Waves are kind of a big deal around here at the beach. The surfers like the big swells. The triathletes like the calm days. This kitesurfer, part of a pod of about seven that I saw last weekend, was having a great time in the windy rough conditions, making incredible flights off the wave tops!
Here is more on the physics of waves: http://www.seafriends.org.nz/oceano/waves.htm
But the short version, is that chop is messy water, small broken up surface waves, caused by mild or moderate local winds, especially when it’s blowing in a different direction from the water current or tidal movement.
At the weekly Bay swim on Monday, the chop was pretty impressive. All of us who had short swims scheduled were perfectly happy to call it a day early! It was like swimming in a washing machine, and we all had very well-cleaned sinuses! At my most recent tri, Tidewater Triathlon at Buckroe Beach, there was a strong south wind, and a strong north current, so the conditions for the swim were quite interesting. We all looked like a bunch of prairie dogs as we popped up out of the bouncy water looking for the buoys.
But chop is also an interesting metaphor for life. As I told one of my friends, also a woman of a “certain age,” I’m feeling like I’m hitting a little bit of chop in the water. It happens, the body gets weird and uncooperative, and it can be a bit of a surprise.
Again, what is chop? It’s rough; it’s not organized; it’s not un-over-comeable; it’s not that big of a deal from even a short remove; it’s definitely annoying; it requires more frequent sighting for the buoys. But with the right perspective, it can be fun, as it clearly was for the kitesurfers! (I’ve got to try that some time!)