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Old 27-03-2008, 06:03   #1
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Sailing Options / Times / Routes to / from Seattle to Mexico / Hawaii / Tahiti

What are the best options/routes/recommendations for sailing from Seattle area to warmer destinations (South or West) for the winter (leaving in October) but still be able to safely get the boat back up to Seattle by late spring? I'm looking to spend the winter crusing or in a warmer/milder climate and won't be able to leave from Seattle any earlier each year than October and will need to have the boat back north by May.

I could possibly have up to 6 or 7 months to cruise each year (Oct thru May) and was thinking of either heading to Hawaii/Tahiti and back or down the coast to Southern CA or Mexico (Baja or Cabo). I might be able to choose different routes/winter destinations for the next several years, so need to know what's possible/realistic and not too overly abitious for this amount of time in a nice 54' bluewater Ketch sailboat.

If you had 6-7 months to winter a boat somewhere in the PacWest area each year, what would be possible/recommended for various routes/directions to head? How difficult would it be to get the boat back up to Seattle in late Spring from either Mexico or Hawaii/Tahiti and which route would you take and what time would you leave to get back to Seattle by May?

Thanks,
Jeff
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Old 27-03-2008, 08:46   #2
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One way to handle this would be to
1. Take a week to 10-days off in mid-August to early Sept and sail the boat PNW to San Fransisco. Leave the boat in a slip in the Bay area. Not too hard to come by.
2. Oct. take the boat to San Diego.
3. Leave San Diego end of Oct beginning of Nov.
4. Enjoy Mexico.
5. End of season, load boat on Dockwise transport ship and have dropped off in Vancouver.

Paul L
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Old 27-03-2008, 16:52   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
One way to handle this would be to
1. Take a week to 10-days off in mid-August to early Sept and sail the boat PNW to San Fransisco. Leave the boat in a slip in the Bay area. Not too hard to come by.
2. Oct. take the boat to San Diego.
3. Leave San Diego end of Oct beginning of Nov.
4. Enjoy Mexico.
5. End of season, load boat on Dockwise transport ship and have dropped off in Vancouver.

Paul L
Thanks Paul. But what if I can't leave the Seattle area at all until early Oct. (ie. couldn't take any time off in mid-August to early Sept to move the boat down)? What's the weather like getting the boat down south in Oct. and how much would it cost to ship it back up via Dockwise (54' Monohull). Also, the boat would also be my residence, so how hard of a sail is it back up to Seattle from Mexico? Would you just go further offshore for a smoother ride or is it a bash either way?
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Old 27-03-2008, 17:02   #4
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Leaving PNW in Oct. means that you just might get stuck waiting on weather for a long time. The closer to winter you are, the closer you are to serious winter storms. The coast from the Straits of Juan de Fuca to San Fransisco are very serious sailing. Most all of the harbors are bar entrances that turn unsafe during heavy weather. So taking a trip down in the earlier timeframe would enable you pick your weather window much easier. The timeframe you put up is not enough to go down to Mex and sail back to the PNW. A common trip from Mex back up to PNW is to go via Hawaii. But you don't have time for that in your sched. Dockwise is expensive, but it causes no wear on the boat, and would allow you to make your schedules.

Paul L
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Old 27-03-2008, 18:04   #5
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Your sailing itinerary is going to make for a lot of time at sea. To get to Mexico, you are looking at at least two straight weeks at sea. If you do it in jumps, inertia and Wx could stretch that out to a month or easily two.

The sailing route back to the PNW makes a stopover in Hawaii a natural to break up the trip. Budget three weeks to Hawaii and another three weeks back to the PNW. For a six month cruise you are talking nearly half time that sailing on long ocean passages. For some that would be the whole reason for doing the trip. For most, having no time to hang out would kill the whole reason for the trip.

Trying to go up the coast is long slog to windward that's best considered as a power boat trip with many breaks to wait for Wx.a

Weather is also a factor. October is the beginning of the winter storm pattern in the North Pacific. You'd be lucky to get to SF without getting dusted. The other choice is to keep a Wx eye open and duck into one of the harbors along the coast between the Sound and SF Bay when a storm threatens. I wouldn't worry about it below SF, I've made the trip twice, once in January, and it's been great sailing with reaching winds all the way. Hawaii has precious few natural anchorages, none of which are safe in the big NW surf that occur very often over the winter and into April. You will be stuck with hanging out in harbors, most of which are not so hospitable here. The Hawaii Yacht Club used to give two weeks in the Ala Wai which is probably the best harbor if you think Hawaii is Waikiki. State regulations allow one months stay in each harbor, on a space available basis, so you shouldn't have a problem finding some place to hang out. The sail back to the PNW is problematical in April. Besides being colder than most of us care to experience, the North Pacific Wx is still prone to the winter storm front condition. The lows march across the North Pacific in 4-10 intervals which means you could get hit by as many as five different storms on the Passage to Seattle. May would be a much better month to sail North and June or later prefered.

Your idea is not impossible. Just plan on doing a lot of passage making and very little cruising and occasionally get your butt kicked by storms. The size of your boat is a big factor in doing the trip as you should be able to make better time than a smaller boat. It's still going to be a lot of days at sea, however.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 28-03-2008, 12:47   #6
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Peter,
What's entailed in traveling from Hawaii to Tahiti & back?
Jeff
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Old 28-03-2008, 13:27   #7
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It's a close reach to a beat down to Tahiti, somewhat easier to Bora Bora, a real toughy to the Marquesas. The Tradewinds really honk at 15-30 out of the east/northeast with commensurate waves. A doable sail but not the most pleasant and definitiely unpleasant if you go hard on the wind to try and lay the Marquesas or the trades swing too far out of the south. Winds below 0-10 degrees north can be anything from non existant to light and from almost any direction. We didn't find much in the way of consistancy for the winds below the equator. They were usually out of the SE but varied from light to moderate with none of the strong steady winds that mark the above the equator tradewinds. I'd budget 15-20 days going north and 20 days going south. You might find yourself busting either end of that spectrum depending on the strength and direction of the wind and whether you power through the doldrums.

There is a greater chance of non tradewind conditions in the fall/winter/spring. Right now, the trades have been very iffy for the past month around Hawaii. That's much to our displeasure as Kilauea has been very active, pumping a lot of junk into the atmosphere that has been hanging around instead of being blown offshore.

Of course, if you are a 6 knot Harry with lots of fuel that cranks the engine every time boat speed drops below 6 knots, then your transits could be faster. We only used our engine for propulsion for about two days getting through the ITCZ on the way south. I'm a sailor.

In our two transits of the ITCZ (Doldrums) we had totally different conditions. On the way south to the Marquesas from SD, the Doldrums extended for about 5-6 degrees of latitude. I screwed up the engine and think we'd still be there if I hadn't discovered a fix for it. Miserable conditions with zero wind, 90+ degree heat and about the same water temp, and long rolling swells from a storm to the south that kept the boat rolling like a drunken sailor. It gave me a lot of respect for Coleridges's Ancient Mariner. I would have shot an albatross just to be perverse, I got so cranky. On the way back, from the Tuamotu's, we really didn't have any no wind days. Light winds for about 4 days that kept our daily runs around 50nm but enough wind and boat speed that the vane handled the steering. Actually the type of sailing that my wife loves.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 29-03-2008, 09:25   #8
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Thanks Peter. Is there much of interest or options on the way to Bora Bora, like Jarvis or Karibati islands or other places to stop with safe/nice anchorages?
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