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Old 30-11-2013, 11:01   #16
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Hello,

I singlehanded from San Diego to San Francisco a few weeks ago. I have a Cal 2-29 with no inboard motor. I approached Point Conception from the Channel Islands. I did not go to Cojo because I did not want to deal with the kelp and the light winds near shore, since I don't have an inboard. I left the Channel Islands at 4PM in order to round point conception at midnight. The weather was perfect leaving point conception. The wind was westerly at 12 knots. I was sailing under single reefed main and #2 genoa. By the time I reach point conception around midnight, the weather turned squally, and the seas were combining. Strong gusts were knocking my boat on her beam ends. I fully reefed the main and put up the storm jib. Now, fully balanced she sailed herself 50 nautical miles west, until the weather and seas calmed down. At this point I tacked and headed for Port San Luis. This leg of the journey took 30 hours.

I would like to emphasize that with a sound offshore rig and sail plan, there was little danger in the bad weather and rough seas, that fact just made the ride extremely uncomfortable. I felt the real danger as a singlehander was from exhaustion, hypothermia, and the shipping lanes. I grossly underestimated the effect the cold would have on me. It was scary. I was wearing every jacket on the boat, and still couldn't get warm. I will not do that sail again without a way to warm the cabin.

For the next leg, I sailed from Port San Luis to Santa Cruz. With the wind blowing in the typical north westerly direction I could only point as high as 270 degrees. I decided to sail that tack for 100 nautical miles in an attempt to reach calmer seas and fairer winds. At 100 nautical miles west of Port San Luis, the wind dropped to about 5 knots and shifted to a southerly direction. The shift in wind direction caused me to loose a couple points of sail on my next tack. In hindsight, I would have been better off doing many short tacks up the coast to Santa Cruz, rather than 2 long tacks. This leg of the journey was the longest and took me about 50 hours.

Next I sailed from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay. I did HMB so I would be properly rested to sail the golden gate, and so I could time my entrance to the golden gate to match the incoming tide. I found the biggest seas on this journey between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay (think Mavericks). Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise without a soul around other than the seas birds on their morning commute, after flogging upwind for a week in one of the more challenging sailing grounds in the world, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
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Old 30-11-2013, 11:04   #17
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*Edit from my previous post*

The weather was perfect leaving the Channel Islands (not Point Conception).
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Old 30-11-2013, 11:14   #18
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Golden Gate at sunrise
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Old 30-11-2013, 11:19   #19
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Re: San Diego to San Francisco December 2013

aewing, thank you for a great description of your trip north. Yes, sailing under the golden Gate Bridge after a long passage is a breathtaking experience.

Can you tell us the exact dates when you made these legs? I would like to look at the WX charts and see what you were sailing through. That south wind sounds like you caught the edge of a low-pressure system.
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Old 30-11-2013, 11:22   #20
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Re: San Diego to San Francisco December 2013

Here's a shot of me and the Golden Gate Bridge, as we were returning from Hawaii:
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Old 30-11-2013, 11:42   #21
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Hey. Thank you so much for a very detailed and thorough response. I simply am learning so much everyday about the new challenges that I face in my new hobby. In my best Yoda voice, "much to learn, I have."
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Old 30-11-2013, 11:51   #22
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Hi Paul, that's a beautiful shot. I must apologize. You've alerted me to a major typo in my first post, and I've since had my morning coffee. The wind out there was northerly, not southerly. Please excuse my blunder.

I'm also a bit embarrassed to admit that I didn't keep a log like a good little sailor should. I can only estimate that I made the trip around the first or second week of November. I've since been swamped in preparations for my next passage from SF to Hawaii in a couple weeks. I hope to have a discussion about making that passage in December. If you have experience with that one, I'd be delighted to learn from you.
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Old 30-11-2013, 12:40   #23
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Re: San Diego to San Francisco December 2013

aewing, OK, that north wind sounds pretty typical. I wasn't doubting you, I'm just trying to learn about the off-season weather.

As for a December trip to Hawaii, all I know is what I read in the WX and pilot charts. My five Hawaii trips have all started in July, and the return to the mainland has always been in August.
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Old 30-11-2013, 12:50   #24
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Re: San Diego to San Francisco December 2013

Aewing thanks for your good description of the northbound trip.I wonder though why you would leave for Hawaii from San Francisco and not San Diego? I think in winter you want to sail down to northern baja latitude before heading west for Hawaii.Less chance of winter storms getting you and alot warmer.
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Old 30-11-2013, 19:02   #25
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Hi Highseas,

Great question. Most sailors I meet ask the same thing when they find out what I'm up to. I've got a few reasons for sailing up to San Francisco first, before sailing to Hawaii. I wanted a good shakedown for the vessel. My family is near SF and I wanted to spend some time with them before I leave on my trip since I will be abroad for 1-2 years. And I got a great deal on an ICOM M802 SSB radio with pactor modem from a cruising couple that live near SF. I'm installing the radio now. Very excited!
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Old 30-11-2013, 19:35   #26
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Re: San Diego to San Francisco December 2013

Visit the National Buoy Data Center web site (National Data Buoy Center) and download the December ( or which ever month you wish) data from all the buoys along the coast. The down load is easy and you can plot the data for various buoys to see the frequency of what kind of wind.

For example:

Santa Maria buoy - 21 NM NW of Pt Arguello 1998 - 2008
December average peak wind speed (highest 5-minute average in each hour) was 15 knots and highest recorded was off the scale at 50 knots and 66% of the peak readings were between 8 and 23 knots

There is a lot of very useful data at NDBC
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Old 30-11-2013, 19:47   #27
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Re: San Diego to San Francisco December 2013

We did it N to S a couple of years ago at the end of November. Go stand in a cold shower for an hour and then report back. It was worth it but it was cold. We stopped everywhere along the way to warm up and we didn't even have any really bad weather except for the first time we tried to round Point Conception. NOAA forecast 10-15 kts and 6'-8' seas. I looked at the sky at sunrise in Port San Luis Obispo and knew that they were really wrong. We aborted after a couple hours and motored back up to Morro Bay (8 hours to go 15 miles) to wait out the next 2 storms. The actual conditions around the point were 35-50 knots and 16'-18' seas as reported by another boat that went around and NOAA's 11:00 am forecast.
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Old 30-11-2013, 20:31   #28
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Re: San Diego to San Francisco December 2013

Good advice here. I might add a bit, and also repeat some really important stuff: It's very important to pick a good weather window. Many prefer to motor up in the calm between storms. The trip really does come in two parts, with Santa Barbara being the line for me. People talk about Pt. Conception like it's the Big Bad Wolf. It is. Pick your weather carefully. I've been around it like a lake, and other times, been blown like a toy boat. Moro Bay is really tricky to get into when there is swell, so I like to take a rest in Port San Luis. I take a rest there because the stretch from there to Monterey is really significant water. Cojo, San Simeon, and Pieffer are not well protected (my opinion), and if the weather is nice to anchor there, I'm usually moving on to take advantage of the window. Pt Sur can be really difficult. I've had good luck going around close in the morning hours, but again, the weather window is everything. Did I say how important the weather window is? It's funny that in the winter, with periods between storms, the wind doesn't come up in the afternoons like it does in the summer, so the trip North can be easier in December. Go figure. Another big deal: Check the surf report. I use SurfLine, but any of the surf predictors work. Surfers have really good information. For example, in a big northwest swell not only do you find issues coming around the points, but some of the harbors and anchorages are closed out! YouTube Stillwater Cove" (or Ghost Trees surfing). We get some big swells in December. Monterey (or Santa Cruz) makes a great place to rest before heading for San Francisco. I've never had a problem going into Half Moon Bay, but remember not to ever cut the corner on the entrance channel. There are some rocks in there. I go between Santa Cruz (my home port) and San Francisco often, and I find that it makes a nice two day trip, so that I go under the Golden Gate in the morning. Look at the tides coming in the Gate. Time it so that you can ride the Flood. As someone mentioned the "South Channel" - that's off of Ocean Beach in San Francisco - is a very dangerous place. I very seldom use it unless the seas are really calm. Never in a rising swell and falling tide!! I assume that you have a good Chart plotter and radar (AIS I hope). I like to keep inshore of the shipping lanes. Someone mentioned checking your filters. Most boats that don't see rough seas, can clog filters because of the stuff knocked off inside the tank when the boat is working hard. Preparation can include polishing fuel (this is a controversial idea for some), spare filters, practice changing them, and having a dual fuel filter so you can switch to the other filter while still underway. Well, those are a few thoughts. Hope they help you. You have a great boat, and this type of trip is well within the design parameters of a Jeaneau 509. Let us know how the trip works out. Good Luck and Safe Voyaging!
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Old 03-12-2013, 10:35   #29
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Thank you, is Halfmoon bay difficult?
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Old 03-12-2013, 11:18   #30
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Re: San Diego to San Francisco December 2013

I have done that trip a number of times, and must agree about Pt Sur. I have been beaten up more times at Pt Sur, than I have at Conception. I must say that my personal experience with the various anchorages on the coast has been very good. If, and this is a BIG IF, the wind is in the normal NW quadrant , then I have enjoyed good nights sleep at Cojo, Port San Louis, San Simeon, and my favorite Phieffer cove. Port San Louis and San Simeon can be approached late in the day since you are not dodging kelp (at least the times I was there) but Cojo and Phieffer must be approached earlier in the day, so that you can avoid the kelp and drop the hook on good sand. They all have good holding. If the wind swings around to the W or SW pick up the hook and get going for a good sail north. These are some options as long as you are comfortable sleeping at anchor. Good Luck. _____Grant.
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