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Old 01-12-2011, 13:56   #1
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San Francisco to San Diego - Thoughts ?

Hey folks,

We made the voyage from Vancouver, Canada to San Francisco back in September/October, and it was definitely a learning experience. On the advice of many people, we went out between 50-100nm offshore, where we experienced fairly stable conditions and very few other boats. We stopped in Coos Bay, Oregon, to dodge a forecasted five days of southerly gales, but otherwise made it in two offshore hops of about five days each.

Our next hop is from SF to San Diego - is there a "common" way to do this hop? Our current plan is to do roughly the same thing as the ride down - head offshore about 50-60 miles and then turn left, then turn left again about 400nm later.

This will be our first time in these waters, with almost all of our sailing experience being coastal sailing in the Gulf Islands in Canada. What should we should be anticipating?
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Old 01-12-2011, 14:06   #2
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Re: San Francisco to San Diego - thoughts?

More common would be to harbor-hop down to Monterey, and then make the long run either to Morro Bay or even Santa Barbara. There's no reason to go "out," because if you head due south the coast will fall away from you.

Once south of Pt Conception, it's not uncommon this time of year to lose the wind if you're inside of the Channel Islands. The big question is how well that tri of yours does in light air. If it's okay, it would be a shame to miss those islands.
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Old 01-12-2011, 14:14   #3
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Re: San Francisco to San Diego - thoughts?

South of Point Conception, as noted above, is pretty calm. At least the current will be on your side. I'd stay offshore or within a day's range of a harbor. When some of the big low pressure systems come through you're going to take them directly on your starboard bow on a beat, with the current and prevailing swell coming from different directions. Wind speeds of 40 knots are normal, but remember that's on the nose.

So either have the room to move around that you'll need, or be close enough to a harbor (checking the weather maps) to give yourself some cover.

South of Point Conception you're always within a day's run to an anchorage or slip. I'd recommend going through the Channel Islands if you can. Stopping in on San Miguel is a rarity that very few human beings get to experience. Santa Cruz Island has some of the largest sea caves in the world.
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Old 01-12-2011, 14:16   #4
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Re: San Francisco to San Diego - thoughts?

If the weather cooperates, you could have NW winds force 4 and do hull speed till you get to Point Conception. We ducked inside the Channel Islands but we were going to Newport Beach the two times we made the sail.

The problem you may have is persistant southerly winds. Winds in January are primarily southerly according to the Pilot Charts. Southerlies are can persist into March but are not guaranteed. We had NW winds when we made the trip in both January and July. Going the other direction, had light southerlies which held through most of March that year.

We were pretty close inshore when we turned the corner at Point Conception. We got hit by force 5-6 local winds on one passage. They came out of nowhere going force 4 to force 6 about 5 miles north of the point and dieing out shorting after rounding. Don't think you need to hang out 50 miles but be wary if your within 10 miles.

Once we rounded the point, winds were force 2-3 all the way into Newport. With calm seas. We sailed the whole way but not at hull speed.

As you are undoubtedly aware, the winter low pressure systems are the problem. If you leave as soon as the winds switch to NW after frontal passage, you should be around Point Conception within 3 days with decent winds. We Made Newport Beach in 4 days both trips. Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Morro Bay are the only places to run to hide so wait for good weather or duck in early if things don't develop as planned.

Second stopping at the Channel Islands. We hit two and they were magical with the elephant seals and hiking. No other boats, except commercial fisherman, in the winter.
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Old 01-12-2011, 15:13   #5
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Re: San Francisco to San Diego - thoughts?

Thanks so much, the feedback is very much appreciated!
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Old 01-12-2011, 15:37   #6
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Re: San Francisco to San Diego - thoughts?

The above is excellent advice. Corrently though, Southren Cal is experienceing Santa Ana winds (east to west) of +75 knots. Wait for the weather to return to normal conditions.
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