When teaching students how to dock a sailboat, I try to make it clear that “current is king” and if you don’t know how it will affect your boat, there is a good chance you’ll end up in trouble. Well, the same can be said when planning a voyage. Whether you are crossing the Gulf Stream or sliding south to Mexico on the California Current, the water moving beneath you has a profound effect on your speed and safety.
We’re heading into the San Juan Islands today and with the area’s large tidal range and narrow passages that can create dangerous rips and eddies, the current really is king. Planning for current isn’t all about looking at slack, max, highs and lows though. You also have to take into consideration the wind and how it moves the water; is it opposite the tidal movement or with it? And what geographic features come into play; how are headlands, rocks or shoals going to change the shape and speed of the current? Also, what is the current going to do while you are at anchor? Happy planning and remember to go with the flow!
Enjoy this week’s edition.