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Old 27-02-2014, 12:02   #16
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

So is there anyway, should I feel like it, that I can safely sail down from Washington to San Francisco earlier than late august? If I'm up there and it's June, it's a no go? If so, why?
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Old 27-02-2014, 12:15   #17
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

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Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
Know of any good online blogs or guides?
My blog ( THE VOYGAGES OF MIRADOR ) has hundreds of thousands of words, hundreds of pictures, dozens of videos of my four trips down the coast from Tacoma to San Diego and then on to Los Cabos, La Paz, and eventually the Mexican riviera.

My blog has several long and detailed postings about:
- how to get out the strait of Juan de Fuca
- timing of the trip down the coast
- crossing the bars
- avoiding gale alley
- sailing in the fog
- sailing in the light winds

I have stopped at
-Grays Harbor
- Newport, OR
- Coos Bay / Charleston OR
- Port Orford, OR
- Gold Bar, OR
- Noyo River (Fort Bragg) CA
- Half Moon Bay CA
- Santa Cruz
- Monterrey
- Morro Bay
- Santa Barbara
- Catalina
- Newport, CA
- Dana Pt, CA
- Oceanside, CA
- Mission Bay, CA

On one of our trips we spent 35 days between Neah Bay and San Diego. It was a very nice way to see all the small ports along the US West Coast.

I've done the San Diego to Los Cabos roundtrip twice and I've stopped at 14 anchorages along the west coast of the Baja California Penninsula

There is some great surfing along the West Coast of the Baja Penninsula but what makes a good surf spot often makes a bad anchorage.

San Carlos, 50 miles north of Isla Cedros, is a fantastic surf spot but we were driven out of the anchorage at sunset on the third day there when the 6' surf curled around the point and started breaking 50 yards from our boat.

A year later a 40' single handed boat was rolled in the San Carlos anchorage when he could not get his anchor up in time as the surf came rolling in.

Feel free to PM me with questions.
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Old 27-02-2014, 12:28   #18
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

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Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
So is there anyway, should I feel like it, that I can safely sail down from Washington to San Francisco earlier than late august? If I'm up there and it's June, it's a no go? If so, why?
We left Gig Harbor (35 miles SW of Seattle) on July 4 in a Tartan 42 and it was a wonderful 16-day trip to San Diego with stops in Coos Bay, Santa Cruz, and Morro Bay. We were out as far as 200 miles and also right next to the coast in places. We had a five-man crew and I was the only person with offshore experience and two were non-sailors.

We (my wife and I) left Gig Harbor on August 25 in our Caliber 40 and arrived in San Diego October 1. We never got more than 40 miles offshore and tried to minimize overnight work and made seven stops along the way from Neah Bay. We had to sit in Grays harbor for five-days when a SW 25 knot weather system with WSW 15' seas came up rather unexpectedly. It was not forecast when we left Neah Bay and by the next afternoon was forecast as a sure thing. They had closed the bar by the time we got to Grays Harbor.

We (my two brothers and I) left Gig Harbor on August 29 in our Caliber 40 and arrived in Oceanside, CA September 12. We only stopped in Port Angles, Newport and Half Moon Bay. At times we went out 100 miles to find better wind.

We (boat owner, his wife, cousin, father, and two other guys) left Gig Harbor on October 1 in a Roberts 65. No one on the boat, other than me had any sailing experience in anything bigger than a 16 foot lake boat. We stopped in Neah Bay, 5-hours in Newport, OR and Monterrey, CA for fuel and dinner, so basically went non-stop to San Diego. Most of that trip was within 40 miles of shore, except when we sailed under the Golden Gate at midnight - "just to say we did it!"
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Old 27-02-2014, 12:39   #19
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

Tacoma sailor's info is very good.

Consider George Benson's material as well: George M. Benson | Racer – Author – Sailor

You should also drop into a West Marine and go into the books section.

Lots, lots, lots has been written about this, plus whatever you can find on the internet. Might be new for you, but others enjoyed the trip and have written about it.
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Old 27-02-2014, 12:41   #20
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

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Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
So is there anyway, should I feel like it, that I can safely sail down from Washington to San Francisco earlier than late august? If I'm up there and it's June, it's a no go? If so, why?
You can safely sail down the coast almost any time IF you pay close attention to the weather forecast and don't mind sitting in small ports for a week or so at a time.

It depends on what conditions you want to enjoy or avoid.

The great capes, where there is apt to be a lot of wind and waves are:
Arago, Mendicino, Arenas, Conception

Early to mid-June
- more likely to get SW winds and swell
- less likely to get strong winds at the Capes
- more fog down to SF
- less strong NW winds
- smaller NW swells
- cold nights
- cold days

late June - mid July
- less likely to get SW winds and swell
- somewhat likely to get strong winds at the Capes
- considerable fog down to SF
- NW afternoon and evening winds will be building
- NW swell will be more constant
- cold nights
- some chance of a little warmth during the day

mid-July to mid-September
- little chance of SW wind and swell
- likely strong winds and waves at least one of the capes
- fog dissipates earlier in the day down to SF
- 15 - 25 knots from NW most days
- five to six foot NW swell most of the time
- cold nights
- good chance of some warmth during the day

late September to mid-October
- increasing chance of SW wind and swell
- likely strong winds and waves at least one of the capes
- fog dissipates earlier in the day down to SF
- 15 - 25 knots from NW most days
- five to six foot NW swell most of the time
- cold nights
- some chance of some warmth during the day

mid October to ??
- you had better really know weather forecasting
- high likelihood of strong SW storms and swell
- be prepared to sit for weeks
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Old 27-02-2014, 12:55   #21
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

The only month of the year I haven't delivered a vessel north or south from SoCal up or Straits of Juan de Fuca south is January. Some boats were larger, others smaller, some power, some sail. I've tried to avoid Mexico deliveries between June and November, primarily because of insurance/hurricane season.
The biggest difference depending on the time of year are the periods between weather windows. Be guided by weather in choosing your route inshore or offshore. In the summer months, windows of good weather are longer, in winter, windows are shorter and weather is more severe.
Having spent my formative years commercial fishing and towing logbooms and barges around the northern BC and Alaskan coasts 10 months out of the year, not a stranger to bad weather. My advice is to make certain your vessel is well equipped, seaworthy and able to withstand a strong, sustained blow. Try and have at least one experienced crew member. More boats founder because the crew is not up to the task, not that the boat isn't.
There are heaps of spots to hide out north of Pt Conception... south of Ensenada not so much. I've probably heaved to a dozen times taking an off shore route. A dangerous practice if you are coastal sailing close to shore. Personally, I prefer being out 100-200 miles, less traffic, more predictable weather and sea conditions.
I don't see a problem leaving Neah Bay anytime after mid-April provided the weather looks good. You will be dealing with short windows so be prepared. Be careful of the Columbia bar that time of year as the river begans to fill and currents can be unprdictable... stay off about 40 miles.
Washington State to Mexico is a good primer for further adventures offshore mainly because you can duck in to avoid weather or repair gear... good luck... cheers, Phil
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Old 27-02-2014, 13:04   #22
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

Here is a summary from my blog about my 2nd trip from Puget Sound to San Diego. This was a double handed trip with my wife and I. She had no offshore experience when we left Gig Harbor.

I had spent about 30 days at sea in other boats prior to the trip. I had also raced sailboats, dinghies, and sailboards for 25 years.

The trip from Gig Harbor, Washington to Chula Vista, California covered 1,389 nautical miles in 36 days. We were underway for 249 hours and sailed for 59 of those hours. We sailed downwind for all except four hours. We made seven overnight passages. The longest passage was 34 hours and the shortest was four hours.

The total trip was done as 13 shorter trips during which we stayed in 12 different marinas and spent one night at anchor. During three of the legs, there was not a breath of wind. During three other legs, the wind was from dead astern and too light to maintain a boat speed of more than four knots.

The typical wind that was blowing when we chose not to sail was from straight behind us in the five to ten knot range. As the trip progressed, we started sailing in ever-lighter winds. Our average downwind sailing wind was in the 14 – 22 knot true wind speed range. We seldom sailed if we could not keep the boat speed above 5-knots.

The strongest steady wind we experienced was from astern at about 35 knots with gusts over 45 knots while we sailed around Pt. Arena. This wind lasted for only about two hours.

The largest seas we sailed in were a little over 10 feet. The typical seas were in the three to six foot range. The most uncomfortable sea conditions were the large rollers from abeam while motoring south from Cape Flattery and the terrible wind/wave combination from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz. Once south of Pt. Conception the seas became almost a non-issue.

We suffered almost no rain during the trip but had many days of fog and mist. We experienced little warm weather sailing until south of Pt. Conception. Nighttime air temperatures, both at sea and in port, were in the high 40s and low 50’s every night until we arrived in Santa Barbara.

We found that downwind sailing is an art form that can only be learned at sea. By the time we left Santa Barbara, we were pretty confident about putting up a lot of sail to maximize our downwind speed. We also got pretty good at balancing the boat to minimize downwind rolling.

The sailing leg from Noyo River to Half Moon Bay taught us how to fly a downwind rig in more than 30 knots true wind and still be relatively comfortable. We then got a lot more practice while sailing 90 miles from Pt. Sur to Pt. Arguello in more than 20 knots true wind. We confirmed that our boat sails downwind with the best helm balance if we reef the main and keep the full genoa poled out as far as possible.

We furthered our downwind education when we put up the big drifter on a pole as we sailed from Santa Barbara to Santa Catalina. We learned that we can keep the boat speed above 5.5 knots in less than 10 knots true wind. I wish we had experimented more with that combination earlier in the trip.

We also learned that we are far more likely to fiddle with the sails and try different combinations when the sun is bright and the air temperature is over 65 degrees. I thought about putting up more sail on many days when we were north of San Francisco. The 52-degree air and the bone chilling fog and mist seemed to always keep me from leaving the snug confines of the cockpit. I suppose there are many reasons that cruisers prefer the tropics.

The light air drifter that I had made just before we left on this trip was an important addition to the boat. Once we learned when and how to use this sail it significantly increased the amount of time, we could sail. The sail does allow us to keep our boat speed above 5-knots in most winds over eight or 9 knots. If we had started using the sail earlier in the trip, we probably would have sailed another 40 or 60 hours on this trip.

Having the big drifter on it’s own built in stay and roller furler drum did make it easy to use the sail in most conditions.

I can not over emphasize the importance of good radar for this trip. We were absolutely dependent on radar for keeping track of all the fishing boats and commercial traffic. I could not imagine making such a trip without radar.

The most important member of the crew was our Autohelm ST6000 electric autopilot. The ST6000 was in control of the boat for at least 95% of all the steering. It performed flawlessly during the entire trip. The ST1000 tillerpilot connected to the Sailomat windvane steered another 4% of the time. I would be surprised if we steered by hand for a total of four hours during the entire trip, except of course while entering and leaving harbors. The ST6000 autopilot has now steered over 1500 hours with no breakdowns or failures.

Nothing broke during the entire trip. I attribute this to good luck and the huge amount of time that Jim and I spent installing systems and then sailing hard to try to break them. Our 30 day shakedown cruise that we took in July ’99 when we sailed up and down the west coast of Vancouver Island really helped us understand what systems needed more work.
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Old 27-02-2014, 22:42   #23
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

Great great stuff. I'm considering going on the west side of vancouver island first. I have plenty of time for all of this.

On a 5500 pound boat do you think the st2000+ is up to the task? Do I need a backup of are they pretty reliable. Mine has less than a couple hundred miles on it.

I'm dropping the mast to put on new standing rigging soon. Is it worth putting on a wind transducer so my autopilot can steer by wind as well? That will help me sleep better by avoiding accidental gybes right? And I keep my handheld gps next to me and wake up frequently to check I'm still going the right direction and also set my AIS alarm to alert me of any ships in the night. Thats a pretty good syst for a singlehander yes?
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Old 28-02-2014, 06:23   #24
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

Lots of boat do it, keep the coast on the left side and reverse once you pass Cabo. Really an easy sail if you watch the weather on the northern portion.

Enjoy don't over think it, but know your boat and make sure it's in descent shape.

Good luck and just do it, it's true it's warm all year long in Mexico.
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Old 28-02-2014, 17:42   #25
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

Just to reassure you guys that the trip down the coast is usually pretty easy. Here is a summary of a trip my wife and I made (overnight is in red). We were taking our time and visiting the small ports along the way:

Began in Neah Bay, Washington at 9 AM

Planned Destination Newport, Oregon
Actual Destination Grays Harbor (Westport), WA
23 Hours underway 4 Hours Sailing in NW 10-12
Maximum Wind S 15 Maximum Sea NW 4’ with 10’ crossing the Bar
Weather cloudy and cool, fog first morning, sprinkles next morning – stuck there for four days by closed bar and strong SW winds and swell

Destination Newport, Oregon
28 Hours underway 4 Hours Sailing in NW 10 -15
Maximum Wind NW 15 Maximum Sea NW 5’
Weather clear and cool first day, very heavy fog overnight until 10 AM

Destination Coos Bay, Oregon
26 Hours underway 0 Hours Sailing
Maximum Wind NW 15 Maximum Sea NW 6’
Weather cloudy & cool light fog overnight – spent two days because of strong SW swell made the bar tough to cross going out

Destination Port Orford, Oregon
9 Hours underway 0 Hours Sailing
Maximum Wind S 18 Maximum Sea 10’
Weather cold and rainy head wind all the way

Destination Chetco River, Oregon
9 Hours underway 8 Hours Sailing
Maximum Wind NW 30 Maximum Sea NW 7’
Weather light fog in AM – brilliant sunshine until 4 PM then dense fog

Destination Noyo River, CA (Fort Bragg)
31 Hours underway 6 Hours Sailing
Maximum Wind W 10 Maximum Sea NW 2
Weather sunny and calm first afternoon – heavy thunderstorms at night – fog and light W winds 2nd day

Destination Half Moon Bay, Ca
24 Hours underway 13 Hours Sailing
Maximum Wind NNE 45+ Maximum Sea 10’ +
Weather heavy rain and fog first day, clearing and full moon at night, fog 2nd AM then clearing

Destination Santa Cruz, California
11 Hours underway 3 Hours Sailing
Maximum Wind SE 30 Maximum Sea 10’+ very steep and confused
Weather Clear in AM forecast NW 10 knots – cloudy, showers, SE 30 knots all afternoon and evening – most miserable 8 hours of sailing we had ever experienced

Destination Monterrey, California
4 Hours underway 3 Hours Sailing
Maximum Wind W22 Maximum Sea W 5’
Weather clear and warm all afternoon – great sail!

Destination Santa Barbara, CA
34 Hours underway 13 Hours Sailing
Maximum Wind W 22 Maximum Sea NW 8’
Weather – overcast and fog in AM first day, clear and great sailing in 1st afternoon, calm overnight, light fog and calm 2nd morning until Santa Barbara

Destination Chula Vista, CA (south San Diego Bay)
27 Hours underway 7 Hours Sailing
Maximum Wind W 22 Maximum Sea NW 4’
Weather clear and nice sailing first day until shortly after sunset, heavy fog all night and most of 2nd morning, clear and calm into San Diego Bay
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Old 28-02-2014, 17:59   #26
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

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...
When you go under the bridge then turn left and go to Sausalito where you can anchor off the Yacht Club. ...
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