The Wave Watcher’s Companion by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Recently, Paddle Monster reviewed the wonderful How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea by Tristan Gooley, which is a great guide to learning how water behaves, from the smallest of water bodies to the ocean. It is a must-read field guide for anyone who paddles, and it can help make the difference between a fun , safe paddle and a miserable and potentially dangerous one.

If Gooley’s guide has left you wanting more, especially when it comes to ocean waves, then next on your reading list should be Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s The Wave Watcher’s Companion.

Pretor-Pinney’s book examines all aspects of the wave and it compares and contrasts the various types of waves found in nature, from sound waves, to brain waves and to the waves that we can catch and surf. He connects those kinds of waves and shows use how they behavior similarly, in predicable patterns.

The take away is that waves are everywhere and everything can be a wave.

The Companion is part travelogue – exploring tidal bores to the big waves of Hawaii to “all the rest of life’s undulations” – and it is part science text. While How to Read Water is more of a practical field guide, this is, at times is more of a love letter to wave forms. A love letter that hit its mark when aimed at any of us who are passionate about the ocean.

Make no mistake, there is still plenty of information that will help both the novice as well as the more experienced paddler understand how to interpret the ocean’s signs and signals and help understand both the local break as well a never-before-surfed one as well.

Pretor-Pinney’s prose is a pleasure to read. His enthusiasm for the wave form throughout nature is evident and infectious. If you pick it up, be sure to have a pencil or highlighter at hand, as you’ll most likely want to underscore many of his passages.


The Wave Watcher’s Companion is available via Amazon in both hardback, paperback and Kindle.