Ice Boating in Newport

In its waning days, a fine Fall comes to a rude conclusion.


It's way to early for the harbor to start freezing.Mark Pillsbury

We hadn't even toasted the winter solstice when I poked my head out of the shrink-wrap door and took a gingerly first step onto an ice-crusted dock.

This was no way to start a morning in mid December.

Mid December!

A couple years back I returned from the boat show in Miami to find our water pump, which is for some reason mounted under the cockpit and cut off from the cabin heater, frozen solid. But that was in February, for heavens sake. One expects ice and misery just about every day that month.

But December? Please. The wind whipping out of the northwest just shouldn't be so harsh when the days are still shortening; there's no way the Jet Stream should dip so far south that even the poodles on South Beach have their down vests on two weeks past Thanksgiving.

And no way should saltwater be freezing between the boats when the wind does finally drop below 25 knots and the harbor chop subsides. Heck, there are still guys out there surfing on First Beach. This sort pre-winter freeze may play well in Michigan, where the ice-boaters are rarin' to have at it. But in Newport, Rhode Island, I for one will say ice and boating just don't mix that well. Old Man Winter, your time will come, no reason to crash the party this damn early. Now mind those manners. OK?