Ice on Kayak Deck

I posted this as a response in a different thread. I’ve shortened it to the question:

Beautiful Day! Overcast, snow spitting. North wind 14-22 mph. 27 degrees F. Partner and I spend 45 minutes; about 4 miles on our local puddle… Water temp is 46F today.

Ice was forming on our paddle shafts and poggies; but there was sufficient heat in the water not to be forming on the deck… Question: can one roll up if the kayak flipped because of ice on the deck? I would guess, “Not very well!”

George in Cody

Can’t say I’d try it
Where are you paddling to get those kinds of conditions. Wind River area?? Resevoir maybe??

I imagine folks could do it, but I’m a cold weather person, and I’m not likely to be out in those kinds of conditions.

If you get that much ice on your Yak to cause it to flip over, it’s gotta be pretty bad out.

Cold and dry is one thing, Wet - - - Not me

much weight would it take that you couldn’t roll?

my son is 175 pounds…not hard to roll with weight on the deck

Best Wishes


Original Poster REPLIES…
We are at Cody, on man made Beck Lake (1 x .3 miles, maybe 15 feet deep; freezes readily) just south of the Airport.

One respondant’s 17F experience which allowed 3 hrs with syrupy water is good to know.

Our icing up was just with droplets and accumulated spray on paddle shaft at junction with poggies. Then ice crystals fell on to our black spray skirts, where some melted.

Perhaps it would need to be so cold as to freeze the water surface before ice would actually form on the deck. But on second thought, a larger water body (e.g. the ocean) in extreme cold air temps might not. ??

ice on deck?
it sufficient ice formed on your deck to actually create enough top heavy weight to dump the boat, i’d suggest that conditions were such that you should be home in front of the fire. :slight_smile:

Skirt / hatch freezing is the problem
I kayak Lake Champlain in upstate NY/VT all winter and occasionally get some ice on deck. Ice on deck may make the kayak ride lower in the water. I haven’t noticed ice making me lower in the water, but if it did happen, it would only make rolling up easier.

The real worry in such conditions is making sure the that your skirt or tuiliq does not get iced to the boat to such an extent that a wet exit (or even a dry exit at the end of the paddle) is impossible. To prevent this I regularly work my skirt or tuiliq on and off during the paddle.

What’s on your head?
Before you even get to the rolling up part - seems that having head under that cold of water would create some gasping or orientation problems right off unless you were wearing something like a Henderson ice cap or had the blue stuff for skin, as well as plugs in your ears. Rolling might be the least of your problems.

At home… fire…etc.
Well…, yeah… probably should be! My front porch isn’t big enough for a rocking chair.

To quote Rosie in NEVER CRY WOLF!, “Adventure, Tyler… Adventure…!”

Other issues…
You are right! Ear plugs too!

George in Cody

Great information
We never thought of the spray deck freezing to the cowling! Good to hear of your experience.

This whole discussion was prompted by our ignorance of the possibilities of below freezing kayaking. And curiosity too.

Our little pond will freeze up soon and then we’ll ski until March. We just wanted to be safe enough to live to see our ski tips glide in the tracks!

I suppose there are a lot of variables: air temp, water temp, solar radiaton, wind, water depth, color of the boat and ???

Hard to believe it was 27F yesterday with wind. Now it is 48F and calm.

George in Cody

How many pounds of ice would …
… it take to cause you to flip? Lots of people lash gear to their decks on overnight trips, including packs and duffels, and these have a higher center of mass than a layer of ice on the deck. Also, once flipped, all that ice would be slightly bouyant, and at least until you were partway rolled back around, would actually aid your efforts to right yourself.

I think it was last year, Magoo posted photos of ice on his deck after a nice long paddle in some pretty wicked winter weather. Though it was a very impressive badge of bravery, the ice layer didn’t look heavy enough to be threatening.

Frozen yak
I live in Kansas, paddle under 20 degrees in open cockpit racing kayaks & get lots of ice on my deck. My greatest worry is car topping my frozen rocket home. It sure doesn’t seem to run well with a frozen deck! I noticed “Peaks to Prairie” on your profile. I’ve done most years since “87”.

Peaks to Prairie… but no ice on deck
Well, 2006 was my first time. I know I’ll do better in '07. My time was 2:40.

Let’s wave at each other!

George in Cody

I would think that
If you have enough ice on the deck to capsize than the boat will be more stable upside down that right side up and it will just capsize again each time you roll.

What sucks about ice
The main problem with ice is that the bungies get frozen so they stay extended and won’t tighten anymore. Looks really strange. I suppose that’s a good reason to use Greenland-style rigging with lines and tighteners.

It’s Not A Problem

– Last Updated: Oct-19-06 5:51 AM EST –

I doubt you would be out long enough to have a sheet of 2" or more ice on the deck. Then that would be really top heavy. In which case, maybe you should do some rolling to get the ice to come off.

A skimming of ice on the deck should not affect your roll. If it does, I am pretty sure it's your rolling technique and not the ice that is the problem. Sorry, if this sounds blunt, but I would suggest doing more rolling practice, preferably with something of weight under the bungee on the top deck.


You have all helped us understand what we have never experienced!

Rolling to get the ice OFF!! We talked about that but… never been there, done that.

Yes, more work on rolling. Get to 102%!

Thanks, again

George in Cody