Summer Surf Kayaking South Haven, Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan Surf Kayaking South Haven August 8th

As in many cases where kayak surfing is concerned. It is not a planned activity. It is a weather driven spontaneous event. When the leaves begin to rustle outside my window, and blades of grass begin to brush down from the breeze, I start scheming. Maybe some men have similar compulsions for Golf, I don’t know. I raced home on my bike from work, and ran inside to look at the lake cam. Steady lines of breakers had formed on both sides of the pier.

So I hurriedly explained to Laura (the wife). That I had to make a mad dash to the Lake. Some men might be smart and be deterred by a pouty look, or an icy silence. But when you have a sickness for kayak surfing like I do, these small facial expressions, or determined grave silences don’t even hit the radar. I loaded up both kayaks, the Nigel Foster Silhouette and the Mega Maverick and high-tailed it to the beach.

The fifty minute drive to South Haven South beach was rewarded with waves. The wind was pushing 3-5 footers straight out of the north. The waves that formed were gentle, slow moving, spillers about head high to maybe a little over head. I suited up quickly and walked through the parking lot. I accidentally nicked some guys rear view mirror with my surf kayak. He shouted from the window of his car, “hey expletive watch it”. I barely paused to apologize. I got down to the water and paddled out on relatively calm water.

Within 15 minutes I’d caught three beautiful carving rides. I spilled down from the lip, pulled a bottom turn, and was delighted to find, the wave had not closed out, so I headed back up wave and pulled a top turn to head back down wave before the wave closed out. For once it seemed as if I had all of the time in the world for diagonal runs, bottom turns, top turns. I caught several more rides like this riding them all the way in to the beach. I looked at my watch after a I’d caught ten or so rides. I’d barely been on the water forty minutes.

Unfortunately on one ride, I got caught way on the inside and spent 15 minutes of futile energy trying to break back out. For a while I was trying to break out diagonally to avoid the wind. I thought I was paddling in a rip, only to find that really I was paddling directly into a rip! Once I gave up on the diagonal paddle out I zipped back out.

The wind started backing a bit and then the rides slowed in the second hour as sunset came on. The water was warm, and the sun shot spokes of light from behind clouds as the sun set. My body has been brutally abused this summer, and I’ve only gotten out to paddle about ten times since May. The impromptu surf session made all of that seem distant and irrelevant for a short while. My ribs ached a bit but as of this article’s publishing, I am feeling pretty ok for once!!!

Also I used my Lendal XTI last night and it was good to have the old axe in hand for a stellar session.

In sidenotes to this article two freaky events occurred on the South Haven South Beach that evening.

The first-A jet skier stalled out. He was struggling to get his craft going. A fishing boat came along and tried to tow him out. His jet ski had the entire hull cracked and ripped out by the tow. A sad sight indeed.

The second-I set my life jacket on the pavement next to me in the parking lot as I was trying to get the Mega on the roof of the Volvo. What looked like a 14 year old kid promptly drove over it as she was pulling out of the parking lot. Hey no big deal it is just a life jacket. But my Pentax was in the pocket of the life jacket. I shouted at her to stop as she was pulling off dragging my life jacket with her. She finally stopped and I managed to retrieve my life vest. I didn’t even give her a dirty look, she looked petrified enough. I checked the camera and it was fine.

I have a bad surf video to share later. I am trying to rig a helmet cam, I have a plan!!!