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Can’t Wait to get Back on the Water? Try an Ice Boat!

Posted February 5th, 2010
by Staff (no comments)

iceboatsWinter sucks.

Let me rephrase that. If you live in a place where the water freezes over into ice for half the year, winter sucks.

You make an investment in a nice recreational watercraft or boat. You rent marina space, and you take good care of the vehicle. You even make sure that your boat insurance is paid up at all times. Yet you’re stuck at home, huddled around a fireplace, waiting for the lake to thaw.

Well, it’s time to get up off your warm duff and get back out on the water. An ice boat is exactly what you need to get on the water during the winter months.

What’s an ice boat? Well, an ice boat is a purpose-built framework that’s pretty similar overall to a sail boat. Instead of a hull, however, this boat has runners, skis or skates. It’s designed to sail over ice rather than through water.

Ice boating even has its own specialized terms. Sailing and racing an ice boat is known as “ice yachting.” Ice that’s good enough to be sailed upon is called “hard water” (as opposed to the “soft water” you spend your summers on).

Ice boats are typically single-seaters. There are some models that have more seats, but they’re much less common. Some ice boats can even have a motorcycle-style side car attached in order to bring along a passenger.

Ice boats aren’t a new concept, either. They’ve been used since the 1800s for both practical purposes like transporting stuff across the ice, as well as recreationally for racing. The original ice boats were as long as 50 feet in some cases.

There are Ice boating clubs, too. While you won’t find them in Florida or North Carolina, there are a ton in Michigan, Wisconsin and, for our neighbors to the North, in Ontario and Alberta.

The Northwest Ice Yacht Association is one of the oldest of these groups. They feature an annual regatta, which has been going on for more than a century.

So, if you can’t wait for the spring thaw, try something new. Talk to your boat dealer about an ice boat. Maybe you can rent one for a weekend to start. It’s not for everyone, but you might just find you’re hooked.

Photo via Joe Shlabotnik


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