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Old 30-11-2015, 14:53   #1
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Can I sail to Hawaii in January?

I have now gotten my sailboat ready to single hand anywhere. I've been practicing and learn in the boats ins and outs.

I had always read about people know where every nut is on their boat and while I'm not there yet, I'm pretty darn familiar with it.

It's in San Francisco and I want to get to Hawaii and eventually beyond. Has anyone crossed in December or January or am just going to have to wait. The pilot charts look good. Less consistent trade trades.

What about northern storms. Do they come that far south?
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Old 30-11-2015, 22:21   #2
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Re: Can I sail to Hawaii in January?

Hawaii gets a few storms that pass through during the winter. They not the fierce weather of the North Pacific and are few and far between. Biggest challenge will be getting far enough south to be clear of the bad weather hitting the west coast. Once south of the storm latitude, probably that of San Diego, you'll mainly have to deal with not as reliable trade winds as the summer. Didn't catch where you're starting from but a careful watch of the weather and a course of SSW till you pick up the trade winds and you'll be in warm weather in a few days from anywhere in CA. Farther north will require a bit more cauion but you still should be able to make the run south in one try or at most a stop in SF.

Once you are in the islands you'll have to spend most of your time in marinas till the winter surf subsides. There are only a few anchorages protected from the waves and they aren't all that comfortable. Usually ther is space in Honokohau in Kona good for four months in a year. Don't know about the availability on other Islands.

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Old 01-12-2015, 13:10   #3
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Re: Can I sail to Hawaii in January?

With this El Nino that is supposed to be coming along, as I recall the last time we had it there were a string of storms that came across between 39 to 32 degrees or so. Anyone remember? I think they generally came up from the mix of the "pineapple express" and northwesterlies but my memory is foggy on that. With the way the jet stream meanders these days, I hope a meteorologist will chime in here!
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Old 01-12-2015, 14:45   #4
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Re: Can I sail to Hawaii in January?

Here are some charts from the NOAA archive:

Jan 15, 2010 (the most recent El Nino, I chose a random date in January)




Note the contrary winds along the start of the typical route to Hawaii. That, and the big seas would not make for a pleasant trip. That high-pressure ridge extending SSW from San Francisco is not a good feature.

Unfortunately, the NOAA archives don't have charts available as far back as 1997/1998 (the recent large El Nino).

By the way, compare those charts to this one from July of last year:
There's that little tropical storm, but other than that it looks pretty good.
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Old 01-12-2015, 15:24   #5
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Re: Can I sail to Hawaii in January?

Stormy, foggy, cold, unwelcome in every way.. yes, you can.. you really want it?? Hawaii on winter is not the best place in the world.. Hold your horses until april or may... Or go down to mexico if you're looking for warm weather.. on a plane...
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Old 01-12-2015, 15:45   #6
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Re: Can I sail to Hawaii in January?

Quote:
Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post

It's in San Francisco and I want to get to Hawaii and eventually beyond. Has anyone crossed in December or January or am just going to have to wait. The pilot charts look good. Less consistent trade trades.

What about northern storms. Do they come that far south?
You might want to read Kimball Livingston's great book, Sailing The Bay. He discusses offshore weather patterns quite well.

Comparing a July high pressure system off the coast with winter conditions is not a reasonable comparison.

However, the reason we have had this drought has been that same high pressure system staying with us all winter, keeping the northern storms, well, uhm, north...

Not this year, so far though. You might have noticed the rain we've had in the past two weeks. Not a lot, but more than the last few years.

You NEED to check the weather to find out when you can make your southing. Either hug the coast, maybe having to motorsail and/or harbor hop, or head SSW.

When we went to Half Moon Bay a month ago it was warm and calm, so we motored, but it was MUCH windier 10-60 miles out.

It all depends, but it's gonna be cold for quite some time for you.

Good luck.
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Old 01-12-2015, 15:54   #7
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Re: Can I sail to Hawaii in January?

check your weather. winter is when pacific puddle jump happens. sail south a bit then turn right..watch weather really closely. really realy closely. the winter storms usually diminish once you hot cabond mazatlan and points south .
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Old 01-12-2015, 16:16   #8
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Re: Can I sail to Hawaii in January?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
Comparing a July high pressure system off the coast with winter conditions is not a reasonable comparison.
If you're referring to the charts I posted above, perhaps I should clarify:

The January 2010 and July 2015 charts were there to show the difference between January (when the OP wants to leave for Hawaii), and July (when most people head out). The fact that 2010 was an El Nino year, and 2015 was not, is interesting, but not the dominating factor.

Here's the January 10, 2015 chart. There is some difference when compared to the January 15 2010 chart, but either one looks lousy for the trip. Notice the similar offshore low, and the high-pressure ridge extending SSW from San Francisco. It's hard to tell if there is an El Nino factor by just looking at one isolated day:
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Old 01-12-2015, 17:00   #9
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Re: Can I sail to Hawaii in January?

El Nino is not a storm it is a long term weather pattern. We are in the midst of it and what normally happens does not necessarily happen in El Nino years. Tropical storms can form later than normal because of the warmer ocean temperatures. They start in Mexico and then move northwest for the most part. They can pass north of the islands or south of the islands. There have been 14 major storms this year which is the highest in recorded history for the islands.
My philosophy since getting a bit older is the Hawaiian proverb: "Don't chance em!"
Wait it out and watch the predicted weather.
For the islands the hurricane season in La Nina years is typically over November 30. This is an El Nino year and anything can happen.
kind regards,
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Old 01-12-2015, 18:57   #10
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Re: Can I sail to Hawaii in January?

I don't blame you being itchy to go if your boat and you are ready! Even just coming down the Cal coast in winter can be exciting though. You can always come on down to Channel Islands and wait out the winter and get some great heavy weather practice in the channel when a storm blows through! Maybe you could get a cut rate on my slip since I'll be out on a trailer for a while.
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