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Sailing Around North Coronados Island Alone

Saturday morning, I sailed out of the marina aboard my J29 sailboat BlackJack to round North Coronado Islands.

I was alone.

The forecast called for relatively light winds, as did the GFS grib. HRRR model, however, predicted 8-10 knot winds until 4 PM or so. I decided to trust the HRRR grib, as it tends to tell the future better than other models.

I motored out to buoy 5, then raised an old light #1 genoa and started sailing South.

By 11 AM, the wind came up to 8-9 knots as predicted, and it would hold for much of the day.

The true wind direction was 110-120 degrees while on the heading of 180 degrees. This is the weak onshore breeze typical of San Diego.

I sheeted the genoa outboard. BlackJack hummed along at almost 6 knots all the way to the island.

The wind was a touch chilly, but it was a fantastic sailing in beautiful weather. I let the auto-pilot drive most of the way and I focused on sail trim and boat speed.

There was a US warship parked directly on the path to the island, broadcasting Sécurité to stay away from them. I gave them a wide birth, sailing a little longer distance.

Even with a slight detour, I arrived at the island in just over two hours. I went around wide, trying to stay in enough wind.

The choppy waves, ever-present around Los Coronados, did not bother us too much this time. It took just 30 minutes to round the island.

Sailing back from the island put us on a close reach. I alternated between sheeting outboard and inboard. I rigged soft shackles on my genoa sheet ends, so re-rigging is a cinch.

The wind started to show signs of dying down at times, but held till 3 PM or so.

By 4 PM, the wind was withering away. The sea became glass smooth. BlackJack kept gliding, albeit at a greatly reduced pace. There was still sunlight left, but soon the day was to draw to a close.

I was determined to sail back to buoy 3 before calling it a day. That was to be my finish line.

We finally ghosted by at 4:30 PM. I started the engine and let the tiller pilot drive for another hour while getting back to the marina.

Had the wind stayed, I could have completed the entire trip in less than 5 hours. The wind didn’t stay, but this is what sailing is.

I am quite happy about how everything went.

I have shown myself I can sail as much distance that can be sailed in a day. I now feel a bit more comfortable thinking about even going farther.

Alone of course.

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