Friday, January 18, 2008

Dominant waves and surfing

I learned something new over the last year. There are waves and there are dominant waves. The teckies that measure waves get all convoluted about this, but the fact is not all waves are equal. I learned this real good one day when Gene Gore said to expect primo conditions in the ship channel by the jetties, 8-seconds at maybe 12-15 feet.

Well I went out with my trusty body board, not being a real stand-up surfer, and swam right off the beach at the Gulf end of Oleander Street. I ate a lot of water, went a mile down the beach on the riptide and shore current, and swore those waves were pummeling me every two or three seconds. Not good and I was exhausted, not a single good ride. Not even big waves because the big ones broke on the 4th sandbar too dangerous and too far to paddle.

So then I drove down to Dolphin Cove and nursed my hurt psyche and sore back with a Tecate. Dang if smooth waves weren't coming in, about 12-15 feet tall and one every 8 seconds or so. These were true swells, rollers, or I guess dominant waves with all the other chaff filtered out.

This was strange to me because the "apron" area off the jetties is the worst chop in the Gulf, standing straight up and down with waves maybe ten feet apart. But after clearing that choppy area, all the sudden a huge blooming wave would grow and crest, like I said maybe every 8 seconds but sometimes more. Monsters, cloud-scratchers, whatever they call them. Holy cow, the geeks were right!

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