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Old 03-06-2014, 16:49   #1
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Strait of Juan de Fuca Advice

Hey all,

I'm supposed to head out Thursday from Seattle up to Port Townsend for a night then across to Friday Harbor and returning on Sunday. I've crossed the Strait of Juan de Fuca a few times but the latest NOAA forecast from just a few minutes ago is making me think twice about the conditions and route on Sunday.

It's currently forecast for W 20-30 with 3-5 foot wind waves. Any thoughts from people who have crossed the strait in these conditions?

Would the alternate route of Friday Harbor -> Deception Pass, which only involves a much shorter time out in the strait, be any better? Does the wind build during the day or can I expect to wake up with it blowing 20-30?

Also, there's a huge difference between wind finder and the NOAA forecast, anyone know why it would be so different?

Washington Marine Forecast
Wind, waves & weather forecast Smith Island - Windfinder

Thanks in advance! Brian
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Old 03-06-2014, 16:55   #2
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

Maybe you'll want to wait for better conditions. This time of year, they often are.

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Old 03-06-2014, 17:04   #3
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

The wind often does build in the afternoon. If you want to sail across, a crossing in the afternoon makes for a great reach. If you are motoring, it is calmer in the morning unless the wind is from a front moving through.
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Old 03-06-2014, 17:17   #4
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

Forecasts that far out are total crap. As above if it's a good weather pattern most likely calm in the morning and lots of wind in the afternoon.

Another bailout is to go through the Swinomish channel by Anacortes. They haven't been dredging it, so do a search here for the latest. I think any sort of high tide wouldn't be a problem.
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Old 03-06-2014, 17:22   #5
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

Forecasts for this area are always suspect, especially more than a day out. They are usually more pessimistic than actual.
If a westerly, make sure you exit Admiralty Inlet as close to slack as you can to avoid the classic wind against tide conditions; which will make your ride hell, for at leats the first hour or so.
Otherwise, it's a great trip. Enjoy
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Old 03-06-2014, 17:29   #6
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

It is normal for the winds in the Straits to build during the day. Looking at NOAA's forecast I see not much of a problem with the Small Craft advisory being dropped Wed.

Of importance is to be aware of the conditions at the Mid Channel Bank as you cross the top of Morrowstone Is as you head west to Port Townsend. I recall a very rough passage one evening bashing into the wind to get to Port Tpwnsend for the night.

Crossing the Straits has its own problems. Specifically the traffic zones and how you cross them. Lots of ships there. Partridge bank and the pass at Cattle point. That pass appears to have a 2 kt forecast current against you on thursday. It can also be rough but the outflow can be a great boost when heading south on the way home.

Regards

Detailed Forecast

...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT...

  • SynopsisHIGH PRES OVER THE NE PACIFIC AND LOWER PRES E OF THE CASCADES WILL RESULT IN CONTINUED ONSHORE FLOW OF VARYING STRENGTH THROUGH THIS WEEKEND.
  • Tonight WSW wind 14 to 19 kt decreasing to 6 to 11 kt after midnight. Mostly cloudy. Wind waves 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less.
  • Wednesday Variable winds less than 5 kt becoming W 11 to 16 kt in the afternoon. Partly sunny. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft.
  • Wednesday Night W wind 19 to 29 kt decreasing to 7 to 17 kt after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 38 kt. Mostly cloudy. Wind waves 5 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less.
  • Thursday Variable winds less than 5 kt becoming W 7 to 12 kt in the afternoon. Mostly sunny. Wind waves 1 ft or less.
  • Thursday Night W wind 15 to 19 kt. Mostly cloudy. Wind waves 2 to 3 ft.
  • Friday W wind 9 to 12 kt. Partly sunny. Wind waves around 1 ft.
  • Friday Night W wind 11 to 15 kt. Partly cloudy. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft.
  • Saturday W wind 8 to 11 kt. Mostly sunny. Wind waves around 1 ft.
  • Saturday Night W wind 12 to 15 kt. Mostly cloudy. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft.
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Old 03-06-2014, 18:37   #7
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

Been across there many times. The Straits can be heaven or hell depending on the direction your going and the tide. With 20-30 winds with the tide ebbing (going out) you'll get standing waves and the rips around Pt. Townsend will give you one hell of a ride.

Its best to go around Pt. T. on a slack tide following on its way out, which would be at 11:02. But personally I'd wait for better weather. It takes about 5-7 hours to get to Friday Harbor providing you go through the narrows, which will be slack at about 16:30. If it's misty you'll have to watch out for ships and Smith Is. out in the middle.

If you really need to get to F.H. I'd motor up Saratoga Pass and out thru Deception Pass then across to the inland waters of the San Juan's.

The air is still a bit cold coming off the Olympic's so dress warm and take your foulies.
Be Safe!
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Old 03-06-2014, 18:40   #8
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

There was a great thread here a few months ago. Search for Neah Bay and read it, answers all your questions.
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Old 03-06-2014, 19:16   #9
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

Leave in the morning (unless it is already blowing 20), forget the tide. Winds will not be up until late in the afternoon. The 5 knot current will dissipate not far from Pt Hudson Marina. It will be good practice.

If you listen to NOAA you would never leave the dock.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:13   #10
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

Thanks all for the comments and suggestions. As a couple of you mentioned, the forecast has been revised downward this morning and more or less reflects the wind picking up in the afternoon.

Most recent Saturday/Sunday forecast for the Eastern Straits...
W WIND 10 KT RISING TO 15 TO 25 KT IN THE EVENING
HOURS. WIND WAVES 1 FT BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT EVENING HOURS.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:49   #11
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

If the actual wind is greater than 15kts at Hind Bank bouy at the time of your departure from PT you will find steep short period waves that will make for a rough, slow crossing. You cannot remedy that by using deception pass. Conditions between deception and Lopez pass or Thatcher pass can be very poor indeed if wind and current are opposed. Don't know the size of your vessel. But caution is advised for those areas if the wind is up.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:23   #12
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianc View Post
Thanks all for the comments and suggestions. As a couple of you mentioned, the forecast has been revised downward this morning and more or less reflects the wind picking up in the afternoon.

Most recent Saturday/Sunday forecast for the Eastern Straits...
W WIND 10 KT RISING TO 15 TO 25 KT IN THE EVENING
HOURS. WIND WAVES 1 FT BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT EVENING HOURS.
That sounds like a relatively calm day on San Francisco Bay. Go for it, sounds like fair winds, tuck a reef in. Have fun.
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:58   #13
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

Stu - it's not the wind and wind generated waves I'm worried about...it's the standing waves and steep short period waves that others have mentioned which happen on a wind against current scenario.

IdoraKeeper - it's a C&C 99 so 32.5-ish feet.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:40   #14
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

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Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
That sounds like a relatively calm day on San Francisco Bay. Go for it, sounds like fair winds, tuck a reef in. Have fun.
The Strait of Juan de Fuca is about 10 miles across. Peak outflow can exceed 867,000 cu ft a second. This is opposed by the afternoon winds up to 30 or 40 knots. This makes for a great east bound ride and a bit of a tossing when heading out or crossing. Nearly 100 miles of fetch too.

San Francisco Bay max outflow runs around 150,000 cu ft/s and a mile across.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:52   #15
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Re: Strait of Juan de Fuca advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianc View Post
Stu - it's not the wind and wind generated waves I'm worried about...it's the standing waves and steep short period waves that others have mentioned which happen on a wind against current scenario.

IdoraKeeper - it's a C&C 99 so 32.5-ish feet.
There are ways to get there but it takes time. Go up the Slough, go north around Guymes and Cypress cut down thru obstruction pass, you can stay out of 99% of the mess. Its a long ride though.
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