Editor's Note: This post is prepared from newspaper articles from The New York Times, Sunday, January 28, 1973, By Woody N. Klose; Hudson Register Star, February 17, 1976 and Soundings December 1972 by Elizabeth Manuele. The language, spelling and grammar of the article reflects the time period when it was written. For information about current ice boating on the Hudson River go to White Wings and Black Ice here.
The New York Times, Sunday, January 28, 1973, By Woody N. Klose
It is because of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's abiding love for the river and its winter ice that a slice of Hudson Valley history could be reconstructed last year in an 80‐foot‐long basement in a house high on a bill overlooking Newburgh.
There, in the house of contractor, Robert R. Lawrence, a band of devoted valley men reconstructed the legendary gaff‐rigged ice yacht "Jack Frost". Had it not been for Roosevelt, the "Jack Frost" would long ago have become just another part of the rich valley earth.
Commodore Archibald Rogers of Hyde Park owned the original Jack Frost, an iceboat of staggering dimensions. Built in 1883, the original "Jack Frost" carried 760 square feet of sail and measured 49½ feet from bow to stern along the backbone.
In 1938 when the boathouse in which the "Jack Frost" was stored was destroyed by a hurricane, Roosevelt, concerned about the future of iceboating, gave the huge boat to Richard Aldrich of Barrytown. Aldrich had done much to keep alive the spirit of iceboating and, in the process, had amassed a sizable collection of antique ice yachts of Hudson River design, with the steering runner in the stern.
Unfortunately, the original backbone, cockpit and runnerplank of the "Jack Frost" had been left in the open, near the remains of the boathouse, where they disintegrated and disappeared. But the hollow spars and much of the hardware were saved, and using dimensions on file in the archives of the Roosevelt Library, the "Jack Frost" was born again.
Under the supervision of Ray Ruge, a foremost ice yacht expert, and Lawrence, the "Jack. Frost" was reconstructed, incorporating the pieces of the original boat. However, the craftsmen did not reconstruct the original "Jack Frost", designed and built in 1883 but refashioned the one of 1900, a slightly different model.
As was the custom then, during all the modifications she never lost her name. While the owner might have a new backbone constructed or alter the size of sails or runners, he would not change the name of his prize boat. So the name, "Jack Frost", was transferred from boat to boat over two decades and down through half a century as the ice‐yacht was created, modified, almost destroyed and eventually reconstructed.
Cockpit Box - Commodore Robert Lawrence of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club tries out the partially restored cockpit box of the "Jack Frost". The box is made of Honduras mahogany, oak, whitewood and trimmed with brass. A crew will man this cockpit when the famous 19th century iceboat, the “Jack Frost” is completed. Photo by Robert Richards from the Ray Ruge archives. Hudson River Maritime Museum.
It was a problem, locating and buying timbers large enough to reconstruct her. The Hudson River Ice Yacht Club procured 10 pieces of Sitka spruce from the West Coast. Sitka spruce grows only in Alaska and British Columbia and is especially prized for its uniform character and long, straight grain. The club paid $1,000 for this valuable wood.
The racing history of the "Jack Frost" is as unusual as the craft itself. Sailing for the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club in 1883, her maiden year, she won the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America, beating sailors and boats from North Shrewsbury, N.J. She won again in 1887, under the colors of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club.
In 1893, she took on the Orange Lake Ice Yacht Club for the pennant, and the result was the same. There were two races for the pennant in 1902 and "Jack Frost" sailed home with the trophy both times.
Since then, the race for the challenge pennant and even the "Jack Frost" have almost become forgotten. They began to be “things that can wait till next year.” By World War I, ice yachting on the Hudson had all but vanished.
Thanks to the leadership of Ruge, Lawrence, Aldrich's son, Ricky, and many others, iceboating on the Hudson River is coming back strong.
Hudson Register Star, January 17, 1976
Historic Ice Yacht Glides Down Hudson River Again
“Jack Frost”, four-time winner of the ice yacht Challenge Pennant … was taken off the ice for many years. It was launched on Orange Lake in 1973 after the Hudson River Ice Sailing Club spent three years restoring it. In was put back on the Hudson (River) in January 1976 off Croton. In February it was trucked to Barrytown when the ice off Croton began to break up. It needs at least six inches of ice to support its 2,500 pound weight.
Robert Bard of Red Hook, a Hudson River Ice Sailing Club member, said the restoration was completed by the combined effort of many persons who often met Tuesday evening after work to lavish attention on the boat.
Reid Bielenberg of Red Hook assisted with the rigging, and Bard helped mix adhesive. Other local men who helped in different stages were Dick Suggat of Rhinebeck, Earl A’Brial of Red Hook, Bob Fennel of Barrytown and Rick Aldrich of Barrytown.
Bard said the craft was launched at Barrytown with some difficulty, because of its weight and size. Its mast is more than 30 feet tall and seven inches in diameter. The boom is 33 feet long, and its main runners are 28 feet long.
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