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No matter how good the current day is, somebody always has a tale of how big, how clean, or how epic the waves were on some mystical moment in the just-too-distant past. I’ve grown weary of these surf legends, wondering if they were just figments of the collective imagination. I wondered if I would ever be a part of one of these magical days. I wondered if they even existed. That is, until last Sunday.

Gales of November on Lake Erie

Here on the Great Lakes, it’s all about the wind. Without wind, we can’t surf. We need the wind to be blowing hard, sustained, and in the right direction for the wind swell to develop and give us the surfable waves we crave. Long range predictions can evaporate into a muted reality, and getting skunked in fresh water is all too common. I’ve learned to exist in a delicate balance between optimism and realism. I believe nothing until I see it.

Gales of November on Lake Erie

As we approached the break this day, all signs were pointing to greatness. Blue skies, unseasonably warm weather, consistent winds blowing in excess of 40 knots in just the right direction for one of our favorite beach breaks on Lake Erie. As if by some type of innate homing mechanism, no less than twenty lake surfers pulled into the parking lot within 15 minutes of each other. As we crossed the wind-swept dunes, we bore witness to the biggest swell most of us had ever seen on the lakes. Well overhead with bigger sets coming in at an estimated nine feet. It was no match for our briny cousins, but in freshwater terms, this was pumping.

Gales of November on Lake Erie

The collective stoke was palpable as we scrambled into our wetsuits. A steady stream of neoprene clad hooded figures scurried down the beach as we hurried to get out and experience this gift Mother Nature had provided. The session went on for hours with many experienced lake surfers catching the greatest unsalted bombs of their lives.

Gales of November on Lake Erie

The thrill of the chase had previously been enough to satisfy me. The elusiveness of an epic day, though frustrating, had always made me eager to get out again next time.

Gales of November on Lake Erie

This was the kind of day I will remember for the rest of my life. The people, the conditions, and the stoke all came together in such harmony to create an unforgettable occurrence. I will now inevitably be the one telling the unbelievable tales of this legendary day, basking in the memory of this shared experience.

Gales of November on Lake Erie

Words and pictures by Lucas Murnaghan.

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