“Let’s go ice boating!” It is a rare winter day in New Hampshire to have perfect ice boating conditions – meaning thick smooth ice with no snow coverage.
The temperature was 14 degrees. The ice had been frozen for the past month, and a few drilled holes showed the ice to be 8 – 10 inches thick – plenty of strength for ice boating – and smooth ice with no lingering snow.
Sailable ice is known in the sport as "hard water" versus sailing on liquid or "soft" water. Ice boats are strictly wind powered and need nearly snow-free smooth ice to sail.
The Homemade Ice Boat
Dundee has many creative skills – and his iceboat reflects this.
A Rare Opportunity
Ice boating can be a very unique experience. Once you get over the initial, “What am I doing here” feeling, you sense being one with the boat. You hear the wind in the sail and the rumble of the runners over the ice. Certainly at 14 degrees you must dress in layers for relative comfort.
Rare are the right ice boating conditions – thick ice – no snow – good wind – good weather – and not have to go to work! Smile.
The frequent crackling sound in the video is not the wind – it is the sound of microspikes as Steve walks on the ice. Microspikes offer serious traction on ice for walking and tasks as pushing the iceboat.Click the below video and enjoy this unique experience – and even take an ice boat ride with Outdoor Steve.
Three 10” angle iron blades called "runners" support a triangular shaped wooden frame with a front steering tiller made from an old hockey stick. The blades are attached to the boat, one on each end of the rear cross plank and one at the fore end of the hull. The runner blade in the front is capable of rotation controlled by a tiller (the sawed off hockey stick.) There is a back rest cushion seat in the middle for the driver.
Dundee drilled a sail post hole near the front of the boat. In the hole he positioned the mast from his summer sunfish sail boat. (A Force 5 or Laser sailboat mast will work just as well.) A rope is tied to the sail and used by the driver to control the sail.
The boat with sail weighs about 150 lbs.
Starting, Steering and Stopping
The boat can be started by putting the boat sideways to the wind. You then pull onto the sail to capture the wind – and off you go.
The boat is steered with the hockey stick tiller to direct the front runner.
The driver pulls or releases the sail via the boom rope to angle the sail to catch the wind. The only seeming limitations to iceboat speed are windage, friction, the camber of the sail shape, strength of construction, quality of the ice surface and the level of skill, athleticism and fearlessness of the sailor. There are many styles of ice boats, but it is said an ice boat of this style can go two times the wind speed.
Tacking or coming about is a sailing maneuver by which a sailing vessel turns its bow into the wind through the 'no-go zone' so that the direction from which the wind blows changes from one side to the other. The tacking method gets the ice boat up and down the pond and is really how the ice boat is steered - catching the wind is exactly like sailing a sailboat in the summer.
- Iceboat.org: http://iceboat.org/faqiceboat.html
- Tacking (sailing): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacking_%28sailing%29
- Sailing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailing
- Ice Boating in New Hampshire - Bedford Community TV