Hess Lake – 1/22/19

Thank you to all that showed up and sailed yesterday on Hess Lake. Traveling on dry roads the entire way, I arrived at the public launch site around 9:30am and preliminary ice thickness measurements were taken out to 300 yards with no significant variances found. Ice was 6-1/2 inches thick, and up to 8 inches in spots with up to 2 inches of crystalline snow coverage. Ice surface was smooth and black with only slight “bumps” across the lake & nearly no expansion cracks / wet spots observed anywhere. Boats were quickly assembled & slow sailing soon followed to further attest to its safety. Recent snow-machine & ATV tracks further assisted in the overall assessment and before long, much of the lake had runner tracks laid down in 15kts of steady SE breeze. As the weather front moved in from the west at about 1 pm, rising temperatures brought with it quickly fading wind conditions. As I found myself in “lull” conditions and about 3/4 mile away from the launch it became clear that the snow coverage was becoming more & more “sticky”. Pushing / pulling / paddle gliding the boat back was going to be real PITA. As the clouds moved in & fully filled the sky, the wind returned (accompanied with light snow of course) to an acceptable velocity allowing me to quickly sail back to the site. Upon my return, Mini Skeeter Pat had already fired up the grill & was offering brats / dogs / and beverages to all which were enjoyed prior to boat dis-assembly and final departure. All in all, not a bad outing. This lake is quite shallow, within 1 hour drive from Muskegon, has little ice fishing pressure, and is large enough to accommodate nearly any iceboat design. It now ranks high on my list for a return visit. Thanks again to all.

With 6-7 inches of thickness, this crack photo shows the great ice structure on Hess Lake.

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