Taking snowmobiles for the last ride of the season - on water

by Pam Roberts

When the snow melts on the trails, lakes and rivers, winter may be waning but there is still a way to extend the snowmobile season. <BR><BR>You may need to be slightly crazy and have a snowmachine with lots of horse power to do it, but with enough of both to keep those paddles spinning you can go ‘water skipping.’ <BR><BR>Once you’re out there you better keep moving because if you slow down, you’re sunk. This seems to happen quite often, but the guys are used to it. It’s not really too bad for the machine, just a hassle. <BR><BR>You fish the sled out of the water, whatever it takes. Usually there is a lot of help at hand, a 4-wheeler, a winch, a boat, or an arm-in-arm human chain will suck it up onto shore (the machine - and hopefully the driver). <BR><BR>Turn the machine on its side to drain off the water, get the water out of the carburator by pulling the spark plugs, crank on the engine a few times, drain off some more water, put the plugs back in and hopefully it’ll start and take off again. <BR><BR>Guys have learned that it is warmer to wear a one piece, chest high ‘wader’ if they have them. Hands get wet but if you keep your hand warmers on you’ve got it made. <BR><BR>Sometimes guys wear helmets but it is hard to see with them on. Everyone looks out for each other. <BR><BR>Usually water skipping is done where it is known to be shallow, less than six feet deep, just in case you sink. The machine takes off from shore with enough speed and horsepower to shoot across the water and get back on shore before slowing down, turn around, and go back out again. <BR><BR>Why risk your machine.... and life... on such a sport? It’s quite the adrenalin rush going across water in a snowmobile. It’s a challenge making something float that isn’t supposed to float. And besides, it’s fun.<BR><BR>Guys get together on weekends when there’s no snow on the trails to go waterskipping. One person calls another and fairly soon there’s a whole crowd out there watching. At the Winton culverts a crowd gathers to watch the many water skippers on the Shagawa River.