Sailing Monterey Bay
The Monterey Bay is an ideal venue for fall sailing. However, there are some unique features of the Bay that provide surprises for first time Monterey sailors. Here’s a primer for sailing in Monterey.
The prevailing autumn breeze is from the west to the northwest from 10 –20 knots in the afternoons. The direction is more northerly in the mornings, swinging westward during the course of the day. The exception to this situation is a local southerly condition, where the wind blows straight out of the harbor area in the direction of Moss Landing. Depending on the strength of this condition, light and variable breezes may result as the southerly counters the prevailing breeze. A strong (15-25 kt) short-period oscillating southerly may establish itself. Signals for the latter condition are dense fog shrouding the ridge behind Monterey and bright sunshine over the bay.
The coastline of the Monterey Peninsula produces a permanent westerly shift which is obvious within a half mile of the shore, but is noticeable from much further out. Thus, the left side of the course in this breeze is favored. There can be a shadowing effect by the shore which counters, if not entirely neutralizes this. Also, the beach terrain from Monterey to Seaside onto which the prevailing wind blows, can cause soft spots to develop within a half mile of the beach, especially in the late afternoon.
On many autumn days of bright sunshine in Monterey Harbor, a wall of fog will alternately advance and recede from several miles out in the bay. The approach of the fog’s edge will increase wind strength about 5 kts.
There is generally no appreciable current in the immediate vicinity of Monterey Bay, except if the prevailing breeze acting over a long period sets up a weak wind-driven current.