This is a good question and really a vital aspect to knowing when the best conditions are going to be.
The answer to this question is that it depends on the individual break. Each break has a different bathymetry (ocean bottom depth/slope) configuration that affects the incoming swells. The changing tides create rising and lowering of the water level, which will influence when the incoming swell will start to feel the bottom floor and begin the shoaling(breaking) process.
Here are some of the common trends in my local Delmarva area of the Mid Atlantic:
- Incoming tide is generally better than outgoing tide. I'm not exactly sure know to describe this scientifically, but the lowering of the water level definitely has a negative impact on the east coast beaches.
- There are some spots in my area, that are better on the lower tide, and others that better on the higher tide. But when I say lower, this is usually still with the incoming tide (not dead low, but 1-3 hours after low). The spots that are better on the higher tides are more of a shore break wave (this occurs where it goes from real deep to shallow all of a sudden).
- Short period swells (less than 8secs) tend to favor the lower tide.
- Longer period swells tend to favor the mid to high incoming tide (I believe this is because of the shallow continental shelf off the east coast - having more water helps alleviate swells dissipating offshore). This will certainly vary for different spots
** I noticed you are from the Gulf, so you are seeing almost all short period swells, so I would guess that the lower incoming tide would be best for a lot of your spots. Having said this, I've never actually surf West Florida...***
Sorry for the long winded answer, but I have to get it all out on questions like this No matter where in the world you are surfing, the way to get in tuned with your breaks is just to observe swell after swell (and keep in mind that the swell period is vital). I know this is hard for you Gulf surfers with your swells a month apart !! (sorry, i couldnt resist that last comment).
Last edited by Swellinfo; Aug 3, 2007 at 03:53 AM.
.....Sorry for the long winded answer, but I have to get it all out on questions like this No matter where in the world you are surfing, the way to get in tuned with your breaks is just to observe swell after swell (and keep in mind that the swell period is vital). I know this is hard for you Gulf surfers with your swells a month apart !! (sorry, i couldnt resist that last comment).
Wow thanks man! You have no idea how refreshing it is to have received and answer like this! It seems other surfing sites that have forums are full of Trolls (and not the surfer lingo Troll but the online definition) who can't resist to pounce on a noobie like myself and be rude. Because we all know experienced surfers just popped right out of their mommas and knew everything about surfing and could surf just like Kelly Slater!
So again thanks! Very, VERY informative answer!
Hey I may be in the Tampa Bay area (lame O' most of the time it seems) but at least Cocoa is only 2 hours away....and that's seemingly less Lame O'....heh heh heh.
Last edited by Netwolf; Aug 3, 2007 at 01:43 PM.
Reason: misspelled words ARGH!