Sat 2 Dec 06

Surf Report # 26

Location: Grand Haven, MI – North Pier
Time: 4:00 pm- 5:15 pm
Air Temp: 36° F
Water Temp: 44° F
Wind: From WSW 19 mph
Waves: 5-8 ft
Gear: 5/3 wetsuit, 5 mm boots, 3 mm gloves, .5 mm hood

Snuck out of work early to sneak this session in. So good. First true cold weather surf day of the year for me. I forgot how strange it feels to go marching through snow drifts, surfboard under arm, protected only be neoprene. Waves were way bigger than I thought they were going to be and I had them to myself as a couple of fishermen took off just as I pulled up.

About half an hour in I found a fairly big channel sucking water away from the beach and was able to paddle out quite a ways further than I usually do. I then paddled North away from the channel and bobbed up and down in the biggest breakers I personally have ever sat on in Lake Michigan. Kind of a mesmerizing moment. Watching the sun set red over the Grand Haven lighthouse and reflected through whitewater spray. Felt like the waves and the birds and the wind were there just for me.

I was caught off guard by the size and smoothness of the wave that rolled through while I was enjoying the scenery. But I paddled and caught the lip without really thinking. Perched for a split second on the crest and thought about how this was easily the tallest wave I’ve ever been on then shifted my weight and slipped down the face, knowing the whole way down that I was riding one of those special waves. So fast! Not the ocean wave power behind it, just the rush of gravity. Did a bottom turn left, then a little jig back to the right and was surprised when I looked up by how much lateral distance I had covered in what felt like a couple of seconds.

I got chills when I plopped off of my board and let out a series of whoops and laughs. I then spent the next fifteen or twenty mintues trying to get back outside to have another go, but the longshore current kept yanking me around. In the end I just played in the smaller surf until my hands were too numb to go on (dogs bit a hole in one of my gloves). Shivered my way through the usual outhouse changing session and took off for home in the twilight.

Might be it for the year as far as winter surf goes though. Certainly not the safest time to go out by yourself.