Windsurf BABABaltimore Area Boardsailing Association

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Exploring Lake Michigan
by Roger Fitzgerald

Link to GPS track

While vacationing on Chamber’s Island, Wisconsin this summer, I had a chance to sail to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan across Green Bay. July 4th started with only a light breeze, but by 3:00 in the afternoon it had built into the 10 to 15 mph range from the North. My brother Tim is always eager to windsurf in any kind of wind, especially now that he has a 9.0 to use with his 180 liter GO board. I cleverly let him go out to test the wind while I rested on the shore and had a snack to build up my strength. By 3:30 he was back on shore to change to his 7.5 and 129 liter Pro-Tech board since the wind had increased considerably. I suited up, started my eTrex GPS and started sailing with my 7.5 and Pro-Tech ATC 270 103 liter board Tim and I tend to be a little competitive in our sailing, so he immediately jibed when I started sailing towards him at 4:00, fully powered and planing. Since I had sailed my 7.5 a few days earlier and left it rigged, I was completely dialed in and ready to sail. Without saying anything to Tim I just headed for the far shore and he knew that we were off and racing the 6.5 miles. With similar boards and sails we were fairly evenly matched, and we are both experienced sailors used to the conditions on the Great Lakes. The fetch is more than 40 miles to the North, so the 20 mph winds quickly built some nice 2-3 foot waves with 5 foot faces. We sailed along about a hundred yards apart for the first two miles, then Tim headed downwind a little to try to pick up some speed to pass me. This didn’t help him any since I also headed down and picked up even more speed so that I beat him to the UP by about 200 yards after 6.5 miles of sailing. We stopped when the waves were breaking on a beautiful stretch of pure sand that was only waist deep 300 yards from the shore.Since we were 6.5 miles from our starting point we didn’t want to take any chances on breaking a fin. My elapsed time was 16 minutes 26 seconds to establish a new record for this crossing.

On the way back we were fighting to stay upwind to get back to the island after reaching off for speed on the race across. Fortunately the wind picked up so that we were able to get back in about 20 minutes even while sailing on a close reach. After some rest and refreshment Tim switched to a 106 liter board and his 5.8 sail. I just flattened my 7.5 and sailed for another hour or so, then stopped to go to a 4th of July party. Tim was also ready to stop until I told him that my max. speed for the day was 32.6 MPH. Since his was only 29.6 MPH he went out to sail some more, determined to set the daily speed record. After another hour of sailing he posted a speed of 33.3 mph on his eTrex, giving him something to brag about at the post race party. Chamber’s Island is mostly private, we sailed from our beach cottage in Lighthouse Bay. The Chamber’s Island Lighthouse (circa 1868) is a town park and it has rudimentary facilities and a nice grass rigging area with a rocky launch. This sailing area is definitely best suited to expert sailors, the wind and waves can build quickly on Green Bay. Tim and I have sailed here for years but never made the crossing before since we didn’t have favorable winds when we were both on the island. It was very satisfying to finally sail to the shore that we look at every summer, and of course winning the race with Tim was icing on the cake!

This plot was prepared with Expert GPS software that is available on the internet, it automatically retrieves the appropriate topographical maps to match your GPS track.

GPS Track