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Old 19-03-2015, 10:19   #1
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How do you decide where and when?

I am the new owner of 1983 Sabre 34, draft 5.5'. She is currently up the Cape Fear River in NC, and I have a paid for slip through May.
I should be out there early-mid April to work on refitting and provisioning and getting to know her better.

High on the list is learning to heave to for breaks and heavy weather, and see how she handles. (Would love suggestions from those who heave-to on fin-keeled boats, the Sabre 34 in particular, and what sails you bend on in what conditions).

My other concern is where to go. I am recently retired, have a bluewater experienced pal who wants to sail with me. But to where? and when?

I have a plan to meet my kids in Havre de Grace for a weekend on the Chesapeake and then Philly for the Tall Ships, late June. And from there? Seems like sailing up the coast would be a good summertime adventure, and would like to go as far as Fundy Bay, and maybe Nova Scotia or even Newfoundland (seems ambitious). I have ordered pilot charts in addition to Nav charts. And will get my electronics on - especially autopilot.

For those with unlimited time, What informs your thinking about where to go and when? Pick a destination and await favorable winds and currents? Pick favorable winds and currents and pick a destination? How do you decide? What resources do you use in your decision making?

Laura Jane
s/v Artemis
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Old 19-03-2015, 11:34   #2
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Re: How do you decide where and when?

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Originally Posted by LauraJane View Post
For those with unlimited time, What informs your thinking about where to go and when? Pick a destination and await favorable winds and currents? Pick favorable winds and currents and pick a destination? How do you decide? What resources do you use in your decision making?
When we left Puget Sound in late August 2001 my wife and I were if very similar life state. Caliber 40 cutter, unlimited time, and no commitments to anyone.

On our trip to San Diego we spent 42 days covering 1,200 miles. We stopped in 17-different harbors going down the coast. Our criteria for when to leave port was:
- no fog
- forecast winds aft of 60 degrees apparent and less than 30 knots
- had we seen the sights we want to see in that port?

Our criteria for stopping were:
- easy bar to cross on the entry
- were we tired of sailing?
- was there a transient slip available?
- had the beer store on the boat been exhausted?
- has the weather forecast turned ominous?

The same thing happened when we left San Diego headed for La Paz (my 2nd time down that coast). We used 28 days to cover the 950 miles that most folks do in less than 14. We stopped at six different anchorages because we wanted to explore the coast, watch the surfers, visit friends that we found out were in the anchorage, we had an unexpected 12-hour gale that tired us out.

In April while in La Paz, BCS, Mexico we wanted to sail SE to Barra de Navidad, which was 550 NM across the Eastern Pacific. Normally, the April winds are out of the NW to NE and blow 10 -20 knots most days. We anticipated a nice reach and run to Barra.

The first day was a SE wind so we sailed (close and comfortable reach) up to our favorite anchorage on Espiritu Santos island. The next day was still a SE wind so we sailed downwind to our favorite anchorage on Isla San Francisco. The next day was still SE winds so we snorkeled and fished.

And so it went - the NW to NE winds never materialized and we sailed on reach or run every day, ending up in Santa Rosalia - 440 miles to the NW of where we started and 1,000 miles from where we planned to be. But, it was ALL off the wind sailing in beautiful islands and coastlines.

During our four-year 6,000 mile cruise we sailed up wind for fewer than 20-hours. We always picked an easy destination, or delayed our departure, or just did not go if the winds were adverse.

While sailing in the Sea of Cortez during the three years we spent there and made lots of very good friends, one of the primary determinants of where to go and when to go was "who is where and how is the fishing?"

We all talked on the VHF or HAM/SSB radio a couple times a day. Frequently someone would announce:
- good fishing
- clear water
- cribbage tournament
- extra large scallops

at a particular anchorage and within a few days there would appear four or six boats for an impromptu rendezvous.

We left Mazatlan to cross the South Sea of Cortez, a 48-hour 250 NM trip, headed for La Paz but in the morning of the 2nd day we got a radio call from friends in Aqua Verde, about 120 NM north of La Paz, so we diverted to there to visit with friends we had not seen in six-months.

And... so it goes when you have no plans and no need to be anywhere. You go where there is good weather, or friends, or fishing, or you are curious.

Our decision making resources (in decreasing importance) :
- HAM / SSB radio to talk with weather forecaster and download GRIB files
- VHF radio to talk to locals
- HAM radio to send and receive e-mail
- lots of discussion over beer or coffee with others who have "been there - done that"
- cruising guides
- after a while experience with lots of anchorages
- recommendations and rumours about 'great places'
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Old 19-03-2015, 12:55   #3
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Re: How do you decide where and when?

The reason TS's post is so damn important is that for people who haven't been out cruising but busy doing the planning back in the "real world" of scheduling, it's hard to wrap your mind around the concept of not having a plan or schedule. We left many times with destination A in mind, but then wound up in destination E, after having first went through B, C, and D.

THAT is cruising...vs a scheduled sight seeing tour.

Great post Amigo!
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Old 19-03-2015, 13:56   #4
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Re: How do you decide where and when?

A minor update to ensure that "strategic planning" is not ignored or there is an implication that cruisers are not aware of seasons and risks.

We always have in mind a few strategic planning dates and locations. For example on the two trips we made from Seattle to San Diego the strategy was to be south of Pt Conception before October 1.

When heading south from San Diego we knew we did not want to be south of Ensenada prior to November 1.

While cruising in Mexico we wanted to be north of Loreto before August 1 and to be north of Santa Rosalia before September 1 and to stay north of there until November 1.

When heading south from Mexico we did not want to try to cross the Tehuantepec before April 1.

I don't know the time / location constraints for the US East Coast and Caribbean.

So your cruising decisions will have some constraints imposed by weather patterns and locations but within those constraints we chose comfort, curiosity, and friends.
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Old 20-03-2015, 09:15   #5
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Re: How do you decide where and when?

As for when, there is Jimmy Cornell's book "World Cruising Routes which can give you a very good idea of the best seasons to travel. For me, my first priority is weather, however, I wish I had the forethought and research associated with TacomaSailor's passages. On the other hand, I started sailing before all the weather info was available, and if it wasn't hurricane season, a nice day and winds were of the right speed and direction, I left, and guess I was lucky. With that in mind, I believe weather forecasts at best are only good for a few days, and many of my passages have taken longer than that. As for how long to stay somewhere, three weeks easily became three months, or more. And then I have been to many places I either never knew existed, or had no idea that I would ever go there. Finally, if you are not enjoying where, when or how, it is time to make other choices.
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Old 20-03-2015, 11:14   #6
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Re: How do you decide where and when?

Are you planning to over winter on the boat or to lay her up?

If you are going to over winter then you need to address heat OR turn back South.

If you are going to lay her up the possibilities are pretty open.

If you want to continue North the major question is Atlatic coast or Erie Canal?

How many years you gonna be out? Limited or open?

Erie Canal route and st Lawrence seaway is best done going up the Hudson down the St. lawrence. Then you can do the Atlantic coast on the way back.

Newfoundland its is worth at least a single season in itself. Wonderful place. Heat is not mandatory, but damn nice!

You know how to tell the Newfies in Heavan? They are the ones who want to go home!
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Old 20-03-2015, 12:23   #7
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Re: How do you decide where and when?

Hello LauraJane, We are similar to TocomaSailor only we would never leave in 30 knots of wind. We want at least a really good three day weather window and don't want to head out to quick after a blow we want to let the seas come down and get settled. It's one thing to get caught out in a blow but if you have all the time in the world why not use it and wait for good weather. Less loss of beer and less wife bitching or coaching. We believe in the Thorny path and try to get settled before dark and only go over night when it can't be avoided. A great place go get used to that type of sailing is the US Keys and the Bahamas. The Bimini Bahamas set 46 miles from Biscayne Bay. Granted it is across the Gulf Stream but you get to pick when you go. Nothing North in the wind give the stream a day to settle and then take a three day window to cross. Be sure to figure the cross current so you have to head south of Bimini to get there. Start early and don't be afraid of turning around if the waves are too big. They won't get smaller. We also like to go where it is cheaper to live we are seriously looking at Rio Dulce, Ambergus Island in Belize, and Panama.
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Old 20-03-2015, 13:25   #8
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Re: How do you decide where and when?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraJane View Post
I am the new owner of 1983 Sabre 34, draft 5.5'. She is currently up the Cape Fear River in NC, and I have a paid for slip through May.
I should be out there early-mid April to work on refitting and provisioning and getting to know her better.

High on the list is learning to heave to for breaks and heavy weather, and see how she handles. (Would love suggestions from those who heave-to on fin-keeled boats, the Sabre 34 in particular, and what sails you bend on in what conditions).

My other concern is where to go. I am recently retired, have a bluewater experienced pal who wants to sail with me. But to where? and when?

I have a plan to meet my kids in Havre de Grace for a weekend on the Chesapeake and then Philly for the Tall Ships, late June. And from there? Seems like sailing up the coast would be a good summertime adventure, and would like to go as far as Fundy Bay, and maybe Nova Scotia or even Newfoundland (seems ambitious). I have ordered pilot charts in addition to Nav charts. And will get my electronics on - especially autopilot.

For those with unlimited time, What informs your thinking about where to go and when? Pick a destination and await favorable winds and currents? Pick favorable winds and currents and pick a destination? How do you decide? What resources do you use in your decision making?

Laura Jane
s/v Artemis
With a new to you 31 year old boat, I would recommend a few shorter "shake down" cruises before setting out on a trip to Canada and back. Just a few days on the boat and you will know what works, what doesn't what you need and what you could have left ashore. There are things you can do or change easily at your home port that can be very difficult away from home.

As for your last question, I am a power boater, so some things matter less to me, but my wife and I pick a destination or more likely several destinations and adjust our "schedule" as necessary.
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Old 20-03-2015, 14:45   #9
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Re: How do you decide where and when?

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Originally Posted by LauraJane View Post
High on the list is learning to heave to for breaks and heavy weather, and see how she handles. (Would love suggestions from those who heave-to on fin-keeled boats, the Sabre 34 in particular, and what sails you bend on in what conditions).
You may want to check out the Yahoo Sabre Owners Site.
A lot of knowledgeable owners, could be a good asset for you.
You picked up a great boat! Good luck & have fun.
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Old 20-03-2015, 17:44   #10
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Re: How do you decide where and when?

LJ, congratulations on the Sabre 34. Very nice boat, I was looking at Sabre's and Tartan 33 for years and bought an older Bristol 35.5..i have to admit never having hove-to, but hope to practice this year on the Long Is Sound. A good book as homework is Lin/Larry Pardey's Storm Tactics Handbook, available in paperback. It describes the procedure while Heavy Weather Sailing by A Cole (I think) chronicles its benefits vs running. thnks, Dave
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Old 20-03-2015, 20:35   #11
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Re: How do you decide where and when?

I think you generally get further and see more if you can afford to sail by the conditions (let the conditions dictate your destinations).

But you do want to look up general wx patterns and avoid being caught in the downwind dead end with miles to go home and nothing but nosewind gales.

b.
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Old 20-03-2015, 23:08   #12
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Re: How do you decide where and when?

Great replies, all, TY.
I ordered World Cruising Routes. Pilot Charts arrived this afternoon, too.
And I definitely plan on shakedown sails locally for a bit before taking off, TY RON
LJ
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Old 02-04-2015, 10:12   #13
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Making plans, needing info.

Ahoy again,

I am adjusting to the idea of cruising as I go and desired and not rigidly scheduled. TY. (I worked a long time, and just recently retired).

I have some plans too, though. Current plan is to sail with my kids out of Havre de Grace the weekend before attending the Philly Tall Ship Event end of June before heading back to CO for July for a wedding, new grandkids, and climbing commitment made a while back. Colorado in July is not so bad.

My August desired plans also include heading to Maine for the Sabre sailboat rendezvous 8/16-18.

With that plan, I need a place North of Philly to keep my boat for a month.
My old family yacht club, S Shore LI wants $1500 for a month. And inconveniently up the Hudson is $950/month. I have sticker shock after keeping Artemis up the Cape Fear River for $340. I am not a wealthy boat owner and am experiencing marina sticker shock!
I could head back through the C&D in search of more affordable slip space, on the Chesapeake, but that means a longer sail to Maine.

Am thinking maybe I should cancel the Tall Ships as too expensive and out of the way (Over 100 miles up Delaware Bay/River) (showing some flexibility and adaptation, right? Good qualities for a cruising sailor!)

Before I do, any recommendations for an AFFORDABLE slip for a month N of Philly in July Or on the Chesapeake?

This has been my first consideration of scrapping the Tall Ships event, but need to be open minded here and am willing to make changes.
My kids seem to want to sail more than see tall ships (They also want to show me their new house and how cool Philly is).
Marina suggestions? Rerouting ideas?
LJ
(I know this is a bit long).
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