Tacoma, Have you got a size recommendation for that cruise. How big do I need to go before I could consider pulling a small crew out to the Big Island? Any suggestions on older boats with good sturdy roots that can be found for reasonable money and brought back to prime and be capable of the trip?
The idea of sailing into Seattle and seeing Mount Rainier on the horizon still has its allure.
I learned to sail in Puget Sound
and raced there for many years and cruised from the south end of Puget Sound
to the north end of Vancouver Island. After four full years in San Diego and Mexico I too really missed the Pacific NW weather and scenery.
We own a Caliber 40 cutter
: ( 42’ LOA
22,500 pounds and equipped with seven sails
and a very stout and seaworthy
blue water boat). In 2004 we had owned her for 10-years including the 2,500 mile sail from Tacoma to Z'town in Western Mexico and wanted to get back to Tacoma and that beautiful view of Mt Ranier.
We looked at the options:
- sailing/motoring her directly to Seattle from Cabo San Lucas
- sail to Hawaii
and then Seattle
- ship her on a truck
At that point I had made two trips from Seattle to mainland Mexico and two from Mainland Mexico back to San Diego and a trip from Neah Bay to the north end of Vancouver Island on the outside.
We decided to truck our boat to Tacoma from San Carlos
- not much more expensive that doing it on her own bottom
- much less wear on the boat
- way less wear on the crew
- two weeks –vs- three months
I figured the cost or motoring/sailing from Cabo San Lucas to Seattle in our 40’ sailboat to be about $4,500, which includes 500 engine
hours, 500 gallons of fuel
, and 30 days in Marinas while we waited for weather windows to pound (there is that word again!) north
Here are some practical observations from my four trips along the Cabo – Cape Flattery coast and from talking with two friends who have done another six trips along the same coast:
In Coos Bay Oregon
(mid-September) when we were sailing south I saw a 55' trawler
come in missing a pilot house door. They were heading north and a breaking wave had torn the door off the frame
Friend in a Norseman 447 has seen 50+ knots and more than 15’ breaking waves for more than 12 hours between Cape Aragos and Punta Arenas twice in his three trips.
Santa Maria and Turtle Bay - I saw an Ocean Alexander 74 lose her 14' RIB
off the bridge deck
when, headed north, they tried to turn around (because the waves were beating them up too badly) and a breaking wave tore the dinghy
off it’s chocks – Fifteen feet above the water! Actually, I did not see the event because I was spending the third night in Bahia
Santa Maria in the company of 10 other boats. We convinced the OA to head out at 4 AM to “test the waters” ‘cause we all wanted to get moving again. The OA came limping back in at 10 AM with a bow portlight blown out and a flooded owners cabin
. I inspected the port and it was ripped free from a 2” thick solid fiberglass hull
During that trip from Cabo to San Diego we were in the company of 10 powerboats greater than 45 feet. We were ALL stuck in Santa Maria for a week and Turtle Bay/Isla Cedros for another week due to very large NW waves – mid-April to mid-May. A Swan 65 (big, strong, powerful) sailed from Cabo the same day we did and arrived in San Diego four days AFTER we did. They said they got the s**t beat out of them. Their small dodger
was torn off and they tore two sails in the breaking waves.
I’ve talked with 55’ sailboats sailing near us outside Cape Mendocino who were just as miserable as us in our 40’ cutter
A captain I know took a Beneteau
from San Diego to Seattle last year. They spent two full days at 3 knots powering up and over 15’ breaking waves and 35 knots trying to get from Punta Arenas to Cape Aragos.
A very close sailing friend with a Norseman 447 (46’ LOA
35,000 pounds) has sailed the boat from Seattle to Mexico three times, Hawaii once, and Cabo to Ft. Luderdale once. When it came time to get his boat from La Paz
back to Tacoma – he put her on a Dockwise boat, flew home, picked her up in Victoria and thought it the best $10,000 he ever spent. He also trucked the boat from Jacksonville
back to Tacoma rather than engage in the trip you are contemplating. He is wealthy, experienced, and retired with tens of thousands of miles at sea in his Norseman and he trucked it!
I am a very aggressive sailor, have lot’s of heavy weather and blue weather miles, and a boat I’d trust anywhere and I would never consider the trip from Cabo to Cape Flattery.
The bottom line – NO pleasure boat under 100’ and 100 tons would be a sure bet for comfort.
You can make the trip and survive and maybe still have a boat under you if
- you are very patient
- an excellent weather forecaster
- make very good decisions
- are willing to spend many, many thousands of dollars
You will spend at least a year doing the Panama-Cape Flattery trip and way more money that selling your O’Day in Florida and buying
one of the thousands of great boats available in the Pacific NW. Check out Yachtworld used boats for Puget Sound – it is remarkable how many great cheap boats are available.
I’ve included a photo
of Mt Tahoma (Mount Rainer for those of you who refuse to acknowledge the importance to Tacoma, WA) from Commencement Bay.
I have hundreds of Puget Sound and San Juan Islands
sailing pictures at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tacoma...7631562057583/