One of my own surfing pet peeves has become how people relay surf forecasts in one straightforward numeric range of sizes that really tells me nothing about whether or not the waves were/are going to be good. I doubt this happened before Surfline gave us a dumbed down orange, green, and blue block with a listed wave height: “It’s going to be like three to four feet, occasional five…” a friend will say to me. I sigh under my breath and try to keep from rolling my eyes. The problem, from where I see it, is that we’ve gotten so used to these standardized ways of forecasting and reporting waves that everybody forgets any other way to describe them. Give me the good old-fashioned waist high/chest high/head high/overhead model with a few descriptors of the wave shape and quality and let’s go from there.
I don’t want to say Dr. Craig Jones has the exact same unnecessary gripes as me, but it does seem like he prefers a more throwback kind of approach to surf reports. “Scrolling through websites and apps to find what we need and where we need it loses the intent of a quick glance at conditions,” he says. “For boaters, surfers, and ocean lovers, digital information about tides and waves is available via smartphones, tablets, and computers, but there’s nothing fun, natural, nor beautiful about it.”
So with that, he made an analog clock that links to the NOAA buoy network through WiFi and a mobile app to give three necessary readings: wave height, wave period (in seconds), and the current rising or falling tide height. With that, you can go use a little bit of ingenuity to piece together what kind of waves those three elements are producing wherever you plan to surf – just like our ancestors used to.