Check out the video link of our trip to Lake Michigan

With low water at my home play park I devised a plan to take a surf lesson on Lake Michigan for the upcoming weekend. For good surf on the Great Lakes I understand it takes wind out of the correct direction to make waves. Usually this includes cold, inclement weather too. That’s a plus in my book.

Lake Michigan PC: Marty Colbert

I was in luck, a couple days before my planned trip the winds picked up and a cold front moved through creating good surf conditions on Lake Michigan at St Joseph, MI. The wave forecast was calling for 8-10 foot waves! I grabbed my paddling buddy, Marty, and we took off with our playboats.

Lake Michigan Wave Height

Arriving at the beachside park, we could hear the waves before seeing them. The wind still whipping relentlessly and the sky spat rain and sleet from time to time. After gleaning some info from the surf instructor during my am surf lesson, Marty and I decided we should get our playboats out next.

Lake Michigan Waves

Perched on the sand, we assessed the waves endlessly rolling and crashing into the shoreline. “Wow, it looks bigger than earlier this morning,” we chimed in unison. After attempting to get past the beach break for 15-20 mins, we were amazed to find we had only made it about 15ft into the lake. We had also drifted 200 yards plus down the shoreline, not where we wanted to be. We beached it and hiked back up to where we started.

My Jackson Rockstar Meets Lake Michigan

“There’s got to be a way through,” I said studying the crashing waves. We again perched on the beach and watched intently. I saw a window and crab/crawled/scooted my way into the water with Marty trailing only a few feet to my right. Crashing wave after crashing wave, quickly paddle left, quickly paddle right, avoiding the largest crashing waves we finally paddled out to the sweet spot. Alright, so we made it out, now we are going to catch a wave?! Yea!

The waves certainly seemed bigger than earlier, but I saw a good one coming right at me. I turned, paddled a few strokes and next thing I knew I was flying down the wave face! It was exhilarating riding the waves in my playboat and side surfing the crashing whitewater until the wave dissipated. Then began the trek back out for more, repeating this circuit until exhausted.

Lake Michigan post surf Marty Colbert and Hannah Ray J

Lake Michigan waves in a kayak was an educational, fun, humbling, exhilarating blast. I’m amazed at just how powerful the water and wind is on the lake and how heavy the waves are when they hit you. It was fun, I’m glad we both survived and thrived with no issues. I’m doubly grateful for a solid roll and paddling skills, which were essential for making the experience a safe and fun one. Now if I just lived a little closer, I could get out there and practice more! Much appreciation for those who play out on the Great Lakes. Thanks for sharing your beautiful area with us!

-Hannah Ray J