Ice Boating on Greenwood Lake - 1938

It was 5 degrees this morning. A bit chilly for a Rebel…. but just perfect for ice boating. Here’s a video of Greenwood Lake from the winter of 1938. As the boats start out near Big Rock Cove, you can see the shoreline where the Nussbaum/Selick house would be built some years later. Heading north, you can make out Fox Island, the ice house at the state line and a pavilion, that looks a lot like the Awosting Boathouse.

The Early Days of Rebel Fleet 21

Rebel 1593 - Fleet Race on July 11, 2009

Rebel 1593 - Fleet Race on July 11, 2009

On October 19, 2018, Bill Selick received the email below from Ted Gehrig, one of the early AYS Rebel sailors.

We are sorry to hear of Ted’s dad passing.

Many thanks to Ted, for sharing the early history of Rebel Fleet 21.

The text of Ted’s email is below. Bill’s response, which includes some more recent history, is a little further down. Jack Roe and Ted exchanged a few emails regarding 1593. Ted’s response, dated October 18, 2018, located at the end of this post, includes additional Fleet 21 history.


On Oct 15, 2018, at 1:32 PM, Ted Gehrig wrote:

The main purpose of my writing is to report that Past AYS Commodore John C. Gehrig (my father) passed away number of years ago.   You might want to report him as “deceased” on your new website. 

My father purchased Rebel 1593 new in the early 1960’s and started Rebel Fleet 21 along with Dr. Bill Horton (1594) and Kenneth C. Mehrhof (1592).   These three purchased the first three boats all at once having studied the design and after viewing a Rebel at the New York City Boat Show.  They chartered Fleet 21.  In the early years, the fleet raced with only three boats.  The Awosting sailing crowd (at the time all Star, Lightening, and/or Snipe owners) thought the Rebel owners were crazing to purchase Rebels.  Fiberglass and not a wood hull?  Aluminum and not a wooden mast?  Rounded hull instead of hard chine hull?  All these Rebel boat characteristics were very radical in the early 1960s.  

Those first years, all the Rebel racers (skipper and crew) were young teenagers (no Adults raced in Rebels until George Vurno joined the fleet).  During the first year or two of the Fleet, the boats overpowered these young sailors.  As a result, flipping was very common for the first year or two (what a pain to right a flipped Rebel with the early design).  All the old timers in the Yacht Squadron claimed that the frequent Rebel flipping was due to the curved hull and poor boat design – instead of the lack of weight of the crew on board and their inexperience as sailors!  In those early years we were jokingly referred to as the “bathtub fleet”.   These young sailors eventually learned how to handle the boats and flipping became a rare event.  

I followed my brother as skipper beginning my Rebel racing career in the early 1970s.   I raced 6 years or so and only flipped once, just before the start on day.  I was nimble enough to go over the top landing on the centerboard where I jumped up and down like mad (all 120 pounds of me).  I was amazed (flabbergasted with surprise) when the boat popped back upright.  My crew (he weighed about 80 pounds) and I dropped the sails immediately to keep from swamping.  We flagged down a motor boat and were towed to the Boathouse dock landing at the dock with only inches of freeboard above the centerboard trunk so we could bail the boat dry at the dock.  We raised the sails and were several minutes late for the start.  

I enjoyed looking at your Awosting Rebel Fleet 21 website and seeing a photo of my old boat (1593 – still black I see).  I had lots of fun in the early 1970’s.  Many fond memories.   

Keep sailing and thanks.


Ted Gehrig, Former Fleet and District Champion, Rebel 1593


From: William Selick
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2018 2:03 PM
To: Ted Gehrig
Subject: Re: Past Commodores -- AYS website


Hi Ted,

Thanks for helping us update our web site.  I loved your brief sailing history, and will share it with the rest of the fleet.

1593 was sailed by Chris Norton for a number of years, then left abandoned in someone’s back yard for about 20 years.  Jack Roe claimed it for himself, refurbished it, and raced it for several years till he graduated to a new vintage boat.  Binnie Norton recently moved back to Awosting after moving to Arizona for many years, and has reclaimed 1593 for her son, so that boat is still out there sailing after all these years.

You might be interested to know that the only one-design fleet left on Greenwood Lake is the Rebel Fleet.  George Vurno is still sailing with us from time to time, and Jamie Dykes recently rejoined the fleet after a 20 year hiatus.  The modern Rebel is self-rescuing, so an agile adult can actually right the boat himself.  The design is such that there is an air pocket built right into the seats that keeps the boat floating after going over, then you open the bailing flaps in the back and the scupper in the bottom, and 15 minutes later, the boat is bone-dry.   (About 10 years ago, when I was still young enough, I went over while single-handing, and was able to successfully right the boat and keep on sailing)

If you are ever in the area, please let us know, and I’ll try to find you space on a boat.


Bill Selick

Rebel Fleet 21 Captain

Rebel 4182



From: Ted Gehrig
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2018 2:10 PM
To: Jack Roe
Subject: RE: Past Commodores -- AYS website



Thanks for the kind note.  Yes feel free to use the information on the AYS website and blog. 

I’m so glad that you saved 1593.  In her day she was a very light (about 100 pounds underweight) and very fast.  Mid way though my Rebel sailing career we weighed all the boats in the fleet (a first) and all discovered just how light 1592, 1593 and 1594 were.   Lead weights were promptly added to the boats to bring them up to 700 pounds.   I visited Awosting a number of years ago (Mid 1990’s?) and saw 1593 tied up to a dock along the waterfront.  The old pine boards that I strapped around the centerboard trunk and to which I screwed lead weights were still in place.   She looked good for her age.  I’m also the guy who drilled one inch holes in the seats to mount a solid 1 inch diameter aluminum rod across the boat for a “mid-boom” traveler system (all the rage in the mid 70’s).  Eventually everyone went back to stern travelers after North Sails modified their sail design to favor a stern traveler.  Times change.

The second batch of boats that were purchased from Ray Green in the mid to late 1960s had false bottoms (much like the new design) but with foam sprayed between the hull and the raised floor.  The foam soaked up water and after the first year these boats started gaining weight – soon all these boats were several hundred pounds overweight, very slow, and not at all competitive.   There was no way to dry these boats out.  The foam provided rigidity to the hull so if you cut open the flooring and removed the foam, the bottom of the boat would flex and flap with the waves.   Ray Greene was a bit ahead of him time with this design – he never made good with the owners of these boats and this created some problems in terms of growing the fleet as the Rebel design got a bad reputation for longevity.

When I sold 1593 to Doug Prideaux in 1978 (for $1500), the gelcoat on the bottom was starting to craze and the sides had little shine left but the boat was still fast.  Are the older boats still competitive or do you need a new one to win these days? 

Again, thanks for the note.


Ted Gehrig

Righting a Capsized Rebel

How to Right a Capsized Rebel
Posted By: Dillon Waltner, P-21 (soon!) Rebel Mk IV <Send E-Mail>
Date: 6/11/01 6:52p.m. 

I wrote this for other Rebel sailors but I think there are many things in here that apply to other Daysailors: 

How to Right a Capsized Rebel By Dillon Waltner, Rebel Fleet 21 

Despite less than one year of experience sailing Rebels, I have been involved in the righting/rescue of 4 Rebels – including one on which I was crewing. Anyone who has experienced the righting of a capsized Rebel knows how difficult and potentially dangerous this experience can be and it is my hope that the lessons I’ve learned can be of use to others. 

When I first bought my Rebel it was my intention to do what I always do when getting the feel of a sailing dinghy – take her out and dump her on purpose a few times. Discussing my plans with other Rebel sailors I quickly learned that this was not a good idea. Righting a Rebel is difficult, and with 700 lbs of boat and quite a bit more weight in water, not possible with only a single person. Furthermore, the older Rebels (mine is a 1984) are not self-rescuing. Armed with that information, the first time I saw a Rebel capsize in a race I decided I could get some valuable experience. Since I was sailing with an experienced skipper who was capable of singlehanding, I dove into the water to lend a hand. My education began immediately. 

As with most sailing dinghies, the procedure is to unsheet the main and get as much weight as possible on the centerboard and heave her up. Sounds easy, right? WRONG! If the crew in the water is quick thinking (and swimming), if the boat has adequate flotation and if the centerboard is fully extended the “by the book” method will work. Other problems can make the task far more complicated however, and as the saying goes, “Murphy was an optimist.” 

If you are in shallow water (5-10’) the masthead will quickly become embedded in the bottom, adding to the water weight that the crew must overcome to heave her up. If you are in deep water, you run the risk of turtling (which, thank the Fates, I have never experienced). If you were running downwind or were sailing in waters with a lot of weeds (which at Greenwood Lake is more common than not) chances are you didn’t have the centerboard all the way down. If you are sailing an older Rebel you have a large volume of below deck space which will fill with water, and if you’re like me you may not have a lot of flotation forward. 

With all these things working against you, you might begin to wonder what the heck to do with a capsized boat that you can’t right, even with two 200 pounders bouncing on the centerboard. It is my hope that this checklist will give some insight on how to get out of this situation with minimal damage to your crew and your boat. 

Priorities – Assessing the Situation Those first few seconds after a capsize are crucial. You and your crew are shocked and your mind is racing. Once you’ve capsized, you’re probably going to be in the water for at least 15 – 20 minutes under optimum conditions, so the first decisions you make are critical. Your priorities are, in order: 

1. The crew – make sure everyone is all right. Check for injuries and talk to each other. If you weren’t wearing them, get into lifejackets (this is VERY difficult once you are in the water so help each other out – better yet, always wear your PFD). If the water is cold, there is a danger of hypothermia so note the time you went in the water. 

2. Other boats – make a quick check for other boats in the area and if there are powerboats close by (there will be once they see you in the water) make sure they are aware of where your rigging and lines are. Tell them to stay on the windward side (the bottom of the boat). Be aware of where assisting powerboats are and keep well clear of propellers. 

3. Your boat and flotsam – only when you have determined that you and your crew are safe and that you pose no danger to other boats in the area should you begin working on getting the boat upright and recovering any floating gear. Most gear is not important, but if there are items important to you to recover (rudder, GPS, handheld VHF radio, etc.) get them lashed to something or better yet, get an assisting boat to recover them. 

Righting the Boat By now you have a gaggle of powerboats around you all offering to help. Chances are, not many will know what to do so you are going to need to direct them. Once any injured crew are attended to, you need the other boaters assisting you to stay well clear until you determine you need a tow. If you right the boat unassisted you will need to make sure there are no boats close by on both sides of the boat. When it comes up you want to make sure that everyone is clear of the mast, sails and rigging. When the boat is full of water it is inherently unstable and there is the danger that when it comes up it will keep going and come down the other way, so keep everyone not involved well away from the boat when righting. 

Getting up on the centerboard on a slick boat when you’re exhausted is tantamount to climbing Mt. Everest. A helpful way to overcome this is to get around to the other side and tie a line to the windward chainplate (the one that’s not under water). If you need a power boat to pull the boat up you will need to do this anyway, so you can save some time by using a decent sized towline. I like to put a loop in the line by tying a bowline and just hitching it around the shroud. Toss it over to the other side and you or your crew can now rappel up onto the board. 

But what if the board is up? The centerboard on the Rebel is very heavy and uses gravity to hold it down when sailing. So if you went over with the centerboard up, or partially up, getting it down far enough to climb onto is more than just uncleating it, because now gravity is pulling the other direction. It involves both members of the crew and a lot of elbow grease. If you don’t think you are strong enough, then you’ll need to get a powerboat to pull you up – do not uncleat the centerboard if you don’t think you can push it out. To get the centerboard out, one crew member needs to be on either side. The one on the windward side will receive the board as it comes out and put downward pressure on it to keep it from sliding back. The one on the leeward side will stand on the mast for leverage, uncleat the board and push the board out. Once it’s out, CLEAT IT! With the board out, both crewmembers can try getting out on the board to right the boat. 

Oh no, the mast is embedded in the bottom! If you went over in a lake or river, chances are you have a mud bottom and the water isn’t that deep. If this is the case, there is a good chance that by the time you are ready to right the boat, the mast is in the mud preventing you from righting the boat manually. If the water is not that deep, relatively clear, and you are a strong swimmer, you can try raising the mast. Keep in mind that with weeds and stray rigging, this can be a dangerous prospect. Once the mast is free, the boat could come up very quickly with only one crew standing on the centerboard. Without good visibility you could become tangled in the rigging, or worse, pinned underneath it. I made an attempt at this once and quickly determined that a pull from a powerboat was a much safer solution. 

Getting a pull from your friendly fisherman By now you’ve been in the water for at least 15 minutes and have gone through all the procedures and the boat is still on its side. If the water is cold you really need to think about getting the job done quickly and getting out of the water. (NOTE: Be aware of the signs of hypothermia, both in yourself and in your crew. If anyone is exhibiting signs of lethargy or appears giddy get them out of the water immediately and get medical attention. Hypothermia sneaks up on you, and it kills. Never put the rescue of your boat above your own safety and the safety of the people in the water. See the section on hypothermia at the end of this essay.) 

The best solution at this point is to get a powerboater (remember all those folks that wanted to help?) to pull you up. To do this you’ll need a long towline and someone willing to pull you up. Make sure to review these procedures with the power boat skipper and your crew so they know what to expect. 

The first thing to do is to get your towline ready and make it fast to the windward chainplate or shroud. DO NOT use the mast for this. You want your towline as far outboard as possible so the momentum doesn’t pull the boat back over the other way. The chainplate is ideal and there is no other tow point you should use. You can use the bowline and hitch procedure described above, if the power boat skipper is alone, use a slipped clove hitch so you can release the line quickly when the boat comes up – this is not recommended though because of the possibility of the towline getting tangled in the power boat’s propeller. 

A good towline should be as long as possible and definitely not shorter than 15 feet. Ideally, a 25’ heaving line with a monkey’s fist around a wooden ball should always be kept aboard. This will give you enough line to work with and allow you to heave it to the power boat without it having to get too close to you. Line properties vary, so make sure that your towline is in good condition and can handle the strain. 

Once you have your towline fast and the power boat has the other end it is crucial that the line not be tied to the power boat! The reason for this is that the towline should be cast off as soon as the boat starts coming up (i.e. the mainsail is out of the water). Should the boat go over the other way and the line is still attached to the power boat one of 2 things will happen: if the power boat stops the mast and sails will fall on top of it, or if the power boat keeps going while attached it’ll drag your boat under. Optimally, you should get your tow from a boat with at least 2 people aboard: one to drive and one to handle the line. The line should be wrapped once around a cleat on the power boat and handled by a person ready to cast it off quickly. 

When you are ready to start and everyone is clear of the boat instruct the power boat skipper to begin pulling very slowly at about a 100 degree angle from the bow of your boat (out and aft). Make sure that you and your crew are clear of the tow line before it is under strain – it can pin you against the boat! Once the boat starts to rise be ready to give the order to cast off the towline. When the sails are out of the water cast off, or give the order to cast off the line. The power boater should continue moving away to a safe distance once the line is free. 

The boat is up and full of water, now what? Once the boat comes up it will be swamped and very unstable. Do not grab the sides until the boat has steadied. You should grab hold of either the tow line or the transom in case the boat starts sailing away. The Rebel Mark V is self-rescuing and has transom bailers to let the water out. Once the boat is steady, one person should get the transom bailers open by unhooking the shock cord that holds them closed. This should be done from the side of the boat (or if you have skinny arms you can reach it through the bailer itself). Water will begin running out the transom bailers and the crew can carefully get aboard. As one crewmember climbs aboard, the other should be on the opposite side steadying the boat to prevent another capsize. The first crewmember to get aboard should use his/her weight to steady the boat while the other climbs aboard. 

Older Rebels do not have transom bailers (unless you added them) and in most cases, these boats will require a tow. Once the boat has steadied the crew can get aboard carefully as described above and begin bailing or preparing for a tow to shore. When most of the water is out of the cockpit, open the drain plug inside the cockpit to allow water to flow from below decks and into the cockpit. This will both give you more flotation and make it easier to pump out the belowdecks. 

Sail away or take a tow? This is a decision that should not be made lightly. The Rebel Mark V is self-rescuing, but the crew and skipper aren’t. By now you are exhausted and the boat is upright so your adrenaline has gone down. You may have been in cold water for some time, and hypothermia occurs after a long period even in 80 degree water. The skipper needs to evaluate the condition of boat and crew and make the determination to sail or be towed home. If you can get a tow for free, take it – you could use the break. 

The towing line should be made fast as far forward as possible – the bow eye is ideal. The bailers should be opened once the boat is in motion (you’ll have a lot less pumping and bailing to do when you get ashore!). The crew and skipper should be seated aft to ease the load on the tow boat, and one should man the tiller. When under tow with an unstable boat it is important to use the tiller to keep the bow behind the tow boat and the tow boat skipper should keep his speed low to avoid submarining the boat. 

Safe sailing! 


Hypothermia is a drop in core body temperature below 98.6 degrees, which can cause brain damage, cardiac arrest and, if untreated, death. At the onset of hypothermia the core body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. At 93 degrees moderate hypothermia has set in and below 93 degrees hypothermia is severe. Hypothermia can occur even in 80 degree water conditions after prolonged exposure. When in the water it is important to both recognize the onset of hypothermia and safeguard against loss of core body heat. Heat escapes most quickly through the extremities and head. People who have fallen overboard should never remove their shoes or clothing. 

People who have experienced a trauma, such as a boat capsizing, go into mild shock and are thus more prone to hypothermia because of the body’s weakened ability to regulate body temperature. Always be aware of how long you have been in the water and watch for the signs of hypothermia. 

Exposure times In 50 degree water, hypothermia will cause unconsciousness in 30 – 60 minutes and death in 1 – 3 hours. In 60 degree water unconsciousness occurs in 1 to 2 hours, and in 70 degree water in 3 to 12 hours. 

Warning signs At the onset, shivering will occur, but will decrease with activity. Weakness and fatigue will set in, and numbness and waxy skin may be present. A person suffering from moderate hypothermia often appears giddy, confused, clumsy or lethargic. Shivering decreases and movement becomes difficult or painful because of constricted blood vessels. As hypothermia worsens, a person is no longer able to make rational decisions and may be apathetic or confused. The victim feels the strong urge to sleep. As severe hypothermia takes hold, the person will deny there is a problem and may become violent. The skin takes on a blue color, the pupils become dilated and breathing becomes more and more shallow until the person eventually loses consciousness. 

Risk factors Diabetics often experience poor circulation and are thus more at risk for hypothermia. Because a diabetic may be used to feelings of numbness, warning signs of hypothermia may not be heeded. People who suffer from cardiac disease and/or pulmonary disorders can experience hypothermia more quickly, especially those who take aspirin because of its effect of thinning the blood. Alcohol consumption also increases risk, as it numbs the senses and thins the blood. 

How to treat hypothermia If you suspect that you or anyone you know is experiencing hypothermia, get them out of the water and call for medical attention immediately. Replace wet clothing with clothes that are warm and dry. Keep the victim prone if possible and avoid all physical activity until help arrives. Never attempt to raise a hypothermia victim’s body temperature with hot water, electric/hot blankets or by giving alcohol or hot liquids as this can induce cardiac arrest. 

Preventing Hypothermia The best way to prevent hypothermia is to get out of the water as soon as possible. If you are unable to right your boat and help is not available get on top of your boat and wait for help to arrive. You will lose far less body heat through exposure to the air than in the water. Do not attempt to swim for shore. If it is not possible to get out of the water and there is a risk of hypothermia, use the H.E.L.P. position to preserve body heat. H.E.L.P. stands for Heat Escape Lessening Posture. To assume the position wrap your arms tightly across your chest and pull your legs up as tightly as possible. Wear your PFD. Not only will it keep you afloat, it will help preserve body heat.