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Old 16-01-2017, 08:58   #16
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

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Originally Posted by alctel View Post
Having said that, that's once you GET here. Actually going up the OR/WA coast I wouldn't do until the spring/summer - it gets pretty knarly.
We have always used our sailboats year round whether on the Columbia River or the sound.. You can have south puget sound to your self from fall until spring.
Even Summers are not very crowded.
OP wants to take a Ericsson 27 north, yes you can do that trip but mother nature will have a big say in when you can go.
I have done the trip from Columbia bar to cape Flattery in 22 hours, up to 50 hours. Same boat, which do you think was more fun?

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Old 16-01-2017, 09:12   #17
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

As someone said, internet advice is hard to assess - you have no idea of the experience level of any of us.

So here's my suggestion. Get historical data for Feb, Mar, April. The last two years have been very consistent - hard gales for 3-5 days , blows 2 days average, lays down for 3-7 days. This year is entirely different. Bitter, life threatening cold but many fewer gales. But then again I am at your destination so how far south these patterns extend I never really researched.

NOAA and SailFlow and Windyty - the only way I absorb stuff is if I do my own research.

By the way, it's pure beauty up here - you'll love the islands.
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Old 16-01-2017, 09:24   #18
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

The smallest boat that I have done this in was a Cal 2-29. About your size and well found. As a younger man I disregarded small craft warnings and crossed the bar heading north. Soon we were in 18' seas and 45 kt winds. To our good luck the winds were from the south and we were surfing at 15 kts. The Coast Guard was looking for a sunk 50' fishing vessel. This was in Late June.

Thew point being that weather happens so pick your weather carefully. If you are going on a window be sure that the good weather lasts long enough.

The trip north from Portland can be divided into 3 stages.

Stage 1 - PDX to Astoria. 2 days, I usually get to Astoria and fuel up then get everyone fully fed and rested.

Stage 2 - Astoria to Neah Bay. In your sized boat you should expect to have your VMG come in at about 5 kts. There is a current and the winds are from the NW in the summer (stable weather months). The Columbia Bar to Cape Flattery distance is around 143 nm so expect to spend 28 hours on the ocean plus bar crossing times plus the 10 or so miles to Neah Bay. Say 35 hours...

Crossing the Bar - I've seen it as smooth as glass and then again I've wanted to poop my pants. Do not underestimate the Bar (I'm sure you know that). I set my departure such that I am at the bar during or just before slack and such that I arrive off Cape Flattery in Daylight.

I've never pulled into La Push or the few other harbors along the way. Always going in one push.

Do consider if the weather allows using Hole in the Wall. This channel between Tatoosh Is and the mainland can take a few hours off the trip. Hole in the wall is sheltered from the NW swell and in a matter of minutes you can go from the Pacific to the Straits with no fuss. There is a rock in the center so stay north roughly halfway between the rock and Tatoosh Is.

Once in Neah bay we fuel up and get a good nights sleep.

Stage 3 is the trip from Neah Bay to Anacortes where I usually drop off or pick up crew. Of course you can co directly to the San Juans.

I usually pick a departure date for the whole trip based on the tide tables around Race Rocks. I am looking for there to be a flood current around Race Rocks in the afternoon. Thus with an early morning departure from Neah Bay you could troll for Salmon. Then as the winds build from the NW you can start surfing on the swells and as you reach Race Rocks you could be doing boat speed plus 5 kt current. If you are surfing you could hit 20 kt VMG which puts you a long way to your goal.

If you are heading for the San Juan Channel remember to be sure of the currents. The Ebb out of there really flys. If you are heading for Anacortes then there is less of a worry.

---------

I gave this description to show that there is more to it than picking when to depart at least for me. And as I said I am sure that you know all this so I am really only saying what i do.

To answer your question - I generally count the winter month out due to sea state and storms, and the cold.

Stable weather can run from May to October with fog also common at the beginning and end (well anytime).

I usually plan on heading north after the 1st week of July (it almost always rains on the 4th). I have gone in June a few times but pay a lot of attention to how good the weather predictions have been. Sometimes they nail it on the head and other times they cannot find their own socks.

Regards

PS the National Data Buoy Center is your friend: http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/
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Old 16-01-2017, 09:29   #19
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

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I am planning a trip from portland to the San Juan Islands and wanting information and preferable months to leave weather permitting.
The Oregon Offshore (Astoria to Victoria, BC) goes in early May.

Friends have entered. Say it was a pleasant sail.
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Old 16-01-2017, 09:48   #20
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

The 1st step in crossing the Bar at Astoria.
The guy in the slip next to me spent 8 days in Astoria last Summer waiting for the surf to die down so he could get out into the Pacific. He gave up and came home.
The next step is the 24 hr run up the coast to Port Townsend. Need crew for watches.
Watch the weather closely. Got caught in a Summer storm off the coast one summer on a 175' ship. Took green water over the bridge, 36' above the waterline for 4 days while we held a course into the wind and waves ,, our only option.

After that its a cake walk.

Love the San Juans ,,, you will have a Wonder Full time.
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Old 16-01-2017, 10:01   #21
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

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The Oregon Offshore (Astoria to Victoria, BC) goes in early May.

Friends have entered. Say it was a pleasant sail.
I've also got a few friends who have done the Oregon Offshore multiple times. As you might expect, the conditions can vary significantly, from easy to brutal.
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Old 16-01-2017, 10:22   #22
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

I used to make that trip twice a week, Portland to Texada (north part of Vancouver island) Towing a 400 ft barge loaded with granite. 6 day round trip including loading and discharging. You can find great days in just about any month.

If you look at the systems either on WINDYTV or WUNDERGROUND. You will see low after low sucking up into the gulf of Alaska. When these lows are tracking more NNE you usually have a pretty good window for going north, when they are tracking more ENE or Easterly, it can give you a bit of excitement. If a high happens to be hanging around west or SW or in the gulf it can give you up to a week of calm to light nrlys.

Just a few thoughts, that you might consider:

Coming out of the Columbia, (hopefully on the ebb) you can head north just past North Jetty as there is plenty of water for small boats, (around 5 fath as I recall) and it is a pretty easy run north, Lots of crab pots and crabbers out there but they pose no problem to you. If you stay about 10 miles offshore the swell is less.

When you are 10 or 15 miles south cape Flattery give Tofino radio a call on VHF CH 74 They are Canada VTS and will let you know any traffic heading your way, also will warn ships about you. You do not have to talk to them, but they are never very busy and always nice folks. They hand you off (if you wish) to Seattle Traffic once you enter the straits.

It is probably tempting to cut in right around Tatoosh island, but a lot of current there and I would advise holding a northerly heading and rounding the number 2 buoy at Duntz rock as it is only a mile more and clear water.

If you happen to catch the current wrong as you enter the straits, it is worth it to anchor in Neah bay and wait for a push.

Good luck and have a good trip.

M
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Old 16-01-2017, 12:29   #23
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

I have made the passage up a dozen times or so between may 15 and may 25.
make your way down river and rest up in Astoria and wait for a good weather window. the bar crossing can be brutal so cross it right ! you may have to turn back and wait another day. I head out and make the run nonstop to Neah bay except for for one trip I did a layover in Grays Harbor. going in there at night was not fun !
I like to stay out past the hundred fathom line. It can get very rough on that portion of the coast. The guys that go up for the swift sure race get beat up frequently.
it is a fun trip ! Go for it !
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Old 16-01-2017, 15:23   #24
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

Contrary to the naysayers I think you have got pretty good advice here (so far at least). If you are going north for the summer then you might consider sailing there, but if you only have a few weeks then consider a trailer or even a short haul from Kalama to Olympia. It is not all that unusual for sailors to blow their entire vacations just trying to get there, or get there and not be able to get back inside the schedule. If the weather gods smile upon you (and you make your plans with consideration for the tides) it will be a quick, easy trip. OTOH if not you could be screwed. Count on being very cold at night off the coast, even in July and August, so take very warm clothing and sufficient high-energy foods.

Gray's Harbor (Westport) is a fine stop if needed - best approached at slack. La Push could work for your boat if you get in before bad weather (narrow entrance and small, shallow harbor). Neah Bay is a very good passage anchorage, or use the tribal marina, but otherwise not much reason to stop. Port Angeles also has an anchorage and a marina, but if there is enough daylight I would continue on to either Port Townsend or into the San Juans or Anacortes. Take your passports so that Canada will be an option - it is a better destination IMHO (but it is all good).

Fair winds,

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Old 17-01-2017, 02:24   #25
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

End of May and you can still get beat up. Look for good weather window. Cape Flattery and Columbia Bar can be brutal. Talk to the people who do the Astoria to Victoria race. Almost died in those areas a couple of times. Saw a couple of people die near buoy 10 once. Be careful.
Think about trucking it up.
You can also get lucky and have a smooth trip. Luck of the draw.
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Old 17-01-2017, 20:17   #26
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

Last time I did this, I set off from Columbia bar, Buoy#7, as I recall, and headed for Barkley Sound. We had 45-50 knot winds, from the SW. Our ride was quite good though the waves were higher, the pitch was longer, than staying on the 50 fathom line, as a lot of others do. (We heard them chattering and asking the coast guard to let them come in over the Westport Bar.) We also didn't have to deal with the fishing fleets, which tend to hang around closer in. Once we got to about La Push, we gibed over to Cape Flattery and the Strait.
I'd suggest you wait until May, then watch the incoming systems for a nice SW to take you up north.
Be prudent, you'll have a great trip.
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Old 17-01-2017, 20:33   #27
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

I sailed from Portland to Seattle in April and was a tad too early. I had 30 knot winds in my face and had to tuck into Westport along with all the fishing boats for a day. May would have been better when the winds mostly turn to the southerlies.
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Old 17-01-2017, 22:30   #28
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

I agree with all of those who are advising May. April it might be possible it also might not.
I brought my boat up from Portland through the San Juans to Pt Roberts. At the beginning of June I just didn't have time in May.
May you have a good chance of a favourable wind.
The Current will be against you.
If you have a good wind it will probably SE or SW and be wet. If you have nice weather the wind is likely to be NW right on the nose. Which is what I had.
Nice weather wind on the nose coming down the river.

When ready I set of from Portland in the afternoon and went down river to St Helens.
Set of From St Helens next AM it was still a long day motoring down the river to Astoria. We Arrived after the Fuel dock had closed at 1800. Cold and tiered. The last couple of hours had been a long hard slog right into the wind.
Nice restaurant for a burger on the waterfront near the Mariana. Met a couple of other boats heading North.
Next AM had to wait for fuel dock to open at 0900.
Crossed the bar on the flood. Other boats left around 6 or 7.
Motored out across the bar and Put the sails up and light drizzle SE 10 to 15 knots.
Lasted till about noon, sky cleared wind veered to NW 25 to 30.
By midnight we were just passed Greys Harbor.
When we came in close to shore crab pots every where. so we stayed well out all night.
By early afternoon we still had long way to go. So I started the Motor.
Motored all the rest of the way up round Cape Flattery to Neah Bay.
Arrived about 0200.
Got some sleep had lunch fueled up and headed for Roche harbour. With the wind behind us. arrive Roche harbour about 0600.
The folks at Neah bay were very nice. Saw the other two boats in Neah Bay they had motored all the way up.
The stretch from Astoria to Neah bay is a long one. I had only one crew we were both exhausted.
If I do it again I will want a 3rd.

It was a beautiful trip. We really enjoyed it. The run down the River spectacular.
I was limited by time.
If I had more time I might have planned a stop at Greys Harbor.
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Old 18-01-2017, 10:21   #29
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Re: Portland to San Juans When to depart?

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Originally Posted by redhead View Post

1. - you have no idea of the experience level of any of us.

2. So here's my suggestion. Get historical data for Feb, Mar, April. The last two years have been very consistent - hard gales for 3-5 days , blows 2 days average, lays down for 3-7 days. This year is entirely different. Bitter, life threatening cold but many fewer gales. But then again I am at your destination so how far south these patterns extend I never really researched.

3. NOAA and SailFlow and Windyty - the only way I absorb stuff is if I do my own research.

4. By the way, it's pure beauty up here - you'll love the islands.
1. Many of us told him what our experiences have been.

2. Very good advice.

3. Add Passage Weather to that list.

4. Yup.

Also consider going to Ilwaco instead of leaving from Astoria.
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