Flotnar 4th Annual Ice paddle on Lake Michigan South Haven

Flotnar 4th Annual Ice paddle on Lake Michigan in South Haven

Jim Viviano and I decided to try for an Icepaddle two weeks ago. The ice cliffs on the Lake Michigan piled quite high this year. The ice cliffs on the Great Lakes form as the warmer water begins to erode the edges of the ice pack. Then wave action piles the remaining ice up into cliffs, which will melt and refreeze until they are completely thawed.

We loaded our sea kayaks up at the Black River DNR boat launch. The dredger was digging up mud for the powerboats to have a deeper draft through the channel. Jim and I quickly passed through the channel and then were astonished to see the ice had formed a narrow band between open Lake, and the ice cliffs.

The ice blocked us from viewing the cliffs up close, pancake pack ice was solid to the shore about two-three hundred yards out. There was also a moving ice debris field that was on the open lake and drifting in. We had no where to go. We pushed our sea kayaks through some brash ice to paddle in what looked like a little ice pond that was a quarter mile long and 500 yards wide. We did find some spots on the south side of the pier where i could get out and take some pictures.

Jim and I performed a few eskimo rolls in the river mouth and paddled back in. Despite being defeated by the ice, it was a short bright sunny day. I am continually astonished at how different the ice can be each spring. In my first years out on the Lake 2003-2004 the ice was very high and dramatic, but it was easy to get out through the river and then very close to 20-30 foot ice cliffs.

Our winter was especially long and cold this year with more snow than usual. This provided a more confined paddle, but fun nonetheless. What I always like is the feeling that if one didn’t know they were looking at Lake Michigan, you could almost feel it was Greenland, or Baffin Island. The dynamic nature of Lake Michigan for sea kayaking, and surf kayaking continues to entice and deliver. My thanks to Jim.


  1. Capthca is now in place

  2. Oh no my friend. Thank you. You have no idea how much I was jonesin' for some paddling time…in fact my wife probably appreciates it more than me. 😉