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Old 24-06-2009, 08:38   #1
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San Fran to Seattle: Advice?

Hello:

I am helping sail a 38 foot full-keel boat from SF to Seattle in July. Neither the skipper nor I have any experience in these waters.

We are aware of the fog and the fact that this direction is the "wrong way" but don't know the best routes to plan. I am researching the motoring range of this boat and am considering short hops up the coast versus going out a long way. I have heard that the lore is to go offshore a ways first but I have also heard that in today's world of electronic navigation that is less of an imperitive than it used to be.

Route planning advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 24-06-2009, 08:55   #2
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There is somewhere to pull in about every 40 to 80 miles the whole way up(provided you can enter).Start very early in the A.M. before the wind picks up.Carry lots of fuel.It's been done in a 17ft. speedboat.
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Old 24-06-2009, 09:16   #3
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There is a book by a guy who made the trip numerous times in an outboard powered 20 something sail boat. He motor sailed just outside the kelp line. You get a slight following counter current and slightly more favorable winds that close to shore. The California coast has sheltered anchorages from the prevailing NW winds so you can do that part in easy steps. Oregon and Washington have many harbors but they are subject to closing out if wind and waves conspire. You have to keep an eye on the weather. Crab pots could be a hazard taking this route but shouldn't be a problem with with a long keeled boat without protuberances for the buoy lines to hang up on.
I'm on the boat and don't have the book available or I would tell you the author and title.

Trying to do this trip sailing will require many long tacks that will make for a very long trip. An IOR boat that is very close winded would be the only way I'd try it. I've had the fun of going to weather for four straight days and only the masochistic willing try that.

The ideal way to do it sailing is to head west to Hawaii. Tourism is down and we need your business. The sail to Hawaii is downwind and nearly ideal sailing. Heading to Seattle is a bit of a challenge but one hell of a lot more livable than bashing to weather for a couple of weeks.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 24-06-2009, 09:34   #4
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Thanks to both of you. I'm looking for some more replies also.

Well, we won't be going to Hawaii so we will probably be motoring most of the way unless a low comes in.

Funny thing though, the boat is destined for Homer, Alaska but I can only make the Seattle leg. He is taking the inside passage from there but if he were adventurous, he might go the Hawaii route, just not with me!
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Old 24-06-2009, 09:35   #5
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The world of new and wonderful electronic navigation is not the issue here.

The Northswest coast of the US is rated as one of the most inhospitable sailing areas of the world!

I've never sailed north, only south. All of the harbors of safe refuge are guarded by sandbars as they are the mouth of rivers. Even SF bay has a huge Horseshoe shaped sandbar located eigth miles offshore. Very large swells (30 feet or more) can sweep out of the Gulf of Alaska and travel on the south flowing current, at anytime of the year. When this occurs the entrances to the harbors may be closed by the Coast Guard, even the entrance to the Columbia River can be closed. Plan your trip carefully.

Getting around Cape Mendicino can be next to impossible as I've heard of people waiting for two weeks or more for a weather window to round the Cape. Some turn back.

Some sail for six days out from the Golden Gate on a starboard tack, then go on a port tack for seven days.

Others go via Interstate 5
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Old 24-06-2009, 09:41   #6
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Leave early, motor sail fast to the next destination. watch the wx and if you get lucky and get a SW wind keep going and sail. Many say stay inside the 20 fathom line doing this method. (that may be the ref to the kelp line above) Watch the river bars of course when you plan to enter somewhere. In July you should miss the worst of the fog.
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Old 24-06-2009, 09:44   #7
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I'd just head up the coast... and the key is to really watch your weather. In addtion to the regular weather forecasts, I'm a fan of also using 'buoyweather' to give sea and wind predictions. I've found them to be reasonably accurate all the way through the Sea of Cortez. As an example, I wouldn't want to be off the CA coastline tomorrow afternoon, if I had a choice. Their website is here: Northern California Marine Weather Forecast | BUOYWEATHER.COM

Another important aspect, as pointed out by highseas, is that there are ports along the way.... if you can get in. You'll be dealing with bars, and several can be really hazardous when the weather kicks up and the tide is running. Really watch the weather/seas around Cape Mendocino.

For me, I'd arm myself with weather/sea forecasts and tide tables. I'd plan for plenty of time and be prepared to wait in port for a few days if needed. If you plan your departures for arrival at the next planned port for the right bar crossing conditions, it should be reasonably easy (even though it'll probably be a bit bouncy going against the current and wind). If conditions are favorable... then you have the option of continuing along without stopping.

I think the longest leg (assuming you don't stop at Grays Harbor) will be about 30 hours of motorsailing from Astoria to Neah Bay.

Steve
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Old 24-06-2009, 10:27   #8
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Originally Posted by Sailabel View Post
As an example, I wouldn't want to be off the CA coastline tomorrow afternoon, if I had a choice.
To see what you mean, I looked at the marine forecast for Cape Mendocino (below)

I assume that anything above 30 knot gusts would be something I'd wait out eh?

Outer Coastal ForecastsMore Outer Coastal Forecasts
CAPE MENDOCINO TO PT ARENA 10 TO 60 NM- 858 AM PDT WED JUN 24 2009
...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH THURSDAY MORNING... ...HAZARDOUS SEAS WARNING IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH LATE SUNDAY NIGHT... ...GALE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH LATE SUNDAY NIGHT...
.TODAY...N WIND 20 TO 25 KT. COMBINED SEAS 6 TO 8 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 7 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG. .TONIGHT...N WIND 20 TO 25 KT. COMBINED SEAS 7 TO 9 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 8 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG. .THU...N WIND 25 TO 30 KT WITH GUSTS TO 40 KT. COMBINED SEAS 10 TO 12 FT...BUILDING TO 13 TO 15 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 10 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG. .THU NIGHT...N WIND 25 TO 30 KT WITH GUSTS TO 40 KT. COMBINED SEAS 15 TO 17 FT. PATCHY FOG. .FRI...N WIND 25 TO 35 KT WITH GUSTS TO 45 KT. COMBINED SEAS 15 TO 17 FT. PATCHY FOG. .SAT...N WIND 25 TO 30 KT WITH GUSTS TO 40 KT. COMBINED SEAS 13 TO 15 FT. PATCHY FOG. .SUN...N WIND 25 TO 30 KT WITH GUSTS TO 40 KT. COMBINED SEAS 14 TO 16 FT. PATCHY FOG.
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Old 24-06-2009, 10:56   #9
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Well, I hadn't looked forward to Friday/Saturday... While the 30 knot gusts aren't really the problem... if given a choice, I'd avoid the 40+ winds on the nose combined with 17' seas. One thing I like about Buoyweather is that they also show the predicted periods/intervals. Like for right now, the prediction is 6' wind waves at 6-seconds, going to 5/5 this afternoon. I really don't like hobbyhorsing for hours. But Friday and the weekend sounds like a time to stay in port and visit one of the towns along the way. We'd usually wait 24-hours after things calmed down (to let the seas calm a bit) before heading out.

The 'links' page on our website: Untitled Page has links to several weather/sea state/buoy sites that we have used to give both predicitons and actual up-to-the-minute conditions.

Have a safe trip up to the PNW.

Steve
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Old 25-06-2009, 00:13   #10
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Every year I hear of boaters who choose to do this route. And every year I point out that it would be cheaper to ship the boat to Bellingham, WA, and sail from there.

I agree with most everything that has been said. One point that's been repeated is to start early in the day. This is because the wind along this coast tends to rise all day long, reaching its peak in the evening, but the wave height rises steadily as well. The Coast Guard is much more likely to close the bar in the afternoon than the morning.

Listen to the Coast Guard bar closures. If it's closed, DO NOT TRY IT. Even if that means heaving-to, heading offshore, or turning around and going all the way back to where you started the day.
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Old 25-06-2009, 00:34   #11
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I really don't like hobbyhorsing for hours.

Steve
LOL, if you don't like hobbyhorsing for hours, don't sail from San Francisco to Seattle!
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Old 25-06-2009, 02:33   #12
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On your way north, when you are transiting the bars, it is very important that you make your crossing at high slack water, it can get very dicey if you don't. I commercial fished out of the Columbia river one winter and that bar made a believer out of me. Last summer I made the crossing from Cape Edgecumbe to Homer, in mid June. It was a broad reach the whole way with 25 kt to 35 kt winds and 4' to 8' swell, all the way across. There are several places when coming in from the gulf of Alaska to the Kenai peninsula that have some rip tides, the worst rips are at Pt. Adam, Flat island, and Pt. Pogibshi. You should hold off of Flat island about 5 miles to avoid that one and if you lay your course in from Elizabeth island to a 5 mile c.p.a. of Flat island, you will miss the rip at Pt. Adam. Keep Pt. Pogibshi at least 1.5 miles off your starboard beam to miss the rip there. If you want more details, PM me, I live in Homer and have fished/sailed out there for the last 40 years.
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Old 25-06-2009, 08:23   #13
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To see what you mean, I looked at the marine forecast for Cape Mendocino (below)

I assume that anything above 30 knot gusts would be something I'd wait out eh?

Outer Coastal ForecastsMore Outer Coastal Forecasts
CAPE MENDOCINO TO PT ARENA 10 TO 60 NM- 858 AM PDT WED JUN 24 2009
...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH THURSDAY MORNING... ...HAZARDOUS SEAS WARNING IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH LATE SUNDAY NIGHT... ...GALE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH LATE SUNDAY NIGHT...
.TODAY...N WIND 20 TO 25 KT. COMBINED SEAS 6 TO 8 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 7 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG. .TONIGHT...N WIND 20 TO 25 KT. COMBINED SEAS 7 TO 9 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 8 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG. .THU...N WIND 25 TO 30 KT WITH GUSTS TO 40 KT. COMBINED SEAS 10 TO 12 FT...BUILDING TO 13 TO 15 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 10 SECONDS. PATCHY FOG. .THU NIGHT...N WIND 25 TO 30 KT WITH GUSTS TO 40 KT. COMBINED SEAS 15 TO 17 FT. PATCHY FOG. .FRI...N WIND 25 TO 35 KT WITH GUSTS TO 45 KT. COMBINED SEAS 15 TO 17 FT. PATCHY FOG. .SAT...N WIND 25 TO 30 KT WITH GUSTS TO 40 KT. COMBINED SEAS 13 TO 15 FT. PATCHY FOG. .SUN...N WIND 25 TO 30 KT WITH GUSTS TO 40 KT. COMBINED SEAS 14 TO 16 FT. PATCHY FOG.
I just had some friends delivering a race boat south for the Transpac give me a report from this week. They hit 19.5 knots with just a reefed main. Seas were 5-7 seconds apart. A very nasty, lumpy sea state. Picture a gigantic washing machine, and you are in it. They were glad to be going downwind. I have had my own experience on the Columbia River bar. Respect that bar. Ebb currents can exceed 5 knots. We had trouble holding a course with less than 90 deg swings. With the winds and sea state listed above, you may find it almost impossible to make headway, motor or sail. You will have stories to tell. Good luck.
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Old 25-06-2009, 08:33   #14
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Seems more sensible to truck it Seattle or sail to Hawaii,if you are going to Ak. this would be the "sailing route".I sailed down the coast in July,and definitely would not want to go against that wind.
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Old 25-06-2009, 08:45   #15
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Seems more sensible to truck it Seattle or sail to Hawaii,if you are going to Ak. this would be the "sailing route".I sailed down the coast in July,and definitely would not want to go against that wind.
Don't give up. It can be done, and is done all the time. You simply have to pick your weather window. There are ports along the way, but you may not be able to enter them if conditions are bad.
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