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-   -   Single Handing: 'Offshore' or Not ? (http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f23/single-handing-offshore-or-not-46537.html)

EvermanJ 08-09-2010 11:43

Single Handing: 'Offshore' or Not ?
 
I'm currently in Ensenada, Mexico and plan to sail down the coast of baja. I will be sailing single-handed and am wondering if I should try and make it in between anchorages during the day or stay off-shore and avoid land. I've talked to a number of people and the answers are split down the middle. Any advice or suggestions?

Healer52 08-09-2010 11:48

Well, the one problem that I've never seen a solution for in single-handing is the requirement to maintain a watch...kind of hard to do that when you're asleep.

daddle 08-09-2010 11:59

I would sail something like:

Ensenada
Isla San Martin or Bahia San Quintin
San Carlos
Isla Cedros
Turtle Bay
Asuncion or Hipolito
Bahia de Santa Maria
Cabo San Lucas

Basically 24 (very roughly) hour legs between good anchorages where I would rest for a day or two (because what's the hurry?). There's other anchorages as well. Avoid the iffy ones.

Stay well offshore so you can relax, like 10 to 50 miles.

I like the long open sea legs across the big bays.

To avoid the considerable shipping stay 10nm away from the rhumb lines between the major capes.

Watch out for Sacramento Reef. I'd skip Cabo and check in at friendlier La Paz.

It's usually a very pleasant sail.

rebel heart 08-09-2010 12:02

Tell the "always maintain a watch" thing to the countless singlehanded yacht racers, or the ones we celebrate in the media.

Everman, do you have Charlie's Charts of that area? There are some long stretches with some pretty crummy options for anchoring. That alone might keep you off the coast.

daddle 08-09-2010 12:10

Quote:

Originally Posted by Healer52 (Post 517798)
Well, the one problem that I've never seen a solution for in single-handing is the requirement to maintain a watch...kind of hard to do that when you're asleep.

What's the better watch?

(A) Experienced skipper watching his eyelids with all the alarms set perfectly and an innate sense of ship and sea.

(B) Typical sailor aboard as crew, face down in a book, that won't notice a ship passing 200 yards away until it's pointed out.

Those few that follow all laws are stuck with (B).

James S 08-09-2010 12:10

I believe its good seamanship to maintaining a watch.
Perhaps you could find some one (or two) to go with you.

barnakiel 08-09-2010 12:45

My attitude is to push hard between anchorages. I am OK for up to 24 hours, then get very tired very soon. So if I can make it in anything up to 30 hours jump, I go for it like this: we start late and settle down throughout the night, then the Sun comes and keeps me awake - if we make it before sunset, we are fine, if not ...

So, much depends on how much fatigue you can take at once.

barnie

EvermanJ 08-09-2010 13:05

I'm open to accepting a crew, I'm having a friend meet me in Cabo, but Ill be alone unitl then (unless I can find someone here). The problem is finding a crew that is reliable. I've had a few people that I've met here approach me to crew; but, it seems, that the people willing to uproot their lives and leave also carry with with them emotional baggage and vices (at least that has been my experience thus far).

As far as maintaining watch, I've heard of numerous people that take cat-naps for 15min to 20min at a time. To me, this seems to be the middle ground between keeping watch and sleeping.

Thank you all for the advice.

EvermanJ 08-09-2010 13:15

Quote:

Originally Posted by rebel heart (Post 517810)
Tell the "always maintain a watch" thing to the countless singlehanded yacht racers, or the ones we celebrate in the media.

Everman, do you have Charlie's Charts of that area? There are some long stretches with some pretty crummy options for anchoring. That alone might keep you off the coast.

Rebel heart, I do have a Charlie's for the entire Pacific coast of Mexico and it is a godsend. The idea of bumping down the coast in 24 increments does sound appealing, but I'm concerned that these 24 hour legs might turn into 30 hours+ if the weather doesn't decide to cooperate. Now I might be close to shore and sleep deprived, and that is to say that I'm not taking any naps.

John A 08-09-2010 13:26

When I did the passage down the west coast of Baha, I was new to singlehandler and very apprehensive about the trip. The Baha-Ha-Ha discourages and forbids singlehandlers from sleeping within their fleet.
While in San Diego, a lady came on the morning net and asked for a ride to La Paz, so I invited her to come aboard my boat and discuss the possibility of crewing on my boat. She was a delightful lady of 65 years, who had just arrived in San Diego on the Train from visiting her grandchildren in Chicago and was staying in a hostel close by and was on her way to boat sit in La Paz.
She was grest! Sitting out in the cockpit for her three hour watches and waking me any anytime she had a concern.
I followed the Ha-Ha by about a week and stopped for overnight stays in both Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria. I'd recommend stopping in Cabo to catch your breath before doing the uphill slog to La Paz. Also leaving from La Paz for Mazitlan gives you a more faverable angle.

Uncle Buck 08-09-2010 13:59

I'd go out and stay out until you get to Cabo. Going south I stayed 30-75 miles out and made it in 6 days from San Diego, including two days of headwinds on departure. I experienced very little ship or boat traffic (one every 24 hours or so, at best), and you don't have to worry about smashing into all of the nasty stuff along the coast - there are shoals, reefs and crab pots way out in some places. Coming North I came up the inside and it was far more stressful and dangerous, and in my opinion the anchorages are nothing spectacular (far better in the Sea of Cortez), with nothing available in most of them. You can get fuel in Turtle Bay, but it's pretty ugly with not much appeal beyond that. After this, anytime I do Baja I'll go out and make it South fast - the nicer stuff (and warm water and weather) is where you want to be anyway.:D

glas 08-09-2010 14:25

I usually single-hand sail long distance (just getting ready to push of from Cork, Eire to The Canaries).

Here's what I do:

Keep as far away from land and shipping lanes as possible. Then get a good sleep.

Better to be well rested in an empty sea than tired in a crowded one.

Of course there is a possibility you'll be hit by a larger boat anywhere in the world.

There's also a possibility you're going to be hit by another car driving into work tomorrow.

It's all a question of statistics and calculated risks.

The further you are away from land, the safer you are. The further away you are from shipping lanes, the safer you are - asleep or awake.

That's my advice. Follow at your own risk :)

SurferShane 08-09-2010 14:37

I did a similar trip down the East Coast of Australia single-handed. Sometimes you really have no choice. Then there are people you are better off NOT having on board as crew. To make things worse, readying the boat took longer than I expected and after a few dramas I was left sailing straight into the wind and swell. Some people were treating me like a total idiot and all I could do was respond that I didn’t have much choice and had to get the boat home. I like Daddles suggestion especially the “why hurry”. Just watch you don’t start enjoying yourself too much and keep missing favourable weather. It is just such a hard life!

You see a lot of criticism about single-handers sleeping. I found quickly that even when “asleep” I was sensing the motion of the boat, any out of place noises or twangs and had a real sense of intuition when things were going wrong. My advice is that if you feel something or someone tapping you on the shoulder telling you to get up DO IT! Maybe I developed this skill as a professional fisherman trawling in shipping lanes where you were always expected to leap to action? Then maybe we are never truly alone?

rebel heart 08-09-2010 15:06

Quote:

Originally Posted by EvermanJ (Post 517853)
Rebel heart, I do have a Charlie's for the entire Pacific coast of Mexico and it is a godsend. The idea of bumping down the coast in 24 increments does sound appealing, but I'm concerned that these 24 hour legs might turn into 30 hours+ if the weather doesn't decide to cooperate. Now I might be close to shore and sleep deprived, and that is to say that I'm not taking any naps.

As someone who's sailed that area, I know exactly what you mean.

I don't know what kind of schedule you have, but starting in October the wind usually starts getting a lot more interesting as the Pacific High breaks down. We're planning on heading up into the Channel Islands during October just to (hopefully) take advantage of some increased weather options.

Pretending that we're just talking about the typical crummy 10am-4pm diurnal sea breeze / land breeze cycle, anchorage hopping might work even with the 30+ hours thing. As long as you give yourself enough rest to catch up, and you know that a one day jump might turn into 1.5 days, it might not be so bad.

It's a bad stretch either way. San Diego to PV is cursed like that. Beautiful sailing conditions as long as you're day sailing southbound. In that regards, just be happy you're not going north or your options would be even worse.

Two months to go until the first south easters roll through. From Richard Henry Dana in Two Years Before the Mast:

Quote:

This wind (the south-easter) is the bane of the coast of California. Between the months of November and April, (including a part of each,) which is the rainy season in this latitude, you are never safe from it, and accordingly, in the ports which are open to it, vessels are obliged, during these months, to lie at anchor at a distance of three miles from the shore, with slip-ropes on their cables, ready to slip and go to sea at a moment's warning. The only ports which are safe from this wind are San Francisco and Monterey in the north, and San Diego in the south.

Ex-Calif 08-09-2010 19:46

Quote:

Originally Posted by glas (Post 517893)

Of course there is a possibility you'll be hit by a larger boat anywhere in the world.

First off - I am totally OK with single handing after one has evaluated themselves and the risks.

What I can't really tolerate is any single hander claiming that "anyone" hit them.

If you are asleep and not on watch, by my definition, you hit them.

I'd really like it if a single hander said "Yup. My bad. I knew the risks, I single handed, I was not on watch and I hit a ship."

I met a single hander who was fixing his toe rail and a large chunk of missing fiberglass from the midships rail. We talked a bit about how he was going to fix the damage (he had not done fiberglass work before) - I finally asked what happened.

"Someone hit me while I was a asleep." - I bit my tongue and walked away shaking my head.


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