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Old 27-07-2010, 20:07   #1
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Sailing from Southern California to Hawaii - August / September / October

Aloha my friends -

I'm now planning to sail from SD or LA to Hawaii, leaving sometime between late August and October. I leant out my cruising routes book.....so I need some basic knowledge and also some expert opinion on a few items. I'd love to have the next 4-8 weeks to get some more work done on my boat before departing, so if weather was not a factor, then I'd prefer to leave in Mid September or early October.

Questions:

1. How does the weather typically change on this route as the season progresses from August through November?

2. I have a Kettenburg 43, wooden boat that I've nearly completely restored, but I've never had a spinnaker for her. I'd love to pick up a spinnaker before leaving. How much use would I get out of it on this route....up nearly all the time? Any thoughts on a smaller/heavier spinnaker vs a larger stretchier Nylon one on this route? I'm thinking Asymmetrical....

3. Typical wind speed and direction, and swell height along the route.

4. Do you guys think we're in an El Nino year? How will that affect things?

That's all for now :-) I really appreciate the help! I've searched the forums and web quite a bit for this info and haven't found much.....so any links to previous discussions or information sources would be much appreciated as well.

Happy seas!

~morgan
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Old 27-07-2010, 21:40   #2
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You have a lot to learn. Get a set of Northern Pacific pilot charts. This will give you an idea of what wind speed and direction you may experience. May experience!

August/September are not good months to leave SoCal for the mid pacific. You will have less storms latter in the year. Aug and Sept could find you in a nice Western Pacific huricane and a long way from a port.

Think about the trip back too as that need to be timed somewhat also.

Once you get into the NE trades you should have little use for a spinnaker. My opinion, and I carry a symetrical and a drifter.

Once you get one hundred miles off you will be in the real Pacific not the coastal waters and all changes. Could have a nice long western swell of 8 to 10 feet for the whole trip but could easily be twice that and shorten up considerably once and a while.

You are not ready to leave yet, as you have a little reading and work to do.

um saudade
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Old 28-07-2010, 01:02   #3
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"You have a lot to learn. Get a set of Northern Pacific pilot charts. This will give you an idea of what wind speed and direction you may experience. May experience!"

Great thoughts um uaudade, I appreciate the response. I do and always will have a lot to learn! My only experience thus far is sailing my boat down the coast from WA into Mexico in the past year. I'd love a set of pilot charts. How much do you think they'd be used on the crossing? It feels like weather patterns are changing, I wonder how accurate pilot charts are these days.

"August/September are not good months to leave SoCal for the mid pacific. You will have less storms latter in the year. Aug and Sept could find you in a nice Western Pacific huricane and a long way from a port."

What experiences/knowledge do people have as to weather patterns in Oct/Nov? How does this differ from June/July? I'm in no hurry, so waiting until Oct/Nov is no problem at all.

"Once you get into the NE trades you should have little use for a spinnaker. My opinion, and I carry a symetrical and a drifter. "

If we have NE trades and HA is SW from CA, then I'd be on a run the whole time....why would you say a spinnaker has little use?

"You are not ready to leave yet, as you have a little reading and work to do"

HAHA.....and what better place to start than here??!! I spend a lot more time sailing and working on my boat than planning or researching, so I'm hoping to expedite the "reading/work" by tapping into the fountain of knowledge on these forums :-)

I won't be making the trip back anytime soon.....planning to live around Maui for a while. Lots of questions about that too, which I'll save for another post.
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Old 28-07-2010, 01:28   #4
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morgan3: I don't understand the post from um saudade either. Sounds way more negative than necessary. Aug and Sept do have a history of hurricanes launched from Mexico towards your route to Hawaii. I don't have Jimmy Cornell's book here, but I'd think a late October departure would be fine. Most crossings are made by sailing a bit south of the rhumb line. But results vary.

Pilot charts a pretty handy. Unfortunately the very set you need is not on the internet....all the others around the world have been online for years...your government at work.

No spinnaker in the trades? Must be a typo.
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Old 28-07-2010, 09:39   #5
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Quote:
4. Do you guys think we're in an El Nino year? How will that affect things?
According to NOAA back in April, it was considered possible that this might be a La Nina year, but the effect would not be noticeable in the NE Pacific:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/product...y/ensodisc.pdf

As regards hurricanes, keep a "weather eye" out and have some way of getting frequent weather updates - AirMail, Iridium phone, NOAA radiofax, whatever. If you think one is headed towards you - go north.

Regarding pilot charts - good planning information - they relate to climate - not good for weather prediction. You could use them to plot your daily position (with a sharp pencil)...

As for sea state - swells, seas, etc., try FNMOC (the US Navy at work):

https://www.fnmoc.navy.mil/wxmap_cgi/index.html

Michael
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Old 28-07-2010, 10:54   #6
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Captain Negative up there is probably one of those bitter/angry people that we all (sadly) know all along the water. You can download for free (or buy printed) the NOAA coast pilot #7 if you don't have it already.

From NOAA: United States Coast Pilot®
A little write up: Rebel Heart - The boat and her crew - Eric's Blog - use your noaa coast*pilot

The speculation around here is that we'll have a La Ninja winter, and you can get up to the day estimates on what the summer will look like here, also on NOAA: NOAA/PMEL/TAO El Nino: What's happening now?

Before I'd advise on sails I'd just ask how many people you're going with. Single handing a 43' boat across the Pacific is tough enough let alone running a symmetrical. Hard to go wrong with an asymmetrical. I'd go with a drifter over anything if I had to pick one just for the flexibility. It's not perfect for down wind runs, but it works. And you can use a spinnaker (asymmetrical or otherwise) for a beam reach in 2 knots, which you can use a drifter.
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Old 28-07-2010, 15:11   #7
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It's funny how the negativity works on the internet....seems most truly good ideas are quickly countered with a mindless negative force working through unaware people....disinformation. Our poor government leaders are likely victims of the same negative alien influence!

Rebel heart and SVcambria - Thank you for the links, very helpful. I didn't realize the pilot charts were free on the internet....great!

I'll have a crew of 3 maybe 4, so spinnaker handling should be fun. I do have a drifter already....which I used most of the way down the coast. It works, but I have a potentially pretty fast boat, so I'd like to get all I can out of the lady :-) I need to make a pole, planning on one that will store vertical against mast, I have nice bronze end fittings, just need to make the pole....which will probably be out of Fir maybe spruce if I can find it.

Once I have the pole done I'd like to try flying twin jibs as well. Would be a 165% drifter and a 105% yankee jib.....maybe try flying the drifter loose (not using the hanks). Any thoughts?

I seem to remember Cornell's book saying best time to go is May-Sept. But it sounds like here the consensus is October being better than August/Sept, which makes sense to me knowing that the hurricane season peaks in Aug/Sept and dies off by October.

How will the weather typically be different in Mid October versus July?
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Old 28-07-2010, 15:57   #8
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Morgan 3:

Hawaii is rarely (if ever) hit by hurricanes. There are four races that I know of that leave the west coast for HI and they all leave in July. Transpac, Vic Maui, Pacific Cup, and Singlehanded Transpac. If you have a SSB you can listen for forecasts of a hurricane and keep North to avoid any problems from them. Here is a link to the Pacific Cup website. They have good information about racing there that is also useful to voyage planning. Race Tips: The Book | Pacific Cup If youhave to ask about a spinnaker you probably don't want to use one. The learning curve is rather sharp and while they are really good for boat speed they are also a pain when things go bad. When I raced the Transpac we put the Chute up on the third day and then never had it down after that. We would do "peels" so that a chute was up the entire time. Not worth it if you are not racing though. A good rig to look into is a twizzle rig The Twizzle Rig or Twistle Rig for Downwind Ocean Sailing. The Keettenberg is a great boat but it is heavy and you would have to look at its polars to see if it would be best to go dead down wind or reach up for better speed. You might want to reach up just for comfort if the boat starts rolling. I'll look at my pilot charts but I don't think that there is a worry about hurricanes. Last time I checked you could not download the Northern Pacific from the website.
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Old 28-07-2010, 15:59   #9
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Rebel Heart - Thank you for the coast pilot link, that will help. It looks like a lot of the pilot charts (different than "coast pilot" books) are digitized and posted here:

NGA Pilot Charts, URLs for direct downloads - SailNet Community

But as Daddle mentioned the North Pac is missing, not yet digitized.

Is it true that the data in pilot charts is from the 18th and 19th centuries.....over 100 years old? Seems like an awful waste of time trying to sift through so much old ass data!
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Old 29-07-2010, 15:19   #10
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Interesting that my post is considered negative by some. Oh Well, I am far more the pragmatist than the dreamer.

As to the spinnaker comment I made: If you don’t have good experience with the spinnaker before you go, don’t plan on learning at sea, as it could get dangerous. Overly fussy? Perhaps. I think cautious. If you told me you have flown a couple of different head sails configurations and are comfortable with all of them then I would tell you to definitely have them all on board. This is where I say you have a lot to learn.

It takes several daysails and lots of tries of getting the spinnaker up and down before you get good at it.

My idea of practice is run the sail up and sail a bit, the drop and stow the sail. Then do it again. Then a run-up and a gybe or two and bring it down again. Then go home, bring everybody together in the cockpit and discuss what went right and what went wrong. Go home and study the books and talk to a few people that may know. Do that on several different days with different conditions and you will get the hang of it and start feeling as if you can do when the feces impacts on the rotor blades.
The hardest part of cruising out of Southern California is getting off the coast with the light, confused winds extending out at least 100 miles. I don’t call that negative I call it fact.

As to storms: I took my info of the top of my head. This is from Jimmy Cornell: "August and September being considered the most dangerous months." Hawaii has had hurricanes and western Pacific hurricanes can wander into the higher latitudes in severe cases.

Sorry I told you that you have a lot to learn. You have to figure that out for yourself. You seem to repeat things you pick up and take them as absolutes. Not a good idea. Everybody is entitled to an opinion and it is just that. Facts are far more balanced consensus.

The published pilot charts, whether down loaded or print, are all based on the same data set. There may be a year or two of additional data in the on-line stuff depending on the date of printing. No one would say that pilot charts are for actual charting of position! Pilot charts are a big part of the planning phase, getting an idea of what to expect for winds in the areas you are considering sailing. You may be able to get enough scuttlebutt from a few guys and then you would not have to plan. I recommend you get the right stuff to plan this trip so you can properly plan the next trip and the next. It is a process of cumulative data and experience.

There may be a book called sailing simple or something like that but I have not seen a copy!
 
 
I learned from these posts. I learned that a lot of guys are far better sailors than I.

um saudade
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Old 29-07-2010, 16:01   #11
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Here is a link to wikipeida that gives the number of hurricanes that have hit Hawaii. It seems that before they arrive in Hawaii they have the courtesy to turn into storms or depressions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hawaii_hurricanes
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Old 29-07-2010, 17:02   #12
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Originally Posted by morgan3 View Post
4. Do you guys think we're in an El Nino year? How will that affect things?
Last month the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service (USA) declared the El Ni˝o event to be over.

Here's the link: Climate Prediction Center - Outlooks
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