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Old 25-10-2009, 14:42   #16
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Location: Columbia River Vancouver/Portland USA
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Made the trip up and back last July/August on Summer Wind. Summer Wind is 43' long and displaces about 12 tons. We had four crew-2 ea 4hrs on/4hrs off at night, 6 on/6 off during the day.

At about 6 knots it's about 30 hrs from Astoria to Neah Bay (150 NM). Going up we had light NNW wind on the nose & 8' or so NW swells going up - like a very long carnival ride - fun until you had to do something like go to the head. Into the Strait in the early morning hours - dead calm & spectacular sunrise. Another 10 hrs to Port Angeles where we fueled up. Had to motor the entire distance.

Going back from Roche Harbor with the ebb current (GET Washburne's Tables to the Canadian Current Atlas) it took about 14 hrs to get to Neah Bay. Calm, fog, Orca whales, a little lumpy at the turn from Haro Strait into Juan de Fuca at Victoria, couple of ships, otherwise uneventful. Fueled up and spent the night in Neah Bay. Planned departure around the time we wanted to cross the Columbia Bar. Left early morning, heavy fog, light S wind on the nose, 2-4' swells, humpback whales, crab pots, little bit of drizzle. Finally got some wind at 0200 hrs and nice sailing for about 4 hours. Arrived earlier than expected at the Columbia Bar & waited about an hour for slack tide. No fog, no wind, minimal swell, no problem crossing.

We have radar and GPS/Map program on a computer (in addition to paper charts & redundant GPS units). Made the whole trip so much more enjoyable. We were only about 5-10 miles out. Got lucky with the weather - guess I'd rather have too little wind than too much for this trip.

Many smaller boats make this trip. My husband's 27' C&C did it. Good idea to get a delivery skipper the first time. Even better - try to get on somebody else's boat making the trip up or back.
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Old 16-06-2013, 10:05   #17
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Re: Uphill from Portland, OR to San Juan Islands

I'm 61, have been sailing since I was 12 and skippered boats up to 44 LOA. I own a SJ28. These boats were built during a time when composit engineering was less advanced resulting is more glass and rugged boats. I have not sailed the OR/WA coast but I've been there as 3rd officer of a 18,600 ton Trident submarine with 60,000 SHP. Even in this vessel, the region can be scary and commands your highjest respect. All that follows assumes that you have a diesel auxiliary, not gasoline. DO NOT carry extra gasoline on board. Here are my thoughts in list form:
1. The Columbia River is thought to have the most dangerous bar in the USA. Do not trust to luck; have someone with experience on board when departing this river for the first time. All may go well and in retrospect you may conclude that the extra trouble and cost was wasted. On the other hand, if you have any trouble, this onboard experience may save your life.
2. Research the route from home marina to at least Port Angeles, WA. Make sure all of your information is current (marinas do close). Know and/or calculate before you leave your dock:
a. Every safe harbor between Portland and the San Juans. Courses in and out, depths of water, navaids, typical flood and ebb currents.
b. Every place you can purchase diesel fuel.
c. Lay out your perfect track from home to finish on paper charts. On each leg write the magnetic heading (after adding in variation/deviation), length of the leg and expected duration of that leg. When finished, enter all this info into your GPS unit using way points or their equivalent.
d. Check the GPS true headings for each leg against your paper charts (to ensure your magnetic headings are correct).
d. Write all of the points, legs, etc. into a spreadsheet, with point name (A, B, C, etc.), Lat/Long, distance to the next point, magnetic heading to the next point, duration to the next point, time at the point (using your perfect trip) at your assumed SOA, and any important notes about the area. Include turning bearings from navigation aids along with the water depth on that turn bearing for changing course to the next leg. (What if your GPS goes down?)
e. Mark all locations where you can buy fuel on the paper charts and in GPS. Figure the distance from home to the next fuel port and between each fuel port.
f. Research the expected off-shore currents (the California Current runs from north to south at up to four knots) for the time you plan to make the trip.
g. Ditto for the winds and seas for the duration of your trip.
3. Assuming that you motor only and using 75% of the SOA you expect considering currents and winds, calculate your diesel fuel consumption between refueling ports. The 75% builds in a safety buffer. For each leg of your trip, do you have enough fuel to get to the next fueling port, motoring only?
4. If not, can you safely carry additional fuel (in CG approved containers) to motor this distance? Don't go if you cannot go by motor alone. This is the most conservativce approach.
5. Ensure that the entire boat's equipment is in top condition, especially the motor, fuel system, radio, safety gear, and navigation equipment. Know how to unclog a fuel filter, change the belt, and unclog the cooling water intake strainer.
6. Do you have a hand-held compass/bearing finder?
7. Know how to call someone on the telephone via radio and practice calling from the boat at least a couple of people ashore before you depart.
8. Remember that the ocean in this area is about 56 degrees all year round. Short survival time.
9. Provide copies of your trip plan to trusted friends who are boaters and who will easily understand your condition/problem if you need their help.
10. Agree with these friends to a check-in plan, with the first call when you depart the dock and at agreed intervals. Agree when the last call will be.
If you cannot do ALL of the above, don't attempt this trip without someone on board who can.
All this said, this could be a great adventure. Be safe.
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Old 16-06-2013, 11:28   #18
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Re: Uphill from Portland, OR to San Juan Islands

Quote:
Originally Posted by wmanganaro View Post
I'm 61, have been sailing since I was 12 and skippered boats up to 44 LOA. I own a SJ28. These boats were built during a time when composit engineering was less advanced resulting is more glass and rugged boats. I have not sailed the OR/WA coast but I've been there as 3rd officer of a 18,600 ton Trident submarine with 60,000 SHP. Even in this vessel, the region can be scary and commands your highjest respect. All that follows assumes that you have a diesel auxiliary, not gasoline. DO NOT carry extra gasoline on board. Here are my thoughts in list form:
1. The Columbia River is thought to have the most dangerous bar in the USA. Do not trust to luck; have someone with experience on board when departing this river for the first time. All may go well and in retrospect you may conclude that the extra trouble and cost was wasted. On the other hand, if you have any trouble, this onboard experience may save your life.
2. Research the route from home marina to at least Port Angeles, WA. Make sure all of your information is current (marinas do close). Know and/or calculate before you leave your dock:
a. Every safe harbor between Portland and the San Juans. Courses in and out, depths of water, navaids, typical flood and ebb currents.
b. Every place you can purchase diesel fuel.
c. Lay out your perfect track from home to finish on paper charts. On each leg write the magnetic heading (after adding in variation/deviation), length of the leg and expected duration of that leg. When finished, enter all this info into your GPS unit using way points or their equivalent.
d. Check the GPS true headings for each leg against your paper charts (to ensure your magnetic headings are correct).
d. Write all of the points, legs, etc. into a spreadsheet, with point name (A, B, C, etc.), Lat/Long, distance to the next point, magnetic heading to the next point, duration to the next point, time at the point (using your perfect trip) at your assumed SOA, and any important notes about the area. Include turning bearings from navigation aids along with the water depth on that turn bearing for changing course to the next leg. (What if your GPS goes down?)
e. Mark all locations where you can buy fuel on the paper charts and in GPS. Figure the distance from home to the next fuel port and between each fuel port.
f. Research the expected off-shore currents (the California Current runs from north to south at up to four knots) for the time you plan to make the trip.
g. Ditto for the winds and seas for the duration of your trip.
3. Assuming that you motor only and using 75% of the SOA you expect considering currents and winds, calculate your diesel fuel consumption between refueling ports. The 75% builds in a safety buffer. For each leg of your trip, do you have enough fuel to get to the next fueling port, motoring only?
4. If not, can you safely carry additional fuel (in CG approved containers) to motor this distance? Don't go if you cannot go by motor alone. This is the most conservativce approach.
5. Ensure that the entire boat's equipment is in top condition, especially the motor, fuel system, radio, safety gear, and navigation equipment. Know how to unclog a fuel filter, change the belt, and unclog the cooling water intake strainer.
6. Do you have a hand-held compass/bearing finder?
7. Know how to call someone on the telephone via radio and practice calling from the boat at least a couple of people ashore before you depart.
8. Remember that the ocean in this area is about 56 degrees all year round. Short survival time.
9. Provide copies of your trip plan to trusted friends who are boaters and who will easily understand your condition/problem if you need their help.
10. Agree with these friends to a check-in plan, with the first call when you depart the dock and at agreed intervals. Agree when the last call will be.
If you cannot do ALL of the above, don't attempt this trip without someone on board who can.
All this said, this could be a great adventure. Be safe.
Well done!

I've been over the bar in a 38 foot sailing vessel recently. Not a piece of cake.

I'd keep the boat in Olympia.

kind regards,
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Old 16-06-2013, 12:02   #19
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Re: Uphill from Portland, OR to San Juan Islands

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Originally Posted by Solitude View Post
Itís a two hour drive up to Tacoma. Why not just keep the boat there?
Agree.
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Old 16-06-2013, 12:40   #20
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Re: Uphill from Portland, OR to San Juan Islands

Check with Portland area yacht clubs - a couple of times I ran into participants in a Portland club's annual race/cruise from Portland up to Victoria, BC. People then took off on their own into either the Gulf Islands in Canada or the San Juans in the US. You could get lots of advice from participants in that annual event.

By the way, one of the great joys of exploring the San Juans is that the BC Gulf Islands are right next door - then then you keep going another day or two to the N and there is Desolation Sound, and so on all the way to Alaska depending on how much time you have available. For years with short vacation time available I cruised in the San Juans and Gulf Is. in 21 and 27 foot sailboats. Later with more time and a bigger boat I went all the way to Sitka/Glacier Bay, plus a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. If your Catalina 30 is suitably equipped for the trip up the coast, you would also be equipped to go way north as far as Alaska via the Inside Passage (and one additional 50 nm leg with exposure to the open ocean). Go for it! The whole area is gorgeous during the summer months (well really, July to September are best; June can be quite wet).
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Old 16-06-2013, 12:44   #21
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Re: Uphill from Portland, OR to San Juan Islands

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post

If you are serious about sailing it, the winter months from January to April have the greatest chance of catching moderate southerly winds. In January it's something like a 65% chance of favorable winds, IIRC. You'll also have the greatest chance of running into a low which will mean some really interesting weather. If you go this route, keep a VERY close eye on the weather and run for cover as soon as you see an approaching low within 48 hours of you. As others have said, if you wait too long to run into protected water you will be commited to a really crappy time clawing off the coast.

Playing the weather, it's a slog to windward but doable in four days or less, moving around the clock. I don't have it on the boat but there is a self published book by a guy who made yearly trips up and down the coast in the summer, border to border, in a Coronado 27. Not a boat you'd call a great sailor or sea boat but he had no problems other than bucking the prevailing wind and waves.
1. Southern winds MEAN a low is approaching. BAD, BAD news. Forget trying to do that.

2. That might be George Benson. George M. Benson
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Old 16-06-2013, 13:54   #22
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Time warp.... Wonder what the OP ended up doing? Good info on west coast sailing regardless of age of thread.
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Old 16-06-2013, 16:43   #23
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Re: Uphill from Portland, OR to San Juan Islands

Yeah I noticed the 4 year gap in posts-I have to laugh at my knowledge then of the bar, and what I know now... but the advice is sound for those taking on the forgotten coast for the first time- and any time for that matter.
See you out there in August!
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Old 18-06-2013, 11:43   #24
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Re: Uphill from Portland, OR to San Juan Islands

Quote:
Originally Posted by wmanganaro View Post
I'm 61, have been sailing since I was 12 and skippered boats up to 44 LOA. I own a SJ28. These boats were built during a time when composit engineering was less advanced resulting is more glass and rugged boats. I have not sailed the OR/WA coast but I've been there as 3rd officer of a 18,600 ton Trident submarine with 60,000 SHP. Even in this vessel, the region can be scary and commands your highjest respect. All that follows assumes that you have a diesel auxiliary, not gasoline. DO NOT carry extra gasoline on board. Here are my thoughts in list form:
1. The Columbia River is thought to have the most dangerous bar in the USA. Do not trust to luck; have someone with experience on board when departing this river for the first time. All may go well and in retrospect you may conclude that the extra trouble and cost was wasted. On the other hand, if you have any trouble, this onboard experience may save your life.
2. Research the route from home marina to at least Port Angeles, WA. Make sure all of your information is current (marinas do close). Know and/or calculate before you leave your dock:
a. Every safe harbor between Portland and the San Juans. Courses in and out, depths of water, navaids, typical flood and ebb currents.
b. Every place you can purchase diesel fuel.
c. Lay out your perfect track from home to finish on paper charts. On each leg write the magnetic heading (after adding in variation/deviation), length of the leg and expected duration of that leg. When finished, enter all this info into your GPS unit using way points or their equivalent.
d. Check the GPS true headings for each leg against your paper charts (to ensure your magnetic headings are correct).
d. Write all of the points, legs, etc. into a spreadsheet, with point name (A, B, C, etc.), Lat/Long, distance to the next point, magnetic heading to the next point, duration to the next point, time at the point (using your perfect trip) at your assumed SOA, and any important notes about the area. Include turning bearings from navigation aids along with the water depth on that turn bearing for changing course to the next leg. (What if your GPS goes down?)
e. Mark all locations where you can buy fuel on the paper charts and in GPS. Figure the distance from home to the next fuel port and between each fuel port.
f. Research the expected off-shore currents (the California Current runs from north to south at up to four knots) for the time you plan to make the trip.
g. Ditto for the winds and seas for the duration of your trip.
3. Assuming that you motor only and using 75% of the SOA you expect considering currents and winds, calculate your diesel fuel consumption between refueling ports. The 75% builds in a safety buffer. For each leg of your trip, do you have enough fuel to get to the next fueling port, motoring only?
4. If not, can you safely carry additional fuel (in CG approved containers) to motor this distance? Don't go if you cannot go by motor alone. This is the most conservativce approach.
5. Ensure that the entire boat's equipment is in top condition, especially the motor, fuel system, radio, safety gear, and navigation equipment. Know how to unclog a fuel filter, change the belt, and unclog the cooling water intake strainer.
6. Do you have a hand-held compass/bearing finder?
7. Know how to call someone on the telephone via radio and practice calling from the boat at least a couple of people ashore before you depart.
8. Remember that the ocean in this area is about 56 degrees all year round. Short survival time.
9. Provide copies of your trip plan to trusted friends who are boaters and who will easily understand your condition/problem if you need their help.
10. Agree with these friends to a check-in plan, with the first call when you depart the dock and at agreed intervals. Agree when the last call will be.
If you cannot do ALL of the above, don't attempt this trip without someone on board who can.
All this said, this could be a great adventure. Be safe.
All good advice. I have not done it, but know others who have sailed to and from Portland from Juan de Fuca Strait. It can be done, just take care.
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Old 18-06-2013, 11:45   #25
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Re: Uphill from Portland, OR to San Juan Islands

Oops, didn't notice the time lapse.

Hope he made it.
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Old 18-06-2013, 12:20   #26
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Re: Uphill from Portland, OR to San Juan Islands

Dang! Another case of me not noticing when the first post was made.
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Old 22-06-2013, 23:10   #27
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Re: Uphill from Portland, OR to San Juan Islands

I didn't think its worth while expecting good information on this forum after posing a question about bying a boat in California or Oregon and sailing it north.
All I got was BS about bars, storms, seamonsters and headwinds.
Wish this thread had been revived there is a couple of usefull posts on sailing up the coast.

Bought the boat. Sailed it up a couple of weeks ago. Lots of great folks with helpfull advice in Portland. Couldn't make the race. "Work ".
Astoria very friendly. Met some actual sailors going the same way, got good helpfull info.
Set of in SW and Drizzel, Missed slack, waiting for fuel, crossed bar on the flood.
Got freindly wave from coast guard.
Sw lasted about an hour. turned NW 15 to 20 ocasional 25.
After about 30 hours and only half way put motor on and motered up to Neah Bay.
Very nice friendly helpfull stop over. met one of the other sailors they had motored all the way and were 16 hrs ahead of us.
after a rest at Macah Marina and breakfast we headed of down Juan de fuca to Roch Harbour.
Great sail.
No storms.
No fearsom breaking wavs at Bar(closed if there is)
head winds(its a sail boat what else)
No sea monsters
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