The upside to the freeze: Ice boating

Top: The Aurora, an ice boat that spent the day on the frozen Hudson River on March 3, 2014. Above: More photos of ice boating on the Hudson. Photos by Julia Reischel. 

This winter is special. Not only did it give us the Polar Vortex and more snow than the Catskills have seen in years, it's given the Hudson River a glassy, foot-thick ice surface that is perfect for ice boating. This week, the ice just north of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge has hosted an ice-boat revival of the likes that hasn't been seen in a century. 

On March 1 and 2, an impromptu festival popped up on the river, with scores of people, dozens of ice boats, dogs and campfires and a brass band all on the ice. 

The stars of the show were two 50-foot-tall one-ton ice boats called the Jack Frost and the Rocket, which hadn't shared the ice together since the early 1900s, according to the New York Times:

“This is a very unique, unusual situation,” said John Vargo, a former commodore of the Hudson club who was on the ice wearing an entire skinned coyote on his head, fastened by the forepaws tied under his chin. “It’s once in a lifetime.” He scanned the dozens of wooden vessels, which date back more than a century, many of them with faded, old sails. “I’ve never seen this many iceboats together on the Hudson, and I’ve been coming here 70 years,” said Mr. Vargo, 78.

On Monday, March 3, the sun was shining and several ice boats were skimming the surface of the river when the Watershed Post staff visited the ice just offshore of Barrytown, across the river in Dutchess County. Temperatures are forecast to stay below freezing all week, so as long as the sun shines, the ice boats will be there.