Sitka Day 29: Marine Weather Forecast

It reads almost like a poem in another language, one where water can chop and swell or wind can cause whitecaps. I hear the marine forecast on Raven Radio or check it online against my Southeast Alaska 2012 Tides booklet and try to decipher what this great, black, wet thing all around Baranof Island is doing.
(Photo of “choppy seas” courtesy Google Images search.)

Light winds with a slight chop. Small long period swell.
Winds: ESE 10 to 13 knots
Seas: SW 5 feet at 11 sec.
Breezy whitecapping conditions with moderate choppy seas. Small long period swell.
Winds: SW 11 to 15 knots
Seas: SW 6 feet at 11 sec.
It’s impressive that just about everyone here knows what direction the wind is blowing from, whether they’re standing in a parking lot or living on a boat or in a trailer on the hillside. For my part, I’ve already made the mistake once of opening a door on the tugboat to toss out the compost, only to have it thrown back in my face. “It’s an east wind,” my pal says. “Try the other door next time.” Oh. Right. Of course.
Light and variable winds with smooth seas. Moderate long period swell.
Winds: W 3 to 5 knots
Seas: WSW 8 feet at 18 sec.
Light winds with a slight chop. Moderate long period swell.
Winds: SW 7 to 9 knots
Seas: WSW 8 feet at 16 sec. 
It’s a language I’m interested in learning, should I find myself living near the ocean again. Meantime, leave it to Home Ground for a little help understanding what, exactly, a “chop” is:

“As a noun, chops once meant jaws. This sense of the word survives in locutions such as ‘to lick one’s chops.’ Topographically, chops refers to a narrow passage or entryway, typically a forbidding one. This might be an alpine gap, but the term, like mouth, occurs most often in nautical contexts. Major Robert Rogers, leading a little armada of bateaux along the north shore of Lake Ontario in September 1760, describes entering ‘the chops of a river, called by the Indians the Grace of Man.’ James Sullivan, in his History of the District of Maine, mentions ‘the Chops of Merrymeeting Bay–a straight where the ebbing and flowing of tides are alike hazardous to navigation.’ This place is now known to locals simply as the Chops. In Britain, the southern end of the English Channel has long been called ‘the Chops and the Channel.’ It, too, is famously hazardous to navigation. (Franklin Burroughs in Home Ground)

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