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Old 04-06-2013, 18:16   #1
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Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?

Hey bros and chick sailors:

What would you say is the best possible time to cross the Northern Pacific area from CA --> Hawaii? In my hours and hours of research, I have come up with late November -> January being the best times, because we're out of hurricane season off the coast of mexico and the southern pacific typhoons of summer.

WHICH FREAKING CONFUSES ME!!

Why are there all these "Summer CA -> Hawaii Races" taking place in August, because according to my sources, that is the WORST possible time to go.

Am I missing something here?!
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Old 04-06-2013, 20:11   #2
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?!!!??

The races are in July, usually early July, for a couple of good reasons:
1) The Pacific High (high-pressure system) is often not well established before July, and what there is of it is often centered quite far south, making for a longer and more difficult passage. In this case "difficult" means light and contrary winds.

2) It's summer vacation time.

Yes, hurricane season has started, but if you're paying attention you should be able to avoid the worst of it. In my five San Francisco to Hawaii passages (in July) the tropical storm effects have been *reduced* tradewinds as the low-pressure remnants blow through. Obviously hurricanes and storms can happen, so be watchful.

I've sailed back to the mainland in August or September. The Pacific High is as well-defined as it's going to get (which sometimes is "not at all"). The worst part has been the often heavy conditions within a few hundred miles of the mainland.
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Old 04-06-2013, 20:18   #3
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?!!!??

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Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
The races are in July, usually early July, for a couple of good reasons:
1) The Pacific High (high-pressure system) is often not well established before July, and what there is of it is often centered quite far south, making for a longer and more difficult passage. In this case "difficult" means light and contrary winds.

2) It's summer vacation time.

Yes, hurricane season has started, but if you're paying attention you should be able to avoid the worst of it. In my five San Francisco to Hawaii passages (in July) the tropical storm effects have been *reduced* tradewinds as the low-pressure remnants blow through. Obviously hurricanes and storms can happen, so be watchful.

I've sailed back to the mainland in August or September. The Pacific High is as well-defined as it's going to get (which sometimes is "not at all"). The worst part has been the often heavy conditions within a few hundred miles of the mainland.
Oh my gosh, I feel like this is voodoo now.

All five times were in July?

Is it still okay to go in the middle of December/January if I take a southerly route?

Any tips on what to bring from your wisdom of five travels!?? Someone told me; "A good book and a spinnaker."
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Old 04-06-2013, 20:20   #4
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?!!!??

Mid June -Mid July for me, the parking lot is not the place to get caught...Michael..
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Old 04-06-2013, 21:46   #5
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?!!!??

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Mid June -Mid July for me, the parking lot is not the place to get caught...Michael..
Wait parking lot?! Huh?!!!!!

Saving a life here man.
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Old 04-06-2013, 21:55   #6
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?!!!??

I've made the trip twice in April/May, once a one way trip in June, a round trip in July/September and one in January. The January return to CA was the worst because we got caught in some bad weather. Other than that trip in Jan, the ride was spectacular.

I think the OP has drawn an incorrect conclusion. Jan/Feb maybe into March would be the worst time for weather in my opinion. But keeping a good watch for weather is always high on the list of priorities.
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Old 04-06-2013, 22:20   #7
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?!!!??

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Wait parking lot?! Huh?!!!!!

Saving a life here man.
Pacific high pressure, {weather} commonly known as the parking lot, no wind, and hot as hell, not a good place to be...Michael..
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Old 04-06-2013, 22:29   #8
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?!!!??

Parking lot = the windless center of the Pacific High. The Pacific High is the high-pressure system that in July nominally sits on the rhumbline between San Francisco and Hawaii. In the winter it moves south and becomes less focused, and in the summer it moves north and becomes more stable. In theory.

In practice, the Pac High can be quite diffuse and spread out. There is typically a ridge associated with the southeast corner of the high, and the winds there can also be extremely light. If you're not racing and have lots of fuel you can motor through it, otherwise you fly light-air sails and drift very slowly. Eventually something shifts and you see a little wind.

The solution is to sail south before turning west for Hawaii. The trick is to not sail any further out of your way than necessary. Knowing how to get timely weather info, and how to interpret it is crucial.

A lot of this also depends on where your departure point is. Leaving from San Diego means you're already pretty close to the bottom of the high (which is where you need to be for the crossing).

In winter and spring you are likely so see numerous low-pressure systems off the mainland, which will give you strong contrary winds and big seas from the south, so you have to watch for those.

In the summer and fall there is often a strong inland low-pressure system that sets up a "squash zone" just offshore with big winds and seas from the NE. This is usually only an issue north of Santa Barbara, and since you're sailing south it's not usually a problem, just a fun and wet ride.

You might want to take a look at the Pacific Cup website. Even if you're not racing, you will find useful discussions about the weather and how to prepare for the trip.

My five trips were in July because of the weather issues I mentioned. My first time was a casual cruise, and since then I've done four Pacific Cup races. Each time I sailed back over the top (more or less) of the Pacific High. Here are tracks from my first four trips:

The two lines in the middle are the Great Circle and the Rhumbline. You will see that one year our route to Hawaii was *north* of the Great Circle. See, I told you that the Pacific High could be unpredictable!

What are your plans once you reach Hawaii?
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Old 05-06-2013, 11:12   #9
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?!!!??

Quote:
Originally Posted by rubyjean View Post
Pacific high pressure, {weather} commonly known as the parking lot, no wind, and hot as hell, not a good place to be...Michael..
I sort of knew that, so I was taking this route W125 N25 (The bottom one):



Oh my god my adrenaline, I'm going for the first time. I've been preparing for a while. I think I'm almost ready.

Frikkin' sweet tip about the website, check it out [GOLDMINE]:
https://pacificcup.org/knowledgebase...%20Environment

Quote:
I've made the trip twice in April/May, once a one way trip in June, a round trip in July/September and one in January. The January return to CA was the worst because we got caught in some bad weather. Other than that trip in Jan, the ride was spectacular.

I think the OP has drawn an incorrect conclusion. Jan/Feb maybe into March would be the worst time for weather in my opinion. But keeping a good watch for weather is always high on the list of priorities.
How is it the whole way if left in late July? Mostly smooth and sunny? lol

I've been going of this book: It's basically telling me to go in December to avoid storms off the coast of mexico. El Nino anyone? BECAUSE I'm doing the southern-most route (South then Running West.), this could be a very frightening possibility. I think? I have no experience.

Now that I've got you, mwahahaha (just kidding :P) what would you say is like your most important tips ever, and is there a really good place to anchor for free that you know of (any islands).

LOVE

Quote:
What are your plans once you reach Hawaii?
Keep going most likely. I might south to Fiji or possibly stay in Hawaii for a few months living off the hook, surfing, working, fishing, fine dining, racing. Who knows.
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Old 05-06-2013, 15:08   #10
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?!!!??

Paul, Nice explainion of the parking lot. This should help him understand it better, I'm not a man of many words. Kudo's to you..Michael..
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Old 05-06-2013, 15:58   #11
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?

December to February is too cold. Go in March or April. You will then be in perfect position to head for the South Pacific in May for the start of the southern cruising season.
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Old 05-06-2013, 16:16   #12
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?

March thru May is quite common from Mexico to Hawaii.June is best month to sail back to the PNW.
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Old 05-06-2013, 16:25   #13
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?

In the book "World Cruising Routes" by Jimmy Cornell the author outlines a three year circumnavigation from the west coast of north america. This book is required reading in my opinion for anyone contemplating a voyage of this magnitude. Buy this book, keep it on your boat, and study it. There is so much info that you need to know. I suggest you take your time and let some of it sink in.That being said, I wish you the best of luck with your plans. Remember a voyage's route is never set in stone. A good voyager has to be able to adjust for weather with a plan B plan C etc. etc.
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Old 05-06-2013, 17:23   #14
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?

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In the book "World Cruising Routes" by Jimmy Cornell the author outlines a three year circumnavigation from the west coast of north america. This book is required reading in my opinion for anyone contemplating a voyage of this magnitude. Buy this book, keep it on your boat, and study it. There is so much info that you need to know. I suggest you take your time and let some of it sink in.That being said, I wish you the best of luck with your plans. Remember a voyage's route is never set in stone. A good voyager has to be able to adjust for weather with a plan B plan C etc. etc.
I have the book buried in storage. I won't be able to get to it for 2 more months. Would you mind digging it up and letting me know when the author recommends as the safest passage time from CA - > HI?
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Old 05-06-2013, 17:26   #15
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Re: Best Time To Make A North Pacific Cross?

Your plans should include water and food for a month. Plenty of people have taken that long.
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