View Full Version : Any old salts here? Word or phrase needed for waves.

The Backward OX
12-19-2011, 12:25 PM
I need a way to describe ocean waves formed by a stiff breeze about two miles off a coast containing moderately high cliffs. The scene is an 1860s barque sailing into this breeze and heading for a 1000-yard-wide navigable channel between two headlands. At first I simply used “indiscriminate waves”, but that’s both an adjective (slaps wrist) and perhaps not very clear.

Thoughts appreciated.

Drachen Jager
12-19-2011, 09:16 PM
Billows or whitecaps (whitecaps are only if the waves are crested in foam).

12-19-2011, 10:21 PM
Billows or whitecaps (whitecaps are only if the waves are crested in foam).

Right... also rollers (big swells without whitecaps)...

Drachen Jager
12-19-2011, 10:38 PM
The conditions aren't right for rollers. You need open water (in the direction the waves are travelling from) and calm weather. A stiff breeze would make the water too choppy to really qualify as rollers.

12-19-2011, 10:44 PM
You're right, of course, DJ... I was thinking that it would be deep water (2 miles of the coast) and a good current flowing through a deep channel of considerable width.

12-19-2011, 11:13 PM

As an adjective, choppy, as in choppy seas.

12-20-2011, 12:12 AM
I think you mean rogue waves or freak waves.

They're formed when two waves coincide (the onshore roller and a local one maybe caused by the tide or local weather conditions). They often occur near coasts.

12-20-2011, 12:16 AM
White caps, swells, chop, are all good choices.

12-20-2011, 03:36 AM
Taksen is right. "Chop" is the word, especially if there aren't whitecaps.

The Backward OX
02-15-2012, 02:37 PM
Thanks, everyone. I think I'll go with choppy.