Northern Michigan Iceboat Events and News

Welcome to the new home of Northern Michigan Iceboating!!

We will be reporting on and sailing the area lakes near Elk Rapids, Michigan. We will also have surrounding reports from ice scouters in Charlevoix, Boyne City and Traverse City.

Come in, look around and enjoy yourself. As always, Think Ice!

Northern Michigan Ice Reports are on Facebook."Friend" Jack Jacobs.
Let's get a network of iceboaters together and share ice reports. It's easy and it's free!!

March 18th 2015

The lack of updates is due to the fact that we are sailing way too much to have much spare time to update the website!!
Everyone is having a great time and we are sailing every day....

March 13th 2015

We have been having a great time sailing the last couple days.
More people are coming north and west to sail this weekend!
We did an ice check today. The ice is great and when we spudded down 18" we gave up.
More than 18" thick still!
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March 8th 2015

Did someone say zamboni?
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March 3rd 2015

The Zamboni is approaching. Right now there are drifts that are 1-2" of stiff snow and 1-2" of fluffy snow. Also some clear ice so it should not take much to make it snow free
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February 16th 2015

We have been watching East Bay since it froze out further over a week ago. It has looked gorgeous the entire time, but has not been walked. I hear it will be checked thoroughly tomorrow. West Bay is a mess as far as we can see.
We will update as we hear more.

February 4th 2015

Just a couple photos of sailing on Elk Lake on February 3rd, 2015! We have received a couple inches of snow today, but we also have high winds, so we will know more next time we are on the lake  photo IMG_1489_zpsnb0haraj.jpg  photo 875d400c-896f-4f89-8863-d2359dc9e8be_zps303kwunn.jpg

January 26th 2015

We are still sailing Elk Lake EVERY DAY! We will continue until we get snow.
Those of you on Facebook have most likely seen this video and those of you who personally know Jack, know this was his grandfather's iceboat. It has been gorgeously restored in WI and is truly an amazing boat!
Check out video from the 2015 WSSA

January 24th 2015

7 boats on the ice on Elk Lake. Minimal snow... clear ice to 3/4" of an inch of light fluffy snow. The ice is HARD.
The guys will be sailing every day and I will soon be joining them sailing Vixen.
See you there!

January 23rd 2015

Jack had some great rides this afternoon on Elk Lake! Minimal snow cover on approx 50% of the ice.
The other 50% clear.. or something like that...
Not a very technical snow report, is it?? LOL
We are sailing every day!! Videos hopefully Saturday and Sunday

January 22nd 2015

Surprise wind today brought on a couple hours of afternoon sailing! We had a great time and plan on doing it again tomorrow.
Here is a short video White Birch Lodge shared Iceboats on Elk Lake

January 21st 2015

Waiting for wind. Friday looks great!
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January 15th 2015

It's that time of the year again here in Elk Rapids!
We will be regularly updating this website through the iceboating season.
Watch for videos, photos and reports from the most fun iceboating lake in the north!
Today we checked Elk Lake... report as follows:
The part of Spencer's Bay that froze first has 4" of ice, the newer part dropped to 3". Most of the main body of the lake froze the same time as the newer part and some of it one day after. There were some 4" spots found on the East side of the lake, where it froze one day sooner than the late areas. So it needs another couple nights to gain enough thickness everywhere. We will check it again Saturday morning Summary 3" to 4" found on the east and west side of the lake and Spencer's Bay. There may have been some thicker, but the thinnest is what counts There is no public access on Spencer's Bay. Please do not launch there or invite people to launch there without the permission of the property owner. They have advised us they cannot accommodate other people. There are several public launches on Elk Lake.

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April 2nd, 2014

I can't say enough about how FUN Elk Lake still is. Clear ice, a little bumpy, lots of wind this morning!
It's a great late season! Come join us! The ice stays hard till around noon-ish when it's warm and sunny. Longer when it's cold and cloudy. Sit in your chair and complain about the season, or get off your butt and SAIL!

March 28th, 2014

THE ELK LAKE ICEBOAT PARTY IS ON!! It starts tonight and runs through the weekend at our house on Elk Lake!!
Come join us! The rain we got last night resurfaced the lake! BYOB and bring friends!
As always, everything is free of charge. Just bring a chair for your bum and food to share!
SEE YOU THERE :-) It hasn't even started yet and we already have 11 boats on the ice!
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March 24th, 2014

Still sailing Elk Lake every day there is wind. We are having a great time! More boats arrived :-)
See you this weekend for the Elk Lake Iceboat Party.

March 22nd, 2014

Another great day on Elk Lake! Winds were whipping and the guys were sailing as fast as they could stand!!
The Elk Lake Iceboat Party is ON for March 29th and 30th!! Please BYOB and bring something easy to store and eat to share. Examples are chips, cookies etc..
We have sailors from MI, OH, and NY attending
Here is a video from today... ENJOY!

March 20th, 2014

We had an excellent, fun day sailing Elk Lake!!
The 2014 Elk Lake Iceboat Party is March 29th and 30th!! Everyone is invited. It will be at our house on the lake.
While this video is not up to our standards and the boats are very far away, I think you can see them sailing fast. I have unpacked the regular video camera so I can get better video when we are sailing next. No more Iphone video like this one.

March 17th, 2014

Sailing Elk Lake tomorrow! It's going to be "breezy"
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March 15th, 2014

We are setting up on Elk Lake at 10am Sunday morning. It appears sailable and with the freeze/thaw cycles we have coming it's only going to keep improving. We will be sailing everyday there is wind. Get it while you can! There is no place like sailing Elk Lake... and it's not just about the ice, it's about real friends!

The Elk Lake Iceboat Party is our way of thanking everyone for Jack having someone to sail on Elk Lake all winter! His friends are always there to lend him a hand and have a great time. This year we will have to see how it goes since there is only going to be sailing starting this week (other than a few early days). Thank you to the people coming tomorrow to help him set up and sail with him since I am housebound right now.
Tentatively we have scheduled the ELK LAKE ICEBOAT PARTY for March 29th and 30th! We will keep you posted after this next week.
The ice is over 2 FEET thick!

March 12th, 2014

We have not been updating because there has been nothing to say...
That is starting to change. We have had record breaking amounts of snow and cold this year, but we are slowly, but surely warming up now, We expect to be sailing Elk Lake in approx 9 days looking at the computer models. There is a slight chance for this Sunday, but I wouldn't make the drive for *slight* chance. Reports on West Bay are that it is almost snow free, with snow drifts from 1-3" and it is very rough!! Torch Lake is rough, but less rough than West Bay. Elk Lake has 0-2" of very stiff snow. We have 43 degrees and rain in the forecast for Friday. *fingers crossed. If that doesn't do it, we have several warmer days coming up next week. It won't take too much more to clear it. When it does clear, come sail all you can. This end of March sun is going to be rough on the surface.
Hope to see you all soon!!! We will be launching from the lake house on Elk Lake... as always... FUN!!

February 13th, 2014

Elk Is improving, we have 4" of medium density snow over 14" of rock hard ice.
While we wait.....
West Bay, out of Sutton's Bay, is being sailed. The ice ranges from rough to gorgeous, but it's the only game in town. Here is a photo taken today of a very nice spot! They guys had a good time!

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January 15th, 2014

We are snowed out for now... that is all :-(

January 12th, 2014

We got the boats up and made a couple passes today, but there was just too much shell ice. We didn't want to mess up the surface for later in the week, so we packed it up. I suspect we will be sailing again Wednesday. Mon night, Tues and Tues night should refreeze the surface solid. We will keep you posted.

January 11th, 2014

We have still been sailing Elk Lake daily. It was sailed today!
We found 7" of ice with some standing water on it from the melting snow. The snow is not completely gone, but most of it is and the rest should be gone by morning.  photo 94be6ed3-0793-4bd9-b580-58643b2aa3e4_zps7b551d16.jpg

January 9th, 2014

We have been sailing Elk Lake daily. Enjoy today's video! Thanks, Rob

January 5th, 2014

Sailing has started on Elk Lake!!
Several DN's were on it today. Rich also had his KiteWing out there. He did not find anything less than 4".
Come join us :-)
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April 5th, 2013

What an amazing day! It was unbelievable!! Yes, we ARE SAILING APRIL 5th!

We will also be sailing again Saturday and if the ice holds...Sunday also! There will be iceboats launching at Spencer Bay and at Whitewater Park! We left at 1pm and the ice was still hard...Some video below and more on Facebook

April 2nd, 2013

Lance was just on Elk Lake. It's clear, a little bumpy with LOTS of ice!! He will be sailing it tomorrow if anyone is interested. He is also planning on sailing Friday if all looks good

March 16th, 2013

It's late, so just a video from today.

This is just from the earlier part of the day, the best sailing was much later. That footage will come later.

March 15th, 2013

WOW! A great time was had by our entire group! Hundreds of miles were sailed today on Elk Lake.

Everyone came in with huge smiles :-)
There were many Jboats, a couple Arrows, Skeeters and a Skimmer type boat. All sailed fast and with ease. I will be adding video to this page later tonight.
We will of course be doing it again tomorrow. 9am at the Harbor Cafe and then to the ice to sail. Here are two different wind forecasts for tomorrow.
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March 14th, 2013

Another great day on the ice and a fantastic dinner after!

The launch for the party is now at White Birch Lodge!

Launch and party all in one place!

There is only 1" of snow in the forecast now and only a *chance* of that. Even if we do get it, with the conditions we have it's not going to hurt our sailing. Can't wait to see everyone there. Already a lot of boats on the ice and it's only Thursday! We will be at the Harbor Cafe each morning for breakfast before sailing. Join us!

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March 13th, 2013

This is what Spencer Bay looked like when we arrived. Almost completely snow free with a pebbly surface. Winds were so high that the percentage of clear changed almost by the moment, but as you can see, it's good easily sailable ice.
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March 10th, 2013

Elk Lake is looking great for the party (16th and 17th). The snow is gone and there is a coating of water on the surface that should refreeze into some nice ice.
The launch for the party will NOT be at our house and neither will the party itself. Our house is being shown several times this weekend, so please do not acess the property without our permission.
The launch will be at Third St (which some of you have used many times) then you need to sail south just past our house and around the point to your right (west). Stay off the shoreline near the point. You will come to White Birch Lodge on Spencer Bay. This is where we will be gathered. Don't sail past White Birch Lodge or you will be heading towards the river. The launch at White Birch Lodge is private property, so unless you are renting one of their condos, please use the Third St Launch. It is very close.

Below is a photo of the ice and a map.
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March 5th, 2013

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Our 2013 Elk Lake Iceboat Party is rescheduled for March 16th and 17th. We have a great forecast for the week before. There are a couple days just warm enough to give us a great snow free surface. Then the weekend forecast looks great for the surface to be hard and smooth. Make plans to head to Elk Rapids the 16th and 17th! It's going to happen!!!. The launch and trailer parking won't be at our house, it will likely be at Third St so watch this page and Facebook for updates.

March 2nd, 2013

We are currently awaiting the thaw later this week. We have plenty of good hard ice thickness, but with the snow cover we have right now we need 10+ mph of wind to sail.

March 9th and 10th we will be holding a mini Elk Lake Iceboat Party. I know it's short notice, but people requested we hold our party. The location will be Elk Lake, but the launch site has not been determined yet. Launching and trailer parking will not be at our house. It will likely be Third St.
The launch on Spencer Bay is private property. While we have permission to be there, it is not a public launch for everyone. Third St is only one block away and very easy access :) Keep your eyes here and on Facebook for info.

February 13th, 2013

Another amazing day iceboating Elk Lake. Below is a very cool video from Rob. He was holding the camera in his hand so any pebbly areas were amplified
Also keep your eye on Megan Moore came out and did interviews and even caught a ride in a sidecar!

February 12th, 2013

GREAT day of sailing today! The ice is in great shape, just pebbly.
Here are a couple photos and an Iphone video. Rob has some great helmet cam video that I may be able to post later tonight..UPDATE...added Rob's video. It really shows what the ice is like!

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February 11th, 2013

As of dusk both the main body of Elk Lake and Spencer's Bay are both almost completely clear of snow.
The main body of the lake has had measurements taken ranging anywhere from 5"-9" of ice. One person sailed it on the 5th, the rest of us sailed the bay. A night or two of cold temps and we should be sailing the bay again. The main body of the lake should be rechecked before anyone heads out to sail.
There were some heaves, crackS and ice chunks frozen on top of the ice of the main body, so sail slow over anything before sailing fast! Also, always check the ice for yourself when you arrive!

February 5th, 2013

More sailing today!!
Jack had a really good time sailing and did a lot of hiking.

I think everyone got some rides today. Lance even sailed the main body of the lake which had 4-6" of ice on the 3rd.
The snow is getting stiff, but the above freezing temps for the weekend and some sun on the way may help that. Every day there is wind, we will be there!!
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February 4th, 2013

Set up and ready to sail. Rob got a short ride today, but the wind ranged from calm to 2-3 mph. So we spent the afternoon setting up and checking ice. The wind forecast tomorrow looks great, so we will be sailing!!
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February 3rd, 2013

FINALLY and update:
A VERY knowledgeable long time iceboater and Elk Rapids resident did a thorough ice check of Elk Lake. He walked out 1 mile to the center of the lake in front of our house, plus north and south of our place. He also checked Spencer Bay. He did not find anything on foot thinner than 4" of ice. Spencer Bay had 5"-6". We are chosing Spencer's Bay to sail because there is only 1" of snow there, whereas in front of our house is 2"-3" of light fluffy snow. Right in front of our house there are small ridges, just south is a better plate of ice.

December 25th 2012

Merry Christmas!
I walked on Bass yesterday. It's far to thin to explore and please don't be one of those people who think they know this lake and venture out alone. It is nothing like the surrounding lakes. When Bass has 4" of ice near shore there is often open or skimmed areas out further. Not to mention the two giant slush pits that stay soft until there is at least 6" of ice on most of the lake (usually). It does not freeze any where near uniform. If you have questions, contact us. If we are not sailing it, there is a reason. The last couple years people would show up to sail it, never sailing it before and end up dragging their boat out of a slush pit.
We will keep you updated on the ice status. We have sailed this lake for over two decades. We have been getting light snow for the last 24 hours, hopefully the ice is still thin enough it sinks. The first 15' from the launch is crap, refrozen ice. After the first 15' it looks smooth.

Bass Lake December 24th

First 15' from the launch looks like this


Birch Lake is all open water, but is VERY still and the water is dense and ready

December 19th 2012

Iceboating has unfortunately lost another great one,Jan C Gougeon you will be dearly missed. You can read Ron Sherry's tribute here, it's a must read

December 13th 2012

We have had some light skim on some of the small lakes,
but looking at the forecast it's going to be awhile before there is sailable ice


December 9th 2012

The weather will be turning cold in the not too distant future


November 30th 2012

Iceboating has started in Minnesota. The ice looks amazing for the Great Western Challenge. Check it out at

Unfortunately we have been cold here, but the forecast for Monday is 60+ degrees

November 26th 2012

The weather has turned cold here.

In Northern Michigan this last week we had a storm that dropped from 1" to 15" of snow in the local surrounding areas

Here is an iceboat video to get the page started and get you in the mood. I will also be adding content over the next week or two as we wait for the local small lakes to freeze

Make a video - it's fun, easy and free!

Map of recent visitors from around the world


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2014 Elk Lake Iceboat Party
will be March 29th and 30th
Stay tuned!

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Keeping the tradition alive as a 3rd generation iceboater..

Jack, individually, has gotten more than 60 brand new people across the country into iceboating (mostly skeeter class) in the last 4 years
due solely to his enthusiasm and his willingness to share his knowledge and friendship. These are not people who already had boats, these are people some of whom had never even seen the sport in person.

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