31 Jul 2003 20:21:17
Midwest Wind Trip Report

"you know it was a good weekend when you have tanlines from the footstraps"

Yup - that's right. My annual Midwestern windsurfing safari (abbreviated
edition for a married guy with kids).


Stacked the four boards (Go 190, F175, ATC 270, ATC 260) 4 booms, 4 masts
and something like 6 sails on the Jeep, picked up my sailing buddy Carl at
5:00 AM and headed North. We were headed for our secret spot (Nahma, MI on
the Big Bay de Noc, Northern Tip of Lake Michigan.)

We were headed there because one day three years ago I was driving by Big
Bay de Noc and saw trees that were permanently bent over from the wind. It
occured to me that if the trees look like Aruba, the wind might blow like

So I decided to check it out. Sure enough, every time I have been up there
(three trips now.) it has been blowing. The first year I did sail my
Formula board quite a bit the first day and the morning of the second day,
but by Sunday, it was 6.0 rising to 5.0. The next year, it was 6.0/5.0 the
entire weekend. We had to camp behind the car to keep from getting
sandblasted by the onshore winds. This year the weather looked quite iffy,
but we went ahead on trust.

Anyway, back to this year's trip. Three hours into the trip and deep into
arguments about WMD's, right of return, yellowcake, etc, etc,etc, we ran out
of gas. An hour later the AAA guy pulled up and said "aren't you guys a
little old to be running out of gas?"

Well Yeah, we are a little old for that, but PUT THE GAS IN THE TANK!

We finally arrive, exchange pleasantries with Mary who runs the campsite
(No-Nah-Ma) and head out to the beach. Now, being windsurfers we had been
watching the wind build all morning - you know the routine - watching flags,
trees, small critters, etc., so we knew it was blowing.

Indeed it was. On arrival we carefully undid the giant stack of stuff from
the car (lest anything blow off) and started rigging. I am in posession of
a quiver of shiny new retros, and while I normally would have rigged my 6.0,
I just had to try my new 2003 Retro 6.5 (which I am told has the same top
end as my '99 6.0). So I rigged it up and then got my new ATC 260 (new to
me - bought from Ed Sinofsky) out of the bag, stuck a fin on it and got

I was a little wary that I had too much sail - but what the heck - it was an
onshore wind, so off I go. The direction of onshore was running the entire
length of Lake Michigan, so while there is no shore pound (sandbars way, way
out) once you get out there there is a nice 4 to 6 foot swell. And what a
ride I had. I was fully and perfectly powered - don't know the windspeed
but I would estimate 20 to 25 Knots. Once I got out in the swell, I had a
great time jumping (and crashing) and riding the swell. Little problem on
the jibes though - it turns out that the ATC 260 is a little smaller than my
Starboard F175 and I kept stepping off the side of the board and falling in.

I had two 1.5 hour sessions on my 6.5 and then a final 1 hour session on my
5.0. It was getting dark, the sun was setting, my legs were beat so it was
time to come in. Leave gear sitting on beach (since there are no other
human beings anywhere in sight).

Time to pitch tent, gather wood, fire up the campfire - cook and eat steaks
and baked potatoes. Collapse in tents and sleep til morning.


Get up in AM - take a look at the water. Yup, whitecaps are still running -
good thing the 6.5 is still rigged. Boy my feet hurt (broken toe the week
before - yes, windsurfing) gather wood, get the fire going, brew some
coffee. Eggs, sausage over fire, lots of H2O and coffee, and back out on
the water.

Back to a perfect 6.5 on the ATC 260 - same water as the day before. Sail
for 2.5 hours - now I'm hungry - time for lunch. Brats over the fire,
bannanas, etc. Wind is coming down a little, so I rig my 8.0 and put it on
my ATC 270. Another great combo - ride it for the afternoon.

Stash the two boards and sails on the beach. We drive around a little
looking for a piece of this perfect beach to buy, get some ice, some food,
come back to the campsite. Go back out on the 8.0 with the 270 - not enough
wind. So I put it on the Formula board and it is the perfect combo. Sail
waaayy upwind and rip around until sunset - they come back. Light fire,
cook, eat, sleep, get up Sunday morning.


Surely it will not be blowing today too. I look our over the water and it
is flat as a pancake - I can see some whitecaps off in the distance, and the
trees are blowing, So I decide on the F175 and 9.5 Retro.

So I de-rig the 8.0 and the 6.5 (From Saturday), we stow the tents and
generally get stuff packed up so we can sail all day and then leave. Get
the 9.5 rigged, cruise out to the windline on the F175 and get KILLED. It
was blowing at least 25 and I could not make it beam reach. I could go high
or deep, but it was no fun. So I get it back, de-rig the 9.5 and re-rig the
6.5. (OK, I got suckered out by the flat water unfamiliar launch, but boy
was I in for a treat.)

Since it is blowing kind of side off today I decide to sail the ATC 270
instead of the 260. (Slogging is easier.) I get out to the windline and it
is really blowing. Not only is it blowing, but now I am sailing to the east
of our launch into kind of bay about 2 miles deep by 5 miles across. The
chop is less than 1 foot, 25 knot winds and the water is only 3 to 4 feet
deep. With a sandy bottom! Just like in the keys without the muck! I am
screaming across the shallows and can see my shadow on the bottom. You blow
up and just kneel in the sand and laugh. This was really special. Talk
about a jibing classroom - fully powered, shallow, warm water and no chop.
Does it get any better than this?

I stayed out about 2 hours and then it was time to go home. I rip back
across the flats, thru the windline and slog up to the beach.

We pack it up and off we go - sunburned, dirty, tired and smiling from ear
to ear.

Is this a great sport or what??

If you want to see the topography - here is the link:


For some pics - take a look at my website (from last year's trip)


If anyone wants directions drop me a line

Tom - Chicago