Aboard the yacht America at the Golden Gate Bridge

            Capt. Patrick's

San Francisco Bay Sailing

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About the wind on San Francisco Bay

San Francisco BaySan Francisco Bay is both a fascinating and challenging sailing environment.

It is an estuary that drains, among other areas, the entire western slope of the Sierra Nevada. The drainage plus tides create a huge flow of water through the bay. If the mile-wide Golden Gate were a river, it would have the highest volume flow of any river in the world. Tide heights can range up to nine feet in parts of San Francisco Bay.

Generally during spring, summer and fall, when California's hot inland valleys heat up during the day, rising rising air draws wind off the Pacific Ocean and across San Francisco Bay. This is our wind engine. It is why San Francisco Bay typically has very reliable, predictable -- and strong -- wind from the west during the spring, summer and fall.

That wind engine is also why San Francisco and its bay are generally chilly during the summer and often have their most pleasant days in the fall. It's always The cool waters of the Alaska Current flowing south along the California coast chill the air being drawn inland during warm days inland. That causes moisture in the air to fall out of suspension, becoming fog. After the hot spells of inland valleys subside in the fall and no longer strongly draw cool air in from the ocean, the powerful winds across San Francisco Bay ease and the weather gets a little warmer and more gentle.


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