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Old 16-12-2013, 08:42   #1
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Sailing Back Home

Evening all. I've recently got the itch to get out on the water, and in the course of a frantic and tremendous weekend bought my first sailboat, Säga Caprice, a 23' San Juan. My friend and I took a couple classes (that amounted to 6 total hours over two Saturdays) and immediately took her out on the water under the assumption that we were now sailors.

Forty terrifying hours and a tropical storm later, we pulled her into the harbor over near Eglin AFB, next door to where we're stationed. Since then we can't stay off the deck. Between short rotations through the intercoastal waterways, and stints up and down the coast along the gulf, we've had a blast.

However, lately I've got it in my head that we need to take it further. We've begun planning a trip through the Panama Canal (via Key West to Cuba, then to Cancun and so on along the coasts) to sail back up the west coast of Mexico and the US to Washington. It's looking like a 4-5 month trip so far, but there's bound to be a much more difficult side to a trip like this than the ease of coastal sailing in the gulf.

Any tips, advice, or plain shunning of the idea? Be warned, if you make it sound like a challenge, it'll only get us worse to chomping at the bit and starting this trip.
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Old 16-12-2013, 08:55   #2
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Well... once through the canal you'll need to carry enough fuel for 400-500miles... or carefully plan fuel stops along the way..
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Old 16-12-2013, 09:04   #3
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Re: Sailing Back Home

Oh wow, is it that dead out there, wind-wise?
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Old 16-12-2013, 14:01   #4
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Originally Posted by CaptainonaWhim View Post
Oh wow, is it that dead out there, wind-wise?
If you want to go up the coast and see the sights along the way not so much dead as highly variable and regularly contrary to where you want to go. The best route would probably be Panama-Hawai'i-Washington but then no sightseeing. If I remember I will look up the route when I get off work.

If you are thinking of taking the SJ23, it would probably be OK for one but kind of hard to carry enough supplies for two.
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Old 16-12-2013, 14:14   #5
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Re: Sailing Back Home

The west coast of North America is a great place to sail south. Following wind, following current, following seas.

The only exceptions I've seen are low pressure systems from the Gulf of Alaska (gales or near-gales) and tropical systems during the summer moving up from cyclone basin.

Maybe get the boat to La Paz or Puerto Vallarta and leave it there for the summer.

I don't think the trip is that hard but you'll be hauling ass and it's a pretty narrow weather window. You really don't want to be sailing Mexico/Baja from May-September and starting in December you get the Alaskan low pressure systems hitting from San Diego all the way to, well, Alaska.
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Old 16-12-2013, 14:59   #6
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Re: Sailing Back Home

Nice post about just going for it - sounded like fun.

Since you mentioned that you're stationed at Eglin AFB, you may wish to avoid Cuba, as 'mericans aren't allowed to go there (usually).

With a San Juan 23, if beating up the west coast is too much of a beating, you can stick it on a trailer and tow it there.
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Old 16-12-2013, 15:25   #7
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Re: Sailing Back Home

Hey, CoaW,

It's already been said but just to join the chorus. Altho' Americans can get permission to visit Cuba if they've got a good reason, if you're serving in the military you won't. And even if this to be is your ETS adventure, I wouldn't recommend doing Cuba (assuming you get permission) until you will have been a civilian for a few years.

And while as it's been pointed out, it's a great dream to provision up the boat and go, sailing up the West Coast in a small boat may well prove less-than-fun given the contrary winds and currents. But you've got a trailer-transportable boat! If Washington State is your home waters, why not just put her on a trailer, get her home in a matter of days, and enjoy sailing the waters up there until you feel more competent...then give in to the wanderlust (and maybe in something bigger and stronger?).

Thanks for your service and enjoy...

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Old 16-12-2013, 16:49   #8
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Re: Sailing Back Home

Welcome to Cruisers Forum Captain OW.....no worries, you'll have plenty of participation...great bunch of Sailors here.....
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Old 16-12-2013, 16:50   #9
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Re: Sailing Back Home

Good post! Oh to be young again.
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Old 16-12-2013, 17:10   #10
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Re: Sailing Back Home

The adventure! Sounds like a lot of fun and some excellent experience.
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Old 17-12-2013, 08:16   #11
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Re: Sailing Back Home

Thanks everyone for the great replies, especially those offering different routes for the trip. I hadn't had any clue currents would play such a tremendous role on planning. I had thought Hawaii would be a bit too far in open water for an SJ23, and pretty much pushed that one from thought.

As far as provisioning, we've managed quite a bit on their but I'll have to wait until I get back stateside to see exactly how much I can fit in there to maintain some living quarters. As for the Cuba hitch, I may just have to sail west and skip that area. It'd cost me a little time, but at the same rate, I'd get to avoid possibly being arrested, which is a huge positive to the plan.

I'm still considering the route up the west coast against currents and winds and all, but only until I gain a little more faith in such a enormous distance in open water. Thank you all for the information, I've got a lot to look into now as the date comes up a bit closer.
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Old 17-12-2013, 08:50   #12
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Re: Sailing Back Home

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Originally Posted by CaptainonaWhim View Post

I'm still considering the route up the west coast against currents and winds and all, but only until I gain a little more faith in such a enormous distance in open water. Thank you all for the information, I've got a lot to look into now as the date comes up a bit closer.
I think traveling ALL the way up the coast in that small a boat is foolhardy.

That said, you might be interested in George's trip from SF to the Salish Sea (Puget Sounds and environs).

Cruising The N.W. Coast | George M. Benson

In addition to this book, look for his narrative on that trip on his website.
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Old 17-12-2013, 10:06   #13
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Re: Sailing Back Home

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainonaWhim View Post
Thanks everyone for the great replies, especially those offering different routes for the trip. I hadn't had any clue currents would play such a tremendous role on planning. I had thought Hawaii would be a bit too far in open water for an SJ23, and pretty much pushed that one from thought.

As far as provisioning, we've managed quite a bit on their but I'll have to wait until I get back stateside to see exactly how much I can fit in there to maintain some living quarters. As for the Cuba hitch, I may just have to sail west and skip that area. It'd cost me a little time, but at the same rate, I'd get to avoid possibly being arrested, which is a huge positive to the plan.

I'm still considering the route up the west coast against currents and winds and all, but only until I gain a little more faith in such a enormous distance in open water. Thank you all for the information, I've got a lot to look into now as the date comes up a bit closer.
If it's the same boat I'm thinking of SAN JUAN 23 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com
You might want to consider a larger and more suited boat for such a passage. The SJ23 is more of a bay/lake sailor and there are lots of those. A fun adventure might be buying a trailer and driving across the US to San Diego, then trailering down to La Paz. Big Bay there.
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Old 17-12-2013, 11:02   #14
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Re: Sailing Back Home

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Oh wow, is it that dead out there, wind-wise?
You can sail to Hawaii and then Washington.
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Old 18-12-2013, 07:53   #15
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Re: Sailing Back Home

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If it's the same boat I'm thinking of SAN JUAN 23 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com
You might want to consider a larger and more suited boat for such a passage. The SJ23 is more of a bay/lake sailor and there are lots of those. A fun adventure might be buying a trailer and driving across the US to San Diego, then trailering down to La Paz. Big Bay there.
Yep, that's the one! And I definitely understand the concern. Not seeing too many shorter boats out on the water around where I'm at, and most just stick to the bays at that.

But I honestly can't find it in me to go out in something different. There's just something about it that has me excited for a trip. Maybe it's that first boat entice that I've seen some people get, but I'm dead set on taking it on a trip like this.

I'm sort of running through the ways to make the trip a bit more manageable right now, i.e. power and water, or safer, i.e. routes or pitfalls people run into on their first long trek. I do understand the worry, though.
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