So what's the issue with sailing in the winter?

Thread starter #1
I mean besides the cold weather and possible rain.

Here in the SF Bay Area, where we have what is universally known as a "Mediterranean Climate", we really don't have seasons. At least not seasons like the vast majority of the US does.
Here we're spoiled with mild weather, occasional rainy days (with zero thunderstorms), and absolutely no snow, unless you want to drive a few hours east.

Somewhere I thought I heard, or read, something about wind being the problem, but I can't remember the details, and Google searches have proven fruitless.

Is there something about wind speeds, direction, predictability, duration, etc., durning the winter months that makes sailing difficult?
Sometimes I wonder if when someone mentions the term "sailing season", they're talking about everywhere but California. :p

So assuming you don't sail on a lake that freezes over, or suffer blizzards, or lake-effect snow, or snow at all, or violent, dangerous lightning storms, what is it about winter that seems to bring a halt to sailing in many places?

- W
 
Thread starter #2
This week at least, it looks like it's due to a lack of wind, with speeds around 5mph for most days.

I used to think I wanted to practice drills and technique in winds below 6mph, 'till I tried it. :D Now I prefer 10mph +/- or it just gets boring, esp. downwind.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#3
I am not a Californian, but I believe that the Bay can be quite windy in the summer; not so much in wintertime.
Just look up 'average' weather data to get some insight. Or see what the kiters and windsurfers are doing.
 
#4
This week at least, it looks like it's due to a lack of wind, with speeds around 5mph for most days.

I used to think I wanted to practice drills and technique in winds below 6mph, 'till I tried it. :D Now I prefer 10mph +/- or it just gets boring, esp. downwind.
The NOAA weather website is a good way to check the forecast... sailing in light airs is a valuable skill, but it DOES get old on a repetitive basis, LOL. ;)

When maneuvering, you WANT a decent breeze, the boat tacks & gybes more smoothly and smartly in 10+ knots of breeze... once you get above 18 or 20 knots, things get tricky and you have to be more careful, choosing your time wisely to tack & gybe. There's more surface chop as well, always a factor in maneuvering... a hard hull slam can take way off your boat pronto, not to mention stress-testing your rig, LOL. :eek:

Whenever wind & tide are in opposition, the surface chop gets gnarlier... shoals and shallow water don't help either. I'm not into organized religion, but I recall the Bible mentioning storms whipped up on the Sea of Galilee and similar bodies of water. Same thing occurs on the Salton Sea: no tide to consider, but the lake lies in a shallow desert pan so the wind-whipped surface chop can get nasty in a big ol' hurry... :confused:
 
Thread starter #5
sailing in light airs is a valuable skill, but it DOES get old on a repetitive basis, LOL. ;)

When maneuvering, you WANT a decent breeze, the boat tacks & gybes more smoothly and smartly in 10+ knots of breeze... once you get above 18 or 20 knots, things get tricky and you have to be more careful

Whenever wind & tide are in opposition, the surface chop gets gnarlier...
The Capri, with it's flat bottom, rotates on its centerboard like a top. It even sails and tacks well on the mainsail alone....... even in light wind.

I'm only half-serious about sailing in light air. I find it very useful when practicing various skills, because the consequences of making a mistake are much more forgiving. It's downwind in light air, even with a slacked outhaul and C/ham, that gets tedious.

I've had the 14.2 out in 25mph winds, and it was fun, but even with a more experienced friend along, it was a real handful. Fun, to be sure, but not as relaxing as I prefer when going out on the water. It's fun to heel a little bit more than you need to, and/or to keep up with the faster boats, but given the choice, I'll take relaxing over racing any day. Challenging, but relaxing. I just don't like to beat the tar out of my rigging, like I did the first few times I sailed her.

Redwood Creek is a tidal estuary with strong, westward winds in the afternoon that can die suddenly in the evening, so I'm always careful to time my outings with the time of day, tidal flow, and wind speed.
If possible, I launch at or near low tide so I'll have a following tide on my return to the dock, should the wind stop blowing completely.

During the heat of summer, I've stayed out on, or sought out, choppy water, just for the fun factor and to feel the cooling spray on my face.
 
#6
Haha, I hear ya about the spray... good to see you're aware of those factors of wind, tide, etc. Back in Dago it was possible to "work the tides" on a long day of sailing, covering considerable distance and having a blast while doing it. One can still sail over an opposing tide if there's enough breeze, but doing this adds time to the voyage... it's always more fun when factors combine to let you sail the maximum distance, making good speed and enjoying the constantly-changing scenery, LOL. :cool:
 
Top