Saturday, 3 May 2014

Amid the Channel Islands

Unlike further north where changeable weather was the norm as a series of low pressure systems pummeled the Washington and Oregon coasts, summer weather in California [it is already summer here!] is under the constant influence of a high pressure system over the Pacific to the west of the state. The pressure gradient between this high and a low over the hot interior leads to almost constant northwest winds. It is very easy to sail south off California and very trying to sail north!

Since leaving Monterey Bay, the winds have been steady from behind between 20 and 30 knots. This has been moving us along at an excellent speed but, with the wind from behind at strength, we pay a penalty in having a boisterous roll in the 3 meter [10 foot] seas. Even with the strength of the winds, their constancy is a benefit as we are required to make far less sail changes, in trim and area, than were needed further north.

While we sail under sunny skies, the sea temperature has still not risen above 13C [55F]. Thus while the days are pleasantly warm - out of the wind, anyway - nights are still quite chilly.

California's Channel Islands span a distance of 130 nautical miles nestled in a slight indentation in the coast stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego. We will be sailing amongst these islands for the next day or so and are hoping that their influence will moderate the sea somewhat. The first island that we pass on our route toward San Diego is San Miguel. While this island's shore is now only 8 miles away, it takes a good deal of imagination to pick out the land through the California haze.

As we close with San Diego, we expect these strong winds to die away and our speed to suffer somewhat. This reduction in the breeze will not be greeted with disappointment though as the high seas will moderate as well. In all likelihood, arrival will be early on Monday, May 5.

At 03/05/2014 23:06 (utc) our position was 33°56.40'N 120°33.44'W

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