Kayak wakes in ice channels

Yesterday I squeezed in a rare winter paddle, using my WW kayak. Although almost all the shoreline was iced in, a nice portion of the northern part of the reservoir had open water. It just required more effort to get to it. I got to it.

Once out there, I amused myself listening to the broken ice bits tinkling like a giant bamboo wind chime. In the more open areas my little boat merely clinked the ice.

But when I went into a narrow channel between thick ice sheets, something new (to me) happened: the tiny wake from my tiny boat slopped against the narrow sides with enough force that, if I turned around I could get a tiny ride from my own wake! What fun that was! Or at least, fun for the easily amused. :wink:

Give it a try sometime. I would recommend using a WW boat, not a long boat, so that you can immediately turn around and get the little wake ride. Also so that if you get into a convoluted “canyon” between the ice, your boat won’t jam up in there.

Did the same thing …different
results. Surfed my boat right up on an ice shelf. Now what to do. While I thought the right half of the shelf gave way… and the left did not.

I like my drysuit.

Yeah, I thought of that scenario
One tiny slot was too narrow to paddle through. The ice on both sides was thick and not likely to break, but you never know. I managed to lunge the boat onto the surface without tripping an edge. Then had the Now What? moment also. I monkey-knuckled the boat forward just enough so that my paddle blade reached in front of the ice and could lever against it and pull me forward more, into the water with some help from another body-lunge.

Water has probably frozen over by now, bummer.

This brings up an interesting point
What is the risk with taking your boat out on partially frozen lakes? I run a poly Tempest but does it make a difference in the type, i.e. poly, glass, kevlar…? I really want to attempt this but I don’t want to end up like the Titanic… :slight_smile:

broken surfaces, short of the added
resistance from breaking waves, I’ve often found, will offer a less uniform resistance towards the hull, hence will afford more efficiency in hull travel. Don’t ask me of the specifics, scientifically…but the chaotic nature of the multi-directional waves hitting each other certainly helps with the straight-ahead paddling.


Worried about brittleness?
Don’t worry. By the time it is cold enough that any of those material become noticeably brittle, you won’t want to be out paddling. Also remember that the submerged part of your hull will be about the same temperature as the water, and that won’t be colder than 32 degrees F.

I"ve “felt” that effect too, but …
… I’m also convinced it’s an illusion. I think a little bit of splashiness in the absence of waves big enough to perceptibly wack the boat really fools the paddler into thinking that their speed is faster. I believe it’s due to the increased visual/audio cues associated with the small waves. In less-disturbed water, there’s not as much to “watch go by” and less noise associated with a fast cruising speed. My GPS tells me that my idea is right, but it’s also a pretty unscientific observation.

Brittleness is…
just a partial concern. I was thinking more of what happens when your plastic boat hits one of these floating ice chunks or if your cutting your way through some ice channels. Is the ice sharp enough to damage or penetrate your hull?

I only use plastic in ice
Any ice that I’d care to paddle into is not thick enough to break the boat if it’s plastic. I don’t know if the same holds true for glass boats, which are harder and less flexible.

It is scratching that you might worry about with plastic. However, I’ve never noticed any new scratches from paddling in ice. Might depend on how hard you hit it (partly how much you weigh).

Kayak wakes in ice channels
sounds like fun!

Didn’t seem like illusion
I remember getting a definite push forward–not huge, but immediately noticeable. Repeatable, too.

Probably it was a little rebounding wave that I got just after turning around. Remember, the reason I would’ve turned around was that there was a dead-end of thicker ice ahead. The water from my paddling toward it could only travel a little sideways before both the “ahead” and “sideways” energy had to funnel back out (with me after I turned around).

Made no comment about that.

– Last Updated: Jan-12-12 2:24 PM EST –

I really don't know exactly what you were dealing with, and wouldn't want to say anything about it either way. It seems possible since you can definitely ride the wake of a boat that's close by, so riding your own reflected wake is probably possible.

I was replying to the general remark by another poster about the way confused waves from various directions will increase a boat's speed.

We are moving out your way later this year. While I am excited about having liquid sea water to paddle in year-'round, I might want to take the little WW boat to partly-frozen ponds in winter. Just to bash thin ice for kicks!

Will your book describe any smaller fresh-water places west of Puget Sound? I know they exist but don’t know if they freeze over in winter.

Even with the option of sea kayaking throughout winter, there will be days when the seas are too big or the wind too high, but a little inland and in the woods might be OK.