Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sea frets

James K. Polk, the eleventh President of the United States, was responsible as no other single person, for America's policy of westward expansion in the 1840s under the doubtful banner of Manifest Destiny; and the ultimate prize, as far as he was concerned, was California, partly for the trade and naval advantage promised by it's sea ports and partly for the territorial symmetry offered by, as it were, an east-west clean sweep.

For others, the prize was California's fabled climate, and the Department of Tourism will tell you it's the same today. If you plan to visit though, and to take in San Francisco, you had better be aware of a phenomenon that lasts for much of the summer, and takes many a European tourist by surprise: the persistent fog that rolls in from San Francisco Bay during June, July and August, and makes for low temperatures and -literally - limited sightseeing. The fog is caused when warm, moist air from the Pacific travels over the cool California Current which runs offshore. This picture, taken on the 4th of July, should have been of San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge:

Obviously, sea mist (or sea frets in poetic moments) is common here as well, if less predictable. We watched the mist roll in from the south late this afternoon, and felt the chill on our faces as we crossed Ringhaddy Sound. The cabin disappeared, reappeared, disappeared again several times, and afterwards there was a pale, ghostly light as the sun filtered through the gossamer curtain left behind.

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