I have two friends that did the trip to Puget Sound
- one from La Paz
nonstop 40+ days in a 32' sailboat. I talked to them every couple nights on the SSB
- one from San Franciso 7-days non-stop in a Hylas
46 (? or 48?). They sat in San Francisco for over 2-weeks waiting for a weather window and then, when the weather window opened, hit it hard and sailed all the way with almost no motoring. Their slip in San Francisco cost them $1,000 for that two week wait.
I've made four trips south from Puget Sound
and have met some very interesting characters going north. I've crossed every bar except Eureka.
- Swan 50 which left SF and I met him in Newport
, OR with a blown out main and damaged toe rail from waves. This was their third trip north and the previous two had been uneventful. The bar was closed for another 24-hours.
- 55' Trawler
(forgot the type) with a sliding pilot house door that had been ripped off by a breaking wave. They were out of San Diego and I met them in Coos Bay. The bar remained closed for three more days.
- Hans Christian 42 out of Los Angles who limped into Westport, WA a day after they closed the bar due to 18' breaking waves. We had come in the day before (heading south) in 15' breaking waves. He had planned to "ride the SW gales north" but when the waves 20-miles off shore hit 20' he came in. The SW wind was only 25 knots but the storm waves from the SW were interacting with the 6' prevailing NW swell and creating a mess. Six of us (five headed south) sat in Westport for three more days.
- Bob on Pantera, a home built and extraordinary 35' trimaran
. Bob and my brother were cruiser friends in Mexico
and Bob made the trip from Victoria, BC to Barra de Navidad (~2,500 miles) every year for over a decade. His boat has a 10 HP Honda outboard
and 20-gallons of gasoline. Bob said he never had a trouble coming North - but he could sail at about 1.5x the apparent wind and seldom did less than 12 knots.
A example of the north bound problems:
We were headed North to San Diego from Cabo San Lucas in a 42' Tartan offshore race
boat. We sat in Bahia
Santa Maria, with 15-other boats all being taken north by delivery
captans, four days because the 20-knot NW wind had created a very nasty short period wave train. Finally, on the 5th day the captain
of an Ocean Alexander 72 went out at 4 AM (the wind and waves are supposed to die off after sunset and not build until after 11 AM) to "check things out." He limped back into the bay at 10 AM.
The waves were too big and too steep and had ripped a port light (bronze in a 3" thick fiberglass
hull) out of the owners cabin
at the bow. The cabin
was flooding. While trying to turn around, a boarding wave ripped the dinghy
out of it's chocks on the boat deck
10' above the waterline. We waited another two days.
A little personal insight:
I've done Puget Sound to San Diego four times in three different boats, the smallest being my 40' Caliber. I've done San Diego to SW Mexico and back twice. I've also done about 5,000 Blue Water
miles in other boats. My closest friend has sailed his Norseman 447 from Seattle
to Ft Luaderdale, Seattle
to Puerto Vallarta
, Seattle, and twice Seattle to La Paz
. We do have some miles on our bottoms. We've both done a lot of heavy weather sailing at sea and have few concerns about our abilities or boats.
I chose to ship my boat, via truck from the Sea of Cortez
back to Seattle. My friend has chosen, twice, to ship his boat, via commercial
freighter, from La Paz to Victoria.
We both know that shipping/trucking our boats costs about twice what it does to sail north on their bottoms. But, that sailing trip from San Diego to Cape Flattery would be at least three weeks and possibly five or six. Saving $6,000 by spending 30 to 50 days pounding the boat to death and sitting in very expensive harbors, while waiting for the next weather window, is just not worth it.
The trip North up the US West coast
can be done safely and comfortably but it will be time consuming and costly. I'd rather spend that six-weeks cruising in the San Juans.
If you have not been out there pounding north you can not imagine how unpleasant it is to be heading into a constant 5' swell and 3' wind waves directly on the nose. The boat speeds up going down the swell and slows down going up it and your body is constantly being accelerated and decelerated on a 10-second cycle. Even, or maybe even worse, when the wind is not blowing, the swell is always right there, always right in your face.
And, when you get a good sailing wind (East-South-West) you then have wind waves colliding with the constant NW swell making for very steep and unpredictable waves. The conditions are seldom treacherous but also uncomfortable. And, cold - in the middle of summer the water
temp north of SF is 52 or less, as is the air. It is impossible to stay warm at night.
This is just the personal opinion of two guys with seven trips from Seattle to Puerto Vallarta
, two back to San Diego, and 20,000 sea miles.
Sorry to be negative.