Members of the Chickawaukie Ice Boat Club gathered at Lake St. George the morning of the first day of spring to glide across the ice and enjoy what typically signals the end of their season.

“This morning out here the ice was still hard,” said Bill Buchholz, president of the club. But by early afternoon, the bright sunny day started turning the smooth ice to slush.

“Slowly you can feel the runners breaking through,” he said.

The Republican Journal caught up with the group at the boat launch off Route 3 just as the sails were coming down and the boats began to be disassembled.

Buchholz said he had been checking conditions for today’s event throughout the week and that Friday, a brisk wind made it feel like a chilly 19 degrees across the lake.

Buchholz described the lake Friday as having “some of the best ice of the season, and a very high islands/broads ratio; the lake is sublime.”

On Saturday, Buchholz wrote on the group’s website (iceboat.me), “The lake was alive with the sound of sails … As always this time of year, the earlybirds got the best ice, and those with slush runners had the most fun in the last hurrahs.”

When asked how fast one travels on an ice boat, Buchholz said his personal best is in the low 80-mile-per-hour range, but that takes good ice and wind. Yesterday, he said his speed was in the mid-50s and low 60s.

The group is based, as the name suggests, at Lake Chickawaukie in Rockport, but travels to where conditions are the best. Favorites include Great Pond, Damariscotta Lake, Sebago Lake and Moosehead Lake.

“Chickawaukie is great for racing,” Buchholz said. But given the choice, he said, “we’d rather race around islands instead of rocks. The ice here is bulletproof.”

Two weeks ago at Damariscotta Lake, he said, there were about 40 boats that took part in a meet.

Fifteen-year-old Milo Fleming, owner of a boat named Papadoo is from Blue Hill and, according to his mom, is the youngest guy out here.

Buchholz said at a previous race on New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee, the group sailed from the top of the lake to the bottom and back. Only three boats made it back “in a timely manner," and Milo's was one of those. Four other boats came in after sunset, he said.

When asked what he enjoyed most about ice boats, Milo replied, “The speed. Definitely the speed.”