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Old 10-12-2008, 02:47   #1
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Inside Passage in December ?

Hi, my husband just bought an Albin Vega 27"
We are living in Juneau, AK. He would like to sail to small communities in the inside passage and/or to British Columbia right now (December).
We are new to sailing.
Any advice for us?
Anybody sailed the inside passage in the winter and would like to share their experience?
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Old 10-12-2008, 04:08   #2
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I bought my previous boat from a new sailor who took his wife sailing in the Inside Passage in October...her one and only sailing trip.

Small boat, inexperienced sailors, 35deg and winds in the 20-30's!!!

Park the boat and come and visit me in the Caribbean where you can learn to sail in a sensible environment. If you do go out choose sunny days, winds of less than 15 knots and short trips in sight of land. I was cold sailing in Juneau in June and I leaned to sail in England in the winter.

Phil
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Old 10-12-2008, 13:23   #3
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Inside Passage with an outboard engine?

Thank you for the advice.

We may want to try, just to get the boat from Juneau to Vancouver for now, to be able to live aboard there. Do you think that is reasonable? Where can we learn about the sailing weather forecast?

Do you think we could do it with an outboard engine? What size would you recommend? How much gas would it cost to motor the 27' Albin Vega from Juneau, AK to Vancouver, BC?
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Old 10-12-2008, 14:01   #4
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You'll definitely want to watch the weather, but for the most part it'll just be cold, gray and wet. You'll want to check a cruising guide - Waggoner's is good as some places might be shut down for the season. You can start checking the weather here: Text Forecasts - Environment Canada
or here: Marine Weather : Weather Underground
The definitive guide to the weather out there is the Marine Weather Hazards Manual - if you can find one: Marine Weather Hazards Manual

If you do go for it, you won't have to fight the crowds, and if you're dressed for it, it's breathtaking. Fair winds.

Kevin
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Old 10-12-2008, 14:04   #5
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I would take heed od the advice from SV Upside Down. I have been on the ferry from Prince rupert to the queen Charlotte islands. 6 hour trip turned into 24 hours of hell. I have a 41 footer and wouldn't chance it at this time of year.
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Old 10-12-2008, 16:21   #6
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Inside passage

It shouldn't be a problem. It's all protected water except around Cape caution and Price Island, which can easily be avoided by Higgens pass. Low tides are all at night in winter,and the rainy weather will be southeasterlies, so you'll be waiting for clear cold Northwesterlies for good progress. Those also tend to be very cold Northeasterlies.( Arctic outflow conditions)
You can tell by the number of trees on land where it is sheltered in outflows and where it is not. Trees are gone and bare rock shows where the outflows hit. In protected areas it can be very beautiful during outflows.
For a one trip, you can pick up those 5 gallon plastic oil cans near the government docks , free, and throw them away when you are done with them. It can be a long way between fuel sources so take lots.
Outer chanels have far more good anchorages, closer together , than the inside ones.
Keep your sails , ground tackle and running gear ice free and dry as possible so they don't freeze up. Leaving sheet tails running thru the hatch and down below for overnight stops helps a lot.
Brent
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Old 10-12-2008, 17:26   #7
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Believe me when I say that I'm not trying to discourage you from sailing -- absolutely not. I highly recommend, though, that you go out for a few all day sails, first. Slip the lines at very first light and sail all day long, toward a specific destination, returning to the dock about an hour before sunset. (Allow yourself at least 50% more time than you think you'll need, and be sure that someone knows where you are going, all the characteristics of your boat and that you will check in with them. In other words, file a float plan!) This will give you at least an idea of the possible discomforts involved as well as give you some experience on your boat.

While I appreciate Brent's intent and reassuring information, the tip-off to me is when you say you are new to sailing. Juneau to Vancouver is a long trip. The Inside Passage, while well protected from the ocean for most of the way, is not without serious hazards even for experienced sailors. The tides and currents are very serious in a number of places and if you don't know them and how to plan for them, you can find yourself in big trouble, fast. Plus, you don't have the engine power to fight many of them. Even in a situation with flat seas, there are currents that will run faster than your engine can push your boat. In other words, you can have your boat going as fast as it can go -- and you will still be traveling backwards! There are places where the currents converge in ways that the rips will come and go and push you around. If you don't know how to get your boat through them (and, really, avoid them in the first place), then you can easily find yourself thrown into rocks. And, there's nothing you can hit during the whole trip that won't be rock.

The Straits of Georgia are also not to be taken lightly. That is some big open water and it can get very nasty, very quickly. It also has a lot of commercial traffic on it -- really all the way between there and Juneau. If you don't know the rules and how to work the traffic, you can be a hazard both to yourself and others.

I have to agree with Phil -- don't take on more than you can chew, especially on the first bite. Sailing and cruising is wonderful, but it is not without significant risk. Take some classes -- visit Phil in the Caribbean -- or us, too, for that matter.

Then, you can always tackle that route next year. Brent is quite correct about it being beautiful, but it will be cold.

ID
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Old 10-12-2008, 18:50   #8
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Looks like I'm repeating a lot of what Intentional Drifter just posted, I typed it before reading his (her) post

I can’t help but throw my two cents in on this post again, and maybe I’m getting overly cautious in my old age, but here goes.

First, I don’t pretend to be an expert by any means, but I did sail a 26 footer quite extensively here on the west coast of BC for about eight years. I have worked in the logging industry for forty years from the Queen Charlotte Island to southern Vancouver Island. I presently manage 4 logging camps on the west coast of Vancouver Island around the Nootka Island area. I travel to these camps on a regular basis by boat.

Should you decide to go here are some things to consider.

It is a long way from Alaska to Vancouver. I can’t imagine you averaging more than 40 miles a day, unless you sail in the dark. And as you know it is dark a whole lot of the time right now. Hard to imagine you doing it in less than 40 days.

I imagine you have gps, but you will also need a complete set of charts. Not cheap. Radar will be a must. Even sailing only in daylight you will have lots of fog to contend with.

Those outflow winds mentioned earlier can be brutally cold. An excellent source of cabin heat is a must. As is a plentiful supply of warm clothes . In the Charlottes I wore a ‘cruiser suit’ any time I was on the water. They are not the most waterproof, but are warm and windproof and will keep you afloat if need be.

The inside passage has some of the strongest currents in the world. Pay close, very, very close attention to your tide book. I have turned back in my crew boat – 26’ with 300 horsepower – rather than go through when the tide has been running.

That’s it from me, good luck.
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Old 11-12-2008, 05:44   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Swain
... Low tides are all at night in winter ...

Definitely not !!!

Tides (high or low) arrive at the same location almost an hour later each day, because a tidal day is not 24 hours long, but rather about 24 hours and 50 minutes, and the tidal period between successive high or low tides is about 12 hours and 25 minutes.
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Old 11-12-2008, 07:52   #10
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I believe the point Brent was trying to make was that the large tidal changes, therefore the fastest currents, occur mostly at night during the winter in this part of the country.
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Old 11-12-2008, 09:07   #11
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I have done some sailing in Febuary in northern Strait of Georgia,during NW gale winds ,and it was full on,not for faint of heart.I would wait until March at least.When the ferries quit running, you know its bad.Some narrow channels winds achieve extreme force due to high steep walls,creating venturi effect.
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Old 11-12-2008, 09:10   #12
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I've got to jump into this and say that this is a very bad idea for you to be contemplating. Small boat, inexperienced sailors, outboard, Alaska, winter, Juneau to Vancouver - I don't see anything here that makes much sense IMHO. For example; the forecast for tomorrow here in the San Juans (south of Vancouver) is calling for possible 60 knot gusts with sustained winds in the 30-40 range. This is not that unusual for this time of year. The winds are going to be followed by snow and then temps as low as 15F for the next week. On top of this we are going to have tidal changes of over 13 ft. On the north end of Vancouver Island they have recorded seas of 100' during storms and not all of the Inside passage is "inside". If you were very experienced sailors with extensive local knowledge in a well equipped boat (diesel, heavy ground tackle, storm sails, etc) this would still be a very challenging trip. Be very careful, I don't want to read about you in the CG reports.
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Old 11-12-2008, 09:21   #13
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Originally Posted by bytownboy View Post
I believe the point Brent was trying to make was that the large tidal changes, therefore the fastest currents, occur mostly at night during the winter in this part of the country.

Hunnh???? Yeah, MOSTLY at night cuz it's MOSTLY night (18 hours a day).
That's TWO (2), deux, dos, posters who seem to think that fast tides sleep during the day in the PNW.

Somehow I've missed this concept, can you please explain? (Hint, see Gords' post again and tell me what I'm missing) I'm never too old to learn!
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Old 11-12-2008, 09:32   #14
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The good thing about low tides at night is you will have the rising tide to float off what you couldn't see,and coming daylight to see what you are stuck on
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Old 11-12-2008, 09:47   #15
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The biggest minus tides occur at night during the winter here vs. during the daytime during the summer. BUT, there is still a hell of a lot of water moving around during the day to keep things interesting.

John
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