Ice Yachting on N.Y.’s Hudson River: A Sport Worth Considering

Having spent most of my life around the Hudson, Delaware and Neversink Rivers, ice boating or ice yachting is one sport that I grew up watching. For me, it was always a thrill to watch the antique-looking boats like the Sweet Marie. At times it was almost a surreal experience, especially on really blustery days when the ice boats would sometimes reach speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour.

Hudson River in winter.
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For those of you that have never had the pleasure, here is a brief history of the sport and where you can go in the Hudson Valley to experience it:

History of Ice Yachting

Ice boating has been around since the 1600s. It allegedly started in Holland and was replicated in America by early Dutch immigrants in the 1700s. It didn't start out as a sport, though. It was more a mode of winter transportation until the 1800s when those favored by America's Gilded Age decided to develop it into a sport.

The first ice yacht club was founded in the Hudson Valley during that period by former President FDR's uncle, John A. Roosevelt. Soon people were flocking to the area's rivers and ponds to try their hand at ice boating. One of the more popular lake destinations in the 1800s was Sterling Forest, N.Y. To this day Greenwood Lake still remains a favored ice boating location for some folks. By the time the 1930s rolled around, companies started mass producing ice boats. This lowered the cost and thereby opened up the sport to a wider audience.

Where to Watch

If you are interested in watching a Hudson River ice boating event, I suggest that you contact the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club located in Hyde Park, N.Y. When the ice levels are suitable, the club is known to have special events. While you are there you may also want to reserve a table at the Culinary Institute of America for dinner. There are several student-staffed restaurants on-site to choose from. The American Bounty and the Escoffier are two of my favorites. Other options include launching your own ice boat on the area's rivers. Just make sure to check with the local marinas to ensure that the ice is safe enough before you venture out. There are also ice lines that you can call to check on ice thickness. Worst case scenario, you can watch videos of ice boating online.

My family enjoys winter sports and has traveled extensively.

More from this contributor:

Best 5 Places to Go Ice Skating in the Hudson Valley

Best 5 State Parks to Go Ice Fishing in the New Jersey Skylands

Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York: A Haven for Winter Sports Fans

Couple's Guide to Snowshoeing at Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Pleasantville, New York

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Updated Friday, Jan 6, 2012