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Old 17-07-2006, 12:11   #1
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against the wind

First mate and I are in the early stages of planning our sail home. We are in Phuket/Langkawi area. Home is Vancouver Island. For a variety of reasons we've decided to sail home west to east. Route-wise, we reckon there are two choices:

1) North of Borneo to the Philippines, eventually to Japan and across the North Pacific. The wrench is the South China Sea to the Philippines and Taiwan -- it's either typhoon season or you are facing contrary winds. As an alternative, we could sail to the Philippines from the south, either east or west of Sulawesi, but the wind charts don't suggest much of an improvement even if cruising Sulawesi is supposed to be out of this world.

2) Or the long route... Singapore south to Bali, to Torres Strait and south to Brisbane. To NZ, then east along roughly the same latitudes, then north to Cook Is or Tahiti. Then northwest to Hawaii, and north from there into prevailing westerlies and home. The wrench would be across the Arafura Sea to Torres Strait, again the choice is cyclones or contrary winds, but my reading suggests the seasons have a bit more cushion at the edges than in the South China Sea. Winds also appear to be contrary yearround from Torres to Brisbane, but sailing the reef will be fun regardless.
It has been suggested, of course by someone who has not done it, that from Bali I consider counter-clocking Australia!

Which route would you choose, culture and scenery aside? General comments welcome. And would love to hear about other possible routes.


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Old 17-07-2006, 13:36   #2
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A couple I met did Japan>Aleutians>Alaska and said Japan was the highlight of their entire pacific circle.

Of course most of that was cultural. it seems to me ignoring the enjoyment of the trip and looking at it purely as a delivery that the quickest deal would be Japan and across. Of course that is gonna be mostly nothing but work and long passagemaking.

Just my .02.


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Following seas,
Adam Yuret
s/v Estrella
Magellan 36' Ketch
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Old 17-07-2006, 20:32   #3
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Japan is a great place. Travelled there as a young fella. Never sailed it, but looks beautiful. China, too, which is mostly new territory to Western cruisers. The coast of China, the sights and the life, is reported to be a wonderland.

Don't want to jinx myself, but I reckon Japan>Aleutians>Alaska is pretty straightforward, long sail, warm in the summer, cool in the winter, and westerlies. Have to leave in early summer if we want to spend any time in Alaska before sailing south to Vancouver Island. The main difficulty of that route, touch wood, is getting to Japan from here.

I have been told, kinda third-hand, that there are typhoon shelters on Hainan, so could wait out the season there before sailing up through the Formosa Strait. I'm told that a recent Cruising World did a story about cruising in China. Can't get the mag here, but hope I can get a friend to tear and send.

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Old 29-08-2006, 12:16   #4
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The coconut bash

I sailed Endless Summer west to east in the tropics, OZ, New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, Suwarrow, Penrhyn, Hawaii, San Francisco.

The conventional wisdom is that the trades are too strong, but my experience (and I think that it is pretty common) is that light air and the contrary current is the real obstacle to this route. ES sails well to windward in as little as 3 - 4 knots so we were able to sail basically the whole way.

Generally, we tried to leave on the end of some strong trades, enjoy a leisurely passage in light winds and then finish up in the increasing trade winds of the next cycle. There seem to be a regular chain of small lows that move west to east just south of the equator and these help too.

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Old 29-08-2006, 13:33   #5
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There's an excellent three-part series in Cruising World (Jul, Aug, Sep06 issues) chronicling Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger's voyage from New Zealand's South Island to Prince Rupert, BC. You may want to check it out.

Also, I know that Evans sometimes lurks about the SSCA Board, so you might want to catch him there...

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Old 16-11-2006, 21:11   #6
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Thanks Bill,
I'll email them through their website. Can't get CW here, but maybe I can buy the articles online somewhere.
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Old 17-11-2006, 02:01   #7
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Old 17-11-2006, 20:55   #8
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This is related to a cruise I'm contemplating as well.

Cornell and others suggest the southern route. Stornoway went the route you're planning, from Hong Kong, and was soundly thrashed getting first to the Philipines, and then getting to Japan. Mind you, a Colin Archer, but very long slog trying to make it during the monsoon shoulder and ending up bashing to windward for weeks/months. But Japan would be a mighty fine cruise... I'd love to visit there again myself.

Depending on your budget of time and money, continuing west is not a huge difference from where you're at if you can ship your boat (from east coast or from the states, I'd budget $4000 or so.) If you're in a hurry, consider doing the same via ship to Vancouver; it will undoubtedly end up being cheaper than sailing on her bottom. There's even a boat delivery service from San Diego to Puget Sound, if you want to transit the canal and sail at least that far (I think it might be faster/safer to haul out in Brownsville, TX, USA and have it trucked to Washington state or BC.)

I'm looking forward to hearing how you're doing, what your course outcomes are!

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Old 18-11-2006, 05:08   #9
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If you're heading soon, I don't think you've picked the best time of the year for the North Pacific. If you have ample time, I'd consider either your alternate or your long route. Have you had an opportunity to look at a copy of "Ocean Routes of the World"? I think that's what it's called - it's a British Admiralty pub that describes the best routes from Point A to Pt B for each season. Sounds like fun regardless, and there's bound to be loads of culture-y things to see on any of the routes you choose. I don't know if down-under has a willy-willy season, but if it does, I would suspect it's approaching - any advice from our antipodean forumites? Good luck and have fun.

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Old 18-11-2006, 09:29   #10
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One couple powered east in the ITC (doldrums). They took aboard a couple of 50 gallon drums and just motored forever till they could lay Hawaii on a close reach. Being in the ITC, they didn't have any headwinds to worry about, the seas, if any, were long rollers and they had a favorable current. Think they started in the Marshalls so didn't come from the Far East but did motor over a couple of thousand miles. They more than halved the passage time than if they'd tried to sail it by any other route.

Wouldn't be my way to do it but something to think about if you have a good autopilot, lots of fuel tankage and a very reliable engine.

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