Originally Posted by LauraJane
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
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
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
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'