23 March, 2012
I cruised from Newboro to Chaffey’s Locks this morning and found a few floating patches of algae and glimpsed one small deadhead in the middle of Indian Lake, but no other obstructions to navigation. A carpenter working on the new dock at the Newboro Lockstation told me that the water level is down 14″ from seasonal high.
I made a tentative announcement of the winner of the Newboro Lake Ice-out Pool yesterday, subject to later confirmation. Last night, winner George Kitching offered the following gracious comment upon receipt of the bragging rights which the honour bestows:
Far be it for me to question the expert opinion of the judge(s). I accept this extraordinary honour with the humility that the mysterious and unpredictable Newboro Lake ice commands and I dedicate this win to the memory of Don Williams, a fine man and the greatest Harbour Master Newboro has ever had, and to the memory of Art Pritchard, guide extraordinaire, trapper and reeve who, in his day, knew more about Newboro Lake ice than any man then or since. And hats off to Doug Fyfe, a most thoughtful gentleman, who deliberately picked a date that was a day late to encourage others to join in the betting. Rod, yours is the best blog on the internet.
22 March, 2012
As of 7:00 this evening, I believe I can safely announce that the ice is out on the Newboro/Chaffey’s level. I did see one small, icy bay in Clear Lake, and possibly a small floe in the middle, but that was it for ice that I could find on this level without going out in a boat.
If anyone has further information on ice-out, please send it along as a comment or email to me at email@example.com. Further to that, exercise caution for a few days if you embark in a fast boat, and thank you all for an interesting winter’s dialogue.
If a seagull is walking on it, it’s not melted yet.
21 March, 2012
The ice is breaking up and on the move with this afternoon’s light breeze. McNally’s Bay on the Little Rideau is free of ice, as is the Little Rideau end of the channel leading to Newboro. In Newboro Harbour I watched as a two-acre flow edged toward the public dock, only to turn to ice cubes before it narrowly passed the end. The Cherry Island area is now free of ice, save for an acre or so glued to the north end of Mulcaster Island. Over on Clear Lake the ice is piling in to the beach where the campground is, but it’s very black and may not do much damage. There’s no path through the ice to the Elbow and Newboro Lake yet, though. When I returned to look at Clear after a half hour a channel had formed north-to-south across the middle of the lake. Perhaps the pressure has forced the ice downward. Indian Lake Marina’s bay is free of ice. The main part of Indian Lake has large floating ice sheets with little movement evident. The stuff is very black and may well melt where it is.
19 March, 2012
These shots were taken at mid-day on Monday.
Immediately above is the view from Newboro towards Crosby. The inner reaches of the fish sanctuary visible from Hwy 42 are now open.
18 March, 2012
Tony Izatt reports from his dock on Newboro Lake:
Ice is out almost all the way to Cherry Island thanks to the pump. The ice-pump-melted channel is as wide as the island. The rest of the ice sheet looks very thin. A couple of otters were out there on the ice yesterday fishing, very cool. They seemed to be able to poke their heads up from under the ice just about wherever they wanted. I watched them for about 30 minutes before they went ashore on Cherry and scampered away. If we get any kind of wind the ice will be out before the weekend.
16 March, 2012
O.K., guys. The countdown to ice-out is on. Here’s your chance to win something priceless: bragging rights. Click the link below and make your guess for the date of ice-out on your lake.
15 March, 2012
The ice is out of those portions of Opinicon Lake visible from the Lock. On Indian the ice is still visible from under the bridge, though. The Scott Island Ferry is in use, but there’s no path through the ice to the Elbow, yet. Ice is still locked to shore.
11 March, 2012
John Dunn from Brothers Island sent along a chart showing the names of most of the islands on the main part of Newboro Lake. I parked it on another page which you can find to the right of this paragraph, or click on the small map below:
10 March, 2012
A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll just include one of Tony Izatt on his dock on Newboro Lake Saturday afternoon. Notice the effect of the bubbler: it takes very little time to eat its way through a foot of ice.
9 March, 2012
12″ of hard ice at Tony Izatt’s dock in Newboro today, where I installed a sump pump to make a larger hole for his 3/4 hp Icebuster. In future I’d think it’s best not to plug a sump pump in before dropping it down the hole on its rope. The installer gets kinda wet.
8 March, 2012
Opinicon Lake is the lowest I have ever seen it. Lots of water’s going over the dam by the Mill. Instead of the usual, orderly open-water stretch from the Chaffey’s to Davis, there seem to be some large ice islands broken off from the pack and moving around the harbour at random, likely because of confused currents with the low water.
Indian/Newboro is very low, as well. At the ramp at Newboro the ice broke under me until I got out to over four inches, then it was hard.
I should post a bit about the calm spring day a few years ago when I watched 9″ of ice go out of the pool before my eyes. The in-ground pool was open around the edge, but the rest was a large block of ice. Then it all turned to drinking-straw-shaped hexagonal crystals, and they disengaged, wobbled briefly in place, and turned over on their sides, accompanied by a great tinkling like wind chimes. And they were gone.
A foot of ice isn’t necessarily safe.
7 March, 2012
My wife and I used the window of warm air today to replace shingles ripped from the roof of the house during the blow last Saturday. Reluctant to walk on the roof in winter for fear of cracking shingles, I set up four lifts of scaffold at the end of the house and worked from there. Turned out the roof was soft and hospitable in the unseasonal warmth.
Then to celebrate the job’s completion I ran the Ranger UTV to Portland for fuel. Seemed a good time to check the ice, so I drove down to Tony’s Restaurant and almost onto the ice. Stopped. A vehicle-sized hole in the ice at the launch ramp. It was surprisingly hard to distinguish the chopped ice from the other stuff, but the hole was there.
I wandered over to the beach to look out onto the Big Rideau. No snow, lots of bare ice and water. Bales of straw sinking into the slush left over from the speed-skating track. From the north-east(?) a pickup truck was throwing a bow wake a cruiser would envy. The driver was making pretty good time, obviously heading for Portland. I shut off and watched. At one point the truck disappeared into the spray, but it ploughed through the low spot and continued unerringly towards the Bayview launch ramp.
Remembering my own misadventure with rotten ice at that ramp many years ago, I booted the my UTV over to where I could watch and see if the truck emerged o.k. onto Hwy 15. Surely enough, a very clean, high-end, late-model Ford 4X4 made its way past me on the highway, occupants grinning and giggling like adolescents.
The guy and his blonde companion looked to be in their late sixties. They’d certainly gotten their thrill today.
25 February, 2012
Tony Izatt reports twelve inches of ice on Newboro with four inches of slush on top.
23 February, 2012
I just spoke to Bob French about ice conditions on Newboro Lake. A welder, Bob’s been working on a bent dock on Sheep Island (I think. Just past the white boathouse on the way to Stephen’s Creek). This has involved driving that stretch regularly for the last three weeks.
There’s up to three inches of water on the ice now. In the previous post I warned about the pressure ridge from Fingerboard to Brother’s Island, but apparently it also extends across from Brother’s Island to Tett’s Point, and Bob found considerable open water in the crack one day recently. He walked up to the crack and was able to make bubbles frozen into the ice bounce around quite readily by shifting his weight from foot to foot.
Bob told me he had been driving along on his accustomed route without a care until one day a muskrat hole had expanded a whole lot from runoff, so he has taken a new route, though the details of the island names are beyond me. (I wish someone would post online a map with the names of all of the islands on this level of the Rideau.)
Anyway, Bob’s still going out his ice route to work on the dock, but he’s becoming more circumspect about it with the heavy melt this week.
19 February, 2012
Apart from the scary ridge and glare ice, travel conditions were quite good on the lake this weekend.
18 February, 2012
Tony and I explored Indian Lake this morning in search of splake and lake trout (which are legal in winter on lakes in this area). Lovely morning, lots of ice, but no fish. So we moved on to Lower Rock Lake. As we unloaded the Ranger I noticed a large man walking across the glare ice with difficulty so I zipped out to pick him up and find out about the fishing.
Larry’s from Brantford, and had fallen flat on his back on the ice. He accepted my offer of a lift with some relief, for he hadn’t really gotten his wind back since the fall a half-hour earlier. Footing was treacherous on the lake because of the glare ice. On the way in the left front wheel of the Ranger didn’t bother to turn until we were halfway across the lake. There wasn’t enough traction to keep it from sliding.
We found no fish on Rock Lake today, so we parted and agreed to meet in the village later in the day.
Footing seemed a bit better as dark approached on Newboro Lake. We drove out with the 4WD Toyotas for this session and noticed a group of people who had descended from a Mule and an ATV walking a section of shoreline without much difficulty.
Watch your step out there, folks. It’s way too easy to slip on the ice and get hurt. Better to drive, I think.
NOTE: The guy who took the fall on Rock Lake touched base with a comment at the end of this rambling narrative. Welcome aboard, Larry. I hope things have healed up properly.
17 February, 2012
For all those waiting to get onto the ice, now’s the time. The footing may be slippery from the thaw, so tread carefully. There’s likely to be a lot of vehicular traffic, so wear something bright.
Anywhere cars have been driving on (Portland, for example), the sand will have weakened the ice, so it may be tricky to get a vehicle onto the lake. I saw that a vehicle or two had chewed its way in or out as I drove by on Hwy 15 today. But once you get clear of the sand corrosion, the going should be pretty good for a week or so.
12 February, 2012
Lots of ice information today. Tony and I entered the Newboro Ice Fishing Derby this morning and had ample opportunity to drill through 16″ of good-quality ice. Three holes were enough for Tony’s cordless drill adaptor, though my Armstrong drill performed as well as could be expected for another half-dozen holes. The largemouth bass kept us busy all morning so we had a great time, though our only potential entry in the derby was a 1 1/2 pound pike Tony managed to bring up through the hole.
Bob French warned us about pressure ridges out past the end of the islands. There was some doubt about the safety of the ice in the affected areas (Brothers Island to Fingerboard Island), but the area within the two runs of islands out from Newboro was regarded as safe going by the drivers of dozens of trucks and SUVs today.
I talked to John Gorman and his wife Cindy who were fishing near our spot. John’s a lake trout fisherman, still tickled about a 9 pounder he caught and released on the Big Rideau yesterday. Out on the main pond of the Big Rideau John found eighteen inches of ice.
With one of the four northern pike frozen in the pail outside her shelter, Cindy Gorman held the early lead in this morning’s derby, but heard by telephone just before we arrived that a larger fish had come in.
The trucks weren’t parked quite as closely together as other years at the weigh-in station out from the Village, but there still were a lot of them. People remember the loss of two trucks a year ago, but the fishermen on hand today weren’t going to let that disaster cripple their enjoyment of the lake this winter.
8 February, 2012
Looking ahead to the Newboro Winter Carnival this weekend, I stopped at Norris’s Baits and asked about ice conditions on Newboro Lake. Two people muttered that the ice is 12 to 13″ all over, and it’s fine, though nobody knew anything about the current through the Isthmus and the Elbow.
The proprietor mentioned that she helped extract the two trucks which went through the ice last winter. I was all ears. Seems a diver fastens a blue oil barrel to each wheel with a chain, then fills the barrels with air. “Five barrels will float a truck,” she told me. “The hard part was towing the trucks back to the launch ramp while suspended by the barrels. It was a very long way, out around the islands, and a very slow job…. Nothing could be salvaged from the trucks.”
This morning Paul Peden in Montreal sent me this You-Tube clip. The film’s about an owner’s attempt to get his GM extended-cab pickup out of the ice with the help of a timber skidder. Language is a little salty.
6 February, 2012
I have just sanded my entire driveway for the second time in two weeks. With the accumulated ice it’s the only way the fuel truck can get to the house. This is some winter for ice. Since 1967 when my parents bought the farm on Young’s Hill I don’t remember sanding the drive more than once per winter.
2 February, 2012
The dam at Bedford Mills was open more this week. It seems they took another stop log out. Will keep you informed. George Bresee
1 February, 2012
Here’s Chris Dawson’s report on ice conditions in North Bay from The Weather Network:
Like many who venture out onto Lake Nipissing, Conor Cantwell is exercising extreme caution when heading out onto the ice in the North Bay area.
“You get some good ice and then a lot of slush, so it makes for iffy conditions,” he says.
Cantwell only has to look 500 metres south of where he’s standing to see a partially submerged vehicle that went through the ice on Lake Nipissing – one of nine of the cars and snow machines have taken the plunge on this inconsistent ice.
Area police blame Mother Nature for these unusual conditions.
“What happened was, there was a layer of ice, but then we got a lot of snow, and then a few melts in between … this up and down with the weather has caused incredibly slushy conditions … on big waters [and] small ponds … pretty much every body of water unusable during the month of January,” says Sgt. Tim Sheppard of the Ontario Provincial Police.
It’s not only cars and snow machines that have gone through the brittle ice — a snow-shoer recently fell through an area pond. Police say those heading out onto these frozen bodies of water should exercise extreme caution.
“Check with the locals [and] check with the season trappers or veteran fishermen that are out there … they know the lake, but … just because it’s safe in one area and you see a vehicle on it … fifteen feet from it [the ice] might be 3 or 4 inches, which won’t hold anything up.”
31 January, 2012
After the morning’s snow there was little evidence of activity on Newboro Lake or the Upper Rideau Lake. At this time of year on Newboro there would usually be a village out off the island, but I saw just one shack at noon today. From the tracks one truck and one atv had recently departed from the launch ramp.
28 January, 2012
According to the webcam at Len’s Cove Yacht Club, organizers were able to surface the ice in time for today’s Skate The Lake speedskating competition. It looks like a good day for the event.
27 January, 2012
You know it’s going to be a tough day when you have to sand a spot to stand on the front step when you let the dog out, and the view of the driveway 20 feet away looks like a black diamond run at Tremblant. It took me thirty minutes and a pail of sand to get out the driveway to take the attached photo.
Driver Steve Halladay explained that the sanding mechanism on the truck drops grit only on the left side of the vehicle, and the drive wheels are on the right. When he slid a front wheel into the ditch near a hydro pole, the only recourse was to wait for a smaller truck to sand him a route on up the hill where further duties awaited. A 4X4 GM pickup equipped with a sander is a formidable machine when operating in reverse. Its operator backed from Forfar up and over the hill at a very fast pace.
UPDATE, 2:00 p.m.
The wet snow seems to be sticking to the ice to the point that one can now walk or drive on it with only normal caution. This is a relief, though the roads are a mess.
The most dangerous ice in the Rideau Lakes region is currently on front lawns and driveways. This week the fuel oil delivery guy called and asked me to sand my lane so that he could make a delivery before we ran out. It hadn’t crossed my mind that backing up the driveway would be a problem, but Frank told me that they have three trucks on the road, and all drivers are finding many driveways impassable with current icing conditions.
So I picked up a trailer-load of salted sand at Sweet’s pit and had at the driveway. The oil arrived the next morning. Today I visited a neighbour’s farm and risked my life getting out of the truck. Despite my caution I slipped and slid all over the place. When driveway lengths are expressed in fractions of a mile it’s impossible to sand everything. The wide open spaces which make life worth living in this area come back to haunt when an unfortunate accumulation of ice from precipitation combines with re-frozen snow melt.
Movement on unsanded land is hazardous at the moment and unlikely to improve for a while.
24 January, 2012
George Bresee at Bedford Mills reports the following:
The hydro workers opened up the dam (at Bedford Mills) today. They took out one log, so it is a slow flow. I would imagine that the elbow on Newboro Lake and the isthmus between Clear and Indian Lakes will open in the next day or so.
I will let you know if anything changes.
23 January, 2012
Tony Izatt checked in from Newboro:
Greg Shillington reports 12″ of ice on most of the lake we use (Bay St. to the municipal launch). A few trucks were out this weekend at the hole across from the locks. I drove across to the municipal dock a couple of times with no worries, no slush, and no abnormal cracking noises. Greg reports a contractor doing work in an island back behind Cherry Island and they report 15″ of ice in almost every hole they’ve drilled. Guess after last year’s sinking of two trucks, caution is the name of the game this year. I personally didn’t drill any test holes so I can’t confirm.
22 January, 2012
We stopped in Portland at midday today to look at the site* for Skate The Lake, the annual community speed skating competition. Quite a bit of sand has been tracked down ramps and onto the ice in the pattern of automobile traffic (from three ramps), though only snowmobiles were in evidence at the racing oval. Two autos were in sight over around the ice-fishing island, parked close together.
*(Winston Smith moment. I realized this weekend that I had reported the wrong date for this event, so in true Orwellian fashion I have changed history.)
18 January, 2012
I drilled at 4:00 p.m. about 100 feet off the north shore of Newboro Lake near the rink. There’s hard ice on the surface down 2 1/2 to 3″, then three inches of slush for a total of 6″ above the base ice. Total depth was 9″. This means walking if you want to go out on this end of Newboro Lake. The daring might take a snowmobile, but I’ll wait until that inner core of slush is hard before I drive the Ranger on it.
Significantly, there’s very little evidence of traffic on the lake. One ATV tried the slush and retreated for shore, according to the tracks, and a couple of snowmobiles bombed over the top, but I didn’t see any evidence of pedestrian traffic and the rink seems abandoned. No ice shacks are out yet.
I’d be interested to know if there are any ice shacks on the Lower Rideau at Knowles’ Point. That’s the area visible from Rideau Ferry Bridge on the Smiths Falls side.
I think there’s a post on this blog titled “There’s stuck and there’s stuck” about the fun of dropping a heavy snowmobile through into the slush.
16 January, 2012
Daniel Gosselin writes:
At the Rocky Narrows, one of the last places on the Big Rideau to freeze, there is ice everywhere now and it is about 1 1/2″ thick (determined with an auger today). There is still some surface water in areas. Ski-doos are all over the ice at Rideau Ferry (10 kms north of here), but they have not made it yet as far south as the Rocky Narrows. No action here. Will keep you posted if they make it here.
15 January, 2012
My auger is out of commission due to a Friday 13th mixup whereby FedEx tried to deliver my new blades to an unsuspecting homeowner in Watertown. A garbled address somehow made it onto the waybill. The vendor apologized and the parts should be along shortly, but for now I don’t have an ice depth report. If anyone can chime in with observations, they’d be appreciated.
11 January, 2012:
The Winnipeg Free Press reported today that they’re searching for a truck on Lake Winnipeg whose owner called in his location and that he’d fallen through just before going off the air. Multiple passengers. 8 – 12″ of ice.
After the loss of two trucks on Newboro Lake last winter, people will likely be very careful this year.
9 January, 2012:
While a drive yesterday revealed snowmobile tracks through the channel at Newboro and the traditional rink on the lake at Westport, Daniel Gosselin sent along the following ice report this morning for The Rocky Narrows, the narrow area which joins The Big Rideau and the Upper Rideau:
Ice had started to form this week at the Rocky Narrows, and there is now a thin sheet (about 1-2″ thick) from the south entrance of the Rocky Narrows all the way north (I suspect all the way to Rideau Ferry). The larger expanse of the Big Rideau is not yet frozen. With the strong south-west wind of the past two days, the ice has slowly shifted north, piling up in interesting ways. I enclose a photo taken at 4 p.m. yesterday, looking west again (you can see the Pine Point red marker on the top of the picture). The ice looks like broken glass. This morning, the ice has continued to shift north.
On Newboro Lake at the end of Water Street I measured 7 1/2″ of ice this afternoon. In a conversation with George Bresee, resident of Bedford Mills, I learned that “The Sweep” (between the rows of islands near Newboro and Scott Island) is the last part of the lake to freeze and the part which becomes weak from current whenever they open the dam at Bedford Mills. In George’s opinion 7 1/2″ of ice is o.k. for ATVs on the protected parts of the lake, but wouldn’t allow for safe travel across The Sweep without some more cold weather. Needless to say, I hope to hear more from George about currents originating at Devil Lake Dams on this page.
6 January, 2012:
On a drive across Wellesley Island, I noticed that the body of water to the east of the highway (St. Lawrence River) on the island proper is frozen to the point that ice shacks are in the usual places. I believe the hotspot is called Pike Bay, but I could be wrong on that.
Charleston, Singleton, Lower Beverley and Upper Beverley Lakes are all frozen, but open if there is any current at all. For example, Upper Beverley Lake at Delta is open a long way back up the channel to the main part of the lake.
Chances are the ice fishermen will drill a lot of test holes and make it out to their favourite spots this weekend, but I doubt if anyone will try a tour of the Rideau yet.
4 January, 2012:
This week’s Westport Review Mirror (press date, Tuesday, 3 January) quotes the organizer of the annual Skate the Lake festival claiming that the inner harbour in Portland now has 6″ of ice. He’s holding out for 8″ before they can start on the oval for the speed-skating track.
Based on what I’ve observed recently I’d suggest their measurements were a bit hopeful, but maybe the Portland harbour freezes more readily than the comparable area on Newboro Lake.
Anyone else have any recent data?
3 January, 2012:
I looked over Portland Harbour on the Big Rideau Lake this afternoon. No tracks have appeared as yet on the ice. Then I realized why: about a mile out from the docks there are a few islands which form a natural barrier between the harbour and the deeper water of the main pool. It’s wide open out there. The leg toward Rocky Narrows is also open, showing a sober gray in the face of brilliant sunshine and snow on the ice.
Perhaps the strong north wind today kept the water moving and prevented freeze-up. For it was cold today.
1 January, 2012:
Several dozen hits on this site this morning alerted me to the need for another ice measurement, so I drove to Newboro and observed 4″ of ice in a couple of abandoned auger holes near the dock at the foot of Water Street. That doesn’t mean I’d care to walk far on the ice, though. 300′ toward the lockstation I noticed what seems to be a hole in the ice eroded by activity underneath — a spring, perhaps, as it appears there every year.
On the positive side the snow seems to have melted to a patchy 1″ covering, so if we get a good freeze before a major snowfall, the ice should build nicely from this base.
Evidence of how impassible the ice remains is the conspicuous lack of snowmobile tracks. The human footprints led to the test holes and then directly back to shore.
So no cottage expeditions yet, Gentlemen, but if we get a week of cold weather before the dogsled races, you should be all set.
Saturday, 24 December, 2011
It was pretty cold last night. The outbuildings were down to 38 F overnight with the fires out, and I needed the snowmobile helmet and mitts to drive the Ranger today. The TAFE diesel tractor was slow to start this morning, even with the preheater in operation, so I thought it might be a good idea to check the ice depth on Newboro Lake.
I drilled three, 3/4″ holes with a auger on a cordless drill. Each time the drill broke through at 3″ on the auger. With the pilot screw arrangement of the auger bit, that would indicate almost 3 1/2″ of ice.
This ice is walkable in this location. I can’t vouch for ice conditions 100 feet away, or on the other side of the lake, but another cold night and we’ll likely see quite a bit of light-weight traffic on the lake: pedestrians, snowmobilers, skaters and skiers.
Tuesday, 20 December, 2011
Otter Lake seemed in the process of freezing at mid-day today, but this lake is unique in the area for its propensity to freeze and thaw throughout the early part of the winter. The Big Rideau was a perfect sheet as far as I could see from the highway today. Calm weather and a slight chill have given the ice a decent start this year.
Sunday, 18 December, 2011
This morning dawned still and cold. Smiths Falls was down to 0 F, and Portland was 7F, so I decided that Newboro Lake might have frozen over last night. By the time I got to the boat launch at 11:00 a.m. it was indeed frozen as far as I could see. I stepped out above the sand on the ramp to crack the ice and get an idea of its depth. It’s interesting the way ice distributes weight. While the new ice cracked under my weight, I could tell by the fissures running out about how far my weight was distributed: I seemed to involve about as much ice as the area of a sheet of plywood. It moved quite a lot under my weight, an inch or two when I bounced up and down on it. This was quite amusing as the weeds beneath the clear ice oscillated around in this new current.
Of course a crystalline structure can’t withstand that kind of abuse for long, and soon I was able to remove a sample of the ice for measurement. 7/8″ thick, close to the edge, on the boat launch ramp this morning. This is not enough to hold a human, though likely another half inch would be if things remained calm. Time to keep the dogs and kids on leash.
With warmer weather and rain forecast for the coming week, I wonder if the ice will go out again?
Sunday, 11 December, 2011
Intrepid hunters Vanya Rohwer and Martin Mallett report that between Lower Rock Lake and Opinicon Lake the beaver ponds this morning were frozen to a depth of about 1″, thereby depriving the area of puddle ducks. The streams remain open, and they saw no ice on Rock or Opinicon.
Saturday, 10 December, 2011
Tony Izatt, from Newboro, Ontario, on Newboro Lake, reports no ice yet. “According to my neighbour Greg Monk there was a thin covering earlier this morning along shore, but I guess the wind broke it up. Another neighbour Bob French was out in his boat today. He would have been ice-breaking this morning at the ramp.”