John Gannon’s Road Trip


2/12-15/03: “John Gannon’s Road Trip” By: John Gannon

John Gannon and his boat, “Fool’s Gold”

My journey to iceboat on the Hudson River was my first really big road trip by myself in the seven years in this sport. Wednesday I arrived late, saw the conditions and the ice flows piled up 8-10 feet, and wondered what I had gotten my Yankee and myself involved in. I was definitely afraid of breaking up my boat, but I was assured there was a passage out there, onto the 5 mile stretch of black ice; even though it was covered with 3-5 inches of snow.

Thursday, I was nervous and very slow to set up my boat, but Jordan Glaser and Jack Jarvis set up their boats rather quickly and headed out with a steady 15 mph wind. After two whirligigs Jack wasn’t happy and headed home. Jordan persevered and began his flight down to Rhinecliff in his DN. John Sperr and Brian Reid guided him through pressure ridges, ice packs and hummicks. Christmas trees and red flags marked open water. Freighters and barges were still operating in the channel on the western shore of the Hudson. Sailing along that five mile stretch to Rhinecliff took them under the Rhinecliff Kingston Bridge, which looked about 300 ft above the ice. 


Alone now, I decided to go for it. I must thank a fellow named Dock, who had his own C stern steerer, but sacrificed his day to help push me out of the entrance. After two tacks, I was under the bridge. My GPS recorded a maximum speed of 48.3 mph: I felt like I was on top of the world. The return trip was not as smooth; my runners were digging into the snow going upwind. Chris Kendell kindly he
lped me push my boat back. The experience made me decide to break down my boat the following day.

Saturday, Buzz Chase and I got our share of rides on the Jack Frost. Buzz got to be a sheet tender and he enjoyed it so much he was reluctant to release his grip. The Jack Frost is as magnificent and majestic as anything you’ve ever heard. I also had a chance to ride in John Rose’s boat, the Aurora. A stay broke, the mast came down, and the boat flickered.

The hospitality and camaraderie displayed at Astor’s Point is something to be learned and admired. John Speer (SPERR) and Jessica Bard shared soup and kept us warm with the heat from a potbelly stove. We sampled merlot and chardonnay made by John before it’s bottled to be shipped to the restaurant, the French Laundry. The day ended with a party at the commodore’s house, Bob Wills. It doesn’t get any better than this.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Rick and Ania Aldrich for their generosity and hospitality; something I will strive to reciprocate.


John Gannon