Wait a minute …. You’ve already blogged about beach showers Catharine, back in May 2020. And you didn’t have a lot to say then. Indeed, you had to be bailed out big time by the family. So what’s so different this time? OK, OK I’ve been rumbled. It’s actually a ruse to talk about waves and boogie boarding. But it will have a smidgeon of showers in it. So let’s get that bit over with first…
Firstly why do we shower after being in the sea? Well, assuming you haven’t been caught in a flotilla of poo (which happened to me once in the Mediterranean) it’s surely to get rid of the salt. Especially if you’ve been swimming in a wetsuit, pretty de rigueur in the UK unless you are after that cold water swimming thrill. Certainly de rigueur for me. Salt water is really bad for wetsuits. Once the water dries, salt crystals solidify inside the neoprene destroying the fibres, which leads to cracks in the wetsuit and water ingress. So really important to rinse your wetsuit after every use, both inside and outside. And then hang it up to dry in the shade. Incidentally, salt in the sea comes from dissolved sodium chloride from rocks on land. And a bit from underwater volcanoes. Salt becomes more concentrated over time as when water evaporates from the surface of the ocean it leaves salt behind.
Is seawater good for your skin and hair?
I shower to get the saltwater out of my hair. Saltwater can benefit the skin because it contains minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and may have antibacterial properties. (I’ve certainly noticed that sea water seems to be good for cuts and scrapes.) But it’s not good for the hair as it dries out your hair and scalp, causing split ends and dandruff. Going into this in a bit more detail, hair is permeable to water. When you are submerged in seawater, there is a difference in the salt concentrations between the water within your hair and the salt water surrounding it. Osmosis (a process by which molecules of a solvent pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one) causes the water in your hair (lower salt concentration) to move into the seawater (higher salt concentration) leaving it dry and brittle. Hair is also more prone to tangling as the salt in seawater can leave behind hard crystals on the outer surface of the hair so they are more prone to get caught together.
One good tip I just found in www.world was: to help protect your hair from the damaging effects of salt water, apply a small amount of coconut oil or olive oil to your hair before swimming. This can help to seal in moisture and protect delicate hair strands from breaking or becoming brittle. Will try that next time.
Stuff about waves
Ok, that’s the showering bit done, so now onto waves. Have been boogie boarding for many years on the Gower in Wales with Rossi, usually only a couple of times a year. But last year and this have done a whole lot more. So, while I’m deciding whether I’m going to shower at the beach (if that’s an option) or wait until I get home, I’m also waiting for the perfect wave and that gives you time to think…
Wind-driven waves, or surface waves, are created by the friction between wind and surface water. As wind blows across the surface of the ocean, the continual disturbance creates a wave crest. How high the waves become depends on my very own favourite measuring tool – the Beaufort wind scale.
Waves travel across the ocean. The water in the wave doesn’t move however, but the energy held within the wave. Science eh? Blows Your Mind. As a wave approaches the shore the water gets shallower and the wave slows down. At this stage the energy in the water is getting concentrated into smaller areas, which causes the wave to grow significantly in height. At the same time, the lowest part of the wave slows down more markedly than the top part which means the crest of the wave begins to overtake the bottom part and the wave starts ‘breaking’.
And that’s what you’re looking for. The wave breaking just behind you so you can launch yourself onto your board and ride the wave into the shore. This is boogie boarding, not surfing, so I’m not standing on the board. And also I’m starting from still within my depth. But when the waves are powerful it’s a real buzz.
You need waves at least two feet high to boogie board, but if they’re bigger than it’s definitely better! If you are boogie boarding on an incoming tide, the waves are assisted by the pushing effect of the tide and the waves get slightly higher. As the tide approaches low tide, the waves will be less powerful and flatter. The longer the wave interval, the better it is for boogie boarding.
The best winds are offshore winds, which means they blow directly from the land to the sea. Offshore winds help push the waves up, which keeps them from breaking for longer periods and results in longer rides on clean wave faces. Similarly, when boogie boarding in strong onshore winds (wind blowing directly on the back of the waves), the water will be choppy, and you can expect short messy rides. It makes it harder to catch a wave, but sometimes you get this brilliant effect when the wave you are on gets caught up by another wave giving you an unexpected extra surge, right into the shallows and beyond, almost sweeping you up onto the beach.
So much to ponder. And that’s before we even start to consider weaver fish, the great white shark of British beaches…
Alex cooking sausages at Rhossili after a day’s boogie boarding