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Old 15-02-2010, 02:21   #1
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Sailing Up West Coast During El Nino (San Francisco to Seattle 2010)

I am trying to find information on sailing from San Francisco to Seattle. Obviously there is a ton of info on sailing south because the trade winds usually are good for that way, and then most everyone trucks their boat north on I-5. Because El Nino has made the winds sweep north up the coast rather than south, wouldn't it be a great time to go north? Has anyone tried going from San Francisco to Seattle during El Nino?
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Old 15-02-2010, 08:55   #2
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Not El Nino related but that direction:
Sailing from San Francisco to Seattle - SailNet Community
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Old 15-02-2010, 11:19   #3
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The trip south from Seattle to San Francisco is no walk in the park even in the best of conditions (which they're rarely any 'best of conditions'). The trip north is for masochists imo. Personally, I'd only do it taking the long route. Head off shore towards Hawaii and get past that convergence zone along the southern Oregon coast then catch the trades into the straits. Make sure tanks are full and your diesel is in tip top shape, as it'll get a hell of a workout on that slosh. I've seen guides suggest going coastal, but all I've got to say to that is "Seen the southern Oregon coast lately?" It's a virtual boaters graveyard on the shoals. There is good reason the trucking companies do such good business between No. Cal and Washington. In any event, it won't be fun - but everything is doable...
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Old 15-02-2010, 12:47   #4
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on th ewest coast there is a southerly drift -- during el nino years, the seas get to bein g30 ft in height after the storms. the storms at this time should be occurring about every coupla few days--you really wWANT to sail this?? the best idea is to sail out about 100 miles then turn in to the seattle area --but the winds are still going to be on th enose--is
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Old 15-02-2010, 13:32   #5
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If you're gonna sail it, do it in spring before the summer NW winds begin and you can ride the lows from port to port. However, be forewarned! The winds may clock before you can get to that next port (and they are few and far between), what may seem like a fairly mild one can quickly turn into 35+ with little warning, and all the ports are across river bars. Very dangerous if not timed right.

While it is possible to ride some favorable winds, the prevailing swells will almost always be from the W -- so if you get gale force clocking around, be prepared for a rough ride with large, confused seas.

I looked into it from farther south, and ended up calling Yacht Path.

You might want to consult (or contract) with one of the local delivery skippers. I talked with this one (who lives on Vashon) and was impressed with him and his advice. Yacht and Boat Delivery: Smooth Passage Yacht Delivery

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Old 15-02-2010, 22:03   #6
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So from what I've gathered so far, it sounds like El Nino will help a little in going north, but it will also produce 30 foot waves. Also, some people suggest going before July because the wind will start coming from the NW rather than the SW starting in the summer. I thought El Nino would keep the winds going SW the entire summer until 12 months after it started (which seemed to be starting last month in January 2010).

Trucking this boat is not an option, it is a 60 foot catamaran with a 28 foot beam and doesn't break down into pieces smaller than that.

Sailing to Hawaii and around the north sounds like an even worse idea during El Nino because the trade winds are not even blowing the usual directions, which means the Hawaii route will have you nosing it into the wind. Isn't straight up the coast the "best option" anyway during El Nino?
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Old 16-02-2010, 02:19   #7
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Lord only knows what it will do. Take a look at Cliff Mass' blog today. Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Not that far off shore, you'd get winds from the SW all right, with some areas seeing 50 knots, sustained, across the prevailing swells.

Take a look at the second graphic projected for Friday. There's a first class squash zone developing out there, right off Oregon/Washington, and he's expecting it to stabilize and sit there for awhile.

This is certainly not the typical pattern for this time around here. What will happen come May/June? That's beyond me. Maybe you can contact Dr. Mass and he can give you some clues. He's probably the best of the academic folks around here and (literally) wrote the book on NW weather.

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Old 16-02-2010, 15:31   #8
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Ok, I think I'm getting the hang of it. Looks like you just have to choose a window of 4-10 foot swells to sail as fast as the boat can go, and then tuck into a harbor just before the storm raises the swells to 20-28 feet.

I noticed the upcoming squash of 4-6 foot swells up against the west coast with a huge nasty area waiting to pounce behind it at Weather Underground from Feb 16 to 19, 2010.
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