Michigan Windsurfing

Windsurfing & Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Michigan

Lake Michigan (Glenn), 135L Bic Techno, 6.0m Sailworks Bravo

I should have listened to the Marine forecast.  A small craft advisory and beach hazard statement was issued starting at 2pm.  Winds were supposed to build NW to 20-30 knots over the afternoon and into the evening.  I went down to check out the water around 1pm and it didn't look like much wind.  Around 2pm I checked Windy.com and it said the wind was peaking at 2pm and would trail off from there.  So I wrote it off as another non-sailing day and continued with chores around the house in preparation for flying back to Oregon the next day. Big mistake!  Curiousity and the wind/wave noise got the best of me around 3pm and I took another walk down to see the Lake.  Big wind, big waves, whitecaps everywhere.  Looked like 3-4ft waves and 20knot winds. 

Quickly pulled my gear down from the rafters where it was stored, loaded the back of the rental car and skeedaddled down to my Aunt's beach to rig up and launch.  First time ever using anything smaller than my 6.8m sail on Lake Michigan.  Made it through the shorebreak ok and was quickly up on a plane and working into the straps/harness. Huge swells and breaking waves everywhere.  Needed every bit of (over)-power from the 6.0 to keep up the forward momentum. 

This picture doesn't really do it justice. . .

Here is a video of the launch, which felt a little dicey.  Glad I made it.


This was one of the most intense windsurfing sessions I have ever had anywhere.  Standing in the troughs, I was looking up at the peaks of the oncoming waves!  Blew my jibe about a mile out and really had to work to get the gear in position for a water start.  Then fell again when I got sprayed in the face just as I was hitting a ramp on the way in.  I was still 200+ yards off shore.  As I was working the gear into position I heard a big breaking wave barreling down on me.  Caught me off guard because I didn't expect any breaking waves that far out.  I let the gear go and it tumbled 15-20 yards ass over teakettle.  Luckily no breakers after that.  Swam to the gear and got back up and going.  Decided to take a break because I was pooped. 

Remember how I said I needed to improve my landing technique?  Well that was prophetic.  I pushed it just a little too far riding into the beach and hit the bottom… snapped the fin right at the base.  Luckily no damage to the fin box.  Just my ego was bruised as I made an unceremonious flop onto the sand.  The waves were really pounding on the shore.

There used to be a fin attached to this trimbox base. . . 


  1. Once again confirmed:  Need to use a big sail on the Big Lake.  Wind reached 20-25knots.  In the gorge I would have been on a 5.0 or so.  But on Lake Michigan I don't think that would have been enough power to get out through the incoming waves. 
  2. Lake Michigan on a 20 knot day is vastly more difficult than the gorge on a 25 knot day.  The swell in the gorge just doesn't get nearly as big, doesn't break, and is generally much easier to navigate. 
  3. The sweet spot for launching from the beach appears to be a 6.8 day.  Waves are more manageable, but still fantastic fun.
  4. The next time I am looking at conditions like yesterday I am going to try going down to S. Haven to launch in the lee of the breakwater and then sail out into the swell. 
  5. I need to get into shape.

Here is the S. Haven buoy data . . . I launched around 4pm.

After a month in Michigan I am back in Oregon.  I'll spend the next week catching up on work around the house and then head to the Gorge.  I am going to try working from my camper and sailing on my lunch hour, or maybe Dawn Patrol. . . .

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And this is why I no longer sail Lake Michigan on a northwest day!  My beach has the same conditions on a NW.  To much time in the washing machine for me.  One run and your dead.  Water starting in those waves is so tiring.  Luckily I and just north of Silver Lakes sand dunes which makes for small waves on a SW no matter how windy.  So fun to sail.  I go elsewhere on a Northwest.  Sorry we never got together while you were here.  Almost zero wind this summer.



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