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Old 03-10-2014, 01:26   #1
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Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

I want to purchase a well-equipped ~36 ft yacht designed for offshore sailing, then sail with the wife from Seattle to San Francisco in January or February. I've been studying the Pilot Charts and the Coast Pilot and I can see that this will be a challenge. Storms, gales, and big seas are all significantly more likely in the winter than in the summer, and there are no reliable safe havens.

Could someone with experience in this area help put things in perspective for me? Is it plain crazy to try this in the winter? Or will we just have to spend more time in Neah Bay waiting for a good weather window?
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Old 03-10-2014, 01:43   #2
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

It's more then a challenge, it's a death wish?

Wait until June as least.
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Old 03-10-2014, 04:44   #3
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, dc46and42.
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Old 03-10-2014, 05:54   #4
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

On a boat that is new to you and probably hasn't been offshore for long time??????
How much fuel range do you have? You'd want to take a lot of advantage of any extended calms. Even with calms you could have a large ground swell running that closes off many of the possible ports down the coast. Meaning you might not be able to go in and hide before the next low shows up. I've only done the passage in late summer (4 times). I did talk with a Vancouver guy who took his boat down in Feb. He had a cold, but really pleasant trip. I think he motored most of it. There are weather routers who handle passages down this coast. Might be a good investment.
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:36   #5
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

I've done this trip a few times but never at that of year. I agree with Paul about the weather router suggestion. Do you and your wife have a lot of blue water experience? You would have to pick your bail out harbor options carefully.
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:44   #6
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

Don't do it. Not after September. Ever.

You're not the first to ask this same question. Do a search here. If we did it for you, then you wouldn't make the time to find it and you'd try to leave in winter instead of next summer!
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:47   #7
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

Sorry for the disappointing news....

You should heed all the warning advice given...
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:06   #8
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

After many years in the delivery business on the west coast, I can assure you that it is almost impossible to find a weather window to travel comfortably or even safely during January and February. As you extend beyond those months, the further you go in either the fall or the spring, the longer the window for good travel.
I've delivered several vessels both north and south during those months and would only take the job if the boat was in fine shape, I had an experienced, competent crew and the owner was wiling to pay a large bonus.
Is that clear enough? Phil
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:11   #9
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

I've dont the trip 3 times and all between march until may... Winter and early spring will give you the calmest seas BETWEEN fronts.. We harbor hopped all the way down so all our trips were less than 12 hours, and we motored most of the way.. We also got stuck in ports for up to two weeks waiting for a window..
Pe prepaired to wait out the lows and take advantage of the calms between..
After a low passes, which could take days, give it a day for the seas to mellow and then pull out for the next port.. and sometimes you only have 24 to 48 hours before the next front comes through..
A summer passage presents its own set of issues as the winds build daily, along with the sea state..
We've kinda found the best time to run the north coast is April and May as the fronts between further apart, the winds are light, and the seas are calm. but as I said, be prepaired to motor a lot.........

being stuck in a port is really not to bad if you are NOT on a time limmit.. It gives you the time to walk around and see the little spots we most often by-pass by car.
Many time I've driven the north coast but it wasnt until I was stuck in places like Fort Bragg that I got to know the area.. little out-of-the-way shops, bookstores, and the like, that you normally dont have time to stop and visit..
Some of the best places we've ever visited, were due to weather conditions shutting us down for a few days, where we were forced to stay in one place..
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Old 03-10-2014, 16:11   #10
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

I am just learning here so bear with me....
It seems that people intent on making it to the South Pacific that season are taking off from vancouver and Seattle during those months to make for ideal crossings further on down the line. What am I not seeing?
Thanks, Curt
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Old 03-10-2014, 16:37   #11
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

Thank you all for taking the time to reply! You have probably saved me from a big mistake. Waiting until June isn't really an option for us, so we are now looking into either trucking the boat to San Francisco or just buying something already in California or Mexico.
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Old 03-10-2014, 16:44   #12
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bouTimeII View Post
I am just learning here so bear with me....
It seems that people intent on making it to the South Pacific that season are taking off from vancouver and Seattle during those months to make for ideal crossings further on down the line. What am I not seeing?
Thanks, Curt
In my case we just have a limited time allotted to our cruising adventure. Waiting a few weeks for a window wouldn't be a big deal, but waiting 6 months is not something we want to do if there is a good alternative.
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Old 03-10-2014, 16:49   #13
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

By "those months" I mean jan/feb.
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Old 03-10-2014, 16:55   #14
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

They do like has been said:
Travel during the highs and duck in for cover when a low is approaching??
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Old 03-10-2014, 17:47   #15
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Re: Seattle to San Francisco in winter--crazy idea?

I predict that if this is the start of your sailing adventure, it will likely be the end as well. I'm not saying that you'll be dashed on the rocky shore or sink. I'm saying that you're likely to be so miserable and scared that you won't want to continue.

The North Pacific in the summer and fall can be scary as hell at times. In winter, the times when it is not are few, short lived, and long between...
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