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.
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.
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.
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.
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.