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Old 22-10-2012, 18:45   #1
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What to expect offshore

Hello all,

I have moderate sailing experience and have completed the US Sailing certs up to and including Bareboat Cruising. I plan on purchasing a boat this coming Summer down in So.Cal and would like to sail it back north to the Puget Sound.

I have never sailed offshore before and was wondering what to expect and what to prepare for before I make this adventure.

The boat is a 40' wooden hulled ketch with a full keel, standing rigging has passed offshore inspection, and the equipment is all intact and working. I am also interested in how to prepare my crew who have less experience than I, and in one instance none at all, and how to mentally prepare myself for this kind of voyage.

Thanks!
-Caolan.
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Old 22-10-2012, 18:52   #2
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Re: What to expect offshore

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Originally Posted by Caolan View Post
Hello all,

I have moderate sailing experience and have completed the US Sailing certs up to and including Bareboat Cruising. I plan on purchasing a boat this coming Summer down in So.Cal and would like to sail it back north to the Puget Sound.

I have never sailed offshore before and was wondering what to expect and what to prepare for before I make this adventure.

The boat is a 40' wooden hulled ketch with a full keel, standing rigging has passed offshore inspection, and the equipment is all intact and working. I am also interested in how to prepare my crew who have less experience than I, and in one instance none at all, and how to mentally prepare myself for this kind of voyage.

Thanks!
-Caolan.

Bigger waves, but farther apart.
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Old 22-10-2012, 19:00   #3
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Re: What to expect offshore

First, welcome to CF.

Second, I hope you and your less experienced friends don't get sea sick, if they do, it is better to start off on meds than to wait. The boat will always be in motion.

Third, I don't know about you, but the further from land I get the more of a conservative sailor I become, especially after dark. When I am sailing on the local lakes around here I carry a LOT of sail and usually wait to reef until after I should have. The further out I get, the sooner I reef, as I know braking my rig is a BAD idea.

Fourth, I don't know if you've sailed at night before, but it is very dark and can be very lonely out there. You can't see much if there is a lot of cloud cover, so it is like walking around in an unfamiliar basement with the lights off. If you aren't tied to the boat, you are, in my opinion, a fool.

Fifth, the first sunrise will be the best you have ever seen.

I'm sure more will pipe in, so good luck!
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Old 22-10-2012, 19:04   #4
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Re: What to expect offshore

Wouldn't that simply be coastal cruising?

Wait for the weather you like to sail in. Figure out how far the next possible inlet is. Keep looking at the weather. If it looks like things might get bad, head in somewhere and wait it out. Yup it's pretty simple.

Personally I have absolutely no wish at all to prove I can beat mother nature. I know I can't. And it's not pleasant for most people too attempt too.

If you have unexperienced crew keep the boat comfortable. If you are healing too much let some air out and make the ride enjoyable. If the sea direction is uncomfortable, change your heading to make it more comfortable if possible.

And like all sailing no matter where you are, reef way early if you see anything approaching you.

Really there won't be much difference except you will be committed to x number of hours/days until can anchor somewhere.

Oh... and don't be shy to heave to. It's great for a lot of things.
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Old 22-10-2012, 19:07   #5
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Re: What to expect offshore

There have been various threads about voyage planning for the SoCal to Pacific NW trip. Some segments might do well under motor... calm is not always a bad thing.
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Old 22-10-2012, 19:09   #6
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Re: What to expect offshore

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Fourth, I don't know if you've sailed at night before, but it is very dark and can be very lonely out there. You can't see much if there is a lot of cloud cover, so it is like walking around in an unfamiliar basement with the lights off. If you aren't tied to the boat, you are, in my opinion, a fool.
Agreed.... tether and harness at night for sure. And I have someone sleeping in the cockpit as well if there are not enough people for 2 per watch.

Night can also be a great time to do some soul searching.
And luminescence can be real cool as well.

Keep yourself occupied on night watches by keeping a log, playing with the radar, chart plotter etc.

For sea sickness, if they are even somewhat prone you might look into Bonine. Very few side effects. Needs to be taken the night before and the morning of departure.

Oh, make sure to have lots of snacks and food that has been prepared in advance. Sometimes it can get difficult to cook out there.
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Old 22-10-2012, 19:37   #7
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Re: What to expect offshore

Sailing north from south CA to WA, even though it is "coastal" is a fairly serious voyage. First you are going against the prevailing winds and currents so the trip will be uphill all the way.

Second, parts of CA it is quite far between harbors so once you're out there you are committed.

Also, especially further north, many of the harbors are at the mouth of a river with a relatively shallow bar at the entrance. In strong surf conditions there will be large breaking waves at the entrance, sometimes even when local weather is fairly benign, due to storms far out at sea. In these conditions the harbors are not safe to enter so again you may be stuck at sea.

There have been a number of previous threads that covered sailing north along the CA coast in great detail. Good idea to go back and read some of these. I think there were some recommendations for books and references that would be good to read as well.
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Old 22-10-2012, 19:46   #8
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Re: What to expect offshore

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Originally Posted by Caolan View Post
I plan on purchasing a boat this coming Summer down in So.Cal and would like to sail it back north to the Puget Sound.
sorry for saying this . . . but OUCH . . . that's not the perfect first offshore experience. It pretty much upwind all the way into decent size waves. Would be much better to be starting out going the other way.

But if that's what you have got . . . ok . . . it can be done.

Take seasick meds and fuel.
Find some good weather sources, including wave sizes, and go whenever the waves are down and stop when they are up.
Ask for a complete list of the harbors and corners you can tuck into when the waves get too big.

How to prepare yourself - this is a challenge and an adventure. It is going to be tough going but you will feel great when you accomplish it. Realize you need to man up during the tough patches and not quit. You will be fatigued and still have to make decisions, you will probably be seasick and still have to keep a watch, you will be heeled over and still need to cook a meal (its important to keep fed). Realize that most all 'normal' sailing legs/passages in the world are better and easier than this one - so if/when you make this one all the rest will be a piece of cake.
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Old 22-10-2012, 19:57   #9
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Re: What to expect offshore

never done the pac nw,but the standard op for coastal windward passages on deliveries,is take plenty of fuel,wait for a blow to finish then motor to windward and try to duck in before the next front arrives!

fuel is an expense, replacing blown out sails make owners seriuosly unhappy!
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Old 22-10-2012, 20:10   #10
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Re: What to expect offshore

I agree with Atoll that is the standard for uphill slog. However, having made this route both coastal and offshore I much more enjoyed going offshore. Keep making westerly past Pt Conception until a line roughly 800 nm off of Cape Mendocino. Turn right.

Pass south of San Miguel island when leaving the SoCal bight northbound. Do NOT plan to keep a tight arrival. Tight time schedules usually throw everything out of whack.
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Old 22-10-2012, 20:35   #11
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Re: What to expect offshore

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Hello all,

The boat is a 40' wooden hulled ketch with a full keel, standing rigging has passed offshore inspection, and the equipment is all intact and working.
Thanks!
-Caolan.
You didn't say if you have ever owned a boat before, and you may already know this, but wooden hulled boats can be maitainence nightmares. Properly maintained, they can be beautiful and solid boats. But get a little slack with them, and you'll end up repairing the hull more than sailing.
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Old 22-10-2012, 20:39   #12
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Re: What to expect offshore

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I agree with Atoll that is the standard for uphill slog. However, having made this route both coastal and offshore I much more enjoyed going offshore. Keep making westerly past Pt Conception until a line roughly 800 nm off of Cape Mendocino. Turn right.

Pass south of San Miguel island when leaving the SoCal bight northbound. Do NOT plan to keep a tight arrival. Tight time schedules usually throw everything out of whack.
+1

Some will take the more scenic route via Hawaii.
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Old 23-10-2012, 05:11   #13
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Re: What to expect offshore

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Caolan.
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Old 23-10-2012, 05:19   #14
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Re: What to expect offshore

agree with the wooden hull. make sure it is damn tight before you leave
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Old 23-10-2012, 05:41   #15
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Re: What to expect offshore

Welcome to the forum Caolan.

The combination of an inexperienced crew, a new (to you) boat and a skipper that has not sailed offshore is not a safe combination to make this trip IMHO.
Sorry to sound negative, but I would try and swing the odds more in favour or a happy a successful trip.

Another experienced crew member would make a big difference. What about advertising in the "crew wanted" section of CF?
The other thing I would suggest is a good shakedown sail. Get out in the conditions you expect to encounter, with the crew you will be using, for a tough, long sail.

Whatever you decide good luck and don't forget to let CF know how you got along.
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