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Old 07-04-2008, 22:53   #1
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West Coast Crusing - a novice

I just joined this forum, and have been a sailer in Puget Sound for 30 years. I am thinking about purchasing a boat located in San Franscisco, and am looking for advice on sailing up the west coast. I purchased the pilot charts, and it looks like a good chance that it will be a beat up the coast. Could be quite a slog, and may want to duck into ports rather than one long cruise.
Any advise on such a trip? Ports to duck into, or ports to avoid?
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Old 10-04-2008, 14:36   #2
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Aloha Richard,
Welcome aboard!! Yes, it will be a long slog to weather. I can't help you with advice on that one. Another option is sail on over here to Hawaii (about 16 - 20 days). Spend a couple of weeks and then make the big loop around the Pacific High and to the Straits of Juan de Fuca. It took me 21 days from Hawaii to the entrance of the straits on a boat with a 27 foot waterline in a non El Nino year many years ago.
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Old 10-04-2008, 15:15   #3
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Hawaii or truck it

I have not done the trip. Howver, I do not people who have. It was an awful experience. You are beating and the current is probably against you. There are few places to put into.

If you have the time the Hawaii alternate is good. If not I know of two folks who put there boats on trucks and shipped them up to Seattle.

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Old 10-04-2008, 17:10   #4
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it can be done in day hops but you need ample time to plan your weather. all the hops once you get N or Port Orford all the safe harbors are across river bars and not the simplest thing. Again, can be done with caution but not ideal.

If I were you I would investigate how much it will cost you to take the time off etc and then compare that to what the truck would cost you to deliver the boat to Seattle.

You can do whatever you choose to, but you might decide you would rather spend you time sailing the sound rather than motoring up the pacific and spend the money on the truck?

Unless you really want to see HAwaii by boat and have the 2 months to make it happen.

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Old 10-04-2008, 19:45   #5
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I have looked into trucking costs, and they are fairly expensive, plus the yard costs of de-masting and re-masting. Plus if you are above 12 ft height, which I probably would be, then you need to pull the keel!
From what I understand, trucking used to be about half of what it is now with the fuel costs.
So I'm thinking that maybe day hops may be managable, even if the slog is not much fun during the day. But that is from the comfort of my chair right now!
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Old 10-04-2008, 20:21   #6
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Richard, You will need to decide if you can and want to take as long as it takes waiting out weather and dealing with the trip north, which can be uncomfortable, or get some quotes on shipping the boat and the related costs. Many folks use this alternative in your area.
The "slog during the day" is not a good reflection of the trip. There are large areas where there are no stops during the day and the weather can be brutal. The other option is to leave the boat south til maybe mid summer when the weather is a bit more benign. Or find a boat for sale in your area, and that is the simple solution.
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Old 10-04-2008, 20:54   #7
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If I do do it, it will not be for 1 or 2 months, so I'm hoping the weather could be somewhat better at that point.
The pilot charts give wind speed and direction data, but I'm wondering if there is some other data available about frequency of storms on a monthly basis?
Yes, I do understand that there could be some longer distances involved, but there is a least an opportunity to get to port somewhere along the way as opposed to one long offshore beat.
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Old 10-04-2008, 21:45   #8
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There are a number of harbors between the SF Bay and Puget Sound. Coast Pilot number 7 will be able to give you the details of these ports.

Here is a link to the electronic version.
Office of Coast Survey - United States Coast Pilot 7
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Old 10-04-2008, 22:30   #9
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I did the trip, San Francisco to Bainbridge Island, last year. As is well stated, it is a real slog. For what it’s worth, here are a few highlights and follow-up thoughts.
First Attempt:
I spent 5 or 6 weekends learning the boat and getting it ready. In addition, I studied the pilot charts, researched various places to “put in”, assembled a crew (all with moderate to strong sailing experience). A series of nasty lows was stuck along the coast (April 2007). Then a good forecast. I flew down with the crew. We did final prep and safety drills; the forecast stayed good.
We departed early morning (mid April) with a marine forecast of sunny and 60 degrees, 15 to 20 kts from the north, with big swells (residual) but a comfortable wave period. The surface wind charts showed the wind shifting between N and NW (once or twice a day) well offshore to 250 miles. My plan was to sail the shifts to make the best VMG, but working offshore.
About an hour out of the bay, the last low that passed the day before did an about face. I went down to make lunch in benign conditions. I came back up into 35kts. Within minutes braking waves formed on top of the swells. We bashed around making little to no progress. Two guys were puking – but ok. Another guy got so seasick he was incapacitated. Of course the marine forecast was “peachy”. After another hour the forecast caught up with the weather. At the point where we had to commit for the night or turn tail and get back into the bay before night. We turned and had a great ride back in (40kts behind is SO much better then on the nose). By the next morning, it was blowing 65kts outside the bay. Gales for a solid week after.
Second Attempt:
Watching and waiting from Seattle: for 7 weeks! My robust crew dwindled. In early June a good weather window settled on the coast. Again we departed early morning; 3 of us. Around the same time of day and same area as the previous attempt, a front came out of nowhere, whipping to 35kts (on the nose) and “pay attention to me” sized seas. At first I thought, crap, here we go again. This time however, my 2 crew felt good and the weather stabilized at ugly and uncomfortable; though not crossing into hellish and deadly.
You learn things about your “new to you” boat when it is pitch black and blowing stink. Interesting things. Around midnight a boarding sea blew through of the dodger. We went from really cold and wet to bathing in Norway. Then a break, literally. The staysail halyard parted. We doused the staysail and brought it aft to provide excellent protection in lieu of the ventilated dodger. I changed my tactics a little and decided to motor directly into wind/waves. Our boat speed and VMG increased to 3 kts – a nice improvement.
By morning the wind/seas eases up a lot. The rest of the trip ranged from light and variable from the N or NW to blustery from the N or NW; but nothing like the first day of both attempts. A few time I tried to crack off a little on starboard tack to sail some distance offshore. Every time the wind would back, forcing us to point further from where we wanted to go.
The trip up took 5 days and 20 hours. We sailed a total of 6 hours, or about 8%, the rest was motor sailing. We put into Crescent City, California for fuel. And again in Neah By. With the wind and current against us, we typically motor-sailed at 6 knots. We were exhausted by the end of the trip.
Would I do the trip again?
I can see doing the Hawaii route if you have time. It sounds silly and makes sense. Make landfall in Alaska or N Vancouver and have a great time coming down to Puget Sound. Problem is most people that need to get their boat “up the coast” don’t have the time.
I can see trucking the boat up the coat. If you want to get your boat to Puget Sound on schedule then this is your choice. Don’t forget that it is not just the trucking costs, but all of the decommissioning/recommissioning as well. With the weather instability of the NW coast it can be well worth it.
I can see “sailing” up the coast again. The sailing was terrible. It was at times, uncomfortable. The marine life was excellent. Lots of whales/dolphins/porpoises/birds. The best was dolphins attacking a bait ball that was using Totem’s bottom as camouflage. I gained a lot of confidence in the boat, despite the few gear failures. The trip can take as long as sailing the Hawaii route; just that your usually home getting weather forecast to figure out if it makes sense to fly down and go. No doubt I tried on the early side. Deeper into summer would likely offer warmer and a little easier weather; and a guarantee of that big ‘ol North Pacific High –no sailing, except by way of Hawaii. You can “hop” up the coast, sort of. Many of the few places to hole up require crossing a bar and I’m not a fan except in nice conditions for which there is no guarantee.
I wouldn’t say the pilot charts are meaningless, or invaluable. They’re something like saying that saying that Tiger Woods is excellent at golf; but not at predicting that he will get a hole in one on April 25 at 10AM. It takes patience, and a sound boat, and a good crew, and more patience.
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Old 10-04-2008, 22:45   #10
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I trucked my boat up from SF -> PNW 35' it -just- fit under the 14' height limit by an inch. And the 12' wide limit by an inch. This was 2005 or 2006 cost $3,000 + yard fees.

I think running up the Calif -> Wa coast in a new to me boat would be one of the last things I'd want to try.

What kinda' boat did you buy? Does it sail to weather really really well?

One silver lining, if you bought it in SF, there's a good chance its set up to sail in hootin' conditions.

Good luck!

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Old 10-04-2008, 22:46   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svTOTEM View Post
I did the trip, San Francisco to Bainbridge Island, last year. As is well stated, it is a real slog. For what it’s worth, here are a few highlights and follow-up thoughts.
First Attempt:
I spent 5 or 6 weekends learning the boat and getting it ready. In addition, I studied the pilot charts, researched various places to “put in”, assembled a crew (all with moderate to strong sailing experience). A series of nasty lows was stuck along the coast (April 2007). Then a good forecast. I flew down with the crew. We did final prep and safety drills; the forecast stayed good.
We departed early morning (mid April) with a marine forecast of sunny and 60 degrees, 15 to 20 kts from the north, with big swells (residual) but a comfortable wave period. The surface wind charts showed the wind shifting between N and NW (once or twice a day) well offshore to 250 miles. My plan was to sail the shifts to make the best VMG, but working offshore.
About an hour out of the bay, the last low that passed the day before did an about face. I went down to make lunch in benign conditions. I came back up into 35kts. Within minutes braking waves formed on top of the swells. We bashed around making little to no progress. Two guys were puking – but ok. Another guy got so seasick he was incapacitated. Of course the marine forecast was “peachy”. After another hour the forecast caught up with the weather. At the point where we had to commit for the night or turn tail and get back into the bay before night. We turned and had a great ride back in (40kts behind is SO much better then on the nose). By the next morning, it was blowing 65kts outside the bay. Gales for a solid week after.
Second Attempt:
Watching and waiting from Seattle: for 7 weeks! My robust crew dwindled. In early June a good weather window settled on the coast. Again we departed early morning; 3 of us. Around the same time of day and same area as the previous attempt, a front came out of nowhere, whipping to 35kts (on the nose) and “pay attention to me” sized seas. At first I thought, crap, here we go again. This time however, my 2 crew felt good and the weather stabilized at ugly and uncomfortable; though not crossing into hellish and deadly.
You learn things about your “new to you” boat when it is pitch black and blowing stink. Interesting things. Around midnight a boarding sea blew through of the dodger. We went from really cold and wet to bathing in Norway. Then a break, literally. The staysail halyard parted. We doused the staysail and brought it aft to provide excellent protection in lieu of the ventilated dodger. I changed my tactics a little and decided to motor directly into wind/waves. Our boat speed and VMG increased to 3 kts – a nice improvement.
By morning the wind/seas eases up a lot. The rest of the trip ranged from light and variable from the N or NW to blustery from the N or NW; but nothing like the first day of both attempts. A few time I tried to crack off a little on starboard tack to sail some distance offshore. Every time the wind would back, forcing us to point further from where we wanted to go.
The trip up took 5 days and 20 hours. We sailed a total of 6 hours, or about 8%, the rest was motor sailing. We put into Crescent City, California for fuel. And again in Neah By. With the wind and current against us, we typically motor-sailed at 6 knots. We were exhausted by the end of the trip.
Would I do the trip again?
I can see doing the Hawaii route if you have time. It sounds silly and makes sense. Make landfall in Alaska or N Vancouver and have a great time coming down to Puget Sound. Problem is most people that need to get their boat “up the coast” don’t have the time.
I can see trucking the boat up the coat. If you want to get your boat to Puget Sound on schedule then this is your choice. Don’t forget that it is not just the trucking costs, but all of the decommissioning/recommissioning as well. With the weather instability of the NW coast it can be well worth it.
I can see “sailing” up the coast again. The sailing was terrible. It was at times, uncomfortable. The marine life was excellent. Lots of whales/dolphins/porpoises/birds. The best was dolphins attacking a bait ball that was using Totem’s bottom as camouflage. I gained a lot of confidence in the boat, despite the few gear failures. The trip can take as long as sailing the Hawaii route; just that your usually home getting weather forecast to figure out if it makes sense to fly down and go. No doubt I tried on the early side. Deeper into summer would likely offer warmer and a little easier weather; and a guarantee of that big ‘ol North Pacific High –no sailing, except by way of Hawaii. You can “hop” up the coast, sort of. Many of the few places to hole up require crossing a bar and I’m not a fan except in nice conditions for which there is no guarantee.
I wouldn’t say the pilot charts are meaningless, or invaluable. They’re something like saying that saying that Tiger Woods is excellent at golf; but not at predicting that he will get a hole in one on April 25 at 10AM. It takes patience, and a sound boat, and a good crew, and more patience.
Wow, that sounds like it was a heck of a trip.

Richard,
Given we have here storms that generate out of the north-west Pacific up to about May (typically the latest)), I would wait until June or July when the pacific high settles in before attempting the trip. Yes there will be advection fog generated by coastal upwelling but that beats getting beat up by a storm. Once you get out far enough, that typical coastal fog goes away anyways.
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Old 11-04-2008, 01:37   #12
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I haven't made the trip north but will probably do it in a year or two. The following is from my studies and reading the two books mentioned.

The most direct way is to run the kelp line motorsailing. You get some counter current help close to shore and there are plenty of places to duck in if the weather gets snotty on the California Coast. Oregon and Washington coasts have relatively closely spaced harbors but they are over bars. You need to duck in early as these bars close out quickly when a front passes.

If you want to sail, strangely January is the best month. Prevailing winds are mostly south of west. Of course there is the little problem of the constant lows that march across the Pacific at that time of year. Talked with one sailor on a Tartan 43 who sailed to Alaska in January. He said they sailed all the way right up the coast and made great runs with mostly fair weather. They did have to duck in twice but only for a short times. His biggest complaint was the cold and he was an Alaska Native. I've made the trip south from SF in the summer and winter, strangely, it felt colder in early summer than in January. There are also periods of southerly winds into March. When I brought my current boat up from Santa Cruz to Alameda in March, the winds stayed force 2-3 out of the south for nearly 3 weeks. Lucky for me as I needed to do so many things to the boat before I could make the trip that the departure stretched out for a couple of weeks.

There is There is a good little book Called 'Cruising the Northwest Coast' by George Benson. It's relatively cheap and self published with good information though no drawings/charts. Benson made the trip in a modified Coronado 27 with an outboard for an engine. His voyages were during the summer months so weather wasn't one of his problems. Did have to buck the prevailing northerlies so sailing wasn't high on his list of things accomplished. He stayed just outside the kelp line in 10-20 fathoms with the main sheeted in hard, motor sailing.

A much more detailed and expensive book is 'Exploring the Pacific Coast' by Don and Reanne Douglass. They are trawler boaters with a little different perspective. There book is quite detailed with excellent illustrations and probably worth the money.

The trip is doable but you need to decide whether you want to sail or power. If sailing is your priority, learn to sing Aloha Oe or make the sail in the dead of winter. If you don't mind running the engine, stay in close and enjoy the scenery during the summer. BTW, the coastal fogs seem to go away in late summer.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 11-04-2008, 01:50   #13
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Wow, svTotems first experience sounds like one that I could pass on, and that was a 47 footer. Second one sounds uncomfortable, but possible.
I'm looking at a C&C 37 plus, which is a 40 ft boat, and would sail to weather well.
I got a trucking quote of $5000, which assumed that it would be under 12 ft high. Over 12 ft they would not even quote, and the deep keel will put it about 13 ft. So that would mean pulling the keel, which would really run up the yard costs on each end. So I guess that I need to figure out if the overall cost is really worth it vs the potential slog up the coast, even if I were to wait a few months.
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Old 12-04-2008, 17:18   #14
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Over 12 ft they would not even quote
Find a different trucking company. If they won't quote over 12' there not really set up for trucking boats.

Try this one : 360 319-0484 (Pathway transport) ask for Flemming, tell 'em "hello" from jim lee.

This is the guy I used and I was completely pleased with the entire deal.

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Old 12-04-2008, 20:03   #15
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That used to be my bread and butter route years ago. As David M advised, wait until the Pacific High develops, invest in a good Radar and Nav system, stay close to shore in calm weather to take advantage of the counter current and thermals and be prepared to motor a lot.
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