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Old 29-06-2014, 08:36   #1
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Honolulu to Seattle...

Ahoy!

I'll preface this note/inquiry with the tidbit that while I love sailing in my spare time, I don't currently own a boat. My quandary is actually for a book that I'm writing - and my quest to be sure my story is as accurate as possible.

In regards to sailing a 36' Sailboat from the Kaneohe Yacht Club in Kaneohe Bay, Honolulu to the Seattle area of Washington, I'm seeing a handful of different recommendations on what time of year might be best for this, as well as what route might be preferable. I thought it might be wise to take these questions to you, the professionals, for any advice you might be willing to provide.

Thanks so much in advance for any input!

~ M
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Old 29-06-2014, 08:50   #2
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Re: Honolulu to Seattle...

You'd take the Pineapple Express: Pineapple Express - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Since it always arrives in Seattle with plenty of rain, I'd imagine that your trip would be similarly soggy.
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Old 29-06-2014, 09:01   #3
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Re: Honolulu to Seattle...

Here's a somewhat humorous blog of a Kaneohe to San Fran trip (pretty similar to Seattle).
Tiki Blue Pacific Cup 2014: Day 0 of the return
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Old 29-06-2014, 09:11   #4
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Re: Honolulu to Seattle...

Thanks so much!
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Old 29-06-2014, 09:18   #5
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Re: Honolulu to Seattle...

Summer is definitely the safest time to make the trip. Getting on to winter a series of lows march across the North Pacific on a weekly basis. When I say 'low', read storm. The chances are very good you'll get hit by a significant storm at least three times if you leave other than late May through early September.

The typical route for a sailboat is to head north from Hawaii and go around the top of the high at anywhere from 40-60 degrees north depending on its location. Typically it's a close reach out of Hawaii that will ease to a beam reach as you go around the High. Even in summer, it will be a cool trip as sea water temps will not be above 60 degrees once you leave the environs of Hawaii. Even in Summer, you can get some nasty weather. Boats returning from Hawaii after the Single Handed Race in Augustna couple of years back got a succession of lows that resulted in one being abandoned. One skipper, even though very experienced and familiar with his boat, abandoned it largely due to exhaustion with the prospect of many more days of foul weather that had driven him way south.

Another strategy to use if you have plenty of fuel and want to go to points further south on the mainland involves powering through the high. You'd sail North staying as hard on the wind as you can comfortably live with till you enter the high. In the high, there is little wind so you plot a rhumb line course direct to your destination and motor till you come out of the high on the other side. Once you get wind which will typically be NW, you then sail on a reach to SF or LA for the final part of the passage. Might even work for Seattle depending on the location of the high. This takes lots of fuel as you will have to power for a week or more to get through the high. Know of one guy who made the trip several times lashing a 40 gallon drum in the cockpit to augment the boats fuel tankage. His last trip had to be abandoned. The wave conditions were pitching the boat about so much the lashed barrel threatened to break loose before he reached the high. He turned around, sailed back to Kona and sold the boat.

Last and not usually possible is to sail under the high. That will usually result in a beat the whole way. A very uncomfortable and wet trip. Shortest distance though probably not the quickest way to get tbere. A sailor did it this past winter to SF without self steering. He hove to at night and was on a very small boat so he spent several months making the passage, IIRC.

You should be able to find many accounts of the trip in 'Lattitude 38' magazine if you search their archives.
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Old 29-06-2014, 11:16   #6
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Re: Honolulu to Seattle...

Roverhi has it. The only thing I would add is that it's really nice to sail over to Hanalei Bay on Kauai for the first leg, get a bit of rest and then head a bit West of directly North on a starboard tack so you aren't beating hard on the wind. Your course will resemble a big hook around the Pacific high and when you feel the wind shift to be out of the west you'll start sailing down wind on big rollers toward the Straits of Juan de Fuca.
Just a hint but writing about something you've actually experienced is much easier and sailors who have actually done the route won't be so critical of your details. Make certain you find someone who has sailed the route to help with editing.
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Old 29-06-2014, 11:19   #7
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Re: Honolulu to Seattle...

Oh, and be realistice about how long the trip takes. It took me 22 days in a boat much the size of what you'll be writing about. Many have have taken much longer and many have taken shorter but I'd say 3 weeks or more is realistic.
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Old 29-06-2014, 15:10   #8
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Re: Honolulu to Seattle...

I appreciate your feedback SkiprJohn - I'm picking the brain of a friend that's done much more sailing than I & she'll be helping me with some specifics as well as reading my draft once finished - I'd plotted my characters leaving at the beginning of July, and the trip taking them 3-4 weeks - between 25 & 27 days...
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Old 29-06-2014, 15:38   #9
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Re: Honolulu to Seattle...

In 2012 we left Kaneohe for Friday Harbor (near Seattle) on August 5. The date was driven by the Pacific Cup race schedule, and wanting to get home quickly, but August is a pretty typical month to be heading back to the mainland. Here's a link to our blog, where I posted daily reports during the passage back: We’re Off! « VALIS

The first 2/3 of the trip is the same as the usual "over the top of the Pacific High" route that is taken when returning to San Francisco. You really want to have good weather reports and forecasts during the trip, since there are usually low-pressure systems coming down from the Aleutians, and you want to position yourself appropriately. I discuss a little of this in the blog.

This year there will be numerous boats (mine included) heading back to the PNW in July and August after the Pacific Cup (Kaneohe), Vic-Maui (Lahaina), and Singlehanded Transpac (Hanele Bay) races.
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Old 29-06-2014, 16:35   #10
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Re: Honolulu to Seattle...

Check out the Blogs of some who have done it.
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