Standing Iceboater

Ice Boating in Leelanau County Michigan

Standing Iceboater, photo by Mark Smith

It’s 8 degrees right now in Traverse City, and while the weeklong run of wintry weather hasn’t been good for such popular pursuits as getting the garden ready, boxing up winter clothes and keeping your house from being declared a Cabin Fever Disaster Area, it has left the ice in many parts of the state just perfect for the sport of ice boating.

Northern Michigan AP News photographer John Russell is a Michigan in Pictures contributor and wrote Ice Boating: An Ancient Sport in a Modern World a few years ago. It begins:

Sailing on frozen surfaces is believed to have its roots in Northern Europe, where goods and people moved around the region on frozen rivers and canals, using simple sails and handmade boats.

The Dutch and others brought iceboating to the Hudson River valley and other places along the East Coast, where miles of frozen rivers made for great sailing during the winter months. Freight and people were commonly moved up and down the Hudson River in huge, slooped-rigged boats.

Ranging in length from 30 – 50 feet, the stern-steering boats are still raced today by the Northwest Ice Yacht Association, having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.

The ancient sport of sailing on frozen lakes and rivers is alive and well in our state, which has a long and involved history in the sport. Innovations developed in Michigan have enhanced and improved iceboating.

During the winter of 1936-1937, in the hobby shop at the Detroit News, boat builder Archie Arroll, along with Norm Jarrait and Joe Lodge, designed an ice boat they called the Blue Streak 60. Designed to be small enough to build in a garage, and easy enough to be built by anyone, the 12-foot hull design became known as the DN 60, for Detroit News and the 60-square-foot sail.

It is now the largest one-design boat class in the world, with over 8,000 registered boats around the world.

Read on for more including our state’s role in international ice boat racing, some state clubs, safety tips and a couple of photos from John.

Mark took this shot earlier in the week on Lake Leelanau. View it background bigtacular and see more photos (and a couple videos) in his Ice Boats slideshow.

More Michigan iceboating on Michigan in Pictures!

Fire & Ice

_DSC4701 Fire & Ice

Fire & Ice, photo by Charles Bonham

I keep thinking to myself just one more winter photo … and then there’s one more.

Charles shot this at Gills Pier on the Leelanau Lake Peninsula last week. View it background bigtacular (for real – the detail on the ice in the foreground is staggering) and see lots more Lake Michigan ice and beauty in his awesome slideshow.

More winter wallpaper, more Lake Michigan and more sunsets on Michigan in Pictures.

Ice Caves of Leelanau: The Book

Lake Michigan ... ice cave sunset

Lake Michigan … ice cave sunset, photo by Ken Scott

Last winter some incredible ice formations piled up off the coast of the Leelanau Peninsula, and the photographer on the scene was my friend & Michigan in Pictures regular Ken Scott. Ken has published a book, Ice Caves of Leelanau, that features some of his best shots and essays by noted Michigan author Jerry Dennis. Right now his books are mostly sold out (reprint coming in July) but you might be able to sweet talk one out of Ken – email him here.

If you’re in northwest Lower Michigan you can catch Ken’s talk on the ice caves tomorrow from 4-6 PM at the Leland Township Library.

View the photo bigger on Flickr and see more in his Lake Michigan Ice & Caves slideshow. You can also see some videos of the Ice Caves on Ken’s site!

Bees & Blossoms

Bees and Blossoms by 45th parallel exposure

Blossoms & Bees, photo by Lee Lynn Awe

View Lee Lynn’s photo background bigtacular and see more in her slideshow.

More spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Blossom Time

White Blossoms

White Blossoms, photo by cncphotos

In addition to Michigan in Pictures, I run the website Leelanau.com. The most common question this time of year over there is “When will cherry blossoms be out?” Although this year has been slow going, I was out and about yesterday and caught some of the first blooms of the season. Click that link to see them on Leelanau.com and also a pile of morels!

Visit Traverse City’s cherry blossom section says that the blossoms on the trees last on average of four to five days, but because different parts of the region bloom at different times, it’s a safe bet you can see blossoms for one to two weeks on average if you make the rounds.

View CNC’s photo background bigilicious and see more in his Spring slideshow.

Lots more blossoms and more spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

The Ice Caves of Leelanau

IMPORTANT SAFETY UPDATE! The Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department has declared the ice caves on Lake Michigan unsafe!! The winds have moved the ice and there is now open water within feet of the caves, and the strong winds expected today and tomorrow will continue to push water and ice inland. There are also large cracks in the arches and they are expected to start collapsing soon.

Lake Michigan ... ice cave sunset II

Lake Michigan … ice cave sunset II, photo by Ken Scott

Ken Scott took a trip out to the massive ice caves off the shore of the Leelanau Peninsula near Traverse City. You can see a fantastic video of his explorations and should definitely take a minute to watch his cautionary video showing the cracks that can form in these massive structures. There are few things less forgiving than the Great Lakes in winter, and with temps forecast in the upper 30s for tomorrow, things could get very dangerous.

View Ken’s photo bigger and see more in his Ice Cave slideshow.

Although ice caves and similar formations form every winter on Michigan’s shoreline, these ones are particularly incredible due to the greater than normal mass of ice generating more force. They have made it all the way to national news and have drawn thousands of visitors. A couple more features are at Huffington Post, another nice YouTube video showing the structures and the crowds and this mLive article with directions.

Great Lakes water levels: Then & Now Edition

"... is the Lake Michigan water level low?" ...

“… is the Lake Michigan water level low?”, photo by Ken Scott

This photo is from a feature on today’s Leelanau.com blog about the historic water lows on the Great Lakes. It includes a great video so definitely check it out.

Leland is my home town and to see the difference from just 27 years is astonishing!

See it bigger, view more in Ken’s massive Leland/Fishtown slideshow and read an extensive discussion on Facebook.

More Lake Michigan on Michigan in Pictures.