk up the river between 1/2 mile and a mile north, but not too far from shore. I try to stay on the safe side.
Someone there said they are expecting temperatures above freezing during the day for a few days during the week, which may make for the creation or more ideal ice conditions, especially if the temperatures drop again after that and they don’t get more snow. It sounds like they only have a window of a few weeks to ice boat.
So if you want to see this, I would suggest stopping by Athens next weekend, or check out the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club website and seeing if they are on the ice. Sometimes if conditions are not good on the river they may take it to a lake. It may be cold, but seeing this rare winter sporting activity is worth it. Get out and enjoy the great outdoors.