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New guy bad ice crossing


Hi everybody ,I am from Northern Ontario and have a water access only cabin that I want to live in year round ,it’s on a river that’s 35’deep ,but only 150’ across .I have unpredictable ice to deal with .I was going to scratch build something ,but found a boat local (extremely rare here )with a vw engine and a composite prop , the boat is fibreglass ,10’long and about 6’wide if I remember correctly (it’s not here ) but is a tunnel hull design .There is a sticker on the side that says “ dragonfly “ but I can’t find any others like it ,but it does closely resemble some of the Tom cat airboats .It does have ice brakes on the back .
Anyways ,I have no need for an airboat from March until December ,not worried about speed as I am not going far ,I am worried about transitioning between good and bad ice and water and am wondering if any of you would know if I will have enough power to get in and out of trouble ,or should I possibly re-power with something better .I live in snowmobile country ,finding sled engines is pretty easy for me ,the prop components would be tough ,I owned my own truck and trailer repair shop ,even worked in the Arctic repairing every kind of equipment imaginable so I have ability to do the work .
I hope to toss the boat in the river in the next few days for it’s maiden voyage .
Also ,I am wondering why airboats apparently don’t work as well in deep water ,something about they don’t get up on plane ,I have 11 ft of water within 6 feet of the river edge ,how much of a problem is that going to be for me when things are wet ? Do I really need to worry about getting up on plane if I am only going 150 feet ?
Sorry about the random questions ,I am excited but concerned about the boat I bought and it’s abilities ,the sellers father purchased it for exactly my use ,but had issues with the trailer bringing it up here ,he was so upset he parked it in the garage for several years and never tried it even once ,so they are unable to tell me anything about it abilities.If the boat won’t work for me ,I have had many local rednecks stop and try to purchase it from me ,so I can easily get out of it if I need to .
Thank you in advance for any help you have to offer !


Bruces welcome to SA!

Do you plan on hauling more than one person or supplies to your cabin with the airboat? Everyone on the site will tell you we could all use more power at certain times! I have heard that tunnel designs typically need more power to run.

Does the crossing completely ice over in winter months? I would think hitting big chunks of ice would be your main concern.

Maybe some of our northern members can chime in with their thoughts. Let us know how your maiden voyage goes sir.

Best of luck!


Thank you for the welcome .
I don’t need to haul much other than groceries ,sometimes another person ,but generally I don’t haul too much in the winter ,it’s also a short enough distance multiple trips is not a problem to keep the weight down . I built myself an aluminum landing craft that hauls all summer .
The ice is unpredictable ,one year it’s frozen well enough to walk on by Christmas ,next it might be the end of January or even February ,there is a constant current and it can really be dangerous .I also make my own ice ,I use a small gas pump and a few sprinklers and basically make ice from above like we used to do on the ice roads way up north ,works pretty good as long as there is a bit of a base .


I am also thinking you guys might be calling my boat a catamaran style not a tunnel hull ,it basically has the bottom raised up a few inches in the centre ,leaving something like a flat bottom foot wide pontoon on each side .


Well-known member
I recommend testing in bad ice with a friend that has an actual ice boat in case you get stuck.

Falling through is a gnarly ordeal that can be dangerous in the wrong boat. Your new boat looks like fun on a warm summer day but would scare me to have on bad ice.



Thank you for the warnings Huffduf41 ,I will have a safety plan for sure but don’t think anybody else near me has a boat they use on the ice ,i am going to have to learn completely on my own I am afraid .