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Old 05-05-2016, 13:06   #16
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Thanks for all of the great info. Gives me a lot to chew on. Maybe buying a boat in San Fran or even Southern Cali and going south from there makes more sense. I have sailed out of San Diego before and I have surfed and windsurfed the Oregon coast and am aware of the obvious differences in climate. I guess it's the sailing conditions and potential threats of the Northern Pacific coast that are a bit elusive to me. Sounds like caution is certainly in order and as robert sailor suggested, maybe day sailing as much as possible would be the more prudent strategy. My thought was that a trip down the Pacific coast would be a good way to prepare for a Pacific crossing. However, it actually sounds like the Pacific coast is potentially more dangerous than a Pacific crossing in the more more moderate latitudes - at least in terms of conditions. For now I'll keep chartering and building up my experience and credentials. Maybe an ASA offshore or passage making class would be a good idea too, and then crewing with some more experienced crews.

Thanks again!

Matt
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Old 05-05-2016, 13:08   #17
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Seems to me that it might be better to consider Plans C, D, etc. If you live in the Puget Sound area you might buy a boat sooner rather than later and do summer cruises there (BC is easily in the top tier of cruising destinations). Then when you are free to cruise you will have the boat and experience - and it would be a great family experience. Alternatively, when you are ready to go buy a boat in California and sail to Mexico, spending time there until you and the boat are ready to go. Why you would plan on buying a boat in the PNW just to head south is beyond me. The trip is quite likely the hardest passage you will make in your cruising life; doable but difficult and often quite unpleasant. Those summer NW winds howl in the afternoons - we have kite flying contests on the coast at that time. Those conditions are great for stout boats and stouter crews, not so much for others.

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Old 05-05-2016, 13:18   #18
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

All too frequently a first passage down the PNW coast results in giving up the dream, losing the mate to cruising (why it is recommended to meet the spouse in SF), and/or damage to the boat. It is basically baptism by fire. Before doing it one should be comfortable as master of the boat in gale winds/waves, and the boat must be in solid condition. As a first passage it is a bad idea.

Unlike most cruising grounds, the harbors are not spaced 30-50 miles apart for easy day hops. There will be 2 day trips even when harbor hopping, and if the weather turns it can be longer. Remember, there are no all-weather harbor entrances between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and SF Bay - they are all unsafe to enter in a small boat in heavy weather.

Food for thought.

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Old 05-05-2016, 13:53   #19
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

This is all great info. I was skeptical about sailing the Pacific coast - especially Washington to California - so that is why I asked. I would love to buy a boat in the Puget Sound area or maybe Anacortes but it is just too far for us. We live in Southern Washington (Columbia Gorge) and with three active kids I don't think we'd make it up enough to make it worthwhile. It would probably make just as much sense to buy something in Southern California and fly down to use it. So, I guess its just chartering for the foreseeable future for me and sailing here on the river while I keep scheming for a way to get out there before it's too late. I'm not giving up though, just facing the reality of where I'm at for the time being.
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Old 05-05-2016, 14:13   #20
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

At first thought the question was posted by a troll. There is no comparison between the two. Very different experiences; vastly different weather systems; and quite the extremes in comfort and safety. But then you knew that already, i hope.
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Old 05-05-2016, 14:32   #21
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Matt,
Never give up your dream. All actions start with dreams and yours is worth pursuing. There are few things we have done in our lives that pegs out the old fun meter more than cruising. We have cruised the South Pacific and the North Pacific and there are places that are off the milk run that are truly unique. We have also cruised the Med for a couple of years and then jumped across to the Caribbean, we are now in the Western Caribbean. Knowing what I know now I think a real good plan would be to start out in the Eastern Caribbean. There is lots to see and do, the anchorages are well protected and the sailing is easy with wonderful Tradewinds. After a year of learning the ropes I'd make my way down from Grenada to the ABC islands and hang out there for awhile, probably Bonaire where they have world class diving. From there head over to Colombia and have a world class experience in a real cultural change, all good I might add. Move on to the San Blas Islands where you will get some great experience in sailing around lots of reefs and skinny water. That will set you up for sailing in the Atolls in the South Pacific. After a month there boggy on over to the Panama Canal, it's just a short sail. Now you have all the experience you need to cross the Pacific. No matter who tells you its similar to the Caribbean just tells you they haven't been there, it's a unique and beautiful area, especially when you are off the path well traveled. There you go, something to keep you dreaming.....R
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Old 05-05-2016, 15:22   #22
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

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Matt,
.......start out in the Eastern Caribbean.....After a year of learning the ropes I'd make my way down from Grenada to the ABC islands and hang out there for awhile, probably Bonaire where they have world class diving. From there head over to Colombia and have a world class experience in a real cultural change, all good I might add. Move on to the San Blas Islands where you will get some great experience in sailing around lots of reefs and skinny water. That will set you up for sailing in the Atolls in the South Pacific. After a month there boggy on over to the Panama Canal, it's just a short sail. Now you have all the experience you need to cross the Pacific. No matter who tells you its similar to the Caribbean just tells you they haven't been there, it's a unique and beautiful area, especially when you are off the path well traveled. There you go, something to keep you dreaming.....R
Robert just described the last two years of our cruise, with our now 14 yr old daughter and 16 year old son! We're currently in Fiji waiting for weather to head back north to Fiji now. We've loved every bit of it, but I do have to say the S Pacific (for us anyway), beat the Eastern Caribbean hands down. The Eastern Caribbean was fun, but starting with Bonaire, Columbia, San Blas, the canal, Galápagos, French Polynesia.........it just kept getting better!

I don't think there's anything wrong with either of your plans.

Where are you located?

Good luck with your plans!
Mark
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Old 05-05-2016, 16:27   #23
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

I would save the Pacific coast for your later years when you have more experience and time and want a challenge. Did the trip north to Vancouver 3 years ago from LA and had an amazing time but no time pressure. You really have to pick your weather but it's a great feeling to have done it. We were the only boat heading north. Had fog for about 40% of the time.

This is not a trip you do for fun but great to look back on. Many challenging headlands to get around and you lay awake at night in harbor and have bad thoughts of the next major cape to get around and what it will be like when you get there. Swells can bump up from nowhere and for seemingly no reason. Rounding Cape Flattery and getting into the strait was the highlight and we got to see a couple of boats heading the other way......... a few more brains than us.
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Old 05-05-2016, 16:59   #24
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

So I actually LIKE sailing in cold water and larger seas, but I'd really want a boat and (experienced) crew up for it, and prepared, to kind of be sure the leg from WA to Pt Reyes is enjoyable and safe. I think your idea of buying in SF and heading south is the best one. There is still plenty of cold water fun to be had between there and Point Conception! That said, if you do sail down from WA, most other places will probably be fairly easy and comfortable in comparison.
Since you mentioned buying in SoCal and flying down to use it, check out my neighborhood, Channel Islands and Ventura. There are slips and some really nice islands to cruise around. But don't tell anyone!
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Old 05-05-2016, 18:07   #25
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

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Originally Posted by capnmatt View Post
... However, it actually sounds like the Pacific coast is potentially more dangerous than a Pacific crossing in the more more moderate latitudes - at least in terms of conditions. ...
In my six mainland - Hawaii round trips, by far the toughest conditions I've encountered were within 200 miles of San Francisco. Even worse was our 2014 Washington to San Francisco trip. We were about 50 miles offshore of southern Oregon and had 60kt gusts and 15-20 ft waves. That was an adventure! (Photos here: The Friday Harbor to San Francisco Delivery in Pictures « VALIS)

But with proper timing and good luck the southbound trip can be OK. I just wouldn't do it until you and the boat have some experience together.
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Old 05-05-2016, 18:16   #26
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

The authors of Charlie's Charts of the U.S. Pacific Coast have transited the coast many times in motor vessels, giving all the "ins and outs" of routes and ports, providing lots of useful information.
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Old 05-05-2016, 18:28   #27
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

👍 Plus 1 for Charlie's Charts.


S/V B'Shert
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Old 05-05-2016, 19:20   #28
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

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Caribbean = Pizza without cutlery.
Pacific West Coast = Spaghetti Bolognaise without cutlery.
+1, boatman... Well said! Have not spent much time in the Caribathtub but spent around 20 years delivering boats, power and sail, up and down the west coast. The only thing that changes out there is the length the weather window stays open and water temps north of Point Conception.
Best months are August-mid October but fog can shut you down any month of the year unless you have radar and hang 50-100 miles off shore.
Many milk run officianados leave PV or Ztown and head across in a mob. A few head further south but run the risk of little or no wind.
All in all, a great experience for the kids before they leave the nest... Phil
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