Solstice Sailing

Who’s heading out for a summer solstice sail? Were you out there yesterday? Maybe you’re going out today?

The summer solstice is the official start of the summer sailing season, bringing more daylight hours than any other day of the year. Typically the solstice falls on June 21, though it can vary depending on where you live. This year the solstice is, in exact terms, June 21 at 0424 UTC. But in the Bay Area, that translates to 2124 last night, or June 20, local time.   

If you’re not out there you don’t get ‘the shot’. But if you are out this evening, send your solstice sunset shot to 

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Naturally everyone knows UTC stands for Coordinated Universal Time, which starts the Earth’s day at the prime meridian in Greenwich, England, home of the original GMT. UTC is a compromise between English and French speakers since Coordinated Universal Time in English would be abbreviated CUT, and the French would have abbreviated Temps Universel Coordonné as TUC. To avoid confusion, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU . . . which seems about right) wanted one abbreviation for all languages, so they settled on UTC.

Regardless of what you want to call it, sunrise in the Bay Area today was at 0548 and sunset will be at 2035 (same as yesterday). If you head down to your boat at 13:11:23, the shadow from your mast will be at its shortest length of the entire year.

To take the ‘glass is half empty’ view, the days will start growing gradually shorter — by about two minutes and eight seconds each day — until bottoming out on Thursday, December 21, the winter solstice.   

Like the other 364 days of the year in the Bay Area, it’s a great day to go sailing.

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John and Gena Egelston’s 1928 Lester Stone cutter Water Witch (right) prevails and handily earns a first in the Classic division at the 10th annual Great Schooner Race.
Forests and forests of wood will be on hand for the Master Mariners Benevolent Association Wooden Boat Show on June 25.