Michigan Windsurfing

Windsurfing & Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Michigan

This post is about two upcoming windsurfing trips: boating to Pelee Island and camping at Muskegon State Park. I might write a follow up about each if there’s something interesting to say about these trips.  Thanks to those who offered nice comments on my last post about windsurfing + camping in Empire.

Trip 1 Pelee Island: 9/13/2019 thru 9/15/2019

Update: See my session post for more info on how it went down...

Last year about this time, my wife and I took our boat to Pelee Island for a weekend. We keep a 22’ Nautica Deluxe docked at my childhood home in Grosse Ile, which is located where the Detroit River meets Lake Erie. My plan this year is basically to repeat the voyage, but to also bring along a windsurfer!

My boat is a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RIB). RIB boats are popular with coast guard and law enforcement because they are very stable in all kinds of weather conditions. Being difficult to capsize or sink, RIB’s are very safe. They also are easy to beach, dock and rendezvous with other vessels while being light-weight, having high carrying-capacity and very fuel efficient. Should be good enough to carry two people, our stuff and one sailboard 40 miles. Though I will need to get a board bag to prevent damaging the deck gel-coat and boards non-skid surface.

Obviously, I don't know what the conditions will be like. Typical weather for this spot looks interesting. Being almost in the middle of Lake Erie, it seems there is typically more wind there as compared to the shore. I've been checking periodically, and my unscientific opinion is it seems Pelee might be a bit windier on average than the shore .

We're going to stay at the Wandering Dog (again). This is a super chill B&B on the east shore of Pelee. The nearby beach access is quite good (see below). The house pictured is a private residence (I think), but I understand that the locals are understanding about sharing the beach.

Upon arrival and after clearing customs, my plan is to run the boat close to shore or to beach it to unload everything before docking up at Scudder's Marina, which is about 7 miles to the north. The east side of Pelee seems to have beach while the west side is very rocky. Even the east side has some giant granite boulders, which require a lot of attention whenever boating near the shore. This part of the adventure will require us to exercise caution.

Trip 2 Muskegon State Park: 10/4/2019 thru 10/6/2019 (Date Changed)

My sister's family and my wife and I will be camping at Muskegon State Park campground the weekend of September 20th. I'm not sure what to expect. I've never been to the campground before, but my sister tells me there is a nice beach. The reviews indicate it's a short walk from the beach campsites to Lake Michigan. Typical weather for this time of year looks like I might expect light winds and chilly water. We will see!

I plan to bring my shorty wet-suit. I've read that a neoprene cap can help keep you comfortable in chilly water. I think that would be a small thing that could keep me a little bit more comfortable. Maybe I'll get a Yulex Surf cap or similar and put the theory to a test.

As long as the weather is good enough for the journey, I'm sure we'll be taking these trips. If there's a major storm then maybe the boating trip will be postponed, but otherwise we'll be heading there regardless of the projected windsurfing prospects. Hopefully we find some good sailing!

Send me a message if you think you might want to exchange info and meet up at one of these destinations.

Happy sailing ;-)

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Comment by Brian on October 7, 2019 at 9:39pm

The Great Lakes shore breaks can be tough in an onshore wind.  Timing is everything - plus a quick water start.  Jeannie still has a four piece 'travel mast' from getting caught in the shore break?

Comment by Cris on October 7, 2019 at 7:14pm

Thanks for Interesting info about "inside the pier."  I saw that just to south. I launched from the Lake Michigan campground. I tried going to the channel campground, which has beach access on Lake Muskegon, but that was closed for a construction project.

I seen the pictures in the magazine from Maui or the Gorge, so I know people know how to windsurfing in waves 3 to 5 or bigger. I'm not one of those people. Usually my strategy is pull the rig past the breakers and launch in the swell. This site has breakers that go out quite a ways. It would actually be good surfing. Probably good wave sailing too.

I have a few ideas about how I could started done better in these conditions.

1. Maybe using a smaller board with a smaller fin would help be beach start closer to shore and faster.

2. Maybe I should have pulled it away from shore and tried my starting tack heading with the waves like a surfer.

3. I could have tried uphauling, but that takes a minute or so of standing still balancing. I did not want a 5 footer breaking on my while concentrating on pulling the rig up.

4. Be better ...

Not gear damaged & no bodily damage. I got a few scrapes here and there nothing unusually for me. I did lose my sunglasses and hat, but they died doing what they loved ...

Comment by Lawrence T Hoff on October 6, 2019 at 3:48pm

    Where did you launch from, Chris?  One popular launch is "inside the pier."  The launch is on the south side of the inlet (therefore a bit of a drive from the state park).  The advantage, as I understand it, is that there is a jetty/pier which protects the launch from shore break.

    Life kept me in Lansing this weekend.  Wind here on Lake Lansing was nearly directly from the west.  If the wind on Lake Michigan was similar, I could imaging there was significant shore break; the swell had the entire width of the lake to build up.  It's no fun getting rejected by a relentless shore break and onshore winds.  Other than your pride, I hope you escaped without injury.  If nothing else, I hope it was sunny and warm for you.

Comment by Cris on October 6, 2019 at 2:08pm

Hey Larry.

Conditions should have been good sailing on 10/6. Waves were too much for me at Muskegon state park. Had fun trying but alas... I suck. Should have brought a surf board. I packed it in after losing my had and sunglasses in the wash.  At least my wetsuit worked and was totally comfortable temp wise. Next time I'll to find somewhere more protected from the surf. Stuck s same because the wind and everything would have been perfect

Comment by Lawrence T Hoff on September 27, 2019 at 9:16am

Brian, were you able to get on the water last Sunday?  Lake Lansing had the conditions that were forecast, but failed to materialize, for Muskegon on Saturday: 15-25 from the S/SW from noon till 4, with clear skies.  

It was refreshing being back in my 5.5-6.0 comfort zone.  It was a lot of fun sailing borrowed gear on Saturday, and it was very generous of Randy and Mark’s father (whose name escapes me), but I proved to be completely inept at executing a basic step jibe on “big gear.”

Comment by Brian on September 24, 2019 at 3:58pm


"I think any day on the water is a good day"  - this is ingrained in you from the ABK days! 

Comment by Lawrence T Hoff on September 22, 2019 at 10:09am

The forecast was for 15-25, but I doubt it cracked 15.  To plane,  I used a (borrowed) 7.7.  I spend most of the day sub-planing on my biggest gear (6.3 sail).  Still, the weather was beautiful, and I think any day on the water is a good day.  With a wetsuit, the water was quite comfortable.

Comment by Cris on September 22, 2019 at 9:38am
Ah. Yes too bad indeed! What size were you sailing?
Comment by Lawrence T Hoff on September 22, 2019 at 9:17am
Too bad you missed this weekend. There were half a dozen or so windsurfers sailing by the pier. I got in some planing time when a couple kind souls let me sail their gear...
Comment by Cris on September 19, 2019 at 3:05pm
Hey Lawrence
Please do! We had to reschedule. Now we should arrive and setup camp 10/4 (Friday) departing 10/6. Send me a message and I'll respond with my cell.


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