Waves and Beaches: The Powerful Dynamics of Sea and Coast by Willard Bascom and Kim McCoy has been a handy reference for surfers, sailors, oceanographers, and those who love the sea since 1964. An updated edition by the outdoor gear company Patagonia includes beautiful new photography and a tough cover designed for longevity on a boat or in a beach cottage. It’s the sort of book you can feel just fine about jumping around in to read and learn as you like.
For me, the most fascinating sections of the book are the explanations of the different wave types and what causes them.
I learned that wind waves are specific waves influenced by wind velocity, the duration of the time the wind blows, the extent of the open water across which it blows. On the other side of the spectrum, sea waves are determined by irregular and indefinable limits and great storm waves have dimensions that are mostly guesswork. (And get this: great storm waves raise questions about whether the eye has been deceived or the current theories are inadequate. Isn’t that mind-boggling to think about?)
A rogue wave is “a great solitary wave whose crest towers above the rest and scares the living daylights out of the luckless mariners in its path.”
Internal waves travel on the planes between slightly different densities within the ocean. (I didn’t even know there was such a thing!) Then there are unique waves on troubled water, which is water with oil, mud, ice, or kelp in it. Swell is what happens when waves move out from under the wind that generated them. And these are just the waves that occur in deep water! Waves in shallow surf include plunging, spilling, collapsing, and beating waves.
Here is one of the most intriguing passages from the book:
There are many kinds of waves in the ocean, and they differ greatly in form, velocity, and origin. There are waves too long and low to see and waves that travel below the sea surface within water layers of different densities. Waves may be raised by ships, or landslides, the passage of the Moon and Sun, by earthquakes, or changes in atmospheric pressure. Probably there are kinds of waves that have not yet been discovered.
“Probably there are kinds of waves that have not yet been discovered?” Wow!
I know many of you dear readers love the ocean just like I do, so why not ask your local library for this helpful and fun book? And then let’s talk about what your favorite sections of the book are!
Here with you,
P.S. Want to check out all the books in my library about the ocean? Head to the Oceana section.