Once again it is time for my annual predication of the weather and sea conditions for the Newport-to-Ensenada race that starts Friday.
So, what will the racers encounter this year on their sail down the coast? My crystal ball is showing that at start time we can expect cloudy skies with patchy fog, but partly clearing in the afternoon along coast.
I also am seeing a little wind in my crystal ball at start time – it might be blowing just under 10 knots in the late morning from the northwest with potentially higher gusts as a high-pressure system builds to the northeast. However, gale force winds will be developing over the outer waters and the winds over 10 knots just inside San Clemente island.
Seas will be 3 feet from the west with a lingering 1-foot swell from the southerly direction at the start, and the further south the boats travel the more the seas will increase, to 4 to 5 feet by Saturday. The winds will be holding from the northwest directly, and maybe clocking a little to the west.
The seas will make a bumpy ride back north on Sunday or Monday, so if you have anyone on your crew who is prone to seasickness, they might consider taking the bus home.
You can expect daytime highs this weekend in the mid-60s and nighttime lows in the low 50s along the coast. Sailors will need to dress warmly especially if you encounter damp foggy patches in the morning hours.
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 warnings as the northwesterly winds will be gusting to 35 knots for the weekend. The wind waves will be 5 feet on top of a mixed set with a 9-foot swell from the west and a 1-foot south.
Watching the conditions at Point Conception is important for those sailing to Ensenada because the swell pattern flowing south will hit the coast just south of San Diego. Remember, the Point is where the coastline jogs easterly south of Morro Bay and north of Santa Barbara. The race start line off Newport is tucked easterly of Point Conception, plus the Channel Islands help deflect the swell pattern away from our local coastline.
Therefore the swells will be smaller at the start line, and then will be larger basically from San Diego to Ensenada, except for a small sheltered area behind the Coronado Islands. Good to know.
Remember to boat safely, and that all boat operators need to be alert, look around when underway, and be courteous to other boaters. Non-swimmers and poor swimmers should wear lifejackets. Boat safely, and be courteous when cruising in the harbor or on the high seas.
Mike Whitehead, Capt.