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The Solstice, the Sailstice and the Holidays

Today is one of those glass-half-full-or-half-empty moments. It’s the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year. Do you lament the darkness? Or do you appreciate that, starting on Sunday, the days get longer right up until June 21? Today is the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice. Our shadows are long as the sun touches the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere and begins its long climb north. In the south, Randall Reeves, Jeanne Socrates and all kinds of other-hemisphere sailors are enjoying sailing in the longest daylight of the year, with a full summer ahead. More on the solstice later.

Summer Sailstice

What might you look forward to on the weekend of June 21 when the sun finally reaches the Tropic of Cancer and the Northern Hemisphere solstice? Sailing, for one. Harbormasters regularly tell us that just 10% of the boats in any marina are used with any regularity. And we’ve seen it on Summer Sailstice at Encinal Yacht Club. On brilliant, sunny days with warm air and 12 knots of breeze on the Oakland Estuary, we see 95% of boats idle in their slips. We consider that a crime scene. It’s actually one of the reasons we started Summer Sailstice — to get the whole world sailing. Clearly we still have a ways to go.

If you look at the two maps below you’ll see people already signed up for Summer Sailstice 2019 up top and people signed up for the 2018 Summer Sailstice below. As we approach New Year’s resolution time we suggest you make a public commitment now, six months in advance, to go sailing on the weekend of June 21-23, 2019. You have six months to decide if you’ll race, cruise or daysail.

2019 Summer Sailstice
With six months to go just a few people have committed to sailing on the 2019 solstice weekend.
© 2018 Summer Sailstice
Summer Sailstice 2018
By the time the summer solstice arrived in 2018 much of the world had woken up to sailing!
© 2018 Summer Sailstice

We have some suggestions for Bay Area sailors. Racing options include any of the Friday night races, the YRA’s Westpoint Regatta to the South Bay, the StFYC Woodies Invitational, Benicia YC’s Summer Sail, Encinal YC’s Small Boat Regatta and several others scattered across the Bay. You could join your yacht club’s ‘cruise out’ or, heaven forbid, just head out on the Bay with no particular mission in mind. You could join the Trans Tahoe Race, already signed up on the Summer Sailstice site or, like Del, create your own event such as his to repeat his 2018 Summer Sailstice cruise aboard his Catalina 320 to Half Moon Bay.

Oakland estuary marinas
The Estuary view from EYC in Alameda on a perfect, sunny, warm solstice day of sailing. If it takes six months to plan an afternoon sail, now is the time to start!
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Winter Solstice

A post on the Old Farmer’s Almanac website shows both the astronomical and meteorological seasons for 2019. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the astronomical start date is based on the position of the sun in relation to the Earth. The meteorological start date is based on the 12-month calendar and the annual temperature cycle.

2019 Seasons Astronomical Start Metereological Start
Spring Wed., March 20, 2:58 p.m. PDT Friday, March 1
Summer Fri., June 21, 8:54 a.m. PDT Saturday, June 1
Fall Mon., Sept. 23, 12:50 a.m. PDT Sunday, Sept. 1
Winter Sat., Dec. 21, 8:10 p.m. PST Sunday, Dec. 1

A winter solstice actually occurs twice a year, once in December in the Northern Hemisphere and once in June in the Southern Hemisphere. While the winter solstice occurs at the same moment all over the world, the date and local time differ depending on the year and a location’s time zone. For locations that are to the east of UTC (Coordinated Universal Time aka GMT aka Zulu) it may fall on the day after. For locations that are to the west of UTC it may fall on the day before.

The Bottom Line

Don’t miss sailing on the sunny days of summer, and, if you’re in California, don’t miss any sunny days of sailing. Wherever you are and however you plan to sail, now is a good time to register for Summer Sailstice, enter to win a prize, and put your sailing plans on the map for 2019. If the winds change, change your plans.

Holiday Hours

Latitude 38’s world headquarters will be closed for the holidays all next week through New Year’s Day. We’ll pop into the office on Friday, December 28, long enough to facilitate the distribution (and posting online) of the January issue of the magazine and the 2019 Northern California Sailing Calendar and YRA Schedule. We plan to post ‘Lectronic Latitude editions on Wednesday, December 26, and Friday, December 28.

Almost balmy weather blessed San Rafael’s Lighted Boat Parade on December 15.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from our crew to yours!

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