Monday, May 24, 2010

Sea breeze

Stan making his way in the rocks

In my beginner days I'd often gone for a paddle in calm or light wind conditions only to find myself later in the day in windy conditions. I didn't know a lot about wind at the time but since I've found its useful to be in-the-know about something that affects kayaking as it does. One wind phenomenon that catches some off guard is a sea breeze.

A sea breeze occurs on a warm sunny day when the land is heated more quickly than the sea. Warm air rises off the land and cooler air over the sea flows in to replace the rising air. A circulation sets up.

A sea breeze cannot become established on a cloudy day as the land doesn't heat up sufficiently. Also, a sea breeze cannot be established if the prevailing wind is on shore because the onshore winds prevent the land from heating up. This is useful to know because locally our prevailing wind is SW. Therefore, on a sunny day paddling on the shore between Holyrood and Cape St. Francis we wouldn't expect to experience a sea breeze. Paddlers, on the same day, on the east coast along the Southern Shore could experience sea breezes because the offshore winds in this case help a sea breeze get established.

Knowing this, especially for beginners can help them avoid unpleasant surprises.


  1. Interesting, I thought land always heated up faster than water. Interesting.


  2. That is correct. I suppose even on a cloudy day but the sun must shine to generate enough heat differential to get a circulation established.

    Tony :-)