Launching on ice

A friend of mine and I are growing impatient waiting for spring. There is a patch on the Mississippi just below the 46th st dam is St. Paul, MN where the river is open for 1.5 miles. The ice extends just a few feet from the shore, but the water is about 3 feet deep at that point and the way the ice is arrayed it seems like a launch off the ice is the only way to make it happen. Does anyone have any tips on how we might minimize risk performing this tricky launch? Thanks in advance for your time and consideration.

ice out
One way is to break the ice which can’t be that substantial if only the edges are frozen.

Another is to get in the boat, a canoe? on the ice and pull or push yourself in. I have an old fashioned icehook on a 4’ ash handle for just such occassions.

So you don’t enter into a one way mouse trap, consider how you will get out of the water and over the ice to shore. Again this is where I would use the icehook. Careful here as the hull shape will be a factor, as in slight V or round hull. Can feel a bit tipsy.

If you went over how would you get to shore? Best to carry icepicks as shown in the Wisconcin DNR website. Or at least carry a hatchet to break through the ice to get to shore. Or just wait until the ice melts away from shore. Don’t mess around, especially if your section of the river has a strong current.

Not fun to get caught downstream in an open V in the ice that the current carved out and be met with a strong flowing current.

I take it you are not an Inuit ?

– Last Updated: Feb-21-10 12:47 PM EST –

You sound pretty inexperienced. Keep waiting until the ice melts.
Your problem is not going to be launching on the ice, your problem is going to be getting out of a river with a current onto ice.

If you've never done a seal launch that cold water coming over your bow is going to be a pretty big shock. Then you are going to have to find a spot where you can beach or pull your self out of your boat and up onto the ice with picks, you are going to get wet guaranteed, so you better have a dry suit or a heavy duty wetsuit and hood.

Take a pool class instead ...

I had a bad experience where the ice was thin enough to crack and let the boat settle long before getting to the waters edge .. not a problem going out but a real pain trying to get back. Make sure you bring ice breaking tools and make sure you have a rope and someone on shore who can help if you get in trouble.

Dy-no mite.
Big hole to launch through.

Got dry suits?
If not, don’t even think about it.

Assuming that you’ve got proper clothing, launching off ice is no big deal as long as the water is within a few inches of the ice. Just get in your boat and slide into the water.

I am with the others - landing?
I am with the others. Launching isn’t as much of a concern to me - you can always knuckle walk the boat to the edge. But the comments on how to land are more important.

I would consider breaking the ice to clear a path to shore before you launch.

And I wouldn’t consider this without a dry suit. Wet suit wouldn’t cut it at these water temps.

if you have to ask…
Seems that every year people are inspired to do this type of thing and need to get pulled out (if they’re lucky). Usually it’s a couple of young studs in a canoe that end up just putting the nose up on the ice trying to get out, with the inevitable consequences.

That mpr video will probably inspire a few more.

Ice launch
If you are a confident, experienced, and properly suited paddler, ice launching is very easy if the ice is at the same level as the water (or with only a slight difference).

Get into the kayak, attach the skirt, get into a paddling position, and knuckle-walk to the edge, bow first, at right angle to the edge of the ice.

Coming back, come in at right angle to the ice and paddle hard.

We’ve done this for years, using fiberglas, kevlar, poly, and SOF kayaks. No damage, no cracks, no problems.

Again, this is not for inexperienced paddlers.

Hope you do better than this person!
An interesting read here:

No real emergency but a lot of fuss for what did not need to happen…