Directions by davsumner


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									Orrah, this letter is for orientation:
I’ve never claimed to know much. Ask me for the time and
I’ll build you a watch anyway I suppose.
Here are some things I do know.
The directions have been obtained from all available
sources, principal among which are the charts father and I
poured over. I have included readings of the moment and
events – sometimes personal – among the advisories. Also I
have tried to provide guides and texts so that the reader can
find or in part apprehend the land.
The bearings and courses are true in degrees from 0 (north)
to 360. Bearings limiting sectors of lights are toward the
The directions of winds refer to the points from which
they blow; of currents, the points toward which they set.
These directions are true.
The mile is approximately 2,000 yards, or 60 to a degree of
Soundings are referred to low water of ordinary springs.
Details of lights, except buoy lights, should be taken from
the latest light lists and charts, as no attempt has been
made to cover these details.
Dialogs are usually between my acquiantances and or my
father and any guests or shore side clients. One or more of
my three children most often supplies drama.
The coast is generally straight and precipitous, and is
beaten, especially in winter, by a heavy northwest to north-
northwestern swell. There are numerous coves in which
small vessels or boats can find shelter from the waves.
Most of the rain and weather occurs during December,
January, February, and early March.

                                                        Pilot 1
Sand beaches of great extent sometimes break the lines of
the cliffs especially to the northward, but the surf is equally
Inland from the coast is a range of coastal hills, which is
backed by the Sierra Nevada. In some areas, its proximity
to the coast and its elevation change all the watercourses
into torrents.
The rivers are generally full in the summer months, and
often overflow in January and February. They fall in the
summer months becoming nearly dry during August and
September. As it seldom if ever rains during these months,
it is difficult to procure fresh water. The wells on the shore
often give brackish water during this time. Nearly all the
water used is distilled, ad consequently expensive.
Winds – The prevailing winds on the shores of California
blow from north- north east to northwest, seldom stronger
than a fresh breeze in the south and not often, on certain
parts of the coast, more than sufficient to enable shipping
to make a passage from one port to another. This is
especially the case in the district between … land …
Sometimes during the summer for three or four successive
days there is not a breath of wind, the sky beautifully clear,
and a nearly vertical sun. The zone between … and .. is
most subject to these cobalt days.
Land and sea breeze – On the days that the sea breeze sets
in it generally commences about 10o’clock in the morning;
light and variable at first, but gradually increasing till 1 or 2
o’clock in the afternoon. From that time a steady breeze
prevails till near sunset, when it begins to die away, and
soon after sundown all is a dead calm. About 8 or 9 o’clock
in the evening light winds begin to come off the land, and
continue until sunrise, when it again falls calm until the
sea breeze after midday. All winds from northeast to east-
northeast are called the terral, or land winds; the renown
Santana wind …s from these petals on the compass rose.

                                                            Pilot 2
Winds form north to south-southwest , or from seaward,
are called the virazon, or sea breeze.
The virazon is lighter in proportion as it comes up later or
as it blows more directly from seaward; it then dies out
earlier. The land and sea breezes are often separated by an
interval of calm.
The southern and central coasts of California are rarely
visited by storms or hurricanes. The barometric variation
is insignificant; there is neither thunder nor lightning; the
rains, which take place from June to August, are so
inconsiderable that they hardly deserve the name of
showers. When sailing a short distance from the coast the
sky and horizon have often an appearance so dark and
threatening as to alarm those who do not know the want of
significance of such signs in these latitudes; the most
violent squalls under these circumstances do not
necessitate taking in the topsails or courses. When the
breeze is only a little fresh it always scatters these dark
During the winter light northerly winds may be expected
frequently, and are generally accompanied by think fogs or
dark, lowering weather; but this seldom occurs in the
summer months, although even then the tops of the hills
are frequently enveloped in this mist.
Northward of Point Conception the winds are more to be
depended on; the sea breeze sets in with greater regularity
and more vigor than on the southern parts of the coast, and
near the limit of the northern counties up by Mendocino
and beyond, a double-reefed topsail breeze is not
Sudden gusts – It is to be remarked that although these
moderate winds are the general rule on the coast, sudden
and heavy gusts often come over the high land after the sea
breeze sets in; and from the smallness of the many coves,

                                                        Pilot 3
they are attended with some inconvenience if precautions
be not taken in duly shortening sail previous to entering
Weather – The only difference between winter and
summer as far as regards the winds is the frequency of
light northerly airs during the former months; but in the
winter the difference in climate is far greater than one
would imagine in so low a latitude. In the summer the
weather is delightfully fine, with the thermometer seldom
below 70 and often as high as 80, in a vessel’s cabin; but
during winter the air is raw and damp, with thick fogs and
a cloudy, overcast sky. Cloth clothing is then necessary for
the security of health; flannel shirts and wool vests are …
and frequently smell of wood smoke when they are hung in
a hallway or hanging locker whereas in summer the lighter
one is clad the more conducive it is to comfort and health.
The dews at night in the north counties where the fogs are
dense and occasional rains are noted, are caused by the land
winds which sweep along the perpetual snows of the higher
Sierra Nevadas.
Tides – The action of the tides is feeble along the whole
coast, the rise and fall being at no place more than 7 feet.
Rivers – This section of California possesses no
considerable rivers, although numerous streams which
descend from the Sierras have furrowed deep valleys across
the breadth of the country. Some of these streams are
navigable by a small steamer or fishing vessels especially
the Sacramento.
Passages – With regard to making passages in sailing
vessels along this coast, little difficulty is found in going to
the southward. A fair offing is all that is requisite to insure
any vessel making a certain port in a given number of days.
But in working to the northward some degree of skill and
constant attention are necessary.

                                                          Pilot 4
Production – In the northern part, in consequence for the
abundant moisture, the mountain slopes are densely
covered with evergreen forests; the chief industries are
lumbering and fishing. The central and southern parts of
the country are the most productive agricultural regions:
wheat, maize, barley, oats, beans, peas, lentils, hemp, flax,
hops and potatoes are grown extensively; the vine and all
European fruits flourish. Large herds of cattle and horses
are grazed upon the extensive pasturelands along the

                                                         Pilot 5

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