The Art of the Surf Check

Checking the surf this morning and not finding much got me thinking about the whole process.

Everyone has their own rituals, with variations, to looking at the surf. Some people have to have coffee (with milk and sugar) or the whole process falls apart. Some use a car (much faster) others prefer a bike (slower but you see much more detail).

After years of watching swells at your local breaks you should be able to tell a lot about how other breaks may be reacting to a particular swell or combination of swells. So if spot A is showing a lot of South swell you can leave the NW swell spots off your list to check. Unless, there is so much South that everywhere is walled so you may want to check the NW breaks for a chance at a shoulder. OR the south swell is really a south east swell which only lights up a couple of beaches every 10 years or so.

An then there is the wind to consider. Every breath of wind provides a new piece of the puzzle. Different wind directions can groom it to perfection or blow it to ribbons.

The surf check is really a riddle.

The cams can help but only to the extent that you know a break already. Sort of like being able to tell how a Big Mac will taste by looking a picture of one. If you had one yesterday you have a good idea. If you have never eaten one, you'll have no clue.

In the end it always comes down to, "either go out or go to breakfast".

Happy trails and good hunting!


6ftnperfect said…
I never could get into Big Macs because of that secrect sauce.
pranaglider said…
I haven't eaten one in years! But I thought it might make a good example.
The sauce is ketchup and mayo ;)
Quiver said…
The point about the cams is true ten-fold for the buoys and the rest of the 'net reports. So much so that subtlties I once knew I've now forgotten and I'm less likely to catch the sneeky session when nobody else is lookin' But when I was living close enough to check it twice a day, all it took was a pre-dawn check of the buoys and I could B-line it to a spot and surf at first light. The surf check was a quiet walk to the living room and a 2 minute wait for the computer to turn on.
jhall said…
aww shux, i thought you atleast use the surf check photo i nabbed of those tight pants wearing ninnies standing on the hood of their 'special K' woody wagon.
pranaglider said…
That shot is a classic! Should be an album cover. I have been trying to go to other sources for photo since I was using your work exclusively for a while. Always good stuff.
tres_arboles said…
People who rely on 'net checks will never really know the surf check. There's nothing better than coming over the lip of the dune (where I live now) or sidling up to the wall at the boardwalk (where I lived in San Diego) and smelling the water at the same time you see it the first time. That moment says, "You're at the beach now...everything else can go f*ck off for a while!" :-)

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