In this week’s “What we Love to Teach”, local paddler and Gales’ coach, Sam Crowley, talks about the venue and what he loves to teach in the Marquette area:
Paddling amongst the rocks in MIddle Bay
What I like to teach is rough water paddling in the Marquette area. The bends and twists of the shoreline offers a dynamic environment that allows wave energy to be focused or dissipated offering a selection of teaching venues for rough water paddling, surfing, navigation and rock garden playing. Rarely is the surf break the same at all points on the shoreline.
During a private surfing/rough water lesson on Middle Bay, we launched into conditions that was too challenging for the Kelly’s skill level. No problem, we headed down along the Middle Bay shoreline to where the break was smaller. On the way back he asked if the waves had dropped, as they didn’t look so big anymore. They were the same size, what had increased was his skill.
Another time, Middle Bay was overwhelming. Wanting to take some photos of towing in rough water Nancy, Don and I launched. As we headed out we realized the conditions were bigger than what we had planned on. As a large set came in I watched as Don climbed over the top. Nancy wasn’t so lucky, as the wave broke on her she was surfed backwards then en
Slots are cool places to take a break an then bust on through!
dered. When she rolled up she has little choice but to surf the next wave as it broke on her. Don and I looked at each other and signaled to head in. But that didn’t end our day, we headed over to the Presque Isle Marina and headed for the end of the breakwall. With nearby protection and deep water, we headed out into the same conditions that the reefs in Middle Bay made too challenging for a shoulder nearly, but not fully recovered from injury.
Playing in rocks requires boat handling skills and offers a great teaching venue. With a good part of the shoreline being rock, there are places along Presque Isle and Partridge Island where the waves get focused turning waves as small as 6-12 inches into a challenge for getting into and around rocks. Increase the wave height and the challenge increases. Waves too big? No problem, head to a place that dissipate the wave energy and play in the rocks there.
Teaching on water navigation is facilitated by a handful of nearby islands and a shoreline that twists and bends. This is a playground for teaching piloting, the use of visual landmarks in navigation. Throw in conditions which ups the skill level.
I’ve paddled many shorelines and taught in many places. When the north or east winds blow, Marquette’s shoreline is a great playground and classroom offering a variety of challenges for a variety of skill levels.