St. Joseph Island

Sailing Lake Huron in January

Ed Arthurs heads out from the wharf in Richards Landing.
Ed Arthurs heads out from the wharf in Richards Landing.

Snowmobilers and ice fishers may find the current conditions unfavorable, but not everyone is complaining about the lack of snow. Two men from St. Joseph Island look forward to glare ice on the lake, to get in a bit of winter sailing.

Perfect conditions for sailing on Lake Huron; sunshine, glare ice and wind.
Perfect conditions for sailing on Lake Huron; sunshine, glare ice and wind.

I found Ed Arthurs and Ed Dowding taking turns sailing, out in front of the wharf in Richards Landing on Saturday. They had some good wind, but small patches of snow on the lake were slowing things down. Although, they estimate they were hitting 60-70kmph on the lake, earlier in the week.

Ed and Ed started this project 10 years ago and have been improving the design in different ways since then. Ed Dowding says, "The first set of blades we put on were designed like a hockey skate, but after a close call, and I almost skidded into that little island, I decided we needed to make improvements."

After doing more research and trial and error, they sharpened the metal blades at 60 degrees on each side, to get the control they need to make sharp turns on the hard lake ice.

The sail and stabilizer board are designed to be taken apart and loaded on a trailer for easy transport. Getting only get 2 or 3 days each winter with glare ice and good wind, they sometimes pack everything up and go where they find those ideal conditions. They've sailed in Tenby Bay on the Island, Bruce Bay in Bruce Mines, and even north of the Sault on Lake Superior.