Sometimes Mother Nature needs an assist.

With nearly all of Minnesota lakes still iced over, Skipp LaJoy of Tonka Bay Marina and a few friends hopped into a steel boat this week, found a bit of open water on Lake Minnetonka and made some waves. Like a lot of boaters anxious to get on the water, the joy ride was “a bit of fun, but it’s a necessity.” The boat barreled through and alongside ice that was 8 to 10 inches thick. The idea is to break it into smaller pieces in hopes of keeping large chunks from breaking loose and battering the marina’s docks, LaJoy explained.

It also might speed up the ice melt a tad, he added. Well, at least in Excelsior Bay.

“Once it gets windy, the wave action really eats up the pieces as they wash up on shore,” LaJoy said. “And if we get any rain, it will really soften it up.”

Excelsior Bay could be open by next week — enough to get people excited about getting on the lake but not enough to launch any boats just yet, LaJoy said. “There really isn’t anywhere to go,” he said. “It’s such a small bay.”

Most of the lake is still covered with ice that’s more than 20 inches thick, La Joy said.

As of Thursday afternoon, only three Minnesota lakes were ice free — Bronson in the northwest part of the state and Zumbro and Pepin in the southeast, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The rivers coming into the lakes move the water and help break up the ice, said assistant state climatologist Pete Boulay.

Warmer weather and windy conditions Sunday and Monday may speed up this season’s sluggish ice melt, he said. Boulay can’t offer any predictions when the state will be ice free, but the meltdown can be tracked on the DNR website.