Outdoor Handbook

Our Community
Originally published in Seasonal Guide, January 10, 2013
Just add ice skates
For outdoor family fun, seek out the cold spots

Skaters of all ages

Skaters of all ages—and skills—enjoy a party thrown by the Peninsula Skating Association at the Blue Hill rink.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

It’s winter, so why not strap on your skates and get out on the ice? Try your hand at whirling, gliding and twirling at these favorite skating spots:

The Lily Pond in Deer Isle is a perennial favorite for pond skating. Ames Pond in Stonington is another skating gem.

Walker Pond in Sedgwick and Brooksville is a favorite for ice fishing, but takes quite a while to freeze. Be sure to check ice thickness and remember: safety first!

In Penobscot, Pierces Pond and Winslow Stream offer a beautiful wooded background to winter skating.

New this year in Castine, is the reservoir pond on Battle Avenue, with a wintry Witherle Woods as a backdrop.

If ponds aren’t your thing, try the ice skating rink in Blue Hill on Union Street sponsored by the Peninsula Skating Association. The Island Recreation Board sponsors an ice skating rink at the basketball courts across from the former Stonington Elementary School.

And stay safe…

Ice skating—or any activity on ice, such as ice fishing, cross-country skiing or snowmobiling—is not without some danger.

According to Maine Warden Service guidelines posted online, new, clear ice should be at least four inches thick to guarantee safety on foot (or skate). Five inches usually allows for snowmobile or ATV travel.

Keep in mind these guidelines are only for new, clear ice, not for ice that has thawed and refrozen (also known as “white ice”). As the warden service notes, “Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.” Also, keep in mind is that ice seldom freezes uniformly and can be thick in one spot and thin in another.

If someone should fall through the ice, here is what should be done, according to the Maine Warden Service. First, call 911. Second, resist the urge to run to the edge of the hole, which will likely result in two victims in the water. Then, try the “Preach, Reach, Throw, Row, Go” method:

Preach—Shout to the victim, encouraging them to fight.

Reach—If you can safely reach the victim from shore extend an object such as a rope, ladder or jumper cables, and pull the victim in. If you start to be pulled toward the hole, release and start again.

Throw—toss one end of a rope or something else that floats toward the victim. Have them tie the rope around them if they can.

Row—Find a light boat to push across the ice, then get into the boat near the hole and pull the victim over the bow. If available, attach rope to the boat so that others can help pull you and the victim to safety.

Go—Only go onto the ice when all other rescue techniques have failed.

Keep in mind booming and cracking aren’t necessarily indications of weak ice; it is the sound of the ice expanding and contracting as the temperature changes.