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Old 01-06-2009, 03:45   #1
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SF to SD - First Overnight Sail

Greetings,

I'm new to the community and looking for reassurment(or there lack of). I've been fantasizing over a trip along the California coast for about a year now and this summer it may just pan out.

I've told friends and family about my plans and received varied responses. My Mother is terrified of the idea and my Father is supportive. A couple of my friends think I'm crazy while another one or two share my desire and would like to join me.

Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me introduce myself. My name is Adam and I'm a 23 year old college student residing in San Diego. I've taken three semester long sailing classes that covered mostly small boats; holder14s, lasers, hobies, and a j24. I was more or less top of my classes but the sailing was in a bay and always in fair weather. That is about the extent of my sailing experience; day sailing.

The tentative plan is to buy a boat in San Fransisco. Sail it for a week or two to get a feel for it and head down to San Diego. We're looking for a 25' - 30' fiberglass full keel sloop between 2 and 5 grand.

I've been reading a guide book to buying a first sailboat and also plan on buying and reading the book "The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California" by Brian Fagan.

I guess I'm just a bit torn. It's a bit of a leap but many of the good things in life are. I love the thought of the whole thing but I don't want to end up a fool. Reading the heart wrenching book "10 Degrees of Reckoning" about a sailing families tragic story has kept me somewhat grounded; the power of the ocean cannot be taken for granted.

So I guess I'm asking if I am sounding like a fool. Am I underestimating the scale of such a trip?

Thank you for your time. I look forward to parousing the forum.

Adam
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Old 01-06-2009, 08:55   #2
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I think my words will be echoed by others here on the board. Congratulations on NOT waiting until you're too old to do this. And, welcome to the board.
Many of us are in varied states of readiness to set sail on the open ocean and although your trip is down the coast of Cali... it should still be considered OPEN OCEAN since the weather is so ever changing here. You already have the awareness and respect for the ocean so I think you will make the right choices, and you have some experience in sailing, definately an added plus. LoL
Take it easy, use the charts, find safe anchorages and be decisive with your decisions. When projecting where you expect to be at a certain time, plan a back up in case things dont go quite so smoothly. Most of the time you only get one chance to screw up then it becomes an Awe S^^t moment... again LoL
It's beautiful down the coast, watch the rocks and be aware of the weather during the time of year you depart. The diving is awesome off the coasts especially down around the channel islands and Catalina. If you have time and feel the weather is good for a day or two check out the Farrallons before you head south. It's pretty good diving too but cold water. If you have time stop in the Monetery bay area, take the dinghy up to the pier and eat dinner at the restraunt(s) there... not bad. There's a great little surf shop on the boardwalk just walking distance from the pier and usually the beach right there is full of hotties playing vollyball. makes for a mini-spring break event. Further south a little over half way I think is Morro Bay. Safe, secure, and pretty cool for a small town area. (Well at least smaller than L.A.) Next stop if you leave there early in the morning is the first dive stop at the islands. My personal favorite is Anacapa Island. Midway is a slot cut in the island that you can ride back and forth depending on the surge while you're diving... Good lobster and abs there too. Park it on the mainland side and it's a calm place to spend the night. You'll expect to see some other dive boats there too. It's a favorite spot. You'll be about 150-175 miles from San Diego then... Have fun... See you there.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:13   #3
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I would certainly encourage you.

However, the sailing is only one part of the problem, I hope your additional preparation has also covered:

Navigation
weather
food/water planning

Are you prepared for watchkeeping?

None of this is rocket science. let us know how you get on.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:49   #4
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I second Talbot's advice...

...about getting up to speed in terms of navigation. I've done this trip about a dozen times, and you need to be ready to deal with fog regardless of what time of year you're hoping to make a passage.

Although I've done the trip without radar a couple of times, I would certainly not do it again. There's no experience quite like being a few miles off Point Sur and not being able to see your bow pulpit, let alone the lighthouse.

As far as the overnight stuff, it's possible to day-hop the entire trip except for the passage between Stillwater Cove and San Simeon, which is going to take an overnight in any boat you can afford on your budget.

I'm not crazy about the prospect of a $3,000 boat being up to the voyage without significant work/expense being involved. That's one hell of a shakedown cruise for a boat that's likely to be older than you are. A better plan might be to spend half a year earning enough money to purchase a boat up to the task. Your chances of success will quadruple in a boat in the $10,000-15,000 range.

The first few times I made this trip I was crewing for someone else on boats I could never have afforded at the time. Might be something you want to consider, because it's not all that hard for an able-bodied volunteer to find a crew slot from SF to SD. Once you've got a few passages under your belt it will be far easier to know what sort of boat you'll need for the type of sailing you want to do.
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Old 01-06-2009, 10:36   #5
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What do you consider fair weather? On S.F. Bay it's 25+knots on any given summer day. Can you reef in this along with the chop, and or hove to? Bash is correct about the fog. You can dirty your shorts if you can't see the bow, and a horn just keeps getting closer, and closer.

I've made the trip twice single-handed. Once going south, and the second time coming north. It can be a pleasant sail, or the kind of sail where you question your own sanity of why you are there. Now that's just in one day.

I also encourage you to do it. I also encourage you to give not only the trip more thought, but the resources for the boat you are thinking of being capable. Yes, the boat, and funds you describe will most likely get you south, but then again when that horn gets louder, and closer. You just might be wishing you had saved up a wee bit more money for a boat purchase.

Remember I am not trying to discourage you. I am just trying to share some reality from someone who has done the same trip......BEST WISHES in finding a vessel that will serve you well.......i2f
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Old 02-06-2009, 23:37   #6
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Thank you all for the kind words and suggestions.

cdennyb,
It's good to see that there are divers on these boards as well. Above or below, the ocean is a magnificent place. I have been diving since I was 12 and had my checkout dive in Monetery Bay. Although this is not the trip for it, a trip out to Catalina and the like sound like amazing fun that I will have to do. Sailing and diving all in one? MMMmmmm

Talbot,
Navigation is the next chapter in my book. I know little of it now but I'm sure it will be something I can handle.

What is the best way to keep track of the weather?

I hadn't given much thought to food/water or watchkeeping. I guess because I figured we would be on such a leisurely schedule, it wouldn't be a problem going to shore when in need of something, though I don't know how frequent harbors are. Is it unwise to cast anchor and go to shore when not in the convines of a harbor? I could see the possiblity of a runaway boat or a theif but I am quite nieve to this sort of thing.

With that said I'm rethinking this whole thing. My initial plan, to buy a boat in SF and sail it down to SD is flawed for a couple reasons. The first and foremost being that I would be buying a boat that would meet the needs of the trip, instead of meeting the needs of what I want in a boat. The second, would be that whatever boat I buy would need to be trailerable. If I sail the boat the San Diego, the trailer is still sitting in San Fransisco. And lastly, I would have a window of only a couple weeks to buy the boat. I don't know exactly what I want yet and would like to make a more educated decision if I'm going to be dropping several grand.

What I'm thinking now is to buy the boat in San Diego. I'll have time to research it, to check the local listings and I won't be rushed into the whole thing. Once I have a boat, I can take it out for the day and get comfortable with it. A weekend trip to LA or Catalina would be the next step and I can progressivly get more ambitious as I grow confidence. I'm not going to jump in over my head before I know how to swim, so to speak.

I'm going to start a new thread asking for recommendations of boats based on what I'm looking to do with it but I thought I would also ask those questions here as well since this is where my quest originated.

So, as you guys are aware, I would like to make a passage along the California coast. I'd like to be able to be able to make it out to Catalina and down the Baja Mexico. Sailing for the day or even only a couple hours is also something I'd like to be able to do.

I'm not rolling in money and need to be able to trailer the boat. I can't and won't afford dock space or a mooring even if it were available. Ideally, I would like something that I can rig myself, solo. I don't know how difficult it is to step and unstep a mast but I'm sure there will be times that I'd like to go out sailing for the day and won't have a friend to lend a hand.

I understand foldable keels and daggerboards make trailering much easier. Will I be in for trouble trying to take a boat with a foldable keel on such a trip as I listed above?

I've got a '05 tacoma truck. I'll have to look up the recommended towing loads but I presume it will be able to handle anything I'm looking at.

I'm not sure what I need in the cabin (stove, fridge, head, etc). What are my options if the boat doesn't have these sorts of things? I'm a fairy tall lad, 6'1" and the berths that I've seen look small though I'll admit that the last time I slept in one I was probably 6 years old. Will a 22'-30' boat be able to sleep 3 people of my size?

My budget is about 5 grande but if there is something just up of that please mention it and I will take a look.

Thanks again for all the help. I really do appreciate it.
Adam
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Old 14-06-2009, 13:48   #7
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Aloha Adam,
Welcome aboard! There are many boats at a better price south of SF. Trailerables go up to about 26' in length and in my opinion this is too small for the SF to SD sail. My sail from SF headed to Hawaii in a 38 footer got derailed by weather damage to the gooseneck on the mainmast. We handn't even gotten to Pt. Conception which has some whicked reputation.
You can buy specialty trailers for any size boat but they cost quite a bit more.
You can't just anchor anywhere coming down the coast because of the seas, weather and shoreline so it is only safe to pull into harbor then anchor or find a vacant slip. Watchstanding and provisioning become necessary anytime you go overnight. You have to sleep sometime and by COLREGS you must keep a watch at all times.
This exercise that you are going through is a learning experience. Don't be discouraged in what you hear. Just learn as much as you can and be safe.
Kind regards,
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Old 14-06-2009, 14:51   #8
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Welcome,
I agree with everybodys reply ( well said at that). I would recommend you get an experienced offshore/coastal person to help you on your first few legs of the trip.

Godspeed to your dream,
Erika
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Old 14-06-2009, 15:48   #9
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Yea, singlehanding on its own adds about four times the difficulty to the trip.

As a rule unless you sail out past Pt Conception SoCAl is like lake sailing. On your other thread I think you've seen there are boats capable & ready for offshore use in the below 30' category but for 2 - 5 grand they doubtfully would be ready for offshore work. Like Bash said radar would be really useful on the trip down, nearly essential being shorthanded going coastal in probable fog at times on the way.
A good prep would be to take the boat out SF round the Farallones & back that may be 24 hrs depending on the wind in a small cruiser. Add a trip down to Monterrey.

With the right preparation this will be a great start to adding the ocean to your life, so keep at it & continue with updates as you progress.
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Old 14-06-2009, 16:17   #10
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Towing sailboats

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorpydo View Post
Thank you all for the kind words and suggestions.

I'm going to start a new thread asking for recommendations of boats based on what I'm looking to do with it but I thought I would also ask those questions here as well since this is where my quest originated.

So, as you guys are aware, I would like to make a passage along the California coast. I'd like to be able to be able to make it out to Catalina and down the Baja Mexico. Sailing for the day or even only a couple hours is also something I'd like to be able to do.

I'm not rolling in money and need to be able to trailer the boat. I can't and won't afford dock space or a mooring even if it were available. Ideally, I would like something that I can rig myself, solo. I don't know how difficult it is to step and unstep a mast but I'm sure there will be times that I'd like to go out sailing for the day and won't have a friend to lend a hand.

I understand foldable keels and daggerboards make trailering much easier. Will I be in for trouble trying to take a boat with a foldable keel on such a trip as I listed above?

I've got a '05 tacoma truck. I'll have to look up the recommended towing loads but I presume it will be able to handle anything I'm looking at.

I'm not sure what I need in the cabin (stove, fridge, head, etc). What are my options if the boat doesn't have these sorts of things? I'm a fairy tall lad, 6'1" and the berths that I've seen look small though I'll admit that the last time I slept in one I was probably 6 years old. Will a 22'-30' boat be able to sleep 3 people of my size?

My budget is about 5 grande but if there is something just up of that please mention it and I will take a look.

Thanks again for all the help. I really do appreciate it.
Adam
You can tow a pretty large sailboat with your Toyota. I use a 2000 Tacoma 4 cylinder 4x4 and have towed an International Folkboat (26' full keel) over some steep terrain. I could have towed a larger boat just fine.

Depending on the type of sailing you want to do there are many good boats in your area and just up the coast near LA for sale. The older Pearsons with full or 3/4 keels can be made trailerable and will take bluewater punishment even for a 26ft length. Try to talk your way aboard a few that might meet your needs and see what might fit you.

Kind regards,

JohnL
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Old 14-06-2009, 20:17   #11
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Plan B from Inner Space

Adam,

First, we all want to encourage you to get out there and sail. But as the old adage goes, "Make haste slowly."

The big flaws of your first plan were:
  1. You'd be rushing into the boat with little money, then hoping it would not have major problems on a coastal cruise of some four hundred nautical miles, as the divider walks. A week is not enough time to shakedown a boat, verify the reliability of all essential systems/gear/equipment, (not to mention actually become familiar with it all. A week is barely enough time to provision for a trip like this. It would be taking a shot in the dark.
  2. Speaking of experience, your thin sailing resume, esp. lack of experience in rough weather/foggy conditions, means you could get in way over your head quickly. I especially wouldn't want you to have engine trouble as a relative novice, 'cause even in good weather, it ain't no fun. I can sail into an anchorage and head up, drop my anchor, fall back on it and set it with my mainsail, and I can sail off my anchor in the morning if I have to without an engine. Can you? But that's the easy trick, and many, including myself, consider it simple good seamanship: try sailing up to the dock at a marina with summer traffic all around you, or doing it with the dinghy lashed to your quarter w/ your buddy in it providing the propulsion with the outboard.

    I've done all of that, but if I hadn't had considerable experience beforehand, any of that would have been disastrous, except that I wouldn't have known what to do and would have simply sailed to the mouth of the nearest channel, heaved-to, called to be towed in, and paid through the nose for it. Not that you're not a bright guy, but "stuff happens," and when it happens out on the water, you'd better know what to do. New yacht/new sailing ground/little experience is a bad recipe.

Your Plan B is much saner. I think it's far wiser to take your time, become familiar w/ the S Diego boat market (which is huge), begin studying about different sailboat makes and their (sometimes debatable) abilities, all the while saving every penny you can, because if you buy, let's say, a 25ft. boat for 5k, you will just be beginning to invest in it to prepare it for more than day sailing, and it seems you have cruising ambitions.

Not a bad idea to try be economical by dry-sailing from a trailer, though rigging-launching, then recovering/de-rigging adds about 23 hours to every outing, excluding towing (and towing problems). You'll still have to have a place to store it. I used to splash my 22-footer in June and keep a slip for three months in the summer. Worth it in my case, because it increased my hours actually sailing ten-fold: I sailed more in the three summer months that I ever did the first year when it was on the trailer year-round.

I won't comment about the ability of a trailerable boat with a retractable keel being able to coastal cruise, but many have done it. Check out The Trailer Sailor - Home, and John Vigor's book Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere
Now, you won't have standing headroom, but for the cost-conscious cruiser looking to log hours, a trailerable is an attractive way to go.

Fair Winds,
Jeff
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Old 14-06-2009, 20:28   #12
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You may consider getting a sailing mentor or hiring someone who has done this trip a few times before and who knows the difference between a well equipped seaworthy boat and one that is not. Let your mentor be the captain for the first cruise. You will learn quite a bit and be glad you have someone with experience onboard for your first trip down the coast. This is really something you should not attempt on your own as captain if you have not sailed down the California coast before.

With an experienced captain onboard, you will learn more, you will feel more relaxed, you will be less worried about things and you will enjoy the cruise much more.
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Old 18-06-2009, 00:27   #13
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Get the smallest boat you can reasonably be in and spend the money on a proper survey and re-rigging it with oversized rigging, then add a couple of bulletproof storm sails, and a good Bruce anchor with as much chain as you can afford.

Sail in SF Bay for one month: August - September is good
This will beat the crap out of your boat and test things well for Pt. Conception
Do some beercan races to recall all the stuff you learned in classes, but on your new boat - every boat's a little different, this is not for points but for imprinting stuff into your brain.

Sail to Drake's bay, anchor come back
Sail to the Farralones singlehanded, come back
Go to the Singlehanded Society folks and have them check out your boat for safety
Go spend some money on a MOB pole, a Spot (don't think you can afford an epirb), flares, waterproof radio, etc.
Read this account to understand the value of preparing for the worst:
Good News, Bad News - Singlehanded Sailing Society Forum
(See my links in signature and click on safety tag to get more info like USCG float plan etc)

Then post on craigslit for a buddy boat to go with you, always fun and a great way to learn a lot from others

Maybe go with this lady here:
Woman Single-Handing to Mexico ?

See that post for great advice from others on where to go, not to go, etc.
I will re-recommend that you slow down at the Channel Islands (the real ones in Santa Barbara Channel area) and skip Catalina completely except for maybe Twin Harbors.
Get the Brian Fagan book on Channel Islands it's awesome

Good luck and since you can only do 10% of what all us smart-asses will tell you, just remember to never cut corners with the weather.
Check it religiously and stay away from big swells, which usually build shortly after the wind pipes up. Plan B, Plan B, Plan B - where do I duck for cover when the wind pipes up.
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