Forecasting Good Times

Micah Sklut knows that a great day on the water makes everything better. His business, Surf Captain, helps surfers find the very best waves to ride

Written by Alison Pappas  |  Photography by Jack Lajoie  |  Lead image by David Torres

After Micah Sklut’s family relocated to Lewes when he was an adolescent, he formed an immediate and authentic connection with the area’s surrounding coastline. This connection sparked not only a lifelong passion for bodyboarding and surfing but also a full-time career, building and maintaining a popular surf-forecasting website known as Surf Captain. 

“Growing up, the Cape Henlopen State Park was one of my staple surf spots, and the Naval Jetty is what I consider to be my home break,” shared Sklut.

While Delaware can present desirable waves, one challenge that Sklut noticed early on is the inconsistency of coastal Delaware’s swells. This inspired him to start learning the science behind wave forecasting.

“To be able to get the next good surf session, you have to be on top of the forecast. I made it my duty to figure that out,” he said.

Micah, now 43, began working as a forecaster for Surfline.com in the early 2000s. There, his forecasting work was extremely manual, and recognized the value of automating the process.
This realization was the catalyst for him building his first surf-forecasting website, Swell Info, which launched in 2006.

“I ran Swell Info for approximately eight years before selling it in 2014. I decided to part ways and start up a new forecasting site called Surf Captain, which has been live for almost two years,” he shared.

Sklut earned a graduate degree in climatology from the University of Delaware, but he is self-taught when it comes to many aspects of surf forecasting and creating algorithms. 

“Surf Captain models and predicts the wave heights and the surf conditions. It requires running a wave model and taking some public data available from NOAA. I access this data and then run my own algorithms to calculate the forecast,” explained Sklut.

While Sklut contracts out some help at times, he is the sole owner of the Surf Captain site and operates all of the day-to-day activities himself.

“I’m purely focused on making the best surf forecast possible. I’m always working on different methodologies to improve the forecast,” he said.

Surf Captain equips surfers from all over the U.S., as well as the Caribbean and Central America, with the precious knowledge of when they can expect their next great surf day. The information the site provides includes accurate surf height details and wind condition predictions so that surfers know what they’ll experience before they ever paddle out.

“There are surfers who are on Surf Captain every day. It’s part of their daily regimens to check the forecast on my website,” Sklut said.

While the business side of things keeps him busy, Sklut makes it a priority to be out on the water, surfing frequently. He’s traveled to many different surf spots, including Costa Rica, California and other locations, but he still appreciates the welcoming surf community of Lewes foremost. 

“The guys and girls who surf all year long in Lewes, well, we all know each other. Sometimes we don’t know people’s names, but we all recognize each other’s faces. It’s a really friendly surf community that we have here,” shared Sklut. CS

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