Now You Know: Iceboating on Elk Lake
Longtime Iceboater Jack Jacobs said iceboating started around the 1400s in Europe. He said iceboating came to the United States around the 1800s and it was popular in Detroit from 1940 to 1960.
Jacobs came from a long family line of iceboaters. He took his first ride on an iceboat when he was four years old and has been iceboating ever since. He is now 71 years old.
"My grandfather was also a very good iceboat racer," Jacobs said. "My grandfather had the biggest iceboat in the world."
Jacobs said most iceboats are homemade but you can buy iceboats anywhere from $900 to $75,000.
Iceboats range in size from 12 feet long to 60 feet long.
To get started you push the iceboat crossways to the wind and then you jump in. As you trim in the sail you pick up speed.
Jacobs said to stop you turn into the wind and the sail flogs back and forth and it slows you down and stops the boat.
Jacobs said you have to have perfect weather conditions in order to iceboat. You have to have good wind gusts on the lake and there can't be much snow on the ice.
"There's nothing that gives you the kinesthetic feedback of your butt being this high off of the ice, running 100 miles an hour with only the wind driving you," Jacobs said.
Jacobs and his friends like to iceboat on Elk Lake in Elk Rapids and they believe it is one of the best lakes in the world to iceboat on.
"It's in a peculiar geographic area, most of the snow falls either before Elk Lake or after Elk Lake," Jacobs said.
Even in a small iceboating community you never know who you'll run into.
Insane Clown Posse band member Rich Murrell is an avid iceboater and frequently iceboats on Elk Lake with Jacobs.
"There's nothing else like it in the world, there really isn't," Murrell said. "It's something you have to experience to fully understand the thrill it gives you."
Find more information about iceboating on Elk Lake and in Northern Michigan HERE.