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Old 31-10-2008, 16:17   #1
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Question Sailing from California to Alaska....Route, equipment, recommendations, tips, etc...

Any of you done it?

My husband and I are planning to sail our (new to us) 38' 1959 Herreshoff Ketch from California to Alaska next spring. I am new to sailboats but my husband has spent years on the oceans of the world.

I am interested in hearing about your experience. Good and bad...

Your recommendations, tips, things you might have learned the hard way?

Thanks in advance...
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Old 31-10-2008, 18:54   #2
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The only practical route is to sail to Hawaii first,otherwise you will be motoring most of the way, if even possible in spring.Not recommended.
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Old 31-10-2008, 20:12   #3
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Some truth to that. Late in the year, and motor at night is the best option. The winds can be severe in the mid day to afternoon, but usuall go calm in the evening. There are several places to jump in along the way. I would recommend you be prepared tp motor the whole way, which means spares for all your engine related systems.
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Old 02-11-2008, 14:19   #4
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Thanks for the info.

Would have loved the opportunity to read about some of your experiences.

.
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Old 03-11-2008, 03:54   #5
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Probably the best time to attempt it would be when the summer heat kicks in when winds are lighter in late July,early August.Motoring into the prevailing wind/current would not be pleasant otherwise.
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Old 03-11-2008, 14:47   #6
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Some slight disagreements, depending on your goals

If your goal is to get to Alaska as quickly as possible, spend a brief amount of time there, then by all means head off to Hawai'i, then north to Alaska. You can plot your trip to *arrive* in mid-July, giving you a few weeks of cruising before time to consider heading south/laying up ashore.

But if your goal is to have a long, leisurely trip with plenty of adventure... my suggestion is to go the inside passage. This means aiming for the Juan de Fuca Strait, meandering up through Georgia Strait, Desolation Sound, the Jungles, Queen Charlotte Strait, Hecate, and so on. Some of the fjords on BC's north shore are stunning, not to be missed if you have the opportunity, and you can lay your boat up at the end of the season in Port Hardy or liveaboard along the north shore to catch an early inside trip up to Alaska, arriving with plenty of time to gunkhole through the region.

It all depends on how laid back your cruising is. Some people have been on their way to Alaska for 3-4 years... others commute seasonally.
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Old 06-11-2008, 00:28   #7
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We bought S/V ORCA in the SF Bay area. Our intention is to sail (or motor) her home to Kachemac bay, off Cook Inlet in Alaska. Unfortunately we will have to do this trip as quickly as safely possible.

My husband David is flying to SF Bay area for a couple of weeks on Thanksgiving. First week in December, we are re-powering ORCA with a new BETA 38 engine. While David is there, she will be hauled out for a survey, nice shiny new prop, and a transducer.

Once spring comes and it is safe to sail to Alaska, well get her home and start bringing her back to her full beauty.

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Old 06-11-2008, 06:12   #8
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Speed/economics factor

I do not know what the rates are to truck to Alaska. However, it's dramatically cheaper/faster to get the boat to the San Juans by truck than it is to sail there.

Even if it's outrageous to truck beyond Seattle, it will almost certainly be worth your time and money to truck to there, and sail up the inside passage to Alaska.
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Old 06-11-2008, 07:05   #9
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From San Francisco to Cook Inlet, direct, is about 2100 miles dead to weather with typical wind speeds in the 15 to 25 knt range. In addition to unfavorable wind, the California Current runs southerly along the coast out to a distance of about 300+ miles at an average rate of 2+ knts, widening off the coast of Oregon and merging with the easterly flowing North Pacific Drift ("NPD"), which is an extension of the Kuro Shiro Current. Given the foregoing, an off-shore passage is unlikely to allow you a CMG of better than 300* until you get to the inner face of the Pacific High, at around 135 W, which, because of the NPD you'll have to motor through another 1,000 miles or so to about 150 W to be able to lay a course to Cook Inlet. By the time you're done with it, you'd cover roughly 2,600 miles at a VMG of maybe 5 knots, assuming you aren't held up by any fronts which is unlikely. That's a 21 day passage without delays in a new-to-you boat through some famously nasty sea.

You can "coast" the boat north in hops although the trip from San Franciso to San Juan de Fuca Strait is a stone bit_h with few stopping places and lots'n lots of fog.

In view of the foregoing, if it were me I'd truck the boat to Bellingham, re-rig and take the inside route at least to the Queen Charlotte Islands, then wait for a weather window and when one opens up, cut through Dixon Entrance and head for Port Walter on the east side of Baranof Island. From there you can again stay inside at least as far as Cross Sound. From there to Kachamak Bay is about 800 miles across the Gulf of Alaska but you've got the Alaska Current in your favor; and, once you pass Cape St. Elias, lots of places to run into if necessary.

No matter how you do it, it's a long trip.

FWIW...

s/v HyLyte
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Old 06-11-2008, 08:38   #10
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We checked into trucking and barging her. Lowest bid was $18.000.00
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Old 06-11-2008, 09:12   #11
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For $18000.you could spend winter in Mexico,sail leisurely to Hawaii in May then onto Alaska in June ,barely using your engine.Sail NE pacific in summer only.Check out pilot charts.
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Old 06-11-2008, 09:52   #12
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$18k sounds like an overland delivery to Alaska.

I've submitted a couple requests for Bellingham/Victoria/Seattle, though I don't know if I will get replies 'cuz I'm pretty vague about the details of your boat. I expect the cost will be less than 10k.

Do not assume that sailing the boat from SF to Alaska would cost less than that. When you take into account everything from gear upgrades to food to wear-and-tear, it will likely be more than that. To get a new-to-you boat ready for cruising is often 25% of the purchase cost; more if you're getting a "great deal".
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:03   #13
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Assuming that you will want to be home by August, if it were me I would have the boat trucked (boat movers are hurting, should be able to neg. a fair price) up to WA and head north in May. If that won't work ($$) then I would plan to leave SF no earlier than mid May and motor up to JDFuca then cut into the inside and go on up. You'll have to plan your fuel usage carefully for the trip up the coast.

Fair Winds, John
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:12   #14
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UShip estimator

The Uship estimator thinks it should be about $3600.39 to ship a 39' sailboat to Bellingham from San Francisco. Which might be a touch lower than your actual quotes.

And you'd still have a fun trip up the inside passage.
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:14   #15
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Aloha Spin,
It will be about a 3 week transit to Hawaii from SF at the most. It will be another 3 to four weeks to Alaska from there. Make certain you have a good dodger, a windvane for steering and GPS for navigation and lots of food for the trip. Also make certain the boat is in seaworthy condition and has good bottom paint.
If the boat has not been sailed hard for quite some time expect the seams to leak a bit until the wood swells back up. It really happens a lot with wood boats so have some good bilge pumps aboard.
I would recommend you start for Hawaii in late May and start for Alaska in late June.
Sometimes the adventure is in the journey and not the destination.
Kind regards,
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