Hello, Sailor! Ice Report, Sunday November 25th 2007, Lake Christina and Dead Lake, Minnesota!

KA 1 along with an '07 rookie racer (without numbers) and I made a quick run up I 94 to the new ice on Lakes; Christina, at Ashby MN and Dead, just north of Ottertail MN, today.

Conditions at 3pm today are: Partly Cloudy, 42 F, 8 C, Wind S 15 G over 20.

Approaching Exit 77 on I 94 the ground is barren, many of the ponds and smaller lakes approaching Ashby are frozen. The smaller bays of Pelican Lake, visible from the freeway are frozen, the main body remains open.

Pelican Lake: Two small boat trailers are parked at the Pelican Public Access along Highway 78 on our way to the Coot, we turned right at Ashby and drove along the North Shore of the North Arm on Pelican Lake, one fisherman was seen just pulling the first portable fish house of the season out on the ice. The ice looked pretty rough along shore near the Ashby Resort, and we did not stop.

Christina: We drove around the west shore from the South Public Access towards Milepost 8 as 311’s “Love Song” playing on the Satellite Radio, Christina is inviting as ever, under long lens she appears100% Frozen.

At the Milepost 8 launch site, we walked on the ice, (without cordless drill for objective measurement), the ice bears weight, and appears to be generally between 1.5 and 2.0 inches thick. Walking out to the fresh ice maybe 250 yards, I paused and gave the ice a good stomp, the tearing thunder from this crack continued spreading straight east, for what seemed to be 15 seconds time, probably continuing all the way to the east shore of the lake.

Four Swans were standing around on the ice close to where we stopped; amusingly swans aren’t terribly graceful as they walk on ice.

Pausing briefly, Shep walked out to where I was standing, water seeped thru the crack wetting our shoes, it’s not a lake today that will welcome a crowd gathering in any place. The ice is just a bit cloudier than optically clear, the longest ice crystal we could see was about 4” in length. It must have been pretty breezy just before freezing.

In this area, I stomped on one area where the crack appeared to be, well thin, maybe 1.25 inches or so. There may have been ice below the crack, but I couldn’t be sure without a drill.

Assessment: We can sail here on Christina right now, she’s so sweet, always here always willing to show an iceboater a good time, but a prudent iceboater wouldn’t sail here today without planning on swimming, and we’re not all suitably attired today. We went Truckin to Dead Lake.

We drove past Battle Lake, site of a prior Western Challenge Regatta, it’s wide open, and along the West Shore of Ottertail, again wide open, with hundreds of swans a swimming… to Dead Lake.

Dead Lake, Maine, MN: Walking out from Collins Landing, launch site from last year’s epic Western Challenge Regatta, the entire West Arm of Dead appears frozen, conditions were almost identical to those observed on Christina… that is, 1.5 to 2” of ice, cracks underfoot, seeping water in less than a minute under the weight of a single pilot. The lake gave up a couple long cracks for us, audible for 10 seconds or more, just like we’d seen on Christina.

Assessment: We can sail here right now, but should again be prepared to swim. It’s blowing snot, there’s a bit of moisture on the ice from the current warm wind. Finding a flaw may happen at great speed, it’s probably not a great day for just two DNs.

Thoughts on Next Weekend; Either Lake is suitable, Dead Lake’s Collins Landing will close on Dec 1, and will be unavailable as a launch site, the public landing on the south shore of this bay has rough ice extending out for 200 yards, has no amenities and will accommodate maybe 40 cars total. As such, Christina, at Milepost 8 is the preferred site. With the forecast for much colder temperatures, the local weather guys are talking about Arctic High Pressure thru the week, I expect there should be ample ice later this week.

I recommend Lake Christina, at Milepost 8 as the primary site for next weekend sailing, and for now, the primary site for the Great Western Challenge Regatta!

It’s gonna be AMAZING!!!