‘That speed is unbelievable’: Take a slide on a P.E.I. ice boat – Prince Edward Island

You might wonder why anyone would want to skim across the ice at 100 km/h, but Doug Gaudet of Charlottetown can’t imagine not doing it every chance he gets.

“When you get good ice and your ice boat is working really well, the speed is unbelievable going across the ice when you’re laying down about eight inches off the ground,” he said.

He’s been ice sailing for the past 30 years — when the weather allows.

Doug Gaudet has been ice boating on P.E.I. since he built his first boat more than 30 years ago. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Safety first

I’ve known Doug since high school, and we’ve been talking about my going out on the ice with him to shoot video for the past three years, but the weather and schedules didn’t allow for it — until recently.

I didn’t hit those fast speeds. Doug promised to go slow. Really slow. No more than 20 km/h. 

So with helmets, protective gear and insulated clothing, we prepared to hit the ice. I hoped, not literally.

The boat isn’t built for two, so I clung to the mast with my camera.

Take a slide on a P.E.I. ice boat0:55

Through ice and wind

“Your runners are making a noise on the ice and the wind through the rigging at that speed is unbelievable.”

The ice boaters must put on their masts before they can go sailing. (Pat Martel/CBC)

That last statement makes me a bit nervous, so I ask Doug what happens if the sail tips over.

“Most of the time all you do is you roll out of the ice boat and you slide along the ice until you come to a stop,” he said. 

“Usually more embarrassing that it is hurtful.”

Close to the ground

So with that, we’re off for a little spin.  Because we’re so close to the ground, it seems we’re going faster than we are. The other boats whiz by.

And before we know it, we’re back.  

Doug Gaudet’s ice boat gets a little lift as he sails into the wind on Brackley Bay. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Doug says we were lucky to have such good ice boating…

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