June 2, 2008

Offshore wave break – Wicked, Dude!

As I was falling asleep and visualizing breakwaters (design, manufacture, and deployment thereof), I thought about how my favored breakwater design works by making the waves pile up and break (as opposed to being a wall that breaks the waves).  And suddenly I realized that, if it was deployed in a circle to protect a seastead colony…it would be a never-ending surf break!

And we could even shape the resulting waves, since Wikipedia tells us:

The factor which most determines wave shape is the topography of the seabed directly behind and immediately beneath the breaking wave. The contours of the reef or sand bank influence wave shape in two respects. Firstly, the steepness of the incline is proportional to the resulting upthrust. When a swell passes over a sudden steep slope, the force of the upthrust causes the top of the wave to be thrown forward, forming a curtain of water which plunges to the wave trough below. Secondly, the alignment of the contours relative to the swell direction determines the duration of the breaking process. When a swell runs along a slope, it continues to peel for as long as that configuration lasts. When swell wraps into a bay or around an island, the breaking wave gradually diminishes in size, as the wave front becomes stretched by diffraction.

Since the "seabed" of the break will be an artificial structure, we can give it whatever topography will make for the gnarliest surfing.  In a place where the swells (and the reefers) will be huge and plentiful, this could be wicked!  And its gotta be good for our tourism prospects.

Hey, if you can Ski Dubai, why not surf in the middle of the ocean?

4 Comments on “Offshore wave break – Wicked, Dude!

Lasse Birk Olesen
June 2, 2008 at 9:15 pm

“if it was deployed in a circle to protect a seastead colony…it would be a never-ending surf break!”

But why would all the waves meet at the centre of the colony? The waves I know move in the same direction as those around them, thus the breakwater would only create a 180 degree surf break.

June 4, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Add surfing to the tourism industry. Especially tutoring for surfing, because it likely to be very consistent, all the time.

June 5, 2008 at 11:06 pm

I did not say that all the waves would head to the center of the colony.  I said the breakwater needed to be a full circle, in order to protect against waves coming from any direction.  At any given time, the amount of the breakwater that is actually breaking waves and forming a surf break will depend on the direction of the waves.  Usually, heavy waves only come from one direction, so this will be on one side of the colony.

You still want a full circular breakwater though.  Keep in mind that ocean waves are waves, which means they can go opposite directions and pass through each other without interference.  Which means that if most waves are coming from the east, it is possible for some waves to also be coming in from the west.

October 9, 2008 at 12:47 am

Kind of sounds like what’s described in this New Scientist article.

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