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Old 17-10-2016, 14:04   #1
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Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

I'm planning this trip in 2017. It seems from other threads, I'm not alone in planning. I'm six months living aboard and have been cruising from Sequim out to Neah Bay, played around there in the big blue day sailing. Cruised the San Juan Islands 3 times, down into Hoods Canal. I've racked up about 1100 miles and will continue to sail through winter as weather allows. Next long trip here will be further up the inside passage, perhaps to Chatter Box Falls. The point being, I'm learning, mostly on my own, it's working great so far. I have injured myself, bled all over the deck, lol, broke a few things on the boat, fixed em. I have fall off my dock twice, yes with witness, lol. I've been upgrading the boat as I go, doing all work myself. Autopilot, chartplotter, all new ground tackle and new windlass, new mainsail, new furler and genoa, pumps, prop on and on it seems, lol. I'v now spent more on upgrades, repair's, and such than I paid for the boat, I planned for that. This learning curve can be painful but I'm liking this part of my life more than any other, I'm loving sailing and everything about it, good bad and ugly.
I also realize a trip from P.N.W. will be something very different from what I've done so far as sailing and weather.
With that in mind. I would love to hear from other's who are planning this trip, what you have done boat wise to prepare, provisions? Port stops along the way?
And of course I hope to hear from the folks who have done this trip or portion of it and your experience's, pittfalls, wish you had done different?
I look forward to learning more from all you folks out there, as I have thus far. Thank you!
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Unclestinkybob. SV Full Circle
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Old 17-10-2016, 14:26   #2
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

> It seems from other threads, I'm not alone in planning.

This year there are two hundred boats registered for Baja Haha (including ours). Not alone indeed.
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Old 17-10-2016, 14:36   #3
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

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Originally Posted by RedHerring View Post
> It seems from other threads, I'm not alone in planning.

This year there are two hundred boats registered for Baja Haha (including ours). Not alone indeed.
ok. I know about ba ha ha, not sailing with them but other than that?
I'm hoping for real advice and experience here.
So if it's going to be negative or useless, I'd rather you post else where.
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Old 17-10-2016, 16:03   #4
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

pnw to lost angeles i have yet to do.
i have done from lost angeles to zihuatenejo.
whaddaya wanna know???

red herring, say hay to pat and jeannie of patricia belle. they have run elebenty seben ha has/
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Old 17-10-2016, 16:45   #5
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

First, have a strong boat, excellent rigging and chainplates you trust, a rudder you have inspected or renewed , know the condition of your bolt on keel and two good bilge pumps. Make sure you have reefing down to "automatic".
I would avoid many stops. It takes days from your schedule for one thing. If you are 50 miles off shore, it will take you a day to get in, good timing to cross a bar which may be treacherous, and another day to get out.
So keep on trucking!
Timing wise, it's hard to say but maybe early August to avoid too much fog. Some people go successfully in June. It all depends on the year.
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Old 17-10-2016, 18:05   #6
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

We did the trip this year Port Alberni to San Diego non stop.

Get a great weather window.

We had our standing rigging inspected by pro, added jack lines and stayed clipped in when ever alone

Radar is mandatory....Oregon & Cali full of traffic at night.

Reef at night...wind can go 10-40 in an hour when forecast is 15-20.

Might need to motor a few days.

Rock & roll for 2 days north of Cape Mendicino...the only days I slept in the settee rather than our forward cabin (wife used forward cabin every nite lol)

Sleep as much as possible...fatigue contributes to sea sickness & bad decisions.

Bring processed meals for when seas are uncomfortable.

Have fun...take pictures of all the dolphins, whales, sunfish etc!!Send to all your friends still working for a living!!
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Old 17-10-2016, 18:18   #7
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

Although I have not done yet, we are also planning a August 2017 departure from Neah. Looking at our current plan (always subject to change) I think our hope is to jump all the way to Santa Cruz if weather permits or stay off shore to Channel Islands. The big concern is rounding past Point Conception. Then spend a few months in San Diego reprovisioning and make the next jump down Baja over 3-4 months in February-March. Good luck and hopefully we will see you out there.
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Old 17-10-2016, 18:27   #8
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

san diego is kinda boater unfriendly after ha ha leaves--you may want to leave there sooner than not--- feel it out--and the pnw storms are fierce in sd-- so , make sure you get gone before those rile up. it is possible to get gone between pnw storms-- watch weather and stop ensenada, go inside cedros, get south of turtle as quickly as possible., prep for nocturnal dog watch 0400-o0600 chubascos-- reef at night, yer fine... between turtle and cabo.they turn off like a light at 0600. was entertaining.
ps there is a costco in ensenada, so you may rethink staying in san diego
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Old 17-10-2016, 19:50   #9
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

> Radar is mandatory....Oregon & Cali full of traffic at night.

If you are going nonstop, it's better to get 150-200 miles away from the shore and stay there until after Mendocino. No traffic at all, and a lot less fog. Radar not mandatory then
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Old 17-10-2016, 21:00   #10
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

Stop for a rest in the Estuary of Morro Bay, then you can pick your weather window for a nice easy 2AM rounding of Pt Conception. Once south of there...it's all tacos and ease...

Give me a call when you get here, as the SSCA cruising host Station I will take you out for a Taco and answer questions if you have any.
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Old 18-10-2016, 13:32   #11
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

check out these guys Sailing Around the World and Cruising Logs- Ascension At Sea
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Old 18-10-2016, 15:53   #12
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

FWIW in 2005 my wife and I, as relative newbies, undertook our first extended open ocean cruise going from Victoria BC to Mazatlan.

We left September 15 (about 2 weeks later than we had intended)---took us 3 tries to get out of Port Angeles to Neah Bay.

After that we turned straight south (180*T)--we had planned to carry on without interruption to south of Cape Blanco (to maybe Brookings or Crescent City) but a storm made us take shelter in Coos Bay ---we had wanted to get as far south as possible before the fall/winter storms started blowing in earnest (like they are doing now!).

We found in the NW part of the trip (until south of Cape Mendocino) that generally a storm front would come down from the North every 4-5 days or so and that if we left our harbour/anchorage riding on the tail of a front after it had passed us that thereafter we would have good sailing for the next 3 days or so until the next front arrived and we would then put in at the next harbour or bay until it too had passed

Also in this Northern part of the trip you WILL encounter very large swells and waves usually on your starboard quarter or from behind which sometimes your autopilot may not be able to handle and which in turn requires some extended periods of hand steering (and a crew that can relieve you)

We chose to go harbour-hopping rather than take an extended straight run for 3 reasons: (1) we were in no great rush and wanted to do some sight-seeing along the way (2) our research indicated that those who went or stayed offshore (say non-stop to San Fran or San Diego) usually got beat up or had boat damage and (3) voyaging can be tiring

South of San Fran we generally stayed about 10-20 miles offshore.

On the way down we always had good access to current weather forecasts which helped a lot.

The rest of the trip down the USA was relatively uneventful and fun ...with us stopping from time to time either to sightsee or to shelter from bad weather--

Many times we encountered fog (sometimes very, very thick especially N of San Francisco but even down to San Diego) so radar and a good chartplotter are IMHO essential along with some good cruising guides

Entered Mexico about end of November, overnighted in about 3 or 4 places, and reached Cabo San Lucas about 10 days later and then reached Mazatlan Dec 15th

Made the usual rookie mistakes---overloaded with provisions in San Diego (not necessary...they do eat food in Mexico) and had some unnecessary boat work done in San Diego (bottom paint) but should have waited until we were in Mexico where boat work is much less costly (although I was glad that I had loaded up with boat parts/consumables such as oil, filters etc as they are expensive in Mexico).

Only thing I'd do differently is that for the last 350 miles down the west coast of Baja to Cabo San Lucas there are a series of undersea mounts that create confusing waves and which makes that part an uncomfortable twisting rolly ride so I might consider going further offshore rather than following the rhumb line.

Cabo San Lucas is VERY expensive, EXTREMELY touristy and hardly Mexican at all.

Depending on the winds you will likely have to bash north from Cabo for a while to get the right angle to go to Mazatlan ---not necessary if you are heading further south (say to Puerta Vallata)

So generally speaking if you go in the fall it is a down-hill ride all the way (both wind and current) with cold, large waves and fog in the northern part.

So FWIW here IMHO is what we did right:
1. had checked, repaired and outfitted the boat (no weak points, aged lines, questionable machinery etc ---we had NO breakage/breakdowns on our voyage except for our watermaker---see below)
2. Harbour-hopped and did sightseeing along the way (it is unlikely you will be sailing back along that route)
3. had lived on our boat for weeks at a time and had explored it from one end to the other, taken things apart and learned how to repair/maintain it
4. had reliable operating radar, chartplotter and knew how to use it
5. had a reliable and not underpowered autopilot
6. had good groundtackle (along the way you will be anchoring in harbours and bays)
7. had a reliable crew
8. got away before the autumn storms started rolling down from the NW
9. had access to weather forecasts/reporting en route
10. had became comfortable at night sailing and docking or anchoring in the dark in new locations
11. had previously experienced big seas (not overwhelmed with fear when encountered 30+ foot seas)
12. didn't enter Mexico until after October (hurricane season) had ended

What we did do wrong:
1. left later than I would have preferred (ideally would have wanted to leave 3rd week of August)
2. Installed a watermaker 3 days before we left so had no chance to fully test it in operating conditions (same probably goes for any new equipment--make sure it is well-used before you leave
3. installed a watermaker
4. re-installed a watermaker en-route
5. had cosmetic and non-essential boat work done in Canada or USA ---should have waited until Mexico --warmer, cheaper

Just an outline of our trip ---hope it is of some help.

If you do go to Mexico, look us up ---probably will be at Marina el Cid in Mazatlan between mid-January to end of March

Good luck

John Forsyth
MOPION
Gozzard 36
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Old 18-10-2016, 16:00   #13
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

I'm doing the same trip next year as well. Single-handing so gonna go the offshore route I think.
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Old 18-10-2016, 16:55   #14
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

I just have one observation about following Cornell's advice of going about 100 miles offshore to find steadier winds. He's right, but the unfortunate part is that these steady winds are often in the 30-50 knot range. I've made the Seattle-SF run a few times, and a bit closer to shore (like 20 miles on the average) was a heck of a lot more user-friendly than the time we went way offshore. That trip ranks as one of our most thorough ass-kickings in many thousands of offshore miles.

Sure, it's different every time, but the squash zone that sets up is more reliably a lot stronger offshore. I don't personally see the upside.

Have a nice sail.
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Old 18-10-2016, 17:40   #15
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Re: Sailing from the P.N.W. to Mexico.

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Originally Posted by TJ D View Post
I just have one observation about following Cornell's advice of going about 100 miles offshore to find steadier winds. He's right, but the unfortunate part is that these steady winds are often in the 30-50 knot range. I've made the Seattle-SF run a few times, and a bit closer to shore (like 20 miles on the average) was a heck of a lot more user-friendly than the time we went way offshore. That trip ranks as one of our most thorough ass-kickings in many thousands of offshore miles.

Sure, it's different every time, but the squash zone that sets up is more reliably a lot stronger offshore. I don't personally see the upside.

Have a nice sail.
TJD
I agree with you. I've done the trip 4 times. The worst one was when we cleared Cape Mendocino out 60 miles. There's a string of weather buoys that run from near shore to something like 600 miles offshore of Cape Mendocino. Check them out when it gets bad down there. It is typically worse offshore and best close into the sea buoy. Traveling south you are more likely to be light on wind, rather too much for most days. One of the Capes in southern Oregon or northern Cal you typically get pasted, then it's over and head on in fair winds or !motor for the rest of the trip. For those that think there is so much less traffic taking the offshore route, where do you think the Juan de Fuca, Colombia River and San Fran big ship traffic is coming from. Sure, there maybe less fishing boats, but these tend all be in a group and well lit up.
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