Labor Day weekend brought sun, wind, waves and lots of Lake Michigan water activities. I spent some family time camping at the Empire township campground, windsurfed on Saturday at the Beach in Empire, headed south on Sunday and got in a short light wind kiteboarding ride at Point Betsie, and Monday I SUP’d and went kiteboarding in Manistee. This post is about Monday. The strong north/northwest wind on Labor Day brought a few area watermen to Manistee including Jetty, Money Mow, and my father.
I woke up at my parents house at 7:30 on Monday to the sound of my dad telling me that “surf’s up” and that he is headed to the beach. After realizing I wasn’t in a dream I checked NOAA weather station MEEM4 and sure enough the wind was reading true north at around 20-22 knots which is close to perfect conditions for kiteboarding and surfing here. It took a couple hours to get going and around 10:00 my wife and I pulled up to the beach we were greeted by some long rolling waves coming around the elbow of the Manistee pier.
Jetty and I had planned to do a downwinder from further up North and end up at 1st street but the wind was up and down and my big kite was out of commission so we setup at 1st street. We both put up our 11m kites and even though I have about 80 lbs on Jetty the Switchblade has such an incredible wind range that we were both able to have a good ride. Check out some video below.
After a nice kiteboarding session I borrowed my dad’s stand up paddle board and tried to catch a wave. I’ve been going to the beaches in Manistee a long time and have tried body boarding and surfing on the lifeguard rescue board(I was a lifeguard in Manistee for 7 summers) but only once before had I been on a board made for surfing waves on the Great Lakes. I made my way a few hundred yards out past the elbow of the pier where the waves first break. I waited for a set to roll through and then paddled like crazy to try and catch one. It took a few tries and I finally caught a wave just inside the elbow and I rode in disbelief all the way to shore. Check out the video below.
MoneyMow joined us mid morning at the beach and did really well. A couple more times out on the kiteboard and I think he’ll be staying upwind. After riding by the pier for a while Jetty and I took off on a short downwinder to Pipeline. The wind was barely strong enough to keep me up on my board as we passed by the clay banks of the golf course and Merkey Rd. Then the rain started and the wind picked up as well. The waves were 2-3 feet high and just big enough to feel them under my kiteboard as I let my kite drift downwind. As Pipeline came into view I contemplated continuing on down the lakeshore but the wind died down just as we approached the beach. That was okay, I had satisfied my kiteboarding hunger for the day and as I landed my kite I thought about what a great start it was to the true beginning of Kiteboarding season in Michigan.
Thanks to my wife who braved the cold wind to hang out at the beach for a while and take some video, thanks to my mom for bringing down some lunch, and thanks to my dad for picking us up at the end of our down winder!