Day 1 Summary – Ohhhh Noooo!!!! The dreaded southerly surge!!!

00:15 Sunday 6/24  – So it looks like the southerly surge that weather gurus were worried about has hit the fleet, with tracking report speeds dropping to 1kt and less.  In the weather briefing provided by Skip Allan, at the skippers meeting, our fearless 19 were warned of this impending doom.  Go west, he said.  Here’s a quick why.  So there is a Pacific high way offshore.  There is a lower pressure system sitting over the central valley of California. Beyond the low pressure system are the Sierra Mountains.  In the upper atmosphere, air can get pushed towards these mountains and some can’t get over them, it cools off, then wants to sink.  As a result of this sinking air, a north/south troph associated with the low pressure system (actually, sitting between the low pressure system and the Pacific High) is pushed back westward off the coast.  Exactly when this would happen, and exactly how far west was unclear.  Light southerly wind lies to the east of the troph, light northerly winds occur to the west, and no winds in the middle.  Guess where our buglighters are.  🙁  The no winds in the middle could last for a couple of days, so we’ll see.  Stay tuned.

At this time Libra is still in port, and Mouton Noir is returning to shore, reportedly possibly due to some equipment issues.  There may be additional news from check ins, we’ll post any updates.  Have a good night, and know the racers will likely at least have a peaceful night too, if they relax and enjoy the calm.  It is lovely out there when it is calm.

Lee Johnson “can’t ‘freakin wait!”

Lee Johnson arrives Monday via the Oakland Airport. Morning Star is already here, and he described her arrival under the Golden Gate Bridge as “glorious”. It was 3 am, the bridge was lit up, the sky was clear and it was becoming light as they approached the Alameda Marina. Lee thanked the Race Committee for arranging with vessel traffic so no freighters or container ships impeded the way. You are welcome, Lee. Glad to be of service. Only the best for our singlehanders.

Morning Star Coming up from San Diego

This from Lee Johnson s/v Morning Star

An Extra Adventure: The Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race bills itself as “the adventure of a lifetime.” And I’m sure it will be. I feel like a 10 year old on Christmas morning, waiting for dad to say it’s ok to get up. June 23 can’t get here soon enough.

Everything on the Safety Equipment Requirements list is aboard.  The inspector assigned by the Race Committee has pronounced the boat ready. But there is still a significant issue to deal with between now and the starting gun: the race starts in San Francisco Bay, and the vessel I will enter, a 12,000 pound cruising boat, resides in San Diego. The sailing vessel Morning Star is decidedly not a trailer sailor.  Unlike many of the boats that will compete in the SHTP, this boat cannot be loaded on a trailer at a launch ramp and driven to the start line. Morning Star will make the 400 mile trip north not by land but by sea.

The wind and sea between San Diego and San Francisco do not favor the northbound transit. Oceans in the Northern Hemisphere have a clock-wise rotation – current flows north up the western side of the basin (think, Gulf Stream in the Atlantic), easterly across the northern latitudes, and southerly down the eastern side of the basin. That puts a south-bound current hard along the West coast from Alaska to the Tropics. The prevailing wind off the California coast is also from the North to north-west. Together the wind and current make for tough sledding in a sailing vessel.

And the coast is not our friend.  From San Francisco to Lompoc, the California shoreline runs pretty much North to South.  Then, at the promontory Point Conception, the coast turns east towards Santa Barbara, and traces an arc past Long Beach and down to San Diego.  This is the Southern California Bite – so named because the map looks like something to a bite out of it.

The wind and current that flow unimpeded down the central coast of California often turn down-right ugly at Point Conception.  There, the sudden fall-off of the land creates a Bernoulli Effect, with the wind and sea frequently rising up in conditions more exciting than we really need.  Once past the Pt. Conception head lands, there are no safe harbors until inside the Golden Gate, some 250 miles north.

Thus, before the ‘adventure of a lifetime’ itself, there awaits another adventure all its own. Bring it.