Composite boat breaking through ice sheet

The lake where I usually paddle is starting to freeze. Last Saturday, there was ice covering a good chunk of the cove where I launch. The ice was thin enough to paddle through it, but I wonder if I am risking to damage the hull by breaking the ice.

I am paddling an Epic V8 Performance layup (Infusion grade foam core; composite hybrid of fiberglass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar; vacuum infused, heat-cured epoxy).

Any advice?

Hmm… I don’t think I would do that with my 18x. I have the ultra layup but I can’t imagine yours is that much tougher. Maybe my Chesapeake? A used poly seems like cheap insurance though.

I wouldn’t be hitting ice in any of my canoes, even the one I don’t care much about.

I have an 18X, regular layup, which has a much more vertical bow. Running thru overnight ice I eventually got a notch in the bow tip at the waterline. I protected it by applying a strip of Gorilla tape. Seems to do the job.

Your bow is angled like my old glass and kevlar boats. They will ride up over more solid ice if you get up to ramming speed. Once you get on top your weight breaks the ice if its not too thick, and you can work your way thru a decent floe if you keep at it.

I wouldn’t risk anything with a foam core. Once penetrated to the foam it’s always wet.


Thank you for the replies. I’ll stick to the boat ramp that gets sun the whole day and thus is one of the last spots to freeze. Then it is game over until late March.

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Don’t forget about moving water! Didn’t you used to paddle the St Joseph? Not sure if that surf ski missile is a good choice for winter paddling on moving water but your old friend the St Joe usually offers some winter paddling opportunities. I might even lend you a canoe.

Thanks for the offer, Tom, but I left Michigan 3 years ago.

I used to paddle a Tempest 170 RM in Michigan that took a lot of abuse without issues. Now I only have the v8 and a couple of inflatables. .

Surfskis can handle rivers as shown every year on the MR340. In normal times, I would look for a partner/group to paddle the Mississippi or St Croix, but not this year and I’m not a fan of paddling alone in big rivers with cold water. Time for the indoor bike :thinking:

I’ve used my thermoform kayak as an ice breaker. It makes horrible sounds, but no harm to the boat.

I’ve also used a thermoformed, and a fiberglass/Kevlar kayak, albeit in very thin ice.

No damage at all.

Beware of paddling in places where the ice can shift with current or wind. A friend of mine had to be rescued by the USCG when his route back to shore became blocked.

I have an Necky Arluk 1.9 with a very sloped bow and can break through skim ice with no problem. My wife has a QCC600X with a vertical bow and skim ice stops her cold.

If the ice is a bit too thick to break easily and you have a bow that can ride up on it, it’s easy to capsize with just the bow out of the water.

In a fiberglass canoe, yes. A sea kayak, yes. Plastic boat, yes. Composite surfski, no way.

Although Epic’s performance layup is deemed reasonably strong, its reasonable strong in terms of a lightweight boat (which means its really not that strong). I would not be ice breaking in my ski, but have many times in various other boats.

I used to paddle all winter in New England 'till I moved to VT and shifted to skiing. I took it a bit far - adding metal tips to my paddle so I could pole across the ice 'till I hit the next thin spot. I loved to paddle up the Charles River and wave at people cross country skiing. But the ice scraped the heck out of the bottom of my fiberglass boat.

If you are dressed for the water, comfortable with seal launches and recoveries (i.e. won’t stop half-on and flip), and don’t go out in chunks of thick ice on a river that could crush you, it can be a lot of fun.

Busy summer harbors are completely deserted in the winter. When the ice is freezing in from the sides of a stream your wake makes a ringing sound like bells that is surreal. The shapes of ice on bushes and bridge abutments can be magical.

You need to be prepared with dry suit, warm clothes, a heater, a thermos with a hot drink, don’t go if the conditions are risky, and always think about Plan B. I would recommend a roto-molded boat rather than a composite one. I scraped my composite winter boat to the point that it now leaks.

Keep paddling til the hull is full my friend. Life is short. Enjoy!

Get some thin aluminum sheet like flashing and bend it. Attach with rubber cement.

When the ice gets this thick you might not want to try and ram it.

lol Going to have to get a bit farther North than Idaho for that to be a real concern!

Down in Florida, too much ice can ruin your drink but not your kayak…


Ouch… rub salt into the wound. :cold_face:

Yeah yeah, well In Idaho we don’t have to worry about ice for our drinks so no melting and watering it down! The world is my refrigerator!