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Old 23-11-2009, 15:15   #1
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Need Pacific-Passage-Plan Help

Hi, I have been cruising for the last couple years from New York to the Bahamas. Lately I have been thinking about heading down to Panama, into the Pacific and up the west coast. I don't know much about the Pacific (hurricane season, currents, gales, wind direction), and was hoping to get some pointers for this kind of trip.

Specifically I would like to know when the best time of year to make a passage from central america to hawaii, and from hawaii to washington state is. Also, can anyone tell me how much it would cost to bring a 30' sailboat through the canal?
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Old 23-11-2009, 15:29   #2
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Welcome, elPampero.

As I recall, there are some threads here on those topics. Try clicking on the link in my signature and doing some searching on keywords related to your questions. That will get you started, and then I'm sure you get some advice here, as well.
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Old 23-11-2009, 15:42   #3
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Look at Jimmy Cornell's book World Cruising Routes. It has lots of info on when and how to get from A to B in a sailboat
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Old 23-11-2009, 16:47   #4
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...I'll try and get a copy of that book. My main question is how hard is it to sail up the coast?
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Old 23-11-2009, 18:26   #5
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Your best bet is to sail direct to Hawaii as soon as you can't take beating up the coast, anymore. Any time of year is okay though care needs to be taken in the hurricane season June to November. The Hurricanes that go west hang between 10 and 20 degrees north. You need to stay close to either 10 or 20 degrees and be ready to go left or right and get out of that lane if a storm starts heading your way. The Pacific High is not well formed other than in the summer so winds can be somewhat flukey. Winds are almost always from the E to NE but strength can vary from force 2 to the usual 4-5 of the trade winds. Summertime, you can almost bet on strong tradewinds.

This is an El Nino year which may make for some unusual weather. In El Nino years understand the Pacific High may actually turn into a low which would mean strong headwinds. So far, haven't seen indication of it happening and it's not a long term occurence if it does. The El Nino has made for a weak High this year and we have had higher than normal periods of absence of the trades.

The trip north is best made in the summer. I wouldn't want to leave later than the end of September and that could be pushing it. In the winter, Lows march across the North Pacific averaging one a week and sometimes more often. Summer can have some interesting weather but usually not more than one per trip, and typically not even that. The summer lows don't have the intensity of the winter lows, either.
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Old 23-11-2009, 19:13   #6
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...so from Panama it is a beat up the coast of central america? What are the prevailing winds along that coast in the winter? What I am thinking now is heading north from Panama in March, and then a passage to Hawaii from somewhere in southern Mexico in April or May.
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Old 23-11-2009, 19:18   #7
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End of Sept. is too late for the trip North. June-end of Aug. is the window. By the end of Sept lows are often back to back usally 2-3 per week. They usually hit us up in Northern BC, but do hit souther BC and WA also. Last weekend the winds were 60-70 knots with a few gusts over 100 knots! Today our 118m ferry took a beating before it was turned back to port with damaged cars and scared passengers.
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