Wakeboarding is an exciting way to enjoy the many natural water features around us, including the charming and beautiful Lake Michigan. As one of the largest Great Lakes, Lake Michigan provides an amazing setting for a wide variety of water sports and recreation, including paddleboarding, water skiing, and wakeboarding.
What Is Wakeboarding?
For the beginning water sports enthusiast, wakeboarding is an exhilarating sport where a rider on a wakeboard is towed behind a boat to skate over the water, riding the crest of the wake. A fun combination of water skiing and aerial acrobatics, wakeboarding is a highly entertaining way to enjoy the water.
Experienced wakeboarders will use the crest of the wake to launch themselves into the air, performing mesmerizing tricks before landing smoothly upon the water. These aerial maneuvers can be highly complex and take decades to master. This makes wakeboarding a water sport that is both exciting to try and fun to watch!
The second-largest of the Great Lakes in terms of volume and a picturesque vacation destination, Lake Michigan is an obvious choice for watersports and recreation. In addition, Lake Michigan has the unique advantage of having four border states, so locals from Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana can enjoy its cool waters.
The surrounding states have many fun beach cities bordering the lake, which means lots of boat launch locations for aquatic adventures. The lake can be accessed from Chicago, Green Bay, Milwaukee, and many more vacation spots. Having multiple tourist destinations nearby also means that boat rentals are often easy to find.
Another great advantage to wakeboarding on Lake Michigan is the mild temperature, which can range from around 60-70 degrees in the summer. The lake’s average water depth of over 250 feet also makes it ideal for water recreation involving boats or personal watercraft. There are also many boat launch locations to choose from, including multiple state parks with camping, fishing, and water sport amenities.
Rules and Regulations
Before you head out wakeboarding, it’s essential to know the rules and how they will apply to you. If you bring your own vessel, you should know its length, class, and capacity before heading out to the lake. There are different local and federal regulations for different classes of vessels, so it is always helpful to double-check that your boat is compliant. Also, make sure your watercraft carries the proper registration before you depart.
Remember that all vessels have to have a personal flotation device, or life jacket, for each person on board and, while wakeboarding, for the person being towed.
The specific rules about where you can operate motorboats and do high-speed boating will vary depending on the county you are visiting, so be sure to look up the regulations for every location where you plan to wakeboard. There may also be unique speed limits, wake regulations, and time limits for recreational watercraft usage.
While the unique rules for boating procedures differ from place to place, it is still helpful to be aware of general watercraft guidelines in the states surrounding the Great Lakes. For example, Michigan law requires that people and vessels being towed in the water need to maintain a distance of 100 feet from docks or anchored vessels.
If you have decided to make Lake Michigan your waterboarding destination, there will be a bit more research to complete before starting your trip. It’s important to check to see if the area you plan to wakeboard in allows water sports and motorized watercraft. Many recreation areas with important fishing locations or sensitive wildlife will prohibit waterskiing, high-speed boats, and often water sports of any kind.
After you have determined a location, you will either need to locate a boat rental service or a boat launch point, depending on if you are bringing your own vessel. If you are towing a boat, be sure to check the details of the boat launch location to ensure that there is adequate space for your size and type of boat. It is also helpful to check the local guidelines for boat transportation and sanitation to prevent the spread of invasive species.
Once you’ve researched your location and know the regulations, boat launch facilities, and transportation details, you’re ready to wakeboard on Lake Michigan.
Renting a Boat
Luckily, you don’t need to own a watercraft to enjoy wakeboarding on the Great Lakes. There are plenty of rental and guide services available to help you get out on the water. From yachts to jetskis to pontoons, there are hundreds of options for renting watercraft vessels. The specific price range will depend on where you rent and the kind of boat you choose.
Of course, not every boat was designed with wakeboarding in mind. Choosing a good towboat makes a massive difference in watersports, so be sure that the rental service you are considering has access to the right types of vessels. For example, while cruising around Lake Michigan in a luxury yacht would be a fun vacation, it couldn’t exactly tow a wakeboard.
Selecting an effective tow boat means achieving a perfect wake for boarding and tricks. Aspects like the shape, weight, and size of the boat affect the wake. Additionally, the ideal kinds of boats for wakeboarding are inboard direct drive or inboard V-drive vessels, as these create ideal wakes. Inboard direct and V-drive boats also have propellers located under the watercraft, instead of behind it, to protect the wakeboarders from accidental injury.
Another option is to look for a full-service wakeboard rental agency, which should provide you with the proper kind of boat and equipment. Some businesses will even have a professional drive the boat for you while you wakeboard with your friends. The type of services available will vary greatly depending on the area you visit, so be sure to research the rental options before choosing a wakeboarding location.
Enjoying the Water
Now that you’ve determined your location and chosen your vessel, it’s time to head out on the water. Many wakeboarders report that the best times to enjoy Lake Michigan are July and August when the waters are at their warmest. Make sure you check the weather conditions beforehand, as the lake-side climate can change quickly and be very volatile.
Once you’re out on the water, try to keep an eye out for the 50+ lighthouses scattered across Lake Michigan’s beaches, and be sure to catch the area’s renowned sunsets. With a water surface area of more than 20,000 miles, this beautiful Great Lake is the ideal spot for your water sport adventures.