April 19, 2016

Sailing the Santa Anna winds along the southern California coast

Last Saturday, we got really nice Santa Ana winds off the coast of San Diego, 15-20 knot winds with just a 2-4 foot swell. This is a rarity for us here - generally, when we get 15+ winds, its accompanied with storm conditions: high swells and a steep wind chop that can make the ocean less than hospitable.

But - last Saturday was phenomenal sailing conditions. More fun than I've had in awhile

santa anna winds
My crew: Zach and Megan - enjoying the action.

We left midday and sailed straight out to Sea. After a few hours we found ourselves within throwing distance from the Mexican islands, Los Coronados. 

So, we must have been moving at 7 knots/hour in an upwind sail.

Truly fun.

In these conditions, my 30 foot Newport feels like an enormous surfboard. I had just scraped the bottom so she was flying off the swell crests.

Below, is a gorgeous photo showing Santa Ana winds moving across southern California and then out to the Pacific Ocean. You can see Catalina Island and San Clemente about 50 miles off the coast.
This public domain photo clearly illustrates the trail of wind coming out of the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts and bathing our coastal waters. These are extremely dry, down-slope winds. As long as they're not too strong, they make for fantastic sailing winds.

santa anna conditions

You can see Los Angeles at the upper corner of this photo. Then if you cut in from San Clemente you can see the hook of San Diego Bay about halfway down the photo. Baja to the south.

Below is a screenshot from my wind app. I use this software to get the broad, global wind pattern perspective. You can see that last weekend, we had hot, dry desert winds coming in from the Basin and Range Deserts of central Nevada. Awesome, awesome sailing conditions.

Good winds to use when sailing out to Catalina island...

santa anna southern california

And of course, I always fail to take a photo of the Ocean that properly conveys the mood.

We were ripping but all the white caps must have been shy when I took this shot...