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Old 08-08-2014, 07:58   #16
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Re: Distance offshore?

i have sailed 100, 50, 20, 3, 10, and other numbers of miles off this west coast from san diego to zihuatenejo.

sail where your boat is most comfortable and your fears of not seeing land are least troublesome...lol
i told some potential crew i was gonna sail 100 miles offshore... they ran like scalded dogs on crack..couldnt get away fast enough
i personally enjoy sailing out of sight of land....
your comfort level is personal--owned only by you. known only by you.
why not sail out here first then figure out not only where your boat is most comfortable, but also where YOU, its sailor, are most comfortable.
get as much time way from sight of land as possible. know where your comfort zone is.
as for the depth. you wont ditch the chop until you are no longer on the continental shelf.
no matter where you sail, you will have seas affected by winds. unless your passage is dead calm, wind wise, you will be affected by wind's acion on the sea siurface
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Old 08-08-2014, 08:45   #17
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Re: Distance offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
Four trips Cape Flattery to San Diego
One trip Neah Bay to Cape Scott and back
Four trips San Diego to Cabo San Lucas

we found that sea conditions were pretty dependent on sustained winds on top of modified oceanic swells until we were in water at least 300 fathoms (about 100 or more miles)

Once past the 300 fathom line we encountered longer period oceanic swells that were not so affected by the daily changes in winds.

Staying inshore provides access to all the ports along the coast - staying outside will keep the sea conditions from being so stirred up by the daily NW 15 - 25 knot winds that come up every day about noon.

There is no easy or clear cut answer. If you like oceanic big long period swells and enjoy multi-day offshore passages - stay beyond the 300 fathom line.
I've also made this trip more than once and this advise is dead on.. what I would add is what time of year you'd be planning on doing the trip.
We personally dont like fog so we've planned our trips in the late fall to early spring and throu the winter... Yes the winter storms do come up but if you are doing harbor hopping you can run between the fronts.. which is normally a few days.
the winter time is colder but the sea state close to shore, 15 to 20 miles is much calmer..
for us it wasnt as much as to get down the coast as it was to enjoy the ports and views as we traveled,
if you wait untail after the first of april to make your trip, it would be best to get well offshore to avoid the windy conditions.. And the fog...
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Old 08-08-2014, 09:17   #18
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Re: Distance offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stubones99 View Post
Sorry for the lack of info.

... Not many good coves on the way south, from WA to Baja it seems.

Thanks!
Stu
You really need to do some research! My experience is from Cape Scott (North end of Vancouver Island) south to Acapulco. Here are some of the easily entered ports from Cape Scott south (I've used almost all at one time or another)

Quatsino Sound
Esperanza Sound
Nootka Sound
Clayquot Sound
Barkley Sound
(you can move almost all the way down the south coast of Vancouver Island "inside" by using the many small sounds and inland channels - we did that in 1999)
Neah Bay
Westport
Tillamook
Garabaldi
Newport
Coos Bay
Bandon
Port Orford
Rogue River
Crescent City
Eureka
Noyo River
Bodega Bay
Drakes Bay
San Francisco
Half Moon Bay
Santa Cruz
Monterrey
San Simeon
Morro Bay
San Luis Obisbo
Santa Barbara
... etc

and don't listen to those telling you the western Baja coast has no ports. I've stopped in good anchorages at 15 different locations in the four trips I've made up or down that coast.

You really need to do some research about the trip south.
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Old 08-08-2014, 14:02   #19
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Re: Distance Offshore?

One vital bit of knowledge is to know which of the harbors or anchorages are exposed to weather from which directions, and which harbor entrances are unsafe in which weather conditions. A few minutes of watching videos of the Columbia River bar in foul weather might make a good case for studying the coast pilot descriptions and other info for each port with close personal attention. And for getting going on the inside passage, skill in reading the tide and current tables would seem to be more than a casual need.

One question for locals in the know: How far out to sea are you likely to see deadhead logs in the Pacific NW?
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Old 08-08-2014, 21:19   #20
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Re: Distance Offshore?

Hot Springs Cove !

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Old 09-08-2014, 05:45   #21
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Re: Distance Offshore?

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Originally Posted by stubones99 View Post
How far offshore would we need to go to get smoother ocean? I know it depends on lots of factors, but often you can go where depth is over 200' depth and get a smoother ride than 100' depth.

Thanks!
To answer your question, here in the Gulf when it's rough out when I'm at work on a 300' offshore support vessel, I have found the seas get "gentler" and less choppy once you get past the shelf. I'm not sure where the shelf is on the west coast of North America, but in general the swells will be longer and flatter offshore of the shelf as opposed to being on the shelf along the coast. The current is stronger and the depth is shorter, both can cause the seas to pop up or back up. Take this advice for what it's worth, just one mariners experience.
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Old 09-08-2014, 07:57   #22
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Re: Distance Offshore?

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Hot Springs Cove !

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That was intended to be a response to TacomaSailor's list of safe harbors.
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Old 09-08-2014, 12:37   #23
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Re: Distance Offshore?

Get George Benson's Cruising the Northwest Coast. He cruised up and down the NorCal, Oregun and Washington coasts in a 27' sailboat anchoring almost every night. There are a lot of coves that are sheltered from the prevailing NW winds. Interesting reading in any case.
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Old 09-08-2014, 13:44   #24
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Re: Distance Offshore?

Passages north and south I've always stayed 50-100 miles offshore at an absolute minimum. Better between 100-250 miles out to get away from the welling action as the ocean hits the shallower water close to the coast. For the best wind travelling north from Mexico to Canada, 600 miles out has been most successful wind wise. Sea buoys are also placed out there so you can get an idea what the wave and wind action is.
Traveling close to the coast you have pleasure craft and fishing boats out to about 20-30 miles off shore, then cruise ships headed for Alaska out another 10 miles and out to 40 miles you will find the Alaska North Slope tanker traffic. So, pick you poison!
As several have noted above there are heaps of little spots to duck into to hide or just sightsee but you need to have some skills crossing bars from WA to Pt Conception.
There are many little hidy holes on the Mexican coast from Ensenada south if you check the charts and talk to a few of the cruisers who make the trip regularly. The only one I've had a problem with St Quantin north of Scammons Lagoon. The wind can swing around to more westerly from NW and trap you easily.
Lots of great advice above from experienced folks who have done many trips. Phil
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Old 10-08-2014, 15:49   #25
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Re: Distance Offshore?

I used to commercial fish off the US West Coast and have run between SE Alaska and about San Francisco. I also experienced that area on destroyers. I like to run about 25 miles off the coast, generally in more than 1000 fathoms. Although in AK & Canada I usually go inland for the scenery - ocean voyages are kind of booring. Prevailing wind and swells are mainly NW south of Cape Flattery. I have been caught in storms and still found it better offshore. When it's really bad I run with it. In my experience you're safer further out as far as debris. Logs, containers, etc.
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