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Old 04-05-2016, 18:23   #1
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Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

I'm curious how sailing down the Pacific coast say from Seattle to Panama would compare to sailing for a season in the Caribbean in terms of conditions, storms and required skill level. I was really pushing for a family sebatical of sailing the Caribbean and then through the canal and onto the S. Pacific. However, with my kids getting older and ingrained into our schools system and their social networks that is looking less likely.

So, my plan B is to continue chartering around the Caribbean at least on an annual basis and then when the kids are out of the house we buy a boat and sail down the West coast and then make the passage to the S. Pacific. I know it can blow pretty hard off the Oregon and Northwen California coast, but during summer it is always from the NW so it seems like it would pretty much be a sleigh ride down to at least Mexico. Is this plan reasonable considering all big boat experience up to that point would be chartering (though probably 30-40 charters by then) or is it asking for trouble? Seems like it would be a great way to shake out a boat and our skills while never being more than a day or so from a safe and familiar port - especially once we get into California. And we wouldn't have to deal with going through the canal. Of course I keep hoping that somehow I can convince my family to take a year or two off and cruise, but having that plan B is certainly prudent at this juncture.

Thanks,

Matt
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Old 04-05-2016, 18:34   #2
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Matt,
If you really watch your weather and harbor hop in late August or early July there is no reason you can't make the trip. The bigger seas and stronger winds are usually 50_100 miles offshore. Mexico and south is also harbor hopping but if your heading to the south Pacific you would not go to Panama, you'd probably leave from Mexico. We just ran into a Hunter 34 that came to the Western Caribbean this year and he said he motored 95% of the time coming down the West Coast. Continue with your dream. R
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Old 04-05-2016, 18:35   #3
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Matt
There's probably a dozen threads on CF discussing the Puget Sound to San Fran trip. It is a significant passage and bares taking carefully. I've done it 4 times now and each you bet a pretty good blow for 24 hrs. Try the search feature on CF. After SF the trip to Southern Cal is generally straight forward. Pacific Mexico is great and easy cruising grounds. You can spend a few seasons there easy. Most that are headed to the S PAC leave from Mex rather go down to Panama. The CA coast is more challenging than Mex.

Sailing in the eastern Carib is easy because the trade winds are so consistent - easy but crowded.
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Old 04-05-2016, 18:35   #4
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

That should have said, late August or early September
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:42   #5
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

The Caribbean is warm and inviting with relatively consistent winds.
The pacific coast of California is cold and can be miserable. Ever notice pictures of people sailing on the SF bay look like they are all wearing snow ski gear? The water is too cold to swim in.
The wind on the Coast blows inland and typically builds throughout the day.
The coast can be shrouded in fog from morning to early afternoon.

That said, if you watch the weather, you can score clear sunny days.

The Baha-haha is a big event sail that goes from Southern CA to the tip of Baha. Check out there site for info on sailing that route
Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers Rally: Sailing from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:47   #6
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pirate Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Caribbean = Pizza without cutlery.
Pacific West Coast = Spaghetti Bolognaise without cutlery.
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Old 05-05-2016, 10:57   #7
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Know couples who left Victoria too late in September and were soured forever after that. Know some who have sunk.
Don't leave too late in the season. Maybe take someone experienced with you and pick the wife up in SF. People do it all the time. Cape Flattery and the mouth of the Columbia can be brutal. Watch the weather closely.
Should be great.
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Old 05-05-2016, 11:03   #8
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Boatman best description ever. I have to remember that one. However like all parts of the world of sailing. If you do the prep and the homework and pay attention to the weather California coast is enjoyable and challenging and well a great mix of raucous to lazy. If I were you I would take one or two of those Caribbean trips and put one in the Bay area. I would sprinkle in a Seattle charter and a San Diego charter as well. You will love the variety you will see and you and your family will see the variety of sailing conditions available. You will enjoy all the sailing you will do in these locations. Good Luck and hope to see you somewhere sailing.
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Old 05-05-2016, 11:07   #9
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Matt, I have done both; even lived in Puerto Vallarta on my 41ft. I now am in the BVI and would not trade it for anything. It is always warm, water is like glass and the winds are always consistant. Also a stones throw away from St. Thomas when in need of an American fix. I have been all over the world with my job, merchant marine, and the Caribbean is the best. It has it all !!!!. The middle of the Pacific is a lonely place......Regards...Joe S/V Unitask
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:00   #10
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Caribbean = Pizza without cutlery.
This is fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Pacific West Coast = Spaghetti Bolognaise without cutlery.
This...
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:09   #11
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Last December and January two sailboats had their crews rescued and the boats abandoned. I don't know the details, but in the news, one still had a mast.
I commercial fished the North Pacific from SF north and still travel the far northern waters. The summer cycle from about April to late summer is about 10 days. 5-6 days of 20+ knot NW winds and a few days of light or variable winds. Seas & swells can be 20' or more. Almost never less than 5'. Stay 20 or more miles off major headlands because of the ground swells. I've seen ground swells around headlands of more than 50' and close together.
Several times I took a "sleigh ride" heading SE with the swells because it was the only way I could go. Once I made 22 knots while making turns for 7 knots. White water breaking down the sides and the props sucking air as the swell rolled under.
There are very few places to get out of the weather in a storm because almost every harbor has a bar that closes in really bad weather.
For a pleasant trip, planning, an eye to the weather and stops before the weather turns makes a much better trip. Don't be in a hurry.
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:19   #12
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

If you decide to sail offshore 50 plus miles in the WA Or areas you have a very high chance of getting conditions that might be a bit much for someone just starting out. No amount of chartering in the Caribbean or other areas will really prepare you for this area which is why I suggested day sailing it under ideal conditions. I don't have the patience or interest in fishing villages to day hop that area so I have always gone out "looking for steady winds" and I have never been disappointed, lol. In all the sailing I have done over the years that area has given me the roughest ride. My advice is to day sail it and sit tight in each port until you get a good forecast, it takes longer of course but removes much of the thrill. If you are an experienced sailor then forget this advice and get out there where the wind blows and fast passages are made.
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:22   #13
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pirate Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVCalliroe View Post

This...
He's talking sailing North.. it can be done but its messy.. sounds like Bolognaise with fingers to me..
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:42   #14
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

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He's talking sailing North.. it can be done but its messy.. sounds like Bolognaise with fingers to me..
I was completely OT talking Italian food... Spaghetti Bolognese doesn't exist. But that's another story.
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Old 05-05-2016, 13:02   #15
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Re: Pacific Coast Compared to Caribbean

The Carribean from FLorida to Trinidad is essentially day sailing, with a few over nighters. Much different than sailing down the west coast. Might be a lot more fun for the family to start. Different cultures as you move along also.
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