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Old 07-08-2014, 10:46   #1
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Distance Offshore?

I have a general question about following the coastline offshore and how it changes the boat ride?

The planned route would be from southern AK down the west coast, stopping as necessary at available ports...

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!
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Old 07-08-2014, 15:52   #2
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Re: Distance offshore?

If the wind blows off the shore you get smooth water inshore.

If the wind blows onshore, if the water shallows slowly, there is little difference, but if the coast is very steep, then until some distance offshore you will find waves bounced back from the coast. Not nice.

If you are sailing, you have the choice of either staying inshore and using the breezes or else staying well offshore (hundreds of miles at times) to stay in clean and stable flow.

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Old 07-08-2014, 16:55   #3
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Re: Distance offshore?

There is no fixed answer to your question. As you understand, there are a lot of variables. Many of which, as posted, depend upon variable weather conditions.

Currents can have a signicant effect on sea state too, regardless of distance offshore.

Bottom features/contours as well.

There are seasonal variations in many locations too.

Local knowledge of a given area can be very useful in make some generalizations about sea state. Hopefully folks who know parts of your intended route will contribute.
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Old 07-08-2014, 17:02   #4
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Re: Distance offshore?

Sailing the North Pacific passage southward requires consideration of more than comfort relative to sea state. Most important is an understanding weather can deteriorate remarkably in a relatively brief period of time. Having said that, most ports between Neah Bay, Washington and San Francisco have shoal entrances. These entrances can become cauldrons of steep, standing waves in adverse conditions. Consequently they are subject to closure.

So, where you sail relative to the coast line depends on the reliability and certainty of weather forecasts. If uncertain it is prudent to sail as far off shore as necessary to avoid being blown onto the coast when conditions require you to heave to. So, estimating your speed and direction of travel in a worst case scenario will suggest how far out, with a good margin of safety, you should go. Rule is though, the waves are larger and wind stronger the farther out you are.
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Old 07-08-2014, 18:36   #5
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Re: Distance offshore?

When are you planning to go?

First step might be to look at the pilot charts for North Pacific for you month of journey. Then look at preferred routes.

I am sure plenty of our memebers have done this trip.

Atlas of Pilot Charts for the Major Oceans of the World
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Old 07-08-2014, 19:17   #6
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Re: Distance offshore?

There's some good info here about WA to N California:

George M. Benson | Racer – Author – Sailor

Poke around here, too:

http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/m...index-eng.html

There are many guides published about the PNW cruising stuff, too.
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Old 07-08-2014, 20:31   #7
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Re: Distance offshore?

On the west side of Vancouver Island I have found that 100 m (300 feet) is smoother than 100 feet in a NW (prevailing) wind. I cannot speak for the rest if the coast.

You could come down on the inside.

Remember to clear Customs and Immigration when comong into Canada. That is not always easy.
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Old 07-08-2014, 21:17   #8
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Re: Distance offshore?

If you stay in sight of land you'll never get out far enough. 200' will not be much different then 100' here on the west coast.

If you stay out past the underwater shelf and underwater mountains it's as good as it gets considering weather. And stay out from the major river outlets like the Columbia or the Mindocino Canyon. Anytime you go past a point on the shore give it plenty of berth.

Check out the charts and even look at the undersea of google earth, and you'll see the shelf runs an average of about 30 to 60 miles offshore here on the west coast.

BTW it's a much easier trip going south here on the west coast. Oregon being the worst IMO. And it bad weather a lot of the bar crossings are closed. I just went straight down from the Puget Sound to SF Bay with only one stop in Crescent City.
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Old 07-08-2014, 22:42   #9
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Re: Distance offshore?

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.
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Old 07-08-2014, 23:03   #10
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Re: Distance offshore?

If the weather is foggy, sea conditions are more benign. The opposite is true. Leastwise my experience in cruise ships.

If dared to take a small boat, I'd stay well away from the coast. Regardless, get a cruising guide and consider the expert's advice. But then, nothing is certain.



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Old 07-08-2014, 23:08   #11
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Re: Distance offshore?

Without knowing what boat with which gear in what condition, what crew, what season, and whether the original poster has offshore experience, it might be hard to give accurate advice.
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Old 08-08-2014, 00:50   #12
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Re: Distance offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgscpat View Post
Without knowing what boat with which gear in what condition, what crew, what season, and whether the original poster has offshore experience, it might be hard to give accurate advice.
From the question, I guessing a power boat of some kind. But we'll never know with just 1 post.
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Old 08-08-2014, 02:47   #13
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Re: Distance offshore?

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Originally Posted by rgscpat View Post
Without knowing what boat with which gear in what condition, what crew, what season, and whether the original poster has offshore experience, it might be hard to give accurate advice.
Well said! My concern - no slam at the OP - is that it doesn't appear that he has any knowledge of weather, sea state and passage making resources.
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Old 08-08-2014, 02:55   #14
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Re: Distance offshore?

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Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
From the question, I guessing a power boat of some kind. But we'll never know with just 1 post.
Well, if it's a jet ski, isn't it required to stay in the middle of the "traffic separation lanes" traveling in a direction facing toward the arrows on the chart? Otherwise, I think jet skis should travel at least 100 miles offshore to get smoother water (shouldn't be a problem to strap a few jerry jugs on board).
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Old 08-08-2014, 07:34   #15
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Re: Distance offshore?

Sorry for the lack of info.

The boat will be about 65' with two JD engines and plenty of fuel and hopefully enough food priorities.

We will either ship it back to FL, or take 6 months off to bring it back to FL, using a skipper for the first half or so, until I am fully acclimated to the boat. West coast of the US is quite different from the east coast, where we can duck into a protected cove in bad weather and wait it out... Not many good coves on the way south, from WA to Baja it seems.

Thanks!
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