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Old 04-29-2016, 03:07 PM   #1
agualtieri
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What do you look at to decide if conditions are good enough to go out?

I'm from Fort Lauderdale and was just wondering what you look at before diving. Is it best to go at high or low tide? How much wind before you say it's too choppy? What direction? Things like that. I usually just look at wind. And I'm wondering how I can better determine conditions beforehand.


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Old 04-29-2016, 06:24 PM   #2
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Re: What do you look at to decide if conditions are good enough to go out?

Depends on the boat but 3-5 in my little boat and 5-7 in my big one.Have dove in big swell but surge is an issue.Key factor is wave period.Under 7 sec sucks unless you're in a big boat.
N or E winds produce typically worse conditions.
Day one of a blow can be done but if it's been blowing for several days I pass.
Rain isn't or shouldn't be a factor for a diver but many of our more delicate members pass if they see a dark cloud.
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Old 04-30-2016, 10:26 AM   #3
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Re: What do you look at to decide if conditions are good enough to go out?

So many factors that will determine what is comfortable or not for you, but for gauging the sea conditions I use a combination of the windfinder app and the NWS offshore report for the area at https://www.wunderground.com/MAR/AM/555.html From their you can check if your local area has a sea buoy that gives you current wave height. You've got to keep in mind that these forecasts are made with relatively large areas in mind, so when they say 15-20 knot winds that means some portion of the area will probably see those winds, but your area may be different. Usually when people claim about how wrong NOAA is it is because they don't realize that NOAA doesn't factor in local effects such as afternoon sea breeze, diurnal trade wind variations in those areas, land mass heating/cooling, etc. NOAA will also err conservatively by forecasting the higher wind speed if the conditions will be picking up during the forecast period. I also usually check the areas in either direction of the area I am specifically diving, it can tell you a lot about the timing of systems as they move through. For example if the forecast is for SW in your area and NW for the area just north of you than you know that you need to keep an eye to the North for a front coming through, etc. It tells you something if winds are forecast higher offshore than near shore, or higher to the north, or lower to the south,etc. Remember weather is a fluid system, it's always helpful to watch the trend as much as the absolutes. If you see that they have been bumping up the winds for your Saturday trip for the last couple days that tells you something different than if they have been lowering the forecasts gradually, regardless of what the wind speed prediction is for that day. Passageweather.com is also good for a graphical representation of wind/wave height.
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Last edited by fishspearit; 04-30-2016 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 04-30-2016, 01:47 PM   #4
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Re: What do you look at to decide if conditions are good enough to go out?

I look at wind alert every few hours leading up to a trip. Like tomorrow. I also look at noaa for a specific area. You can also look for local dive shops that give a viz report but I find they sometimes lie a little. Where I'm at I'm looking at 2 to 3 with occasional 4 with a 4 to 5 second dominant period. That's kind of hard in a 20' boat. But damn I want a grouper.
My other option is to head to flamingo for reds and trout.
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Old 04-30-2016, 02:31 PM   #5
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Re: What do you look at to decide if conditions are good enough to go out?

There's so much more to consider. It really depends upon the area you live in and the conditions which apply. You really have to be knowledgeable about the area and be a study of the conditions.
For example, I live around an area of serious outflow of bay water (Tampa Bay). Rain amounts has a huge effect upon water clarity. Lots of rain will screw up the vis for weeks for certain depths.
Water temps and algae growth plays a big part depending upon the time of the year.
Strong tides will stir up sediments, which impedes vis offsore, due to runoff of dirty stirred up water.
Strong winds also stir up sediments in the bay which produces the same effects.
The area you're diving will be affected by the direction of wind blowing. There can be 10 mph winds blowing west (I live on the W coast) and I can get good diving vis up to 50' out w/ minimal waves...BUT, getting that 10 mph from the W is whole 'nother case.
It also depends upon the amount of time the wind has been blowing. The longer it blows, the more the waves build, the more sediment gets into the water column (think snow globe), the longer it takes to settle, the longer it takes for the waves to lay down. Also, it depends upon whether you're diving at high tide (clean water coming in), or low tide (dirty water going out into your diving area).
Like I said, there are many factors that have to be weighed.
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Last edited by Marcus; 04-30-2016 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 04-30-2016, 05:19 PM   #6
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Re: What do you look at to decide if conditions are good enough to go out?

I always canceled charters if I thought the people paying me to take them would not be safe dealing with the ladder and reentering the boat.
Asked about sea sickness, my standard recommendation is to eat colorful foods and avoid being a boring hurler.
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Old 05-01-2016, 08:00 PM   #7
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Re: What do you look at to decide if conditions are good enough to go out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
There's so much more to consider. It really depends upon the area you live in and the conditions which apply. You really have to be knowledgeable about the area and be a study of the conditions.
For example, I live around an area of serious outflow of bay water (Tampa Bay). Rain amounts has a huge effect upon water clarity. Lots of rain will screw up the vis for weeks for certain depths.
Water temps and algae growth plays a big part depending upon the time of the year.
Strong tides will stir up sediments, which impedes vis offsore, due to runoff of dirty stirred up water.
Strong winds also stir up sediments in the bay which produces the same effects.
The area you're diving will be affected by the direction of wind blowing. There can be 10 mph winds blowing west (I live on the W coast) and I can get good diving vis up to 50' out w/ minimal waves...BUT, getting that 10 mph from the W is whole 'nother case.
It also depends upon the amount of time the wind has been blowing. The longer it blows, the more the waves build, the more sediment gets into the water column (think snow globe), the longer it takes to settle, the longer it takes for the waves to lay down. Also, it depends upon whether you're diving at high tide (clean water coming in), or low tide (dirty water going out into your diving area).
Like I said, there are many factors that have to be weighed.


I agree with this. Another factor for us canceling our trip for today was the fact that the onshore have been blowing hard for two days on top of an outgoing all morning. So all of that churned up bay water would have marked up the world on the productive areas for us. We have seven miles of bay to cross before we get outside.
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Old 05-01-2016, 08:06 PM   #8
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Re: What do you look at to decide if conditions are good enough to go out?

There's many variables to consider, but I watch the beach cams closely to determine if the conditions are worth diving.
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Old 05-02-2016, 03:11 PM   #9
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Re: What do you look at to decide if conditions are good enough to go out?

"fishweather" app is one I like. No forecast is absolute that is for sure...they can be very wrong in either direction.....If I do not like what I see leaving the jetties I have no problem turning around, if someone on board does not like my decision they do not have to ride with me again.
As mentioned above, seconds between waves is the KEY factor...
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Old 05-02-2016, 10:02 PM   #10
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Re: What do you look at to decide if conditions are good enough to go out?

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