A poem by Tom Wilkening
The Daze Before Ice Boating
T’was well into winter, the ice boater’s hearts did ache,
Because of warm weather, there was no ice on the lake.
Everyone’s runners were sharpened, with meticulous care,
In hopes that cold weather, soon would be there.
The skippers were nestled, all snug in their beds,
While visions of perfect conditions, danced in their heads.
The weather man reassured, cold temps were on the way,
But the wait was frustrating, even for another day.
When out on the horizon, there arose such a sound,
The vicious wind from a new cold front, was blowing around.
The thermometer plummeted, and remained down for days,
Forming smooth black ice, on the lake with a glaze.
The skippers admired, the new-frozen hard water,
Forgetting those days, when it was so much hotter.
The thrill of this sport, was now in sight,
‘Cause the Almanac’s predictions, turned out to be right.
But the stars had to align, to appease the tacticians,
Providing smooth ice with no snow, and ideal wind conditions.
Thick ice was a must, perhaps six inches or so,
Then straight away to ice boating, everyone could go.
Now DN, now Arrow, Stern Steerer and Skeeter,
On Renegade, on J Boat, Nite and Sprinter.
To the top of each sail, the wind will call,
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all.
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane, mount to the sky,
These boats on the ice, without friction do fly.
So up the lake, these coursers they flew,
With the sail sheeted tight, runners aligned and true.
And then in a twinkling, I saw out on the lake,
The placing of pylons, for a race course to make.
I picked up my binoculars, and here’s what I found,
I saw many DN’s gathered, for racing around.
The hulls were of wood, from the bow to the stern,
Finished like fine furniture, anyone could discern.
The planks were as beautiful, with runners spread wide,
Yet each vessel was built, to provide an exhilarating ride.
Then with the sheet, held tight in one hand,
And the tiller in the other, each skipper was in command.
He sails to windward, lifting the runner high,
It’s the ultimate thrill, for every guy.
But after a while, the boats came back to shore,
To enjoy a hot lunch, camaraderie and more.
Hot dogs on the grill, hot chocolate or a beer,
There’s no place more fun, than being right here.
The skippers wasted no time, heading straight back out,
For the wind speed was perfect, there was no doubt.
Then pulling their goggles, down over their nose,
And tightening the halyards, up the mast the sails rose.
They sprang onto their boats, as if it were a school dismissal,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle.
But I heard them exclaim, ere they sailed out of sight,
This is the best winter ever, even with the frostbite.
Spring Lake, Michigan