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View Poll Results: Should I do it?
Do it! You'll have a blast! 2 33.33%
Do it,.. but be cautious 1 16.67%
Check your insurance coverage first 0 0%
Be extremely cautious. This can go so wrong so fast. 1 16.67%
WTF are you thinking? You're not prepared for something like this. 2 33.33%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 6. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 16-07-2007, 14:11   #1
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Question Need Advice: Newb looking to sail from Moss Landing, CA to Astoria, OR

OK,.. here's the deal. I responded to a Craigslist ad that was for someone who is looking to sail their 30' Catalina up from Moss Landing, CA to Astoria, OR. I don't know much about sailing, but I know the genral stuff (I can sail a Sunfish fairly well), and I want to learn. Anyways,.. I spoke to the owner today and he told me that he wants a crew of three; him, myself, and another experienced sailor. If I agree to this, we'd be leaving on the 25th of July and be out for God knows how long. He's also supplying all the food and transportation back home.

So here's what I need:
  • General advice
  • How long should this trip take? (roughly)
  • What should I ask or do before the trip?
  • How dangerous is this really?
  • Am I stupid for even considering this?
I think this would be a fun adventure. Ok, well maybe more of an adventure than fun, but you get the point.

Thanks in advance for the help!
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Old 16-07-2007, 15:10   #2
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If it was a smooth trip you might have a really great time and be just fine. If it isn't smooth then the other two crew may become quite exhausted without an experienced 3rd person. There is reason in having 3 people for the trip. It's perhaps a small risk, but on an overnight passage each person has to be able to do their shift. In poor weather it matters a great deal as it's really hard to pull extra time behind the wheel when you have to really work at it. The person off duty needs the rest so the trip continues well.

As long as you are up front about your experience then the skipper can then decide on their own if they feel comfortable. You should understand that part of the equation and feel comfortable too. The 3rd person might feel differently as well. Meeting the other people before the trip would be a good idea if possible. There is risk in such trips and it helps to have a clear understanding before you leave the dock. This isn't something you work out along the way. Bad feelings between crew members on a small boat is not an adventure. In poor conditions you'll need to depend on and trust each other.

Review the entire itinerary before you agree and make sure you understand what your duties will be.
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Old 16-07-2007, 15:53   #3
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That sounds like good advice. Since I don't really know either of the other two people, it makes me a bit more nervous. I have been upfront with my lack of experience, but it doesn't seem to faze them. I'm also not sure when/if they'll have an itinerary. I've only taked to the owner so far and oddly enough, he doesn't seem to have much experience, however he tells me the second person will be the 'Captain' and "has done this sort of thing before". The other thing he said that made me feel a bit better is that if at any time I wanted to disembark due to conflicts with the crew, lack of confidence, etc., he would totaly understand.

But I've received so many conflicting peices of advice now I don't know which way to turn. Some say that they would never attempt that trip in a 30 footer, others say it's fine but slower, and some say two weeks to make the trip, while others say 3 - 5 days.
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Old 16-07-2007, 18:16   #4
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This is a serious stretch of water you are trying to cover. It is very important that the skipper on this trip be experienced and understands the limitations of the boat, the crew and the harbor entrances on the way up. If you all have enough time to wait out weather and the skipper is good, this could be a great experience. You are going basically the wrong way - into the current and into the prevailing winds. Very few of the harbors have all-weather entrances, meaning that the safe course to take in bad conditions is often to stay offshore. Since you are going up hill, plan on a lot of motoring.

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Old 17-07-2007, 07:39   #5
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Eclipse...on another forum you discussed the captains lack of experience. I think that is a major factor in whatever decision you make and also might influence the poll results you get here.
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Old 17-07-2007, 09:24   #6
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I would be very cautious about this. This stretch of water, specially off the Oregon coast, is called The Graveyard of the Pacific. You will be beating into the prevailing North-Westerlies, and against the South-running current and swell trains. A course set well offshore is usually the preferred route, as there are not alot of put-ins between San Francisco and Coos Bay. And Astoria is at the mouth of the Columbia River. The bar where the river hits the ocean is considered one of the most treacherous bars in the world.
Do your due-diligence...vet out the skipper, and the boat, completely...experience, maintenence history, engine servicing, spares and the ability to repair/ replace critical items, boat stores, and safety gear ( I would not personally consider this trip, even on a well-found boat, without a current liferaft and e-pirb on board).
My advice, if you are in California and looking for a ride somewhere on a sailboat to gain some experience...sign up for crew on this year's Baja Ha-Ha. The fleet leaves San Diego, headed for Cabo, in October. Lots of Northern Ca boats will begin working their way down the coast (the preferred direction!) beginning in August and September. Go to
Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers Rally: Sailing from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas to find a crew list form, and to get the dates for the crew-finding parties coming up in both N. Ca and S. Ca.
Good luck,
John
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Old 17-07-2007, 11:08   #7
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You should definitely talk to the delivery captain, and see if you are comfortable with their personality, experience, and trip plan. The distance is about 600 NM from Moss Landing to Astoria, and there aren't very many safe harbors on the way. Most people end up motoring much (or all) of the way on a north-bound trip up this coast, and the Catalina 30 probably can't carry enough fuel to do this non-stop.

You may be able to pick up a nice south wind off the back of a low-pressure system, but you certainly won't have this for the whole trip, and in July/August it is more likely that you will see the regular winds from the NW for the whole trip. The chance of a bad storm is minor, but you should have some way to monitor the weather during the (6 day?) passage. Fog can be a problem this time of year.

This will probably be an uncomfortable slog, and you may not get to do much actual sailing. A downwind run on a southbound boat will be more fun, but the experience of a northbound delivery is good to have under your belt. The Catalina 30 is a bit small for this, but certainly many people have done this in smaller. Still, people often have boats this size trucked up the coast rather than making the passage.

If you are curious about the weather you might see, you may be interested in my archive of daily NOAA weather files for the west coast: Wx1 Info Page. These are the weatherfax files for the daily surface analysis, and the 24, 48, and 96-hour forecasts. I gave been saving these since spring of last year. There is of course no guarantee that things will be the same this year as they were the last, but it isn't a bad starting assumption.
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Old 17-07-2007, 11:25   #8
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Eclipse - All of the above are very valid advice and information. PM me off line about the names of the skipper and crew. Between Kai Nui and myself, we most likely know them.
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Old 17-07-2007, 14:41   #9
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Here is the typical weather report for the West Coast:

TODAY...WIND VARIABLE 10 KT OR LESS...BECOMING W 15 TO 25 KT IN THE LATE AFTERNOON. COMBINED SEAS 2 TO 4 FT DOMINANT PERIOD 7 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG IN THE MORNING. .TONIGHT...W WIND 15 TO 25 KT IN THE EVENING...BECOMING NW 10 TO 15 KT OVERNIGHT. COMBINED SEAS 3 TO 5 FT DOMINANT PERIOD 6 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG LATE. .WED...W WIND 10 TO 20 KT...WITH OCCASIONAL GUSTS TO 25 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 2 TO 4 FT AT 6 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG EARLY. .WED NIGHT...NW WIND 15 TO 25 KT DIMINISHING TO 10 TO 20 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. COMBINED SEAS 3 TO 5 FT. PATCHY FOG LATE. .THU...NW WIND 10 TO 15 KT WITH OCCASIONAL GUSTS TO 20 KT...BECOMING W 15 TO 25 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. COMBINED SEAS 3 TO 5 FT. PATCHY FOG EARLY. .THU NIGHT...NW WIND 15 TO 25 KT...DIMINISHING TO 10 TO 20 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. COMBINED SEAS 3 TO 5 FT. PATCHY FOG LATE. .FRI THROUGH SAT...W WIND 10 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 3 TO 5 FT.
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Old 18-07-2007, 09:37   #10
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Eclipse:

I am planning on doing the trip in reverse. There are places to stop along the way. It is a question of whether or not they will be open to get in. It is typical for a boat of that size to be haluled upwind on a truck. This months 48 North has an article on going from Vancouver Island to So Cal.

You are going to want to make sure that the boat is sound and being a newbie that will be hard to do. Catalina 30's are good boats but they are getting old. It would be good to know when the standing rigging was replaced. If it has not been replaced I wouldn't go. Standing rigging on a 20 or 30 year old boat is suspect. Ask the owner what kind of storm sails he has. It is unlikely that you will hit a storm but 40 knot winds on the nose is something that you should be prepared for.

Crewing for someone else can be a great experience or a horrible one. It is hard to find out the personality of someone at sea. I have been with people who were great on the dock but turned into Hiltler as soon as we got on the race course and thebn were great again on the dock.

Time frame at best case scenario ( a southerly wind blowing) would be 6 days. A more likely time frame would be to take the Catalina's hull speed of 5 knots and divide it by the distance of 600 nm plus 1/3 b/c it is upwind so 800 miles and then there is a counter current of 1 to 2 knots along the coast and you'll be looking at 10 to 12 days. I recently talked to a delivery skipper and he said that it would take him 6 to 8 days on a J40 (which is probably 1/3 again faster than a Catalina 30).

With all I've said I must admit that I have done things like you are proposing and survived. Just because I wanted to sail.

If I were in your situation I would try getting on some boats for the Bay Area Ocean Racing series and see how I liked the ocean for a day before I committed to a two week delivery on a boat with unknown maintenace, an inexperienced skipper, and the like.

A
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Old 30-07-2007, 16:13   #11
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Disun would be my choice for that "second mate" on a North bound run. Either way this will be a real eye opener for you my friend.
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Old 30-07-2007, 17:25   #12
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Hey,

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Old 01-08-2007, 09:13   #13
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Did anyone mention: via Hawaii ?
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Old 05-08-2007, 14:15   #14
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I hope you did it. You will have a blast. This is coastal cruising for Pete's sake not rounding the horn in winter. The US has the largest standing coast guard on the face of the planet.

On my first long airplane cross country (LA to Ohio) there were people that told me I wasn't ready and then one guy said, "It's just 200 mile trips one after another."
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Old 31-10-2007, 22:29   #15
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I've sailed around the world twice (80,000 miles). I've done the Horn, Cape of Good Hope, back & forth from SoPac Isl to NZ several times and a solo to the Antarctic.

I won't sail North up the West Coast of the US. I have enough experience to know, "Don't fight the flow".

Like has been said previously, "Why not truck the boat?".

It's a great cruise south bound, going north could be done but you need a lot of time and a lot of fuel, mechanical savy and lots of spare parts. I wouldn't even consider sailing. Just asking for trouble.
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