5th Avenue, Finally!

"Everything moves in cycles. So twice a century, the ocean lets us know just how small we really are. A winter storm comes out of Antarctica, tearing up the Pacific. And it sends a huge swell north 2,000 miles. And when it hits Bells Beach, it will turn into the biggest surf this planet has ever seen and I will be there." -- Bodhi
“Everything moves in cycles. So twice a century, the ocean lets us know just how small we really are. A winter storm comes out of Antarctica, tearing up the Pacific. And it sends a huge swell north 2,000 miles. And when it hits Bells Beach, it will turn into the biggest surf this planet has ever seen and I will be there.” — Bodhi

 

We’ve been chasing 5th Avenue Beach for a good kiteboarding ride for several years and finally the stars aligned on the morning of November 9th. I spent Friday night in the Detroit area and woke up early Saturday morning to make the trek to Manistee. I met up with Jetty in Grand Haven and we carpooled the rest of the way to 5th Avenue Beach. The forecast had been calling for 30 knot wind out of the south early Saturday morning, slowly rotating to the Northwest by late afternoon. Perfect conditions to find the best wind conditions at 5th Avenue.
"Okay. I get it. This is where you tell me that 'locals rule,' and that yuppie insects like me shouldn't be surfing the break, right?" -- Johnny Utah
“Okay. I get it. This is where you tell me that ‘locals rule,’ and that yuppie insects like me shouldn’t be surfing the break, right?” — Johnny Utah
We arrived at the beach around 10:30 AM. The wind had just shifted WSW and was side-shore. 2-3 foot waves were breaking in long lines at the north end of the beach. We geared up and got on the water, being careful to stay away from the pier where the fishermen were surfcasting for steelhead. The water was cold and when I fell in the water my face stung for the first time this fall season. I took a few tacks and caught Jetty boost into a nice slow rotating front roll. With the steady wind and smooth waves I knew it was going to be a great day.
Bodhi: If you want the ultimate, you've got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It's not tragic to die doing what you love.
“If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It’s not tragic to die doing what you love.” –Bhodi
We broke for lunch at 12:30. The wind had kicked up another notch so we inflated the 5.5m Nomad and I grabbed the 8m Switchblade and got back on the water. During lunch we talked about riding Man-Made Lake, a small lake on the northwest end of 5th avenue beach and decided to give it a try. We kited downwind, hopped out of the water with our boards, and climbed over the short dunes to Man-made. The wind was a bit flukey near shore and the tacks were short but riding the butter smooth lake was awesome! Man-made used to connect to Lake Michigan. Around 25 years ago a condo development went in and they closed off Man-made from the big lake. I can’t help but think of how amazing it would have been to kite at 5th avenue if Man-made lake was still connected.
"Found one of your passports to Sumatra, I missed you by about a week at Fiji. But, I knew you wouldn't miss the fifty year storm, Bodhi." --Johnny Utah
“Found one of your passports to Sumatra, I missed you by about a week at Fiji. But, I knew you wouldn’t miss the fifty year storm, Bodhi.” –Johnny Utah
After Man-made went back to Lake Michigan and kited up wind. The waves were bigger and cleaner as the wind had shifted straight out of the West. The area with the best waves was where the dunes start at the North end of the beach. I kited until exhaustion, having experienced one of the best rides of 2013.
"Vaya con Dios, Brah." --Johnny Utah
“Vaya con Dios, Brah.” –Johnny Utah
For better or worse this post was inspired by the airing of Point Break I caught on TV last week and by the crazy storm cells that rolled through the Midwest this past weekend.  Check out the full gallery from the day below and  SUBSCRIBE to automatically receive these posts in your inbox.

One comment

  • Haha! Great post. Best session of the year. I can’t remember a better forecast for 5th ave beach on a weekend.

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