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Old 05-05-2009, 05:24   #1
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Woman Single-Handing to Mexico ?

I'm hoping to sail, on my own, from San Francisco to Ensenada this summer. If I get that far and still feel like continuing, I will go on to Puerto Vallarta, which is where I am heading anyway for the fall to work with a Mexican friend of mine.
A few questions, which I will of course be researching for myself as well, but any info and input will be well recieved.
I'm a 36 year old woman and I am the second owner of my boat, a 25 foot Coronado 1969. This boat had already been sailed single-handed from SF to Mexico twice before by her previous owner, who was nearly twice my age at the time, and is now deceased.

I am most concerned about the long distances between ports at some stretches of the journey, and would like to know more about singlehanding through the night. I sail alot on my own, but have yet to sail on my own at night...it is more of a challenge than a desire. For I would like to be anchored, moored or in a slip every night of my journey. I know that is not possible.

Can I just ask for some chit chat on these topics?
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:15   #2
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You’ll probably find some interesting information & opinion at an earlier discussion
Goto:
Singlehanding - Sleeping - Good Idea ?

Good luck on your summer cruise, and beyond.
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:28   #3
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Having done a fair bit, here's my simple advice: Don't even think about it! Spend your time researching two other people to go with you. It will be much more enjoyable and safe.
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:50   #4
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Single-handing at night was one of my most beautiful experiences. I did the same trip you are discussing. You can nap during the day, and be mostly awake at night. I took a baking timer, and would sleep 1-2 hours. Depended
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:51   #5
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Depended on how close to shore I was. Get Charlies Charts, and it will give you all the little coves, and inlets to hide in. You can PM me for information if you wish......i2f
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Old 05-05-2009, 19:10   #6
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Sounds like grest fun, if I remember it is possible to do it with very few overnighters anyway, just make sure than when you sleep the boat is headed away from the land.
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Old 06-05-2009, 17:50   #7
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Sounds fun!
Research plan research plan research plan plan plan with little time restraints.
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Old 06-05-2009, 18:06   #8
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I don't get people who say "don't do it" - totally crazy.
Why not.

Since we know it will be impossible for you to be fully awake / alert all the time, and you will have to catnap, I would start figuring out a schedule of how you will sail if you have to go for more than 12 hour legs, which can happen.

There are places like Pt. Conception and Channel Islands where if the weather gets ugly you have no choice and will have to stay far offshore to be safe, and you will get tired.

So the key, I think, is:
Autopilot - get a cheap autohelm 800 and attach to your tiller
Nap system - get an egg timer and set it for 10 minutes so you can catnap and scan horizon for traffic
Alert system - if you can afford it get AIS and integrate it with mapping software on laptop and set alarms for anything within 5 miles or so

I doubt you have radar but if you do you can do the same with radar.

If you plan it well you can certainly stop most nights:
SF
Half Moon Bay
Santa Cruz
Monterey
Morro Bay - This is the tough one, very long pull you'd have to leave at 4am and motor like crazy to make it...unlikely.... so here you have to plan for night sailing and you are better off leaving late so you can arrive in the AM and see the entrance
Any doubts, any swell at all, keep going to Port St. Louis (although Morro Bay is much nicer and I'd spend a day or two here)
Santa Barbara ? - Another long pull, lots of shipping traffic and possible weather issues at Pt. Conception.

Stay well off land here, get AIS, radar or lots of cofee as you will see oil rigs and container ships, and lots of whales possible here.

I would suggest you go to the Channel Islands instead of S. Barbara if you are OK anchoring out. Very nice here, get Brian Fagan's book on these, very detailed info on anchorages to take depending on wind direction

The rest is kind of boring.....til Mexico I'd say
Catalina, meh a zoo
Long Beach, meh
San Diego, meh crowded and lots of navy activity


Fair winds and have fun!
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Old 06-05-2009, 18:47   #9
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Between Monterey, and Morro is San Simeon, aka Hearst Castle. Most times going in to anchor in itself is time consuming. Plan on getting those naps. I did it on a 30ft. Columbia. What ever you do! Do not get a cheap autopilot. Get something for a much bigger boat than your. I did what was advised, and the autopilot almost killed me. I am typing about being thrown across the salon with the mast in the water, and being thrown overboard. If I wasn't wearning my harness I would've been fish food. Get nothing CHEAP!..........i2f
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Old 07-05-2009, 10:49   #10
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Wow, thank you all for this excellent info. You better believe I am researching, and even thinking about trying to pick up a hitchhiking sailor or two before hitting those more difficult stretches alone. I don't want to take someone with me for the whole of the journey, but I suppose it might be possible to pick up someone who would like to do a two or three day leg of it here and there with me.
The comments about different anchorages are especially helpful...myself, I've never anchored my boat yet. I've always just caught some mooring tackle. Going to practice this week. Would love to know more about the autopilot that nearly killed you Emagin!
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:04   #11
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For anchoring you are best served by a good amount of chain, which puts weight towards the bottom and provides a nice long heavy arc which pulls down on the boat, and keeps the anchor from lifting/dragging off it's hold in the bottom. You can research anchors ad nauseum but basically get a bruce type anchor as your primary and throw as much chain (instead of nylon) as you can.

Anchoring is a fantastic way to see interesting places and not pay a dime, especially good in Channel Isl.
In Morro Bay there is a guest dock that is public and free, or you can go to the local yacht club there and mention you are with yacht club X in your home town and they'll be cool about having you tie up there and use their wifi.

Get Charlie's Charts Pacific, excellent book, also make sure you grab a free copy of the Coast Pilot for california (google it, should be #9) and print it out! PDFs in heavy seas don't do crap for you. If you are short on funds grab books/guides at library and copy key pages, always think Plan B and get pages on nearby locations in case your first option does not work.

As far as autopilot hell, you'd want to ask imagine2frolic
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:28   #12
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Mexican hurricane season

June through October is Mexican hurricane season, and a lot of us can't go south prior to Halloween because of stipulations in our insurance policies. If you're planning to go there without insurance, that's all the more reason to keep an eye on the forecasts. Realize that storms bring southerlies, and you'll have a lot less bashing to worry about if you wait them out.

One other concern, especially for singlehanders, is that there's a lot of shipping traffic between San Francisco and Long Beach. And if you stay east of the shipping lanes, there are a lot of fishing trawlers. Of course, if you try to get west of the shipping lanes, you'll experience just how small a Coronado 25 really is. Either way, it can get pretty foggy that time of year. I became so fogbound off Point Sur one August that I swore a holy oath never ever to make that trip again without radar. Couldn't even see my own bow pulpit.

Honestly, I think you might be better off to take crew on the first leg, as far as San Diego or Ensenada, and then singlehand once you're south of the border.
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:31   #13
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I bought a Navik I believe. It was 92, so forgive my memory. I do know it started with an N. It was rated for my boat, but barely. It burned out, and starting turning hard over on it's own. Got it replaced by a bigger one, because Worst Marine now claimed it was too small. I made them pull out the last year's catalogue, so they gave me a bigger one. It was rated well over my boat. My boat was at the bottom if it's rating. It worked for years, and in some nasty snotty stuff too. Anchors, and autopilots need to be overkill without sinking the boat....IMHO.........i2f
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Old 10-05-2009, 13:35   #14
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Jenny,

Last summer I single-handed my boat from S.F. to Newport Beach and in January brought it back up to Half Moon Bay. It was a great trip. Just did Cabo to San Diego too, on a different boat, also great. My boat only has a windvane, which only works some of the time, but I still made it just fine. If you get comfortable with anchoring, as you well should, you can stop just about every night if you want, with one exception, the big sur coast. (Actually, there's one little spot ominously called 'wreck beach' where one can anchor, but I've never stopped to check it out.) Overnight passages can be chilly and, perhaps, intimidating at first, but they're not to be feared, and with an autopilot, egg timer, bright headlamp and good thermos and some vigilance, they can be quite lovely. Company is always nice too, but beggars can't be choosers. I can't encourage you strongly enough to go for it if you're up to the challenge.

Learning to anchor is key, because once you're comfortable bobbing on the hook, every sheltered spot coast can be your back porch view and you don't have to rely on availability of marinas. And the basics of anchoring aren't that complicated, just follow the rules - reasonably sized anchor, some length of chain at the end (the more the merrier, but not much really neccessary), proper scope (say, 7 times length of rode to water depth, or more), and back on the anchor to assure it's set properly. After doing it a few times, you might feel just as comfy or even more so on your own hook than on a rented mooring you haven't seen the underside of.

After Big Sur there's the San Simeon anchorage, which I highly recommend as a great space to unwind. There's not much on shore to do, and a beach landing there can sometimes be wet, but it's quiet with a great bottom and tons of room. From there you can easily find a place every night. There's Morro Bay (lovely town - go to the yacht club for showers and laundry, $15/night for a mooring and facilities), then Port San Luis, then Point Conception. It's got a bad reputation, but just pick a good day and you'll be fine. When I went North around it, it was like a lake out there. On the backside of the point is a cozy anchorage, kinda kelpy but good, called coho. Stay there for the night, then Santa Barbara in the morning, a day sail away. Or Santa Cruz Island if you like. From there, with all the islands an coastal marinas the possibilities are endless and you should never have to sail at night if you don't want to.

After Ensenada there's little in the way of actual marinas, but there's so many little coves you could probably hop your way down the coast all you like with nary an overnighter.

I could probably write you a book about it, but I see you live in the S.F. region, so feel free to email me if you want to get coffee and talk boats more, I'll be back in the bay next week.
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Old 10-05-2009, 14:50   #15
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Don't forget the food.....

Jennymar,

Just for "quality of life"

Along with the equipment (oversized autopilot, eggtimer, etc) a little advance preparation on "food" makes for a wonderful voyage. I don't know about you, but I consider the day a total loss if I can't state "darn, this is good stuff!" during at least one meal each day of the trip.

You can prepare the meals before the trip and/or during stoppages and just warm them up - does wonders for your state of mind and certainly beats sandwiches all the time(!)

Fair winds!

Sailndive

PS: For my older Beneteau 30' sloop, I had a Navico TP5500 and a Simrad tillerpilot and they both worked very well - She had a displacement of only about 9000 lbs w/ a fin keel.
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