When Sailing The San Diego Bay, or anywhere for that matter, it is extremely important that one understands how to read wind speed and the waves. This could mean the difference between a relaxing Sunset Sail and an impromptu swim overboard.

We at San Diego Sailing Tours have some of the most experienced and well traveled captains around who know everything there is to know about reading the water and ensuring a comfortable sail for you and your family. We are always excited to get people to Discover Sailing and for that reason, we wanted to share some of our knowledge about reading the waves so that you and your family can step aboard one of yachts with a little bit of know-how!

Wind and Waves Guide:

Force 1: Wind speed is at 1-3 knots with a slight breeze and is very calm. You will see small ripples that looking like fish scales and waves that are about ¼- ½ ft in height.

Force 2: Wind speed is at 4-6 knots with a light breeze. You will be able to see short, pronounced waves with no crests. These waves are also about ¼ – ½ ft in height.

Force 3: Wind speed is at 7-10 knot with a gentle breeze where you will be able to see some larger waves with some crests on top. The wave height is about 2 ft.

Force 4: Wind speed is at 11-16 knots and there is a definite moderate breeze occurring. You will be able to spot increasingly larger waves with some white caps and foam. Wave height will be at 4 ft.

Force 5: Wind speed will be approximately 17-21 knots and will have a fresh and quickened breeze. You will be able to see the waves lengthening with many white caps and even some sea spray! The wave height will be around 6 ft in height!

Force 6: Wind speed is 22-27 knots which is a nice strong breeze. You will see large waves with extensive white caps and sea spray. Wave height will be about 10 ft tall.

Force 7: Wind speed 22-33 knots which, is near gale speeds! There will be large amounts of BIG waves with many breaks and a ton of sea spray! Wave height is at 14 ft.

Force 8: Wind speed 34-40 knots which is considered gale force. These waves will be very tall and long and will create sporadic crests and produce an overwhelming amount of sea spray. The wave height is 18 ft tall!

Force 9: Wind speed will be at 41-47 knots…a strong gale indeed. High wind, dense foam streaks and crests rolling over combined with lowered visibility. Waves will be 23 ft tall!

Force 10: Wind speed 48-55 knots which makes this an absolute storm. You will see very high waves with long, overlapping crests. The sea will look white and the waves will have definite force to them. Wave height is approximately 29 ft.

Force 11: Wind speed will be anywhere from 56-63 knots, a very strong storm. The waves seen here will be large enough to conceal large ships from sight at 37 ft tall!

Force 12: Wind speed 64-71 knots, considered a hurricane. Complete lack of visibly and the sea is completely white with powerful waves. The height of these waves can reach up to 45 ft in height!

As you can see, the waves can get pretty crazy out there depending on the wind speed. Although we have some of the best and most experienced crew around, we would never take passengers out in unsafe conditions. Our goal at San Diego Sailing Tours is to ensure a comfortable and relaxing Sail Into the Sunset for you and your loved ones.

So next time you’re out on the water for a relaxing San Diego Bay Sail or simply checking surf on the beach, you can be well versed in what kind of waves you are seeing like a true sailor.

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