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Old 23-11-2014, 09:33   #1
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How to plan your cruising pace

How do you pace yourself when cruising? Passages are pretty easy to calculate, but coastal cruising is where huge personal differences come into play. Obviously the ideal is "don't plan", but that's a bit of a cop-out because some planning is required (to meet weather windows around hurricane seasons, or restrictions to budget or work vacation time if you're not yet able to retire).

For example, if you had one year to cruise starting and ending in Seattle, would you consider this too rushed or too slow: Down the west coast stopping in ports in CA, spend a few months in the Sea of Cortez and Mexico, then across to Hawaii and back to Seattle?

What about a Vancouver Island circ? (about 750nm without side trips). Some people want 3 months to do it and would consider 2 months rushed, while on the other end of the spectrum, sailing classes do it in 2 weeks and racers do it in 1. A 12x difference from one extreme to the other.

I did a search and only found this question asked once before - cruising pace - and a lot of the responses said don't make a plan, stay in each place until you want to move on. But of course everyone would like to have a wealth of time, just like you'd usually prefer to have a wealth of money rather than less money; but not everyone can have unlimited time (still need to maintain a normal person's land job).

Obviously plans change - weather, equipment repairs, etc - I'm just trying to get an idea of what's reasonable.
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Old 23-11-2014, 10:06   #2
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

If you plan to head for MX and back, the WX and sea state for where you're going will determine your pace. It's not like you can come and go from the Pacific north west any time you want.
I'd look at it as a 1 year voyage and plan accordingly.
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Old 23-11-2014, 10:48   #3
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

Yeah, for something like that the departure would be pretty fixed to August or September and the return to the same or a little bit earlier. But what I'm wondering about is how do you gauge how much is reasonable to fit in the middle?
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Old 23-11-2014, 11:18   #4
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

Yeah, it depends on what you like to do. Some people spend weeks in the same place, sitting around drinking and catching a few rays. Once you get down to Mx you might want to hang out for a while. Many of the cruisers we met, wanted to keep going down the coast but time constraints kept them from doing so. If you spend the whole year you will probably get to do lots of stuff and your schedule should be pretty loose.
Most of the time, we move on when the wx is right. For us, getting to about 10 degrees north by May was the deal.
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Old 23-11-2014, 11:28   #5
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

I think it's hard to plan... but you do usually know when you leave and when you need to be back. In between you will stay as long as you like the spot.. but in the back of your mind is the time left and the need to move along to meet the end date. I don't think I would try to do Mexico and back in one year.... too rushed. Maybe spend a year getting and staying there... store it....and the next year getting back...?
You could easily spend a year in BC and Alaska etc... but there's the winter problem!
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Old 23-11-2014, 11:31   #6
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

Our sailing pace was simple.

Coastal sailing 40 miles a day max which always gave us time to find a good anchorage in daylight.

Offshore sailing 150 miles a day using sails, sails and engine, or engine - whatever it takes.
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Old 23-11-2014, 13:38   #7
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

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Originally Posted by Tessellate View Post
Yeah, for something like that the departure would be pretty fixed to August or September and the return to the same or a little bit earlier. But what I'm wondering about is how do you gauge how much is reasonable to fit in the middle?
Tessellate,

A lot of this will depend on what you like to do. Like will you go straight through to SF? Stop and do ???? while in SF? Anchor off San Simeon to see that?
Southbound along the coast, you have south flowing current, and the predominant winds are northwesterly. When we worked in the bay area, we'd shoot through to the Channel Is. and go back in day hops.

We went out for a year, one time. Jim and I really enjoyed spear fishing in the Golfo de California. We'd swim twice a day, morning swim yielded a lunch fish, and afternoon swim, a dinner fish. He became quite proficient at it. It was lovely to have all that fresh fish. We did not do anything "touristy" in Mexico, except enjoying anchorages in Baja, and down the coast, returning to La Paz to provision for the trip to the Marquesas (better air leaving from there). We arrived there in October, and left in March, off to French Polynesia, left there in time to reach Hawaii in Sept. and arrived back in SF in Oct. Now, that was a lot of miles for a year, but we didn't know any better, and I think one should plan to leave Hawaii by the middle of Sept at the latest, because of the change in wx patterns, and y'all have further north to go than we.

We were disappointed in Hilo to be unable to rent a car (all were taken) to go and visit Volcanoes Nat'l Park. We didn't get a decent volcano fix till years later, in Vanuatu.

We left from Kauai, and the first few days were pretty hard on the wind, till we got our northing in, but then a cyclone off the coast of Mexico sucked the gales down. Had we been smarter, we could have given up our northing, and got out of the gales as we worked our way south, but we didn't "get it", even though we were told, couldn't bear to give up that hard-won northing. Stupid, really.

I hope this helps. I do think there was time to do "touristy" things in Mexico, had our pocketbook had more coin, and people do some wonderful things there. CF member chouliha's blog tells of some of their Mexican adventures over the years, if you're looking for ideas of what you might enjoy.

If you can bring yourself to do it, your stay in Mexico will be enriched if you learn a little Spanish first.

Ann
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Old 23-11-2014, 14:29   #8
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

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How do you pace yourself when cruising?.
The BEST way is to DON'T plan it.
I know I know it sounds crazy coming from an over-planned and scheduled world, but before you are actually cruising it's almost impossible to plan ahead with all the certainty of a helicopter mom. We meet people all the time with "plans" and most of them don't survive their first few months...so then why spend the energy to make them in the first place?

Get out cruising and figure it out from there.
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Old 24-11-2014, 07:26   #9
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

schedules kill and plansd should be made in liquid jello.
a basic what you want to do list an da basic what we did list... an d just go and have fun.
if you only have a specified timeframe for cruising--stay close to home base.
if you have unlimited time-- venture out an d be surprised by the places you discover that youy never knew about. in planning in advance, you will miss a lot of cool places and culture.
i fyou plan to spend xx days in whereverville, you may find th e travel time getting there can cut into your exploration time.
returning can be adventurous and challenging.
some even find they didnt like traveling under sail an dprefer to sell boat and fly back.
many variables to consider that you do not know about before you leave.
i have seen many fail who had strict schedules.
i have seen many fail with no schedules.
i have seen folks succeed without schedules.
i have yet to see anyone with a strict schedule have enjoyment of the cruising lifestyle.
sailing gom, we made a goal- do we want to see tortugas this time or aim for mujeres... we never did make mujeres, which was a bit disapointing, but we had a good adventure for nearly a year.
went to caribbean for a month--was so tightly scheduled it was not a fun experience-loved the islands and the sailing, but the tense and stressful strict planning was not enjoyable.

this adventure was originally to be immediately to panama and canal--- that was almost 4 years ago..i am still repairing and sailing in mexico.
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Old 24-11-2014, 08:57   #10
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

I'm going to have a plan, but recognize it will be constantly evolving, there are certain weather patterns etc., that sort of necessitate a plan. Ex. I would want to be way up North looking at heading down the ICW now, and maybe not be in the Bahamas in August.
So while not maybe really a plan, there are certain things that need to be done in certain times.
So I'll schedule major maintenance where ever possible to be completed before I need to leave, that a plan isn't it?
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Old 24-11-2014, 09:37   #11
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

Didn't some famous general say something like, battle plans change as soon as you start.
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Old 24-11-2014, 09:48   #12
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

I have been sailing 3-4 months a year since 2008 and evething is planned ahead of time. 15-30 miles sailing every two days is my plan. Sometime I have no choice and I need to do more sailing and quite often I will depart the next day if I had enough time to visit what I wanted or not. An at other time I spend more than two day's because I have more to see. at the end of the season I am pretty close to my schedule. I also give myself the right to change destination base on discussion with felow sailors.
And I love it.
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Old 24-11-2014, 10:17   #13
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

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Didn't some famous general say something like, battle plans change as soon as you start.
No plan of battle ever survives contact with the enemy.

Helmuth von Moltke, (German General back in the mid/late 1800's)
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Old 24-11-2014, 16:02   #14
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

Tessellate

If I had another year in the Pacific North West (yes we are planning to return from Aus in a couple of years) I would circumnavigate Vancouver Island. The west coast is challenging and beautiful. You have so many wonderful anchorages in the San Juans and Gulf Islands it would take us a lifetime to explore them all. We went from Port Townsend to Sitka and back down the west coast to Mexico in one season, as I didn't want another winter season in the Pacific North West. Now the only item we would need to do another winter would be a de-humidifier - hence our plans to return to do more exploring.

Of course our plans were fluid, (we lost 3 weeks in Ketchikan when we needed to replace the fridge compressor) - it was no good having paid for all those salmon licences if we could not freeze our catch. So weather, tides, fog and our activities like photography, fishing and walking all contributed to the length of time we stayed in any one place. Start with a general plan and change it as appropriate.

If planning to go to Mexico I think you need more than one year and some knowledge of Spanish. We only had a few sentences and missed out on more in depth contact with the wonderful locals.

Not forgetting that referring to charts, cruise guides and travel books is half the fun of cruise planning - the rest comes in living the dream.

Cheers Sue
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Old 25-11-2014, 01:06   #15
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Re: How to plan your cruising pace

Asking a type A person not to plan is like asking an extroverted person not to socialize. Planning is where we get our energy from. Having a plan doesn't mean you have to stick to it.

The key seems to be understanding the difference between rigidly sticking to a plan, and having a plan as a flexible initial template which you adapt as you go.

There are situations where some degree of planning is a necessity. In the Mexico example if I wanted to get the boat back to Seattle then knowing about how far you can go in a year and still get back is critical. There's a pretty small weather window to sail into the north Pacific and I definitely don't want to be doing that in the winter. It's true I could leave the boat in Mexico, but that would mean not having use of it for a long time (not being able to sail it in PNW in the fall, winter and spring) or being able to work on it in the winter. Trucking is an expensive option with its own complications.

Are there any analogies to land-based travel? I've traveled in Europe a handful of times in the last 10 years, usually 1-2 week trips, and I usually prefer a relatively fast pace - I'm usually ready to move on to a new city after 2-4 days. Of course, that might just be the go-go-go mode of short trips.

How did you judge the difficulty / duration of a voyage when you were first learning (before your first long one)? What books or websites did you use? Or do you just go by the opinions of people you talk to?
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