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Old 30-10-2019, 19:58   #1
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Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

Any experiences going to the west coast in Jan from Hawaii?
Boat is a 50 ft tri and can cruise over 10kts
Weather routing with polars and average/most likely climatology data is calling it at 11/12 days, 30% upwind pretty much a straight shot over to SF.

Wanted to get a sense of the winter conditions and at what latitude folks would generally recommend going up to, to stay above the high. If the high is weak maybe a route to San Diego or Ensenada could be more convenient? Also how quickly do storms typically develop. I see on the pilot charts on a direct track to SF there are around 3% gales observed. Going North and that % goes up quickly.

Thanks
Ryan
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Old 30-10-2019, 22:17   #2
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

January? Are you f'en nuts? This is one of the toughest long passages that recreational yachts routinely do, and you are doing at the worst possible time of year.

This is the very opposite of picking a good weather window, this is picking the WORST possible time for the trip and begging the sea to spare you. OK, maybe February would be worse, but not much.

You'll not be worried about the high, but rather about the huge storms dropping down out of the Bering Sea. I'd rather dodge hurricanes, they are small and can be avoided. The North Pacific gales cover half the ocean. You can't avoid them.

Wait until April, May is better.

Look at the pilot charts for the percentage of gales at the latitude of SF. You'll be at sea for 15 days +/-, way out past any useful forecast. You'll have to take what you get, and it will be nasty.

Some of the worst of the weather will be as you approach the coast. You won't be done until you get inside the Farallons, or maybe even inside the Golden Gate.

If you do this, be prepared for winds of over 50 knots, and seas of 20 feet.

Let me give you a "sense of the winter conditions" off the west coast of North America: TERRIBLE! Seriously, TERRIBLE. As in "inspires terror".

Are you catching my theme here? If you think I am trying to discourage you, you are right!

I am sure someone will chime in here and tell you I am a paranoid old man and it will be a cakewalk. But being paranoid about bad weather is what let me get to be an old sailor.
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Old 30-10-2019, 22:44   #3
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

Appreciate your frankness on the subject. not my preferred course but do have some time constraints.

If I average around 7.5kts, quite doable on this boat, motor sailing when necessary, should be able to do in around 12 days or less.
7-day forecast can accurately predict the weather about 80% of the time, 5-day 90%, 10-day 50%

Figured if the forecast starts to show a storm developing up north over the first 4 days or so I could start to head for a more southern port or turn back.


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Originally Posted by billknny View Post
January? Are you f'en nuts? This is one of the toughest long passages that recreational yachts routinely do, and you are doing at the worst possible time of year.

This is the very opposite of picking a good weather window, this is picking the WORST possible time for the trip and begging the sea to spare you. OK, maybe February would be worse, but not much.

You'll not be worried about the high, but rather about the huge storms dropping down out of the Bering Sea. I'd rather dodge hurricanes, they are small and can be avoided. The North Pacific gales cover half the ocean. You can't avoid them.

Wait until April, May is better.

Look at the pilot charts for the percentage of gales at the latitude of SF. You'll be at sea for 15 days +/-, way out past any useful forecast. You'll have to take what you get, and it will be nasty.

Some of the worst of the weather will be as you approach the coast. You won't be done until you get inside the Farallons, or maybe even inside the Golden Gate.

If you do this, be prepared for winds of over 50 knots, and seas of 20 feet.

Let me give you a "sense of the winter conditions" off the west coast of North America: TERRIBLE! Seriously, TERRIBLE. As in "inspires terror".

Are you catching my theme here? If you think I am trying to discourage you, you are right!

I am sure someone will chime in here and tell you I am a paranoid old man and it will be a cakewalk. But being paranoid about bad weather is what let me get to be an old sailor.
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Old 30-10-2019, 23:03   #4
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

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Originally Posted by ryantrollip View Post
Appreciate your frankness on the subject. not my preferred course but do have some time constraints.

If I average around 7.5kts, quite doable on this boat, motor sailing when necessary, should be able to do in around 12 days or less.
7-day forecast can accurately predict the weather about 80% of the time, 5-day 90%, 10-day 50%

Figured if the forecast starts to show a storm developing up north over the first 4 days or so I could start to head for a more southern port or turn back.
So, like so many here, the only answers you will accept are the ones you want to hear.

Good luck.
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Old 30-10-2019, 23:09   #5
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

I laid out my rational, was hoping you would punch holes in it
Mostly agree with you it's the worst time of year
But there does seem to be enough of a forecast window to make a run for it, unless I'm missing something?
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Old 30-10-2019, 23:35   #6
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

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Originally Posted by ryantrollip View Post
I laid out my rational, was hoping you would punch holes in it
Mostly agree with you it's the worst time of year
But there does seem to be enough of a forecast window to make a run for it, unless I'm missing something?
I'm no expert but he did punch holes in it. You'll be fully committed with nowhere to hide and outside of your forecast window halfway into the trip. You could get clobbered right up to the point where you tie up, so you'll be exposed for quite a long time & unable to outrun the gales coming out of the north.

I'm not sure where the 80% accuracy of a 7-day forecast comes from, but it's never the 80% you're worried about... Russian roulette is perfectly safe 83% of the time.
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Old 30-10-2019, 23:51   #7
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

I wouldn't do it either

You might be fine, but the chances of not being so are way way higher than I'd want to risk

If you get caught as you are approaching the coast, it's a lee shore with nowhere to run
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Old 31-10-2019, 00:45   #8
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryantrollip View Post
Appreciate your frankness on the subject. not my preferred course but do have some time constraints.

If I average around 7.5kts, quite doable on this boat, motor sailing when necessary, should be able to do in around 12 days or less.
7-day forecast can accurately predict the weather about 80% of the time, 5-day 90%, 10-day 50%

Figured if the forecast starts to show a storm developing up north over the first 4 days or so I could start to head for a more southern port or turn back.
This is a truly crazy statement. Your percentages are wildly high. Even if they were near correct, the weather as you approach land would be a crap shoot that time of year.
Do a search on Kalarin on this site. They were within 180 miles of finishing an east-about circumnavigation with the last leg being Hawaii to the Straits of Juan de Fuca when a low caught them and they took helo ride to shore.
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Old 31-10-2019, 00:49   #9
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

A guy did the sail a few years back in a mid 30' mono from Hilo to San Diego. He started a similar thread to this one here so searching the archives may turn something up. Believe he went under the high or the high had completely broken down and been replaced with mild low pressure system. He had a relatively pleasant fast voyage. He used a weather routing service and waited for quite some time for the go signal. They finally gave him a very short time window, like 24 hours, to leave Hilo and he took it. Most would say he got lucky.

Interestingly, I was following the thread here so was familiar with his voyage. Later in the year hanging out at the SSCA booth at the In the Water Boat Show in Oakland people were talking about late season passage from the Islands and the guy piped in that he'd just made the sail and was the guy who'd started the earlier thread. He had some overpowering reason to get the boat back to the west coast, maybe a women involved.

As far as advice, if you are going to do it, take plenty of warm clothes. Made the sail the other way in July and froze my butt off for 11 days of the 15 day passage.
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Old 31-10-2019, 08:47   #10
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

Billknny , Junglebike & alctel, Point taken, 7-days it’s not much better odds than Russian roulette!! Although a negative result is not as definitive. It all comes down to attitude toward risk and risks are what I’m starting to get a sense of. All of your replies/comments have been helpful for this, thanks! I do agree with the “you’re crazy” opinions, but in context, I wouldn’t consider it in a slower boat, especially a smaller boat that wasn’t designed to handle a knock-down. i.e. coastal cruiser mono or a condomaran. Those weather numbers are based on noaa stats, I did not validate how they arrived at those, but I assume they know what they are doing.

The vessel capabilities however make a large impact to this Risk calc. In terms of the window exposed for, and ability to handle a storm if encountered/disabled. i.e. a 30 foot mono will average what 5kts? That’s 17 days vs 11 days at 7.5kts a very big difference in exposure. i.e. you would only reach 80% certainty 10 days out vs 4 days. Also, the mono’s, hull speed (theoretical top speed) is low (there are other advantages to a mono not saying one is better) maybe 6/7? If the wind kicks up, I can clip along 10-15kts on a beam/broad reach and knock out a ~300 mi days. 30 ft beam means I only have to really worry if in breaking waves with ~45 ft seas. (roughly based on coastguard breaking wave tests) Ice bergs are another story though

Roverhi, thanks that’s extremely helpful, I’ll search for those posts. I do intend to use a weather service and try to exercise some patients waiting for a window. Waiting for the high to break down and shooting for a southern port is a very intriguing idea! I’ll consult a weather service and find out more about the frequency of that.

The boat is in French Polynesia, destination Panama canal. Not at all decided on this Hawaii winter route just doing some research on options at this point, it’s either this or south via Easter island to Ecuador. The southern pacific route has risks of its own e.g. minimal repair facilities along the way and much more upwind sailing.
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Old 31-10-2019, 09:10   #11
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

Quote:
Originally Posted by billknny View Post
January? Are you f'en nuts? This is one of the toughest long passages that recreational yachts routinely do, and you are doing at the worst possible time of year.

I tend to agree. I live in the SF Bay Area so Iím aware of the off-shore situations during that time of year. Iíve also done the return to the West Coast twice, once to Victoria, once to SF. I did it during whatís considered the best time, mid to late summer. Both times we encountered weather. The SF one was very ďNauticalĒ for 36 hours as we approached the coast. 50+ knots, 20í+ cross-swell with breakers. Lots of water in the cockpit and 1 knock-down that took the starboard half of the dodger canvas off and pulled the stainless loose.

That said, youíll more than likely be fine...possibly a bit uncomfortable for part of the trip, but we donít hear of too many boats being lost.

Good luck.
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Old 31-10-2019, 09:38   #12
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

correction I meant 20ft breaking waves not 45 ft
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Old 31-10-2019, 09:42   #13
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

50+ knots and 20' cross-swell doesn't sound fun at all.
Thanks, good info, pretty ominous

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I tend to agree. I live in the SF Bay Area so Iím aware of the off-shore situations during that time of year. Iíve also done the return to the West Coast twice, once to Victoria, once to SF. I did it during whatís considered the best time, mid to late summer. Both times we encountered weather. The SF one was very ďNauticalĒ for 36 hours as we approached the coast. 50+ knots, 20í+ cross-swell with breakers. Lots of water in the cockpit and 1 knock-down that took the starboard half of the dodger canvas off and pulled the stainless loose.

That said, youíll more than likely be fine...possibly a bit uncomfortable for part of the trip, but we donít hear of too many boats being lost.

Good luck.
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Old 31-10-2019, 10:22   #14
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

Ya know it doesn't reaLLy bother me when fools perish ( I have pulled a few from the water ) as a result of imprudent choices and decisions , after aLL I am a STRONG proponent of Darwin's theories !!! I DO however take issue when those who recklessly place others lives in peril who are sent to rescue them from their poor planning and judgement !!!

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Old 31-10-2019, 10:31   #15
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Re: Hawaii to West Coast in Jan?

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Originally Posted by ryantrollip View Post
I laid out my rational, was hoping you would punch holes in it
Mostly agree with you it's the worst time of year
But there does seem to be enough of a forecast window to make a run for it, unless I'm missing something?
Bay Area resident here, been watching the winter weather reports for offshore and coast many years. You will probably be OK but "probably" would not be good enough for me, personally. If it gets bad out there, it gets very, very bad.

The problem is that you will "probably" be OK, then the next guy who reads about your uneventful winter trip will think it's OK to do the same. Sooner or later the CG will need to risk lives to save someone. It happens regularly out here.
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