The boating season officially begins this weekend and Memorial Day, and literally millions of people will be on the water across the nation in the next few days.
You will see thousands of boaters on the water in Newport Harbor and off our coast on this busy boating weekend, and remember the motto of Safe Boating Week: “Wear It.” This annual awareness campaign is held the week before Memorial Day with the major goal of increasing awareness and decreasing the number of what I call “Goofy goes sailing” syndromes where you leave your common sense at the docks.
However, the weather today, Friday, may bring a little drizzle to the coastal areas and a very slight chance of showers before midnight. I am predicting an 80 percent chance of no substantial droplets from the clouds, but the clouds will linger. This will bring Friday’s daytime air temperature down to the mid-60s and nighttime temperatures dropping another 10 degrees. However for the weekend and Memorial Day, you can expect mostly clearing in the afternoons and daytime air temperatures up to 70 degrees along the coast. As always this time of year, watch for coastal fog, especially Saturday and Sunday nights – and it looks like June Gloom is looming on the horizon.
As we come off storm warnings on the Pacific Ocean, with 50-knot gusts of wind and swells up to 14 feet in the outer waters, you still may want to stay inside the harbor today. The swells are anticipated to be 6 feet from the west with a 1-foot south today. However, the westerly swell will start to drop by Saturday to 4 feet, and 3 feet by Sunday with still a 1 foot south for a mixed set. Memorial Day should be nice for ocean cruising but watch for the larger swells rolling through the area.
The afternoon winds will be good for sailing, blowing under 15 knots from the west in the afternoon, and south winds in the mornings kicking up to 10 knots. The wind will create 1- to 2-foot wind waves on the open ocean
So, as always, with an eye to the north, we look to the waters off Point Conception to see what is coming down the coast. The Point is under small-craft advisories and gale warning until probably Saturday. The northwesterly winds are gusting up to 35 knots on Friday dropping to 20 knots by Saturday. Friday’s wind waves will be 6 to 7 feet, on top of a mixed set with 10 feet from the northwesterly and a 1-foot south. The northwesterly swell will hopefully drop to 6 to 7 feet by Monday with 3- to 4-foot wind waves. You can expect morning fog, partly sunny afternoon skies and cloudy nights, so wait a week to see if a weather window opens up for small craft to round the Point.
I hope everyone enjoys boating this extended weekend, and remember your boating skill level if you plan to cruise in the ocean or to a distant harbor. I will be a mile high in the San Bernardino Mountains while enjoying Lake Arrowhead Yacht Club’s pre-opening day shakedown happy hours this weekend.
Lastly, always give a safely briefing to your guests onboard before you leave your dock, and leave a float plan shoreside with someone who you can trust.
Mike Whitehead, Capt.