Sunday, August 18, 2013

Our 1st Qualicum Wind!

Kristi and I have enjoyed our stay here on Lasqueti Island and will be moving on to explore other anchorages around it.  The folks are all friendly (well, never use absolutes . . .), we had so much fun Dancing in the Rain  (Yes, that video was me dancing, at least how I get into it these days..).  And the Saturday Market, though small, was very very nice - crafts, food, produce - even a lady with a basket of kittens!  We will be back no question about it.

We also picked up a bit of 'local knowledge' in the few short days we were here.  For example, the cove we are anchored at (in the North of False Bay) is named Orchard Bay but known to the locals as 'Cocktail Cove'..  (Hum, wonder why :-)  ).  We were also told the story behind the False in False bay - I had wondered because it seems like a proper bay to me, protected from most sides, with appropriately depths for anchorages.  And it is a bay, what is false about it?

Well, the story goes the False is the way it lulls one into believing it is a good bay.  Lulled until the Qualicum's come that is!  

Port Alberni on the west coast of Vancouver Island is at the end of a long and step cut that all but bi-sects the island.  Open to the Pacific Ocean, this cut acts as a great funnel, and concentrator of almost any wind with even a hint of a 'westerly' component to it.  Shaped, intensified, and given direction, this concentrated wind blasts over the rest of Vancouver Island, over Qualicum Beach, and straight into False Harbor.

Last night was a bit bumpy, the bragger gauge showed only 22kt peek - but it was directly into the mouth of our bay.  Looking back at Wind-on-the-water, Sisters showed sustained SW winds 25MPH.  Again, pointing right into False Bay.

Now, the really odd thing (and I sooo wish I can taken a screen shot last night) was what was going on around us at that time.  Go 10 miles south, 10 miles north, in fact go anywhere around and you got the same:  SE winds around 5-6kts...

And THAT is the Qualicum Wind:

"There is one more wind that occurs within this range of pressure-slopes and that is southwesterlies. This could be said to be the key, or signature wind, of these pressure slopes. Southwest winds occur in two different weather patterns. The most well known southwest wind is called the “Qualicum” for it pours out through Port Alberni Inlet and over the community of Qualicum, then into the Strait of Georgia. A true Qualicum wind occurs when a ridge of high pressure develops along the west side of Vancouver Island. Typically this occurs just ahead of a front that is approaching northern Vancouver Island. Southwest winds may also occur with pressure rises behind the front, but in this
situation the southwest winds are not limited to the valley near Qualicum, but can occur  over much of southern Strait of Georgia. The strength of a true Qualicum is typically near 25 knots while the southwest winds that occur behind a front will vary with the strength of the rising pressure behind the front. The strongest southwest winds occur with the strong pressure rises that can occur just behind a low that passes directly over southern Vancouver Island."

ref:   Wind patterns in the Georgia Basin – the Salish Sea.
        Owen Lange*, Environment Canada

Though 'typically' near 25kts, it can get to be much more in the right conditions.  

And THAT is why this is called a False Bay!

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