If the need for speed is not your thing, three guys who get a major kick out of sailing iceboats have an 1890 “pleasure” model for the more faint of heart.
The word “pleasure” of course, is a subjective emotion as sailing an iceboat still requires subzero temperatures and an appreciation for flying across frozen water.
Iceboats are a passion for the three sailors, who can be found on the water both winter and summer.
Mike Parenteau lives on White Bear Lake and spends winters either iceboating or working on iceboats. His latest project is an 1890 wood boat he purchased with fellow sailors Dale Deters and Bill Reed. The three spent the last 18 months restoring the 127-year-old craft and took it out on Bald Eagle Lake for its maiden (re)voyage late last month.
The trio of iceboat enthusiasts dubbed their latest acquisition the “Commodore.” They found it on Craigslist. The 25-foot boat has a large, four-place cockpit, goes 40 to 50 mph, and was built by Erickson Boatworks, which later became Minnetonka Boatworks. It turned out Parenteau knew the guy who was selling the restoration project.
The boat was a wreck when they got it, Parenteau said. The sails and hardware were good, but the bottom was in disrepair. At 600 pounds, the heavy boat takes three people to maneuver.
The Commodore is currently on Bald Eagle Lake but is destined for White Bear, Parenteau said. Word is getting around about the iceboat. The St. Paul hotel with the same name has even requested a photo for its wall.
The longtime White Bear resident has loved iceboating since he was a youngster. He admits to owning six, including two small child-size boats and a front-steering fiberglass Knight.
“A Knight is the Ferrari of iceboating,” Parenteau said. “It goes 70 to 80 mph. I could strap you in that and you wouldn't stop screaming until we stop.”
The three men also restored a 1905 ice boat once owned by the Wrigley family of chewing gum fame. It remains all original, right down to the canvas sails. They bought the boat in 2003.
The ice is good right now, but the snow cover is making the sport iffy. Parenteau said they like to set up in front of the VFW and give rides, but it's weather dependent. And then there's that thing about screaming.