Ice Boating on Lake Macatawa

Patrick Nowak of Nancy Anne Sailing Charters shared this delightful story with us. Ice boating is a storied Lake Macatawa tradition, and it carries on today! He wrote of his ice boating experience with friend Russ Six on March 17.

Russ Six and a couple of his friends were putting ice boats together on Lake Mac at the end of our street today, so I volunteered to help.  My reward was that they had an extra ice boat in the trailer so they assembled one for me, even though I hadn't done this before.

After about an hour of assembly of the four boats, we were ready to go.  Three were DN boats, a one design ice boat dating back to the 1930's when the Detroit News sponsored ice boat racing on Lake St. Clair near Detroit, hence the name DN.  One of the boats was a Sprinter, a beautiful mahogany craft, a bit larger and more powerful than a DN class boat.

The ice was pretty good, not perfect, but estimated speeds were between 35-40 mph as the wind was light.   These were perfect conditions for a beginner like me.  The guys said that when the breeze is up, 60 mph is quite common.  When I was traveling fast today, my hat would fly off so I would do a 180 turn and go back and pick it up on the fly.  Nice thing about losing your hat in these conditions, the hat doesn't sink.

When a puff of stronger wind came through, these boats would just accelerate, picking up an additional 10 mph, or more, right now!  It's a real thrill ride.  If you ever get the chance to do this, don't pass it up.