Crossing the Strait of Juan De Fuca

The Strait of Juan de Fuca is about 100 miles long and 12 miles wide.  Depending on the weather it can be flat calm or extremely rough.  The typical summertime pattern call for calm mornings with a westerly sea breeze rising by mid-day, increasing to 30 knots or more late in the afternoon.

If this sea breeze opposes an out-flowing ebb current, the seas will be unusually high, steep, and close together.  Often, however, the typical weather pattern does not prevail, and the wind blows around the clock.  Or, it can be calm, even on a warm summer afternoon.  Weather reports must be monitored.

As the summer sun heats the land, air over the land rises, and colder ocean air funnels down the Strait of Juan de Fuca to replace rising land air.  This is called a sea breeze, and it usually develops in the late morning or early afternoon.  By late afternoon the sea breeze can be quite strong, creating short, high seas especially on an ebb.  After sundown, as air in the interior cools, the sea breeze dies away. Early morning crossings are preferred.  Carefully monitor the official weather reports and forecast.

Fog can develop unexpectedly.  Sometimes it is only a thin mist, other times it can be pea soup thick.  Normally when the wind moves in the flog blows out.

More information available from our partner site Waggoner Cruising Guide.

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