Back before the Internet, wave models, and real time surf cams, we used to use different methods for predicting surf. We had instincts tuned by years of experience, and primal triggers sounded an alarm in our brains.
Because we surfed all the time, and lived by the coast, we were tuned in to the rhythm of the ocean. I would wake for no good reason in the pre-dawn, and drive to the beach on a hunch. Armed with a huge iced tea, driving my V.W. bus with one hand on the horizontal steering wheel, and my left foot on the dash, I would point north towards the beach. It was faster to go down U.S.#1 but I always hung a right on Midway Road and headed for Indian River Drive, meandering along the twisty up and down route, bordered by the river. The royal palms would betray the winds direction and as the first colors of dawn appeared, I would make sweeping judgements based on the "Red sky at morning" axiom. I would red line my 1600 cc motor down the Dixie Highway towards the North Bridge. The first view of the water flowing in the inlet, and the direction of tide, would let me know if my timing was true, or another mirage.
I had a fishing pass, which meant the combination to the State Park gate was my secret possession. I would drive past the poor bastards from Palm Beach, Miami, and other pathetic locales, waiting in the dark, for the rangers to let them in. I would ignore their pleas, as I locked the gate behind me.
Running full speed down the wooden walkway, all the while compiling data: wind, tide, drift, until that fateful moment I was able to see past the dune line, and hear the boom of a set unloading in the shallows. With the sun creeping up, breathing in the smell of blue Sex Wax, I would wade into the hissing ocean. First peak would be marked by the others in the know, bobbing outside the break, looking toward the horizon, for the next set.
By eight or so, we would have our fill, and we would leave the scraps to the losers that slept late, and the unlocals waiting at the gate. I would go open the shop, and ask the guys at Sharkey's to call me when the grill was hot. People would come to buy wax, and ask how the surf was, and I would look them straight in the eye, at nine a.m. and say.....
"It was good this morning."