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Old 24-09-2008, 14:02   #1
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November from British Columbia to California

Well, our boat will not be ready (not sailable at the moment) in early October as planned. As you all know, any project on a boat takes at least twice as long and costs at least 4 times as much! Anyway, it looks like it will be ready in a month - early November.
Has anybody any experience going down the Coast that time of year? Obviously we will have to harbour hop, and I realize that it totally depends on the weather patterns in a given year. Just wanting some feedback from anybody who has made this trip in November, and what was it like? Or would we be better off in Dec or Jan? Are any winter months potentially better than another? Any advise would be much appreciated!
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Old 24-09-2008, 14:43   #2
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Bad time. If you must try it, I suppose you could do a lot of trip planning so that you can leave one harbor, motor hard and fast in the calm, and reach the next before the following windstorm. Check the pilot charts, but generally we seem to get heavy winds in mid Oct to at least end of Nov. After that it's a turkey shoot. I would say we get storms with 50-70 mph wind gusts half a dozen times each winter here in Washington. Most the stopping places have river bars that can get treacherous fast.
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Old 24-09-2008, 15:28   #3
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Wind

I agree with Cheechako. Last year after Thanksgiving, we had 100+ mile per hour winds on and off for two days. I know that's rare for the PNW, but it's generally not a good time to cruise south from up here. Plus, they tend to come from the West/SouthWest which makes the trip even more troublesome.. In contrast, we wind from the North in late summer which makes for a nice run down.
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Old 25-09-2008, 14:16   #4
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Its alot easier to get boat fully ready before you leave homeport,make sure you are ready for Gale force winds..I have sailed down to California from Vancouver,harbour hopping,in July.Winds along coast reached approx. 30 to 35 knots every afternoon.A wild ride by lunchtime most days.Fog would develop after sunset,making harbour entry challanging;(no radar or GPS) Leaving by Sept.1 used to be considered the safe cutoff for southbound small craft.There is somewhere to stop every 60 miles or so,weather permitting.As long as swell is not high most entrances are passable.I wouldnt do it again without radar and GPS.
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Old 25-09-2008, 16:01   #5
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[quote=BluesTraveler;208941] Last year after Thanksgiving, we had 100+ mile per hour winds on and off for two days.

Did that, it was Dec 2 & 3: 126 mph clocked in South Beach, I heard the freight train. . . .You would not have wanted to be out of the [well-protected] marina!
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Old 25-09-2008, 17:51   #6
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I have done that trip around Nov-Dec more times than I care to remember. Both sail and commercial towing

Paid deliveries on very well found Sailboats (S&S..Swans) were the only ones I would consider, usually for clients that wanted their boats positioned for Antigua week.

Waiting for an offing at Neah Bay with a tough crew who were prepared to live in a wet suit for days was the standard preparation. Sometimes we were lucky and caught a good weather break, other times it was Gale, Gale, Storm, Gale.

Your idea to harbor hop is very dangerous. If you need to run for shelter in that long unprotected coast you will find places like Astoria and Coos Bay untenable in bad weather, putting yourself at great risk.

Also counter currents and the effects of the Columbia river make the seas treacherous if you stay near shore.

That time of year you need to create distance from a lee shore and be prepared to survive bad weather.

You didn’t say anything about your boat or experience, but that is not the time or place for the untested.
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Old 26-09-2008, 05:20   #7
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I have done that trip around Nov-Dec more times than I care to remember. Both sail and commercial towing
Paid deliveries on very well found Sailboats (S&S..Swans) were the only ones I would consider, usually for clients that wanted their boats positioned for Antigua week...
Good advice; but I wonder about positioning boats for Antigua, via BC to CA.
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Old 26-09-2008, 05:56   #8
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If memory serves me correctly Gord…. Antigua week is around end of April so heading down the west coast, thru Panama and up to Antigua, was the delivery brief.

The late deliveries were due to the boats coming back from the Vic-Maui races for some local racing/cruising and refurbishing before heading to Antigua. It was a tough cycle but these were serious campaigning maxis in their day (late 70’s early 80’s).

That is probably why I hate racing!
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Old 26-09-2008, 06:17   #9
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If memory serves me correctly Gord…. Antigua week is around end of April so heading down the west coast, thru Panama and up to Antigua, was the delivery brief...
Ah, CA, then thru the Canal & up ...
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Old 26-09-2008, 18:26   #10
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Consider trucking the boat. It will cost less than the broken gear, and you'll arrive with less stress.

Your insurance company would even consider letting you sail then?
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Old 26-09-2008, 20:20   #11
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I'll join the crowd in saying that unless you have extensive offshore experience including storm conditions this is a bad idea. Research the weather for the last several years off the coasts of Washington and Oregon from Nov. - Mar., storms roll in regularly and more often than not the bars are closed by the USCG, so you can't count on ducking in to avoid bad weather. You will have to be prepared to go to sea and ride out whatever develops. Not saying it's impossible, just go into it with your eyes wide open and be prepared.

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Old 26-09-2008, 21:39   #12
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Trucking

I agree on trucking. The only hope is we often get a 10 day "break" in late January or Feb. It consists of east winds (often cold). It is a false spring. I have seen the beach flat for days, but with east wind howling, it would be rough not too far out. This coast sucks. I fish in the Bearing Sea and have since 1980. I lived on the Oregon coast for most those years surfing and watching the sea. I would much rather have the Alaska coast line to deal with any day then those lousy river bars.
I ran into an engine glitch years ago on my 37' cutter and we were trying to go south as you are. Everything was ready, house gone etc. But when we could not get it ready untill Nov. 1st I had to call it off for the winter. It was a heart break, but I was not going to do it. We ended up living onboard that winter in Astoria Ore. The same place Lewis and Clark was "A most miserable and depressing winter place".
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Old 04-10-2008, 11:24   #13
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I would be south of Point Conception before November. It can be an ugly place sometimes with 20ft. plus waves, and other times the Point can be like this.......... I have seen it both ways & both AWESOME!
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Old 04-10-2008, 13:31   #14
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The chances of getting dusted are pretty good at that time of year. Know of a 6'4" guy who went completely underwater standing in the cockpit of his W32. The good thing is you'll probably have force 4 plus winds from the NW when the storms aren't happening. You should be able to make 200 plus mile days (we averaged 175 mpd in a W32 through the water, close to 200 over the bottom with the current) which greatly lessons your exposure. SF is always an option to hide as long as you ride the tide under the Gate. Against the tide is very exciting/dangerous with large seas running, however.

Staying inside and harbor hopping is a possibility as there are a lot of good harbors as far south as Eureka, CA. You have to be absolutely sure your tucked inside before the waves hit as these harbors all have bars that close out in storms. You don't want to be caught outside close to shore.

Once you get south of SF, things are a bit better as the bad weather tends to stay north. though not always. Point Conception is notorious but it's a crap shoot. Have had conditions from flat calm to blowing 30 plus. Most memorable was one when we we''d been reaching in force 3-4 till we approached the Point. Wind suddenly climbed to force 5 and caught us with a reacher up. A bitch getting that sail down. As soon as I'd handed the sail and put up the staysail, the winds died. Flat calm all the way to Newport Beach. If you need a break, there is a good anchorage in NW winds just around the point.

It's a passage I'd do. The key is not being in a hurry. Wait out the storms. Whichever strategy you take, don't try and force a passage. Once you commit, go for it with gusto. If your plan is to stay out, stay out and gut it out. Conditions will be interesting but a well found bound should be able to handle it. If you are going inside, be a chicken. Hide ASAP when there is a possibility of a storm.

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Old 05-10-2008, 10:44   #15
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You might also consider the experience of your crew or partner. I know of two late departure instances (and not as late as yours) where after years of preparation they sailed down the coast only to have the partner "abandon ship" at a stop before southern california. It's a helluva way to start a dream cruise.
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