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Old 18-07-2014, 21:58   #1
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South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

I've been planning a Coconut Milk run for some time.
We're finally getting close and plan to buy a 40' cat towards the end of the year and make it to Galapagos by March 2015.
The plan has always involved buying in Florida or the Caribbean and going through the Panama Canal.

However, there's a slim chance we could pick up a boat in California... what then?

I dont think we'd go via Hawaii, so we're talking about some coastal sailing, hopping down the west coast, leading to the eventual first passage.
I'm from NZ and I have no idea what the US west coast is like, nor how cruiser friendly it is as you progress south (Mexico / Guetamala)

There's a few options
- Sail south in the US then head straight for Marquesas
- Meander down to Guatemala and head south from there to Galapagos
Its tempting to skip Galapagos, but it really is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
- Other options in between and beyond

I have questions...
- Are there high risk areas, or other spots to avoid?
- What are the conditions like in winter (Nov-Feb)?
- Where would be a last stop for any significant outfitting or work - sail / engine repairs etc...
- Is it generally a 'nice' idea to slowly cruise down this coast?
- Is it realistic to expect to be able to anchor in most places (rather than spending the cruising kitty on marinas)

I've been googling and looked at the typical sites, but I haven't found much... maybe that should tell me something?

I would love to hear your advice and any pointers towards others experiences or blogs etc that have taken this route.
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Old 19-07-2014, 19:27   #2
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

Why not buy a few of the 600 series international charts for passage planning, and then consider the potential itineraries with relation to both hurricane season and prevailing trade winds?

There are not the abundance of anchoring possibilities on the West Coast of the US that there are in NZ. West Coast of Mexico, south of the Baja peninsula, there are many anchorages. A couple of good stops north of Cabo. We really enjoyed the Golfo de California (Sea of Cortez). If you want to get to the Galapagos, just bear in mind it's a long way east to there, and tricky with the permits, as well, then you have a lighter air trip to the Marquesas. Incidentally, reports of Chile are excellent.

FWIW, we've done the Mexico-Marquesas run twice, leaving both times from Cabo San Lucas, because of the wind patterns, rather than the mainland with the HaHa people. Both trips were good, but that doesn't get you to the Galapagos, and if it's a bucket list sort of deal, you should make the effort.

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Old 19-07-2014, 20:50   #3
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
Why not buy a few of the 600 series international charts for passage planning, and then consider the potential itineraries with relation to both hurricane season and prevailing trade winds?
Im finally picking a couple of Jimmy Cornells books this week. I'll scour through them as a first port of call on that front.
The charts will be on the list anyway - but probably not till we get to the states.
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Old 19-07-2014, 22:27   #4
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

G'day, Mate, from a fellow kiwi. Time is about choices, choices are about time. Like you said, the Galapagos is a once in a lifetime deal if you have the time. We were cut short on time and ended up sailing directly from San Diego to the Marquesas leaving in mid March. It's pretty close to the same distance for those leaving from Cabo or the Galapagos. So, you have another option if something happens with the "time" factor. All the best with the dream. Cheers
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Old 20-07-2014, 16:10   #5
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

Hey Matauwhi,
Thanks for that. I dont foresee time being an issue for us - especially if we were to come from California.
I dont think the admiral would sign off on skipping Galapagos, so Im sure we'll go there despite the obstacles.

I'm trying to elicit some advice from those with experience cruising down the west coast... the bit you skipped
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Old 20-07-2014, 18:27   #6
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

Distances:
San Diego to Nuku Hiva - 2818

SD to Cabo - 755
Cabo to NH - 2612

Cabo to Galapogos - 1807
Canal to Galapogos - 920
Galopogos to NH - 3012

If you start on the west coast, going to the Marquesas via Cabo adds 500nm net, and shortens your longest passage by 200nm

If you go via Galapogos it increases your longest passage by 200 and just about double the net distance.

If you specifically want to visit Central America and the Galapogos then fine go for it. If doing so is a vague desire, then the extra distances are something that really needs to be considered and the probable need to find a hurricane hole for a season.

If you start looking at South America the distances continue increasing significantly and you will probably need to add a year or more to the timeline.

If you are coming from the East coast, going via the Galapogos is the shortest route to begin with.
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Old 20-07-2014, 19:18   #7
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

If going this way, we'd be looking at the west coast in late Nov/Dec/Jan, and then off to Galapagos. I understand hurricane season ends in November, so im not expecting to have to hole up anywhere.
I'll keep studying to validate this.

I've gotten a little bit better at wading through Noonsite... opening every single link, and using google maps to figure out where places are.

Is this an unusual route? I would have thought there'd be plenty of experience to leverage off? I was hoping to find some blogs of people who have cruised this coast and learn from their experience.
I'm expecting to be able to cope as an uneducated colonialist who only speaks English. (lo siento no hablo espanol)

I'm particularly interested in any personal safety aspects. The only central America I know is from the movies, and that just paints a sensational picture.

I note Noosite has the following warning:
March 2012: Sailors are advised to be particularly cautious when sailing down the Pacific coast of Mexico. A young solo American sailor went missing and his boat washed ashore, five days after leaving Manzanillo — near Puerto Vallarta — bound for Zihuatanejo. This is a known area for drug running.
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Old 13-08-2014, 20:55   #8
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

Not to be a jerk because I'm sure you've looked but I can't believe you haven't found anything to read. If there is a "completely standard" route from the W Coast of N America to the S Pacific it is to go from California (however you get there, or start there) harbor hopping the outside of CA and the Baja Peninsula (at anchor) into the Sea of Cortez. Some see the mainland as well, some stay on the peninsula. Then most people go from Mexico to the Marquesas. Lots of places to get work done in Mexico. Easy to fly back to the US if you want to schlep parts back yourself.

Maybe it is just the central america portion you are concerned about?

Some people go further South into Central America and then the Galapagos. Many people sail directly from California to the Marquesas. Some people even sail directly from Vancouver, BC, Canada to the Marquesas.
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Old 13-08-2014, 21:22   #9
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Livia View Post
Not to be a jerk because I'm sure you've looked but I can't believe you haven't found anything to read...
Always a bit scary when a post starts with "Not to be a jerk...".
Nope, I didn't really get what I was after here, and stopped looking. I have the world cruising guide books and i've done some reading there - still not quite what i'm after (gleaning from others experiences).
My original post was because I was considering a boat on the west coast. Its more than likely i'll buy on the other side, so I'm just parking the idea fo now and will pick it up again if I have to.

Its not a particularly easy thing to find incidentally, but I guess I could randomly wade through sailblogs...
That gives me an idea... ...yup, it works!
I just went to Sailblogs and used this link to scour the member map. I can then drill down and read through peoples blogs that are currently in the area. Not as easy as being directed to some great writing, but its worth a crack.

By the way, I looked at your blog to see if some of your wisdom was there, but the "Our route this far" link goes to a 'forbidden' page.
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Old 13-08-2014, 21:57   #10
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

I really should have tried to be more constructive! (and thanks about the link, I know but the internet hasn't been solid enough where we've been to fix it. I might be able to get to it here in Tonga).

From California to Cabo San Lucas there is a rally. Poking around their site might help: Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers Rally: Sailing from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas

Similarly, here is the Pacific Puddle Jump site which loosely gathers people from Mexico/Panama to French Polynesia and has info: Pacific Puddle Jump Official Web Site
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Old 13-08-2014, 22:24   #11
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

Very helpful. Thanks.
I know about PPJ, but not the other one, so i'll look into that.

If you're in Nuku'alofa, make sure you call in at Big Mammas!
Big Mama's Yacht Club - Picture of Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu Island - TripAdvisor
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Old 14-08-2014, 16:09   #12
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

We may only see the other 3 archipelagos this time but if we do, thanks for the suggestion!

I made a youtube playlist a while ago with a bunch of passage diaries of various boats sailing to (and around) the S Pacific. You might enjoy some of these:

Sailing to the South Pacific: Bluewater Passage Films - YouTube
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Old 14-08-2014, 16:16   #13
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

There is a PPJ Yahoo Group also - and somewhere on their page is a downloads list that (when I was there a few years ago) had a bunch of good reference material.
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Old 14-08-2014, 16:16   #14
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

And while I"m in a typing flurry here is a list of random links I put together:

Livia's List O'Links ~ SV Estrellita 5.10b
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Old 14-08-2014, 16:55   #15
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Re: South Pacific from California - routes, plans & stops.

Sorry I didn't see the OP, but I have a life outside CF...

I have done the trip down the coast from California (Santa Cruz) to the Galapagos, and can report that it was a great trip. Due to work schedules, we didn't leave Santa Cruz until New Years, and then had to harbor hop down to San Diego between storms. It would be much better to leave San Diego in November--it is the last place with good infrastructure for getting new equipment installed and working.

Its an easy trip down to Cabo, and the Sea of Cortez is great cruising if you have the time, but we wanted to get to NZ, so skipped straight to the Mexican Mainland. The mainland is also nice and easy, mostly downwind--until you get to the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

Now you are in a place where the wind has a name and commands respect-the wind fans out offshore at upwards of 40 knots. Plan on hugging the coast (less than a mile out), and waiting up to a week for favorable conditions. After the Tehuantapecers, things go fairly light until you get down to the Gulf of Fonseca, where you can encounter the Papagayo wind, which again blows 40k offshore during the winter months in the stretch from 13N to Playa del Cocos, and a bit less down to Punta Arenas. We worked down to Golfito, and then out to Isla Del Coco, before we jumped to the Galapagos, but the fees at Isla Del Coco are now almost as ridiculous as they are in the Galapagos.

We left San Diego January 15, arrived in the Galapagos April 1, and still had some time for land excursions in Mexico and Cost Rica.
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