Winds north of San Francisco

Kenny Dumas

Super Anarchist
A big ebb will close the Columbia (and all of the bars) for 4 hours and you don’t want to cross an unfamiliar bar at night, so your windows for crossing get very slim. Avoid the spring tides and travel on the half moon.


dreaming my life away...
Keep a weather eye on NorCal ocean currents:,43.421,-122.651,6

Jud - s/v Sputnik

Super Anarchist
Most of the ones listed above are bar crossings. They are not scary but you MUST cross on a flood tide and closest to high tide for least chance of drama if there is any swell of significance. Crossing on an ebb tide with an opposing incoming swell = breakers across the bar.
That even describes the area around Slingsby Channel in Queen Charlotte Sound (a common coastal route up the coast, of course, via Cape Caution) - Slingsby drains a huge amount of the nearby maze of inlets (Belize, etc) and when it’s ebbing, especially a big ebb against a strong NW’ly wind from offshore, the resulting seas are quite big, apparently. I can only imagine a big W coast river bar in similar conditions...

I did the trip just once, northbound in an older Hunter 33, from SF to Eureka. Surprisingly, the only thing we broke was a handrail on the cabin top!

We harbor hopped up the coast, stopping at Bodega Bay, Russian River, Point Arena - maybe one more stop at Mendicino (I remember we discussed it, but I can't remember if we actually stopped there) - and then a long, rough overnight passage around Punta Gorda to Humboldt Bay.
The weather usually varied from light winds and heavy fog in the morning to strong headwinds and 6' to 8' breaking waves in the afternoon.

I would recommend harbor-hopping unless you are really good at sleeping while wet and cold in really rough seas.

Latest posts