The Navesink Freezes Over, And The Ice Boats Take Off

January 6, 2018
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Photos by Bart Lentini | Story by Emma Wulfhorst |

RED BANK—Over 100 local ice sailors from the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club (NSIBYC) gathered in Red Bank on Monday, Jan. 1 to ring in 2018. Besides sailing, the festivities included a New Year’s pig roast, hosted by the NSIBYC at their club house at the end of Club Way in Red Bank.

Monday was the first day this season the sailors were able to bring their boats out onto the Navesink River, a rarity this early in the year, said Jeff Smith, a local photographer who has sailed with NSIBYC for 25 years. “This is very, very early to have ice on the Navesink. This is very unusual and it’s great.”

Typically the sailors are not able to bring their boats onto the Navesink until later in the year. “We usually consider it good if we can get out towards the end of January,” Smith said.

The ideal conditions for ice sailing are five or six inches of nice hard ice, though Smith said the sailors can usually get by with about four. It’s important for the ice to be clear of snow, he added. “Nice and smooth is great, too.”

Monday’s sailing was purely for enjoyment purposes, with no official or even scrub races recorded. The most common vessels out on Monday were DN class ice boats, which Smith referred to as the “Volkswagen of ice boats,” as well as smaller boats called “icebirds,” which are generally for kids.

Smith was pleased to take note of a half dozen kids among the 100 sailors at Monday’s gathering, but would love to see more junior ice boat sailors. “We could use more because we want to hook more people into the sport,” he said.

This article was first published in the Jan. 4-11, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.


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