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Seal Beach
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Our customers inform us that our Seal Beach sensor (located out on the pier just downwind from the main launch) also does a good job of reporting the wind for Sunset Beach, Bolsa Chica and Huntington State Beaches.
To numerous Southern California windsurfers Seal Beach is the nearest place with reliable winds for short boardsailing. Seal Beach played an important role in the evolution of windsurfing with many of today's best sailors getting their first taste of ocean sailing here.
The best part about the launch is sand beach. The waves are typically tiny to 3 feet except for an occasional south swell. The long clean beach is broad and flat making for a long walk out to the water at low tides. There is a jetty wall at the northwest end. The beach is usually uncrowned when it is windy. Springtime prime time sailing will have 25 - 35 sailors. Summer time on a good day will see 50 - 75 sailors on the water.
Only the northern end of the beach is open to boardsailing. The town of Seal Beach has placed restrictions on the areas where wind surfers can launch along the beach. However there are still large areas where sailing is unrestricted. But when wind and waves coincide at Seal Beach over a hundred sailors and surfers have to contend for a relatively small patch of water. Keep out of the way of surfers.
If the wind is right locals sometimes shoot between the pilings of the pier. Expect the winds to be flukey in this area. The pier and an offshore sand bar create reliable surf.
Summer brings afternoon winds 15 to 20kts. From mid June through August there are three to four days per week of winds in the 11 to 15 knot range and a couple of days with winds approaching 20 knots. During the winter Seal Beach is generally calm. Sailing during this time is limited to the clearing winds following the passage of a storm. Late January through February are the best months for winter shredding with strong winds 20 - 25 knots.
The town is small by southern California standards with a population under thirty thousand. But its LA county neighbor Long Beach is gradually engulfing it. The traffic in Seal Beach is fairly light so getting to the beach is not a hassle. Not much for the family here since there is no camping or park. Day use is $5 a day $60 for a year pass and it is crowded on weekends in summer.
Booties are recommended since the warm water attracts stingrays. A light suit will work most of the year. Water temps: summer 70-75 winter 65-70 degrees.
Seal is best in the spring from March to May. Typical direction of the wind is from the SouthWest. A normal year can have as many as 10-15 days per month. Sometimes when it gets really hot inland 90 to 100+ Seal won't work. You have to head for Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. Frontal and clearings in the spring average 16 to 22 mph.
There is an excellent grass rigging area but the walk across the sand is 150-200 yards long. It is a starboard launch. The chop is fun 2 to 4-ft wind swell. Usually there is no current. Still this is not a good spot for true beginners.
It blows from 1pm to 4 or 5pm normally and unless it is a big clearing wind the windy period is rarely more than two hours long.
The atmosphere is pretty friendly. The only time it gets tense is when there is good wind and good surf. The water will be dangerously crowded with surfers and some windsurfers sail too close the surfers creating tension between groups. In the summer time the launch location is funneled down by the lifeguards. Plenty of open, clear water outside but take care as it can be congested at the launch. There is a long-standing feud between the surfers and the windsurfers for not sharing the wave sailing area. The surfers have a lot more voices for their position than the windsurfers. It is always a potential problem so just use common sense and share the waves responsibly.
The beach is pretty large with beautiful fine sand since the San Gabriel River empties at the North end of the beach.
The water is usually 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the normal water temp due to a electric steam generating plant that is inland 2 miles. The beach was nicknamed "Ray Bay" for the numerous resulting stingrays. You really have to watch out exactly how and where you get off your board!
After a major storm rain the water at the beach will look foul and smell as bad.
Summer time water averages 70 degrees. Even on real windy days the water stays real smooth close to the beach due to the river jetties that protect the beach from the outer ocean swells. September to February, its time to travel or find a new interest. The wind will be very fickle. Hard to find and predict.
Average sail size in the summer is 6.0 for 150-lbs. sailor. 7.0 for 175 and up. Spring is a lot better if you catch a good clearing. Wetsuits are minimal in the summer time. 3/2 in the winter.
Family amenities are pretty good. Public restrooms and showers are decent to good. There are lots of places to get food. A good spot is right at the rigging location at The Rivers End Café.
UPDATED 01/31/11: Where to even start? Much of the above is totally outdated or just flat wrong. There haven't been 75 sailors out at Seal for 10 years--it's mostly taken over by kiters who can be a real nuisance, eeking back and forth and blocking the waves even though they don't ride them. The wind reaches 20 only in the spring--in the summer a thermal heat bubble over Long Beach blocks Seal and sends the wind out to sea. Also the only time the water is 70 degrees is during heat spells in September--in 2010 the water never got over 65 all year long. Finally, booties will not protect you from the rays--they sting right through them. All that said, it's still a great place to sail, especially from mid-March to mid-May, when there are many 20 mph days.
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 Season: Spirng, summer & winter 
 Water: Warm 
 Ability Level: Beginner to adv. 
 Familiness: Uncrowded beach, restrooms 
 Parking: Pay Parking 
 Launch: Wide sandy beach 

Exit Rte. 1 Pacific Coast Hwy. onto 1st St. Follow 1st St. all the way to the end. Or take 405 to Seal Beach Blvd and head west to the end. The beach is 4 miles off the freeway and there is a pay parking lot.

This sensor was upgraded from an older technology model to a state-of-the-art WeatherFlow installation Summer 2004. The old equipment which was in place for years and years had exposed bearing races which subsequently caused an artificial reduction in reported speeds. So please bear these two facts in mind when comparing sensor windspeeds with actual conditions on the water! After you have correlated several sessions w/ their corresponding daily wind graphs, you'll find the upgraded equipment is a very reliable "conditions" indicator for Seal Beach.

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