Elk Lake 2-25-05

We sailed and had a blast today, the wind picked up for a little while. The winds were between 5 and 7mph gusting to 10 or 11 most of the time. I posted some pictures in the photo gallery, we had 6 boats out here today and we were just going to get set up for the weekend. We didn't really expect to get to sail...what a great "bonus " day.

3-5-2005 Snow Skates

We had a ball today. I finally made snow skates that actually work great. The winds were light, 5-8 mph with infrequent gusts to 10 or 11 mph. With snow that ranged from 1-7" I think it's great that we hit 28 mph on the GPS. Can't wait to try them in a higher wind.
If the snow was a little firmer they'd go faster too. The snow was light and kind of fluffy today.
I posted some pictures, I sailed my wife's spare boat because it has the best light wind sail.
We've also got some video, but I have to edit it and figure out how to post it.
My friends and I have tried several different ideas for snow skates and all have worked "fine"...These are great, This quality snowboard I used costs more, but it is worth it.
I hopped in the boat and Kelly just barely bumped it and it just kept gliding on top of the snow and as soon as we got away from the shore and in the wind it took off.
We'll post more pictures and let you know how they work in more wind. I am hoping for at least 10 mph winds


Elk 3-7-05

It doesn't look like we are going to get a chance to try the snowboard skates today. The lake is looking good. There is alot of clear area and snow cover where we could check ( we only went out about 500 feet because the surface was so wet) ranged from a dusting to 1 1/2".
The temps are dropping here rapidly so the surface should be re-frozen by late this afternoon. We're taking off the boards and putting the skates back on...
Just as a guess from looking at the lake that it will refreeze a little bumpy, but should be some great sailing. We'll report after it re-freezes and we actually sail it.


March 7th update

Just got back in from sailing. There is virtually no snow cover. There are a couple valleys out there that the snow has blown into. These valleys have 1/4" to 1/2" of snow in them.
For snow ice it's great...it's not anything compared to smooth black or green ice, but for snow ice it's really good.
We have winds gusting to 40 mph here today blowing from the north end of the lake so Spencer's Bay (where White Birch is) was in a lee shore so it may hove more snow. We only checked the North end of the lake.
If we don't get alot of snow we will be sailing everyday again.


March 8th Elk Lake

We again sailed for hours and had a great time...33 days and counting of sailing (not including days we just pushed and waited). We now have snow ice. It is a little bumpy, but completely sailable. We have some drifts up to 1/2".
Winds started out a little light today so we only got in a couple rides. Kelly caught a great gust and took off. Fortunately I was kind of close to her because when the wind came up we had a complete white out. We were about 10' apart and we could see each other, but nothing else. We patiently waited for the wind to die down and headed in to lunch.
After lunch the wind was more consistent so we headed out again. This time we had two novices with us. Kelly pushed me out and I took off immediately. Then she pushed out one of the novices. As soon as he left the boat started to hike. It concerned him a bit so he set it down a little hard. He then came to a stop. When he got out to push the boat took off without him. He was holding on to the back being drug by the boat while it was hiking with no one in it. Fortunately being extremely young he was able to pull himself forward and into the seat. After that he was done for the day.
Finally Kelly headed out. Again whenever she heads out the wind picks up. She was just starting to gain speed when it got gusty again. The winds were gusting easily over 40 mph. Her boat is extremly light and even with the sail all the way out she couldn't keep it down to a safe speed for her. She was out about a mile or so and the winds wouldn't die back down. She pointed into the wind and waited for a break. After about 10 minutes of winds about 25 to 40 I sailed in and took the six wheeler out and sailed her boat in for her. She has only sailed about a dozen times and is usually not afraid of going as fast as she can, but 40 mph gusts and watching someone trying to catch and get it to their boat worried her. So she was relieved I was there to sail it in for her.
It was an interesting day, but alot of fun. The ice is good for snow ice and obviously not too slow ! (10+" thick)

Sailing every day..if your nearby come on out!


Elk March 9th

What can I say...no update..just another great day of sailing !!
We sailed for hours and it was great. I posted a picture of the new boat we got (new to us) and were trying out today...
Having way too much fun.


Snowboard skates

More info and pics at


I didn't want to post too many pics and use up too much space here.


Sunday Feb 27


Sorry that I missed your call for lunch, I left the phone in the truck. I couldn't believe the sailing! Some of the drifts were in the 7" range, but as long as I kept it in a hike, it was a riot. I played with the wind sailors for about three hours and was soaking wet when I finally called it a day. The cockpit was full of snow and I was frozen. Several drifts took me by surprise, coming over the hull and about taking my helmet off. I should have probably stopped sooner, but you could virtually feel that big storm coming in and it was obvious that we would be shut in for awhile.

GPS showed 62 miles for the day, not bad for an old guy! There was so much snow packed between the plank and the fuselage that it took quite a bit to loosen the plank bolts.

Thanks again for your and Kelly's hospitality, hope to try the J20 when the ice clears.

Corey Hughes, Nite 341

March 2nd 2005

As usual we were fortunate..many areas near Traverse City and west of the city received significant snowfall. Because of our location we usually receive a little less. We finally got to drive out onto the lake and check 15-20 different spots for snow depth. We found the depth to range from 5-8 inches deep.
I shoveled some snow away and the ice still looks great beneath the snow.
We are expecting 4-5 days above freezing so we may lose enough snow to sail next week.
We hope to start setting all the boats back up this weekend if the forecasted temps hold true.
We'll be ready and waiting.


March 3rd

Thanks to the sun we now have 4-5 " in front of the house about halfway out. It's not light and fluffy, but also not quite wet and heavy enough to make a snowball.. It won't pack.
I know it's probably futile, but I am considering trying to sail as soon as we get some wind. The forecast for the next 3-4 days is for above freezing daytime temps so the snow should continue to melt.


March 4th

5" of firmly packed snow....forecast is above freezing for a couple days, winds look good after Sunday. If we lose some snow we may give it a shot Sunday, If not we are pulling out the ski skates!




It may end soon

You might want to check my response to where the ISA may be by Geoff...it might interest you....we should be able to sail all day tomorrow (Sunday) winds 11-20 but that could all change Sunday night...Lets hope the storm misses us !!



Glad you sailed. A helpful tip: state the name of the lake and the date you sailed. "We sailed today" doesn't tell us much.

Elk Lake

Thanks Geoff he must have missed the title....


Thanks for the reports!


Thanks for the running commentary on the Elk Lake conditions (and photos). If we don't get some sailing conditions over on this side of lake Michigan soon, I may have to drive back over there for the "Fun Regatta"!


Geoff S.

love the commentary...

if we can't sail here it's fun to see that other people are out and reporting back...

it's fun to see the seasonal forum usage... sort of how-to::ice conditions::regatta info::ice conditions::how-to.. we are just getting back into the how-to..

Let's hope we get back to ice conditions...

We walked out about 500-600 feet today and checked the snow because we had no idea if there was 5 inches or 15 inches. We haven't hardly been able to see the lake and our window is only 50' from shore.
The snow is much more even than the last time we sailed. As Corey mentioned we had some pretty tall drifts that last day.
The wind has made it a much more consistent coverage. We took the tape measure and a little hand shovel expecting to have to dig down to the ice. To our surprise there was only 5-6" of snow. 2" of it was pretty heavy on the bottom. The rest on the top was fluffy. Now that's only like I said 500-600' out. The other side of the lake could have alot more. As soon as we have some visibility and I can see the other side of the lake we'll head out in the 6 wheeler and get a better idea. We are forcasted to have 3 or 4 days above freezing this weekend...so it may be a longshot, but we can hope for some sailing as early as next week. I'm not ready to give up just yet and if I can ever figure out how to use my live cam with my cable internet we'll have a web page with live shots all day every day....


Elk Lake Feb 27th

Well Geoff, EMail me or check my posts before you head out....we got in a little sailing today, but it was quite wild here today. REALLY high winds pushing us through the snow was quite something. They have now upped the forecast for 10-15 inches of snow here...let's hope they're wrong and everyone can come up soon for the regatta...if they are right we'll have to wait for a thaw, but our ice is now so thick we should be able to keep plenty of thickness through the snow thaw...
Looking foward to the regatta...
Thanks Jack


A Skeeter questions


I noticed that you have 2 "bubble boats"! How lucky can you get? I have Rick Stavolas old boat the MONA LISA. We rebuilt my boat to look like the latest "slant backs". Your boats look similiar to mine. Did Dan Clapp build Them? What mast height and plank width do you have? Are both boats identical?

Rob Marsh
A Skeeter "ILLUSION" N654


Hi, both boats are identical, yes Dan built them both. The masts are 30' I'll have to measure the planks.
Dan used to borrow these boats back from me to compete with...you'll see several pictures of him sailing them up through about 3 years ago, then I got stingy and wouldn't loan them to him anymore because I have electric winches to control the trim and side stays and Dan had to remove these for racing and by the time they were re-installed it was such a big job that I was not getting enough sailing time in them.
The 30' mast is great, but without the electrically controlled side stays you have to be extremely careful in higher winds about side stay adjustment.


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Elk Lake