Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


... but then I was like, 'there's no sharks here'
September 25, 2008 9:55 AM   Subscribe

When most people think of the Great Lakes, surfing is the last thing that comes to mind. Unsalted seeks to expose the unique world of Great Lake surfers.

Storm chasing plays a large role in these surfers lives, as good waves generated by the winds only last a few hours. They brave blizzard conditions to launch off of an ice floatilla onto a cresting wave.
posted by The Power Nap (38 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
No sharks!
posted by horsemuth at 10:08 AM on September 25, 2008


If you're interested in great lakes surfers you might be interested in Step Into Liquid (2003). It's a general surfing documentary that includes footage and interviews with several great lakes surfers. Its a little new agey, but really positive and I highly recommend it.
posted by Craig at 10:15 AM on September 25, 2008


oh yeah, now I see the title...and the tag...
posted by horsemuth at 10:17 AM on September 25, 2008


No sharks!
Well, not enough to worry about, anyway.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:21 AM on September 25, 2008


If you don't move fast enough though, the Zebra Mussels will get you.
posted by drezdn at 10:24 AM on September 25, 2008


That looks really cold. Seconding Step Into Liquid, some really amazing footage in that movie.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:28 AM on September 25, 2008


If you don't move fast enough though, the Zebra Mussels will get you.

Or the Witch of November, maybe.
posted by washburn at 10:30 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


That looks really cold.

Without a wetsuit, the waters of Lake Superior will kill you.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:35 AM on September 25, 2008


I used to live in Kingston Ont., apparently it's a great place for kiteboarding. So in a way this doesn't surprise me, but is still totally awesome.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:36 AM on September 25, 2008


Well, I borked that link. Here's the right one.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:36 AM on September 25, 2008


My dad knew guys back in the '60s and early '70s who used to surf the rock pile at Grand Haven. You had to jump off the end of the pier and paddle like hell to get clear before the surf smacked you and your board back into the pilings or the breakwater. Great fun, especially if you were doing it in October-November.
posted by Chrischris at 10:42 AM on September 25, 2008


When I think of the great lakes, nachos is the last thing that comes to mind, preceded in my thoughts only slightly by Ray Harryhausen.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:50 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you don't move fast enough though, the Zebra Mussels will get you.

Zebra Mussels, hell - I'd be more worried about the Lampreys (((shudder)))).
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:51 AM on September 25, 2008


Kite surfing on Lte Erie! This is amazing to watch -- and apparently, this part of Lake Erie (see link) has some of the best kite surfing in the world.
posted by bluesky43 at 10:59 AM on September 25, 2008


Without a wetsuit, the waters of Lake Superior will kill you.

Especially if you name is Edmund Fitzgerald.
posted by GuyZero at 11:24 AM on September 25, 2008


i'm so glad other people know what the witch of november and edmund fitzgerald are. (that's what i get for leaving michigan).
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:45 AM on September 25, 2008


Whoa ... okay ... all you (USENET) alt.surfing folks, come on out now (there are over 2000 Great Lake surfing posts over the years). And then there is the infamous Gleshna of that group.
posted by Surfurrus at 12:35 PM on September 25, 2008


People are always windsurfing in my hometown under The Blue Water Bridge, which is where Lake Huron funnels into The St. Clair River. The narrowness of the river, coupled with the oft-extremely windy conditions and strong current, make for some pretty huge waves at times (this is also why a lot of ships sank in this area, making it great for scuba diving, too).
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:46 PM on September 25, 2008


Growing up in Cleveland I've heard way too many stories of people getting caught in undertow and drowning. Since the conditions that create big waves, mainly a strong wind blowing directly toward the shore, also create undertow, I'd say surfing out there is a pretty bad idea.
posted by waxboy at 12:49 PM on September 25, 2008


The Card Cheat! Sarnia hometown shoutout! Go blob - everyone should get their riverbed drycleaned once every few years!

Sarnia is very good for windsurfing indeed. There's a lot of wind off Huron and the beaches are pleasant. The think the St Clair is only for the more hard-core windsurfers as you have speed boaters and oil tankers to deal with and not a lot of river to move around in.
posted by GuyZero at 1:19 PM on September 25, 2008


when i was a kid, i wind-surfed on huron and superior. go me.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:42 PM on September 25, 2008


Without a wetsuit, the waters of Lake Superior will kill you

ScienceLessonFilter: How come the air at 55 degree is harmless, but deadly in water?
posted by sixcolors at 2:02 PM on September 25, 2008


ScienceLessonFilter: How come the air at 55 degree is harmless, but deadly in water?

Actually, the air at 55 degrees isn't harmless. If you are wet and in 55 degree air, you can die of hypothermia. It's all about the rate of heat loss - water will pull heat out of you a lot quicker than air.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:13 PM on September 25, 2008


ScienceLessonFilter: How come the air at 55 degree is harmless, but deadly in water?

Because breathing water is a problem?
posted by GuyZero at 2:33 PM on September 25, 2008


brrrrr.
posted by sararah at 2:41 PM on September 25, 2008


@Chrischris

There's a plenty of footage of people out there at that pier, it was kind of surreal, as in some scenes the pier looked to be covered in an inch or two of ice.

@waxboy

Oddly enough the filmmakers near death experience with the undertows inspired him to make the film.
posted by The Power Nap at 3:12 PM on September 25, 2008


How come the air at 55 degree is harmless, but deadly in water?

Water sucks heat out of you faster than air does.

Or, if you want it more simply, water and air are different things.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:13 PM on September 25, 2008


Note that in the table the ratio of thermal conductivity for water is about 13 times higher than for air.


Substance
Thermal
Conductivity

 k [J/(s-m-C)]

Substance
Thermal
Conductivity

 k [J/(s-m-C)]


Syrofoam

     0.010
Glass
     0.80



Air
     0.026
Concrete
     1.1



Wool
     0.040
Iron
     79



Wood
     0.15
Aluminum
     240



Body fat
     0.20
Silver
     420



Water
     0.60
Diamond
   

2450



posted by Mental Wimp at 3:41 PM on September 25, 2008


My apologies for that really bad choice of formatting a post. The relevant table lines are:

Substance: Thermal Conductivity ( k [J/(s-m-C)])
Air: 0.026
Water: 0.600
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:43 PM on September 25, 2008


I was always fascinated by the motivation of surfers on the Great Lakes. You wait for the most ungodly weather and then off to the lake for what really are not so great waves. The period is a bit shorter on these waves and a lot of guys seem to love that. Surfing on the Jersey Shore is sort of the same, except, theoretically at least, there are sharks.

Munich surfing, now that is kind of cool, surfing in the park downtown.
posted by caddis at 5:36 PM on September 25, 2008


I stuck my toe into Lake Superior once. Liquid nitrogen might be colder.
posted by gimonca at 9:20 PM on September 25, 2008


Munich Surfing ... caddis

LOL ... surfing is a disease. We used to have a guy posting pics on alt.surfing of surfing in Norway.

(Is that guy dodging chunks of ice in that tube?)
posted by Surfurrus at 10:26 PM on September 25, 2008


I stuck my toe into Lake Superior once. Liquid nitrogen might be colder.

I swam in Lake Huron a few times...basically you jump in until your legs start to go numb and then you run out. It loses it's attraction after the age of 13. I jumped in Lake Superior once....once.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:02 PM on September 25, 2008


I paddle surf Lake Michigan when it gets big. Waves can get big, but the sets are close together and the breaks are often pretty uneven. Makes for an interesting day. Dress warmly.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:45 AM on September 26, 2008


basically you jump in until your legs start to go numb and then you run out

babies, the lot of you. I swam in Huron daily for years as a kid & teenager. In July & August the water is fine. May and November, well, that's just silly.
posted by GuyZero at 9:53 AM on September 26, 2008


Swimming in Lake Huron on the Victoria Day weekend (weekend on or before May 24) is perfectly fine. Until you hit puberty. That's when I stopped.
posted by djfiander at 10:51 AM on September 26, 2008


Lake Superior is swimmable a few times a year, though kids swim in it all year as a matter of principle. I prefer going on May 15, to welcome the summer back--(Scottish Beltane). it's not <>entirely unusual to see people swimming in the winter (cuz we're crazy like that).

but it's kinda funny--those few days in July or August when it's really nice and warm, because the wind's been calm and the sun's been hot...there'll be a whisper about. The Lake is warm. Better get out there. Time to go. the word will spread, and the beaches will have knots of naked people and tiny little fires in the middle of the night.

i see the surfers a lot in October and November. we can't help but admire their spunk.
posted by RedEmma at 6:52 AM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pesky link of swimming in December.
posted by RedEmma at 7:10 AM on September 27, 2008


« Older Star Stories...  |  Walter Kitundu is one of this ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments