Can You Cross Lake Michigan By Paddle Board?
As a Michigander, when I first moved out of state to the midwest and lived in places like Nebraska and Missouri, I was amazed at 1) Just how many people didn't realize Michigan was shaped like a hand and 2) the number of people who assumed you could see across Lake Michigan. They're called the "Great Lakes" for a reason, people!
Coming in at 118 miles across at its widest point you would think someone would have to be crazy to attempt to cross Lake Michigan with nothing but a paddle board, but would you believe it can and has been done before?!
In 2013 a trio of friends set out across Lake Michigan in an attempt to reach the other side in 30 hours or less. Brothers Craig and Trent Masselink, along with their friend Ginny Melby, left the Milwaukee area on July 7th and began paddling to their destination of Muskegon, MI.
The group of friends set out on their lofty goal in hopes of raising awareness and funds for the organization Restore International, a group that fights to protect youth in Uganda.
Thanks to help from friends and family, community members, and sponsors like Third Coast Surf Shop who loaned them the paddle board, the trio was able to accomplish their goal and complete their 80 mile trip in 23 hours--well under their 30 hour goal!
Of the trip, the friends said the first leg of their journey went smoothly. "Too smoothly ", they told MLive. Overnight the waves and weather started to pick up which pushed the paddle board further north, while Ginny also suffered from sea sickness.
As the three friends were all riding the same paddle board, their initial plan was to rotate between one hour shifts. Eventually the group cut it down to 30 minutes shifts to avoid physical exhaustion and the team estimates it took 50,000 strokes to paddle across the Lake. Craig told MLive,
For me this was physically exhausting but it was probably the most mentally exhausting thing I've ever done.
Has It Been Attempted Since?
Who in their right minds would be crazy enough to attempt this feat again? In 2015 a group of 5 friends paddle from Algoma, WI to Frankfort, MI to raise money for an environmental non-profit.
In 2018 two men fell several miles shy of completing their journey along the same route from Milwaukee to Muskegon after facing terrifying conditions and thunderstorms.
A solo attempt was made by Jesse Hieb in August 2014 but was cut short due to weather.