PORT WASHINGTON — Hidden near the base of the power plant in Port Washington is some of the best surfing along Lake Michigan.
On Monday, after overnight storms brought powerful winds and cold rain, surfers raced to the coast as soon as they could to catch the swell.
“When the conditions are good, you gotta be on it. So that’s why a lot of people will just drop what they’re doing and go surf," said Chris Ganski, a pastor at City Reformed Church in Milwaukee.
Ganski — a lifelong surfer — spent his morning in meetings, itching to get in the water.
Some surfers at the beach in Port Washington took the day off. Others ditched work.
Ganski gets it. He'd been tracking the storm that brought Monday's waves for four days. And he wasn't going to miss some of the best surfing of the season either.
Right now, surf season is peaking on the lake. Beginning in the fall, typically, storm systems bring cold air and strong winds that create some of the best, albeit windy, conditions of the year.
Surfers will hit the lake into the winter, though some will drop off as the water temperatures continue to fall.
The waves on Lake Michigan weren't the prettiest on Monday.
“A lot of chunky mess. These are not clean waves. But we take what we can get on the lakes. And we love it while we get it," said Michael Gauthier, a local surfer.
He explained that those crisp, clean ocean waves you may have seen in the movies may have been generated thousands of miles away. Storms create those swells that may take days to reach shore, and by then, you're left with pretty waves and no storm.
But lakes are much smaller. And surfers, Gauthier says, often surf during or on the tail end of a storm because there is a smaller window to catch the freshly generated swell before it reaches shore.
So, it's a bit windy. And cold. Big deal.
"This is the time of year for waves and water temp is falling fast right now. You've got to be a hearty soul to be into this kind of thing," said Gauthier.
And dozens, at least at this beach, are today.
Ganski regrets he didn't start surfing the lake 16 years ago when he moved to Wisconsin. He kept traveling, in the U.S. and abroad, for swells.
“When I started surfing here I was blown away about how fun and good it can be. And I was hooked," he said. "I surf through the year now. It’s special, because it’s a lake. And the waves get good and fun.”
Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip