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Old 12-06-2010, 09:56   #1
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San Diego to Vancouver Island

Hey Everyone!

I just bought a 46 racing sloop in San Diego and am trying to plan a trip north to Vancouver Island. I am a young confident offshore sailor but not on this coast nor have I ever been the one paying the bills haha.

Does anyone have suggestions on routes to take? Places to avoid? Places to hide? I plan on leaving soon, end of June/beginning of July, is this a bad idea? Any advice or know of good books to buy let me know thanks

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Old 12-06-2010, 10:06   #2
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San Diego to Vancouver Island

Your best route would be I-5. Prevailing winds will be N/NW so a long bash to weather with not many good places to hide.

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Old 12-06-2010, 12:26   #3
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I've read that it is just as fast and much more pleasant to go south about to Vallarta, then to Hawaii, and up & around. It's been windy every single day here out of the NW since October.
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Old 12-06-2010, 13:07   #4
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Hi, Milo and welcome to CF --

As to your question: 4 options exist. One is to stay pretty close and harbor-hop as best you can. Carry lots of fuel, since you will likely be at least motor sailing much of the way. This lets you duck in when the weather starts kicking up and actually be able to get in before the CG closes the entrance. This is particularly the case once you get into the Oregon & Washington coast, since all the ports have river bars and they are very nasty places. Be prepared to wait a week or more in each port before getting a decent window for the next leg.

The second option is to stay more off shore, 100 nm's or more. Presumably, the current is less, but this varies and is not terribly predictable. Then, when the storm comes (and it very likely will) you have more sea room with which to claw off. It will still very likely to be a long slow slog with lots of motor sailing.

Option 3 is Hawaii, and sww914 is quite right -- lots of folks have found it to take not much more actual sea-time and be much more pleasant.

Option 4 is to trailer it up. This is certainly the fastest, the least wear and tear on your boat, and very likely to be the cheapest, too.

Bottom line: Except for having the time to do Option 3, this is a lousy trip.

Good luck, whatever you do.

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Old 12-06-2010, 13:36   #5
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What Drifter says is pretty much the case. I made the round trip last summer and it was a long haul. On the way south I stayed about 100nm off shore to avoid coastal traffic and had pretty favorable winds all the way, but on the way back north I had to sail out about 275nm before I was able to catch an eastly and could make some headway north with the wind on my starboard beam. Be prepared for the wind to be very changeble out that far though and as stated by Drifter, you may wind up having to motor part of the way until the wind shifts again.
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Old 12-06-2010, 15:06   #6
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In your boat the trip to Hawaii straight from San Diego should be less than 20 days and the trip north to Vancouver should be less than 20 days. Don't try to sail through the Pacific high where the winds are non existent but go around it.
Good luck on whichever way you choose.
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Old 12-06-2010, 16:29   #7
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Here is the VALIS blog from an attempt last June to sail from San Francisco to Seattle : On Our Way « VALIS . Click forward to see the whole thing. It's not long, we turned around before Eureka.

This year I'm racing to Hawaii in the Pacific Cup, then stopping off for a few weeks in the Puget Sound area on my way home.

It's not impossible to make the northbound trip, but be prepared for a wet, miserable bash. You have to watch the weather -- it can get quite dangerous. Look at this thread fore more opinions and advice: San Fran to Seattle: Advice?.
Paul Elliott, S/V VALIS - Pacific Seacraft 44 #16 - Friday Harbor, WA
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Old 12-06-2010, 18:36   #8

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Last time I sailed home from Mexico, I went halfway to Hawaii then turned north until I hit the westerlies, then turned NE after 40 degrees north, 1.000 miles out ( clipper route). No need to go all the way to Hawaii and then beat like hell to keep your easting, after having needlessly given up 1,000 miles of it.
One of my 36 footers sailed from SD to BC by going 800 miles out then turning north, an easy trip. The high moves constantly so no need to try go around it. One day it is off the Aleutians and next it is off Mexico, The last time I sailed home from the South Pacific, I would have had to sail via Japan to go around the high. I sailed a rumb line and let it move as it pleased. No problems
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Old 13-06-2010, 16:47   #9
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The high moves constantly so no need to try go around it. One day it is off the Aleutians and next it is off Mexico, The last time I sailed home from the South Pacific, I would have had to sail via Japan to go around the high. I sailed a rumb line and let it move as it pleased. No problems
I have had similar experiences sailing from Hawaii to Seattle and Hawaii to SF, right back up the trades. Once I got lucky and avoided the East Pacific High altogether; the other trip I had to motor for three days, but that certainly wasn't the end of the world as we know it. If you just have to get there, I think Brent Swain is right, head out until you start to get lifted, then set a course for the NW. It's a little depressing at first because you have to start with a SW heading, but the sailing would be straightforward.
The other option of struggling up next to the coast is you can stop frequently and see and enjoy a lot of it, which of course takes more time. If you don't need your boat when you return to the NW you could also leave it at a variety of lower cost marinas in Eureka, Crescent City, or Oregon (lower cost than So. Cal, SF, or Fort Bragg) while you return by car or plane to the NW, then work it up the coast when time and weather allow.

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Old 14-06-2010, 10:30   #10
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Thanks for all the wicked info! I've got lots to consider and its always good having/knowing the options haha. I appreciate all the advice!


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Old 07-07-2010, 10:24   #11
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On several trips both north and south between the PNW and Southern CA, I found a 3/4 knot counter current to the NW between San Simeon, CA and Grays Harbor, north of the Columbia Bar. This current was between 8 and 12 NM off the coast, as I recall. Northern passages I stayed in this corridor and avoided it heading south electing a course approximately 15 to 20 NM offshore. The problem is a large number of fishing vessels, particularly at night in this corridor. Any further off shore, out to about 30 NM offshore and beyond are tankers and coastal freighters. I would not attempt the trip between November and April unless I had a vessel capable of 8 knots under power to be able to run for cover on relatively short notice. Having experienced a frightening several days delivering a Cheoy Lee 41 north in early February 83' when the late season hurricane marched up the coast, it is an area to avoid during those months if at all possible. That was the storm that destroyed the groin in front of the SoCal Edison plant in Santa Monica Bay and wiped out my favorite watering hole, the Blue Moon Saloon that fell into the drink when the end of the Redondo Beach pier collapsed in the high surf. Those were the days before GPS and computer assisted nav instrumentation and losing our Loran and VHF antennas, we dead reckoned our way east as soon as the storm abated enough to bend on some sail. I'll never forget seeing the tanker, Arco Star on the horizon. I called him on the VHF using the tiny doughnut emergency antenna screwed into the back of the radio. The conversation went something like this... "Arco Star, Arco Star, Arco Star, this is Fireweed II, do you copy? Over. This the Arco Star, we copy Fireweed II. What is your traffic? Over. Arco Star, we are the sailboat approximately 5 NM off your starboard bow heading northeast. Can you confirm your position? Over. Fireweed II, we know where we are, do you want to know where you are? Over!"... I will never forget the humor and assistance we received from the bridge of the tanker who placed us about 50 NM northwest of Point Conception. Cheers, Capt Phil
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Old 12-01-2011, 11:35   #12
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Hi Milo!
I commercial fished the coast from Calif to AK for 25 years or so. Made a few deliverys up & down. Owned a half dozen boats from 30' to 72' power and sail.
It depends what you want to do -sail or harbor hop?
If you want to sail - angle offshore untill you find some wind you can depend on -200 to 500 miles ought to do it. This is where I wind up usually tuna fishing and the wind is W-WNW mostly - this is what I call HOODOO land - just don't get caught out there in a southerly if you can help it!
Harbor hopping is fun too if you don't lose your sense of humor!
Just pay close attention to weather, tides & currents. Watch the bars for awhile before you cross to see how it's setting up. Cross in daylight just before high slack. Follow a big fishing boat in if you can - these guys do it all the time and should know what's up. Cruising the coast at night or in the fog is alot of fun too!
Good radar right in front of your nose is good. Not so much watching out for other boats but the crabpots will turn your hair white - especially when you hang up on 2 or 3 at a time when it's blowing NW 40.
When I fished salmon out off Flattery, we never came in untill it was blowing 45knts - sometimes we stayed out even then and fished in the trough - pulled gear on the lee side then tacked the boat to fish the other side. I've put in week long trips on the prairie when it was blowing 40 -rougher than hell but you dont make any money tied to the dock if youre a fisherman!
anyway, just be prepared, be in good shape and above all, be happy!
Fair winds!Max
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Old 12-01-2011, 13:36   #13

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Line cutters on props are always a good idea.
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Old 12-01-2011, 14:36   #14
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Lousy crabpots!!
One time I was on my way from Newport, Oregon to S.E. AK when I caught two crab pots on my port stablizer - broke the trolling pole! Had to hide behind Destruction island for a day to fix the pole! Good thing I had some extra stove pipe, wire & plenty of duct tape! Fished the whole summer rigged like that. You couldn't get out of them that year - the crabbers were clear out to the 100 fath edge!
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Old 14-01-2011, 09:42   #15
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