Sailing Continues All Winter Long - Ice Boating on Nites - Twice the Fun

Sailing Continues All Winter Long - Ice Boating on Nites - Twice the Fun

I’ve gone Ice Boating twice.  It was so few not because I didn’t like it, it was that I loved it.  I needed one season a year to catch up on the honey-do projects at home, and Ice Boating would have taken that away.

One of the funniest things about ice boats is they have – no brakes!  They always just coast to a stop.

It is an adrenalin rush, it is really fast, and the steering blade out front throws little ice chips right at your face ice constantly, your face becomes raw with the cold, and you’re loving every minute of the experience.

Nite ice boats are two-seaters, side by side. They can be sailed with one, but why not have twice the fun?

Most Nites are steered by foot pedals and have an auxiliary steering wheel mounted on deck in front of the cockpit to steer the boat when pushing it around.  Some Nites have a tiller connected to the front runner.

Nite Ice Boating on Big Cedar Lake, WI
If you don’t think they’re fast enough for you, take a look at this video –

Nites are a loyal group, with boats 17-1/2′ long, and a beam of 11′, and 67 s.f. of sail area.  In boats the rule of thumb is, the bigger the faster! First built in 1976, these are a bit bigger than the DNs with about 12% more sail area. There are somewhere around 600 built to date. They have a fiberglass hull.  There’s a lot of these around and good competition, advice and friendship leads the way.  These are the purest of one-design ice boats, even the fittings are built by the same manufacturer.

Nite Nationals

Asking prices for used Nites are running $3,000-$6,000 on the internet. If you insist on top dollar, S&R Marine builds all Nites.

International Nite Class Association

Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club

Nice Article on Nites

Women Sail Too

For safety’s sake, Ice Boaters wear warm winter clothing that can handle exposure to high wind speeds, goggles, spiked shoes to push off with, helmet (motorcycle type), an inflatable life jacket and 2 ice picks.

What are those last two items for? A few times each winter someone will sail into open holes in ice into the freezing water. You need to be able to pull yourself back up onto firm ice. While tests are performed on ice for thickness, water springs and birds can keep water moving in spots which makes ice thinner in those area. You can’t test the thickness of a whole lake.

Using Ice Picks to Quickly Get Out of the Water

Where would you start? Where would you see if this is for you? Where would you find a decent Nite to buy for yourself?

  • An Ice Boat Swap meet is November 2, 2013 at Gull Lake Ice Club holding it at Gull Lake Country Club, 9725 West Gull Lake Drive, Richland, MI 49083 from 10am – 3pm EDT. There will be boats on display, history pieces, lunch and a raffle. An ice boat parts vendor and a mast builder will be there to help anyone out.
  • On November 3, 2013 at the Ice Boat Swap Meet between 9-12 Central Time (note – clocks “fall back” the night before) at Lucky’s Cantina, 220 Elkhorn Road, Williams Bay, WI 262-245-6666.
  • Another way to do this is simply show up on a day at the lake that they are ice boating. How? On a Friday, call this phone number 608.204.9876 and get a pre-recorded message where the Ice Boaters are meeting up that weekend to go sailing and drive there. Go out on the ice, and strike up a conversation. Explain that you would like to give sailing on an iceboat a try, many will loan your their boat on the spot. Ask how you can get some help buying your own boat.

Meanwhile back to the theme of this blog, have these ice boating articles been frightfully expensive? Have they told you, that you’ll need to know the secret knock and double back upside down handshake? No and No! For a few thousand dollars and a bunch of tanks of gas in your car, you’ll find a lot of people with open arms willing to help you get up to speed. Sailing is affordable and very accessible.

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