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For San Diego, it's swellmatrix.com

I like solid surf but I’m not a big-wave guy

Instantly see how the sets are coming in with real-time buoy data
Instantly see how the sets are coming in with real-time buoy data

This is kind of pushing it. I’m in Baja watching set waves close out a popular reef break every 15 minutes or so. As the buoy shows, a single 15-footer washes through, creating swirling currents that take me directly toward the rocks and steep cliffs as I try to paddle through the shorebreak.

After two attempts, I know it isn’t worth the effort. If I ever did make it out, there’s too much water moving and I am sure to get smacked by the bombs breaking outside the perfectly peeling rights on the reef.

The wave period is especially important because a long-period ocean swell, at 20 seconds, grows and breaks as much higher surf than a shorter 10-second wave. Online surf forecasts are pretty good at relaying this information about a week in advance. I check the surf forecast at least once a day. But when it comes to going out and finding the best waves, the buoy report has the last word on where to score waves.

For the most in-depth buoy reports, I use swellmatrix.com on my phone. It breaks down the swell hitting the buoy, telling me the exact height and period of all the individual swells in the ocean. Then I zoom in on every wave the buoy records, seeing how many waves are in a set and how often the sets hit.

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Instantly see how the sets are coming in with real-time buoy data
Instantly see how the sets are coming in with real-time buoy data

This is kind of pushing it. I’m in Baja watching set waves close out a popular reef break every 15 minutes or so. As the buoy shows, a single 15-footer washes through, creating swirling currents that take me directly toward the rocks and steep cliffs as I try to paddle through the shorebreak.

After two attempts, I know it isn’t worth the effort. If I ever did make it out, there’s too much water moving and I am sure to get smacked by the bombs breaking outside the perfectly peeling rights on the reef.

The wave period is especially important because a long-period ocean swell, at 20 seconds, grows and breaks as much higher surf than a shorter 10-second wave. Online surf forecasts are pretty good at relaying this information about a week in advance. I check the surf forecast at least once a day. But when it comes to going out and finding the best waves, the buoy report has the last word on where to score waves.

For the most in-depth buoy reports, I use swellmatrix.com on my phone. It breaks down the swell hitting the buoy, telling me the exact height and period of all the individual swells in the ocean. Then I zoom in on every wave the buoy records, seeing how many waves are in a set and how often the sets hit.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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