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Old 18-02-2014, 02:34   #1
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Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

How is this for difficulty level? I'm thinking I will cruise Canada for a couple months and then try to make SoCal in July or August. Baja in November.

Are there any anchorages on the pacific coast of baja? Is it a less difficulty level than sailing to Hawaii which I do not think I am ready for.

I've been reading some pilot charts and there are a lot of good places to go once you are in Mexico. It really seems to set you up nicely for the trades to the South Pacific.

Is Mexico safe? I've read some bad stories of people driving down baja. But the boat world is often a better world. Like, cruising California you see the best places. You don't anchor is Stockton or Bakersfield. (Except for those people that seem to keep their boats docked in south central LA, I haven't figure that one out)

How much time is spent on multiple day passages?

If there were no people or cultures to add or subtract to the quality of a place, hands down my favorite climate is SoCal / baja desert / Mediterranean climate. Desert meets water. Love it. And it's not too hot either.
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Old 18-02-2014, 03:21   #2
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

The trip from the PNW to San Francisco can be done a couple of ways. Inshore that can be day sailed (motoring) with over nights in little fishing villages or get offshore 50-100 miles and sail direct to SF or locations further south. (sail)

Once your in California its pretty easy sailing and you can pick and choose your weather.

When leaving San Diego for Mexico for the run down the Baja its pretty nice sailing, gets warmer each day and several good anchorages along the outside of the Baja. Turtle Bay is a popular stop over.

Mexico is usually a fun experience for cruisers having their first cruising experience, it grows on you but if you have any real adventure in your heart you will want to move on. You will meet like minded folks on your way south starting in Washington....its not a hard trip and its an excellent way to gain experience while still keeping one toe on land. If you do decide to go you'll have a great time!
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Old 18-02-2014, 03:44   #3
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

It's not a hard trip? That's good. The only part I'm nervous about is the Washington to SF part.

If you're close to land the wind dies and you can motor? There's not a place to stop every night though is there?

All in all I like your attitude. It makes me feel more like I can do it than less and what i need is advice and confidence boosting.
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Old 18-02-2014, 04:22   #4
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

You are right in that the sail from the PNW to California is the more challenging leg. I have sailed it 5 times but each time I went 100-150 miles offshore and twice I had a very boisterous sail.
Friends did the one foot on the shore and motored a lot and took a long time to get to San Francisco because they were afraid of the bigger seas offshore. They watched the weather and stayed in port unless it was just about perfect and this worked well for them. I think the longest leg between ports is around 70 miles so as long as you start early you can pretty much day sail it. This area has a less than stellar reputation that has been earned because it can get terribly nasty plus there are bars that need to be crossed to get into many of the ports and traffic close to shore but if like my friends you pick and choose the weather carefully you should make the trip with few if any problems assuming your boat is well found and you operate it with a reasonable amount of common sense.
The offshore route is still my favorite but if you don't have confidence in going out that far then the inshore route is certainly doable even though it takes longer.
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Old 20-02-2014, 01:12   #5
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

Ok. So I am going to make this my plan.

I'm going to get started may first(ish) and practice in BC. Around July I will head down to California. Once I get going I can decide which route is better for me offshore or close to shore. I may even mix it up depending on weather.

I like California. I feel better in California. I can do this. Good boat. Well found. Will get to know it and make it more well found in the early summer.

I have a list of things I want to do to it. I'm trying to prioritize them all now.

I'm trying to elevate my sailing level. I'm working up to being a singlehanded blue water sailor. I wrote a post earlier about sailing to Hawaii and I may not be ready now but maybe by the time I get to California I will be. Or I can spend some time there or go to Baja.

For all you California sailors, I know one of the best things about the PNW is that you can anchor almost anywhere. What places south of the golden gate would you recommend and good places to spend a week or two. I like to anchor more than stay in marinas. I've read about some and I don't want to offend as I'm not saying I'm any better than anyone else, but I'm not sure I would be comfortable in grungy liveaboard anchorages. I had hear one reason California doesn't let too much anchoring go on is because perhaps non sail able vessels take up permanent residence there. I would rather anchor amongst other active sailors and cruisers. So which places are like that?

Places I want to see the most are:
San Francisco/Sausalito.
Santa Cruz
Monterey or Carmel
Anywhere south of big sur and north of point conception
Ventura
Santa Barbara
Newport Beach
San Diego.

I realize that pretty much everywhere. Should I mention I want to stop at the Channel Islands and Catalina? Lol. Ok. I guess I REALLY want to do this. I just want to blow past Washington and oregon. And NCal.
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Old 20-02-2014, 01:13   #6
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

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Old 20-02-2014, 01:28   #7
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

When you are approaching San Francisco if the timing doesn't work for a day time entry pull into Drakes Bay, lovely protected large anchorage..you'll see it on the chart right behind a headland outside of SF. When you go under the bridge then turn left and go to Sausalito where you can anchor off the Yacht Club. There are may places to go in the bay but this is a good first stop that allows you to get your bearings as well as anchor.
Everyone that I met that sailed to Hawaii was experiencing their first offshore sailing and this was pre GPS days. I had this idea that when we all got together for a dinner before departing that I was going to be able to really pick their collective brains and learn a lot about offshore sailing. Halfway thru the nite I looked at my wife and said, the scarey part is that we are the most experienced sailors here.
Its really about self confidence and common sense because I have met sailors all over the world that had very limited training but it didn't stop them from going offshore. If its really something you want to do then you'll probably end up doing it.
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Old 20-02-2014, 01:41   #8
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

My wife and I are planning the same run and have been doing a lot of research on the run from Washington south. Everything I have read says leave Neah Bay no earlier than August and no later than the first week of October. If you plan on staying close to shore, make sure you wait for conditions to be perfect. If you get stuck in the yuck, you do not want to be running for harbor with the sandbars. We would prefer to do the day sail south but I think we will be taking the offshore route to get to San Fran, then day sail the rest of the way. I am a surfer so we plan on taking our time along the Baja coast. From what I have read and discussed with other sailers, lots of great places along both the Western and Cortez Baja coast for anchorage, but supplies are extremely limited once you leave Ensenada until you reach Cabo. As far as safety is concerned, I would highly encourage you to not worry about what anyone tells you. I grew up in Baja and like many places in the world, if you are looking for trouble, trouble will find you. Use your head and don't put yourself in unsafe situations. Other than that, Baja and all of Mexico is absolutely amazing. Sad to say we have a little more time until our journey begins.
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Old 20-02-2014, 02:20   #9
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

We found the 2 best stops down the Baja were Turtle Bay and Santa Maria.

Leaving the PNW Neah Bay is best done late August early September. If your day sailing it you might leave 10 days earlier. If you leave too early you run the risk of lots of fog, this is after all one of the foggiest areas in the world and there is lots of marine traffic close to land so who needs to be sitting with their eyes glued to the radar. These days you get pretty good weather reporting but if you find that the wind comes up making a bar crossing difficult then just get more sea room and sail thru the night to get to the next stop. Nothing to sweat about!
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Old 20-02-2014, 02:54   #10
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

I'm a surfer too. I plan on surfing a lot once I get to san francisco on south. Are there many places to stop on the pacific side of baja? I need to find a good guide to cruising baja. I haven't learned much about it yet. I was under the impression that there were very few spots but a lot inside on the sea of Cortez.

Think how amazing it would be to surf those isolated spots. I'm sure they are as good as California but how many people make it much past Ensenada or k...38?

So I should not plan to leave before August? I thought August was fogust. The of first month. I don't mind waiting. There is a lot for me to do in Canada and the San Juan's. July is the best month up there. Last July I had a great time. So definitely no hurry. Plus. Fall is California's best month for surf so this plan is starting to take shape!!

Thanks robert for the good can do attitude.
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Old 20-02-2014, 03:55   #11
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

I'm not a surfer but I do know that there is some decent surfing on the outside (west coast) of the Baja. Several little villages on the southern Baja that surfers like to hang out. I have never heard of any surfing in the Sea Of Cortez but I might be wrong.

The Wash/Oregon coast has a well earned reputation for heavy fog and while most agree that September is the best month to go you can get fog anytime, its one of the reasons I preferred the offshore route as when I was starting out I didn't have radar. September is also a perfect month in California, hot and sunny. Most of your trip down Wash/Oregon coast will be chilly so pack warm gear.
I remember the 2nd time we were leaving, we moved up to Steveston Marina to get a few last minute things done. We met a young couple with a little 26 foot wooden boat and they were working away on it day and night. Had them over one night for a drink and they told us they were heading for Mexico. She had zero experience and his was very limited but they were in their early 20's and at that age anything is possible. I helped him out with a few things and made some suggestions that he followed. We left and wished them well, she was all tears. They never even had a VHF radio because they simply did not have the budget but I did talk him into buying a portable HF radio for weather. One day while in the Sea of Cortez we get a knock on the hull and there are those two both deeply tanned with million dollar smiles. Hey lets go spear some fish, we are getting hungry! They were living the life and doing it on peanuts. I'll never forget them because while others were finding reasons for not cutting the docklines these kids were out doing it. I think his total investment in his boat and gear was less than $5000.00 You don't need half the stuff that people these days consider essential, just a strong will and some good old fashion common sense. And by the way they had no autopilot or vane, they just took turns steering, not my way of doing things for sure but youth has its advantages.
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Old 20-02-2014, 15:14   #12
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

Know of any good online blogs or guides?
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Old 20-02-2014, 16:08   #13
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

I didn't surf after we left Ensenada until we reached Punta Mita. There was always a storm right on our asses and we waited them out in turtle bay and Bahia Magdalena and got out when the getting was good. REALLy Easy sailing once you're beyond Point Conception. (Stupid ipad)
Don't miss surfing The Ranch. Decent anchorages and a world class area to surf with few people. Everything north of Point Conception will be blown out before 11:00 am generally.
Here's a decent blog- Sailing Pacific Baja Norte | Brian Hackett's travel log
I had a surfing and sailing guide to mexico ebook but it's gone and I can't remember who wrote it. It was all hand illustrated and I enjoyed it.
Very good and consistent surf and good anchorages in the north side of the Bahia Banderas near Vallarta. A lot of surfing sailors get stuck here. I am.
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Old 20-02-2014, 16:14   #14
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

Quote:
Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
Anywhere south of big sur and north of point conception??
Morro Bay is a common stop for provisions, rest, fuel and to wait for a nice easy weather window to round point conception. After 4yrs of cruising Mexico we now live on a mooring in Morro Bay, so when you get here give us a call and come over for drinks and we will share some of our experiences on Mexico. Including the list of our favoirte Taco Stands!

Quote:
Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
Know of any good online blogs or guides?
Two must have guides for Mexico are by http://www.bluelatitudepress.com/





Blogs...well here's a link to our blog starting on the day we cast off from California
http://www.sailblogs.com/member/svth...?xjMsgID=68894

We have our paperwork in with the SSCA to host a Morro Bay Cruising Station, which basically means we will be happy to help any cruiser stoping by Morro Bay. Ride to grocery store, sharing experiences in Mexico, anyway we can help. So I'm serious when I say give me a call when you get in and I'm happy to help (619-609-3432) or email SVTHIRDDAY@Yahoo.com
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Old 20-02-2014, 16:45   #15
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Re: Sailing San Diego to the sea of Cortez?

The Breding/Bansmer guides recommended by Third Day are first rate and I highly recommend, but they do not cover Pacific baja (their coverage starts at Cabo).

Recommend also that you have either Pat Rains Mexico Boating Guide or Charlies Charts. These both cover the outside of Baja.

A free resource from Latitude 38 that is also very helpful:
Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers Rally: Sailing from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas
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