Are You Dialed In?
There was a comment in my previous WavLOG post about the importance of being Dialed In. I have been thinking about this and how to be a totally "dialed in" surfer.
You might ask; Is it mportant to be "dialed in?" I would definitely think so because unlike most other sports, surfing is subject to continuous changes in the nature, and we are talking about a few hours of optimum window, and hitting the spot at right time period can make a significant difference in the surfing experience.
Through operating my StokeMaster.COM, I have realized that one of the things people wanted to know the most was when and where to hit the beach. This brings to the second reason why being "dialed in" is important. It has to do with your own surfing skill set. Through outing with many people at different skill levels, the perception of what an acceptable condition can vary greatly. I am fairly stupid in this aspect of it to the extent that if I see waves that look ridable, I'd go if it is not dangerous looking. But some people are very picky and others are totally clue-less. I cannot comment who would be the winner in these situations -- sometimes Ignorance is a Bliss... But nevertheless, if you are not willing to paddle out with me because you happened not to like what I like then there is nothing I can and will do. I do think though, I know anyone want to get their favorite conditions, so that means you ought to be dialed into the condition you like.
So what I think is helpful to become "dialed-in?"
First I think that you should start taking some notes. I have been blogging frequently so that's how I managed mine. In your case it can be a note in your calendar or Facbook post... whatever works. The idea here is it is documented and you can go back to these records in the future. They do not have to be detailed, but you'd want to write down things like where you went, the tide level, the direction, period and the height of the swell, and overall winds. If you have different boards, you may want to write down what you used then. The idea is that if these numbers match up in the future, it is likely that the you can have similar experience, though I can even say that they would not be identical, you will start making your own system of surf forecasting that is really customized for your own needs.
There are numerous surf forecasting sites too, but way I use them is to compare with what I have actually experienced and what they were saying. Their ideas of what's big can be impossibly huge for you. But given that if they say it is big, then next time you know they are going to be huge. While they may not be telling what you want to hear, most forecast sites are at least consistent based on the surf parameters.
As your surfing skills or styles change over time, especially if you are seriously into it, your own forecast will change over time too, and that's important. This is typically what old surfers call "Paying The Dues."
Where would you start?
I would skip all spoon-fed surf forecasts from commercial sites that tells you to "go" or "not to go", and try to understand the winds, swell and tide parameters, and if you are interested in a longer term forecast, I would go to more specialized site like StormSurf.COM and read the full ocean and weather analysis. First, it may not make much sense to you but as you do it for a while things start to come together and before you know it, you would be able to know up to a week ahead of time where and when you will want to go. This means that you won't be wasting a weekend driving around and not getting in the water several days before the weekend arrives. Your surf plan would become significantly more efficient. For me, it is essential because I allot a 45-minute window to surf every morning. Depending it is go or no-go for the next morning I schedule other works or appointments, and I can usually do this at least 3 days to a week ahead of time.