The Swell

Imagine a life where one’s awareness of the world is measured by knowledge of “wind and swell”. Is it only romantic to picture the waters of the world connected in one fluid system? To pursue a life on the basis of low-pressure systems?
I learned that until ten years ago the swell was very predictable. Surfers could predict, seasonally, where the largest waves would be, where the storm systems tend to develop, and when. Now, these rhythms are much less reliable. They were historically so consistent that ancient (?) Hawai’ians could navigate by feeling the swell and orienting to the stars, sun, and moon.


Do the tides actually figure in? Yes: “the right tide can sometimes make or break an epic session”. Spring, neap, and dodge tides each have their own character.
Although a biological unified theory (part of E.O. Wilson’s proposed consilence) hasn’t yet been adequately explained, one can certainly see how geology informs oceanography.
It appears there also may be a temperature component to the ocean’s movement but I’m not sure if there is a direct application to surfing. It’s appealing though, to think of the metaphoric possibilities of swell and communication.

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