When is a wave not a swell or vise versa?

There are confused seas around Mayport, Sisters Creek, & Pablo Creek/ICW from the tides, ferry, and pilot boat, however not 4’ from anything except the occasional ship with a huge period wave if the pilot has the ship speed too high.

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To me, swells roll and waves break. Swells eventually become waves as they roll into shore. Both can be caused by tide, wind, boat traffic, or current (standing waves in a whitewater rapid). Like tdaniel, if it is over my head, it’s too big for me.

Whenever I give tours to inexperienced paddlers they are the same way. Perception is everything

??? This site says wave height is measured from trough to crest: https://www.weather.gov/dlh/WaveHeightExplanation

You can have waves on top of swells too. :scream:

Yes - when the tide is moving water one way and wind it moving it another things can get confusing.

I’d agree with that - when you are down in the trough looking up, or up on the crest looking down, height above the still water line is irrelevant. You need to paddle the conditions you are in.

For a (very) rough estimate…you generally can’t see over a 3’ wave.

Thanks CNSRI, makes sense. Have to measure from a seated position.

Just my 2 cents - A swell is a type of wave that has a gently rounded top, a relatively longer wavelength, and exists in deeper water. A swell will calmly lift your boat up and down without much fuss (though you may get seasick). When a swell rolls in to shallow water, it gets pushed up into a steeper breaking wave, which is harder to paddle through without getting quite wet, and maybe swamping, and maybe capsizing.