Story of the MARY B

In 1947, a Madison electrician, O.T. Havey, decided to commission a work of art from the finest craftsmen available and name it after his wife, Mary. That work of art, the wooden iceboat MARY B, became synonymous with Madison and her record of regatta titles still stand today in the world of iceboat racing.
The MARY B is maximum Madison. Frank Tetzlaff, who along with Carl Bernard built the MARY B, was a master carpenter who helped translate some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unitarian Church complicated ideas into reality. Carl Bernard grew up on Gorham Street on Lake Mendota in the boat livery business that his grandfather, Charles Bernard, began in the late 1800s. MARY B was built to standards never before seen in iceboat building, taking three years to complete. Frank Teztlaff hand selected each board from an entire railroad car of Sitka Spruce at Marling Lumber on East Washington Avenue.
Carl Bernard was her first skipper and he sailed her to ten of her fifteen major regatta wins throughout Wisconsin and Michigan in the 1940s and 50s. O.T. Havey never sailed the boat but did take a ride once in a while. Madison newspapers were filled with headlines about the MARY B. When Carl Bernard retired from ice sailing, James Payton took the tiller and continued to win regatta titles. The MARY B was eventually sold and she’s been sitting in a barn near Pewaukee, Wisconsin for 15 years.
The Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club and a group of people interested in Madison history, classic wooden boats, and the thrill of iceboating are forming a foundation to buy and bring the “B back home”, back to Madison, back to Lake Mendota where she reigned for 40 years. We want to share the ‘B with the community by educating people about Madison history, Lake Mendota classic boat building, and the science behind how iceboats can travel 5 times faster than the wind.
Soon you will be able to make a tax exempt donation to bring the ‘B home to Madison and back under sail on Lake Mendota. You will own a part of Madison history when you donate to bring back the ‘B.


1. How will my donation be used?
Your donation will go towards the purchase of the boat, a trailer for the boat, storage fees, and maintainence.

2. What is the current condition of the boat?
The MARY B has been well kept near Pewaukee, Wisconsin for many years and she's in very good condition for her age.

4. Who will maintain the boat?
Members of the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club will maintain the boat. We have been an organized club since 1921 and our members have access to shops, materials, and tools.

5. Will the boat be raced at regattas?
Yes, experienced Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club members plan on taking the MARY B to race in major regattas in Wisconsin.

Happy Birthday Mary Bernice!

The stern steerer Mary B was christened 68 years ago today. Wooden boats age gracefully!

Photo: Gretchen Dorian
Here she is under sail on Lake Monona in February of 2016. For more information about the Mary B stern steerer, click here.