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Old 26-07-2021, 19:22   #1
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Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

Howdy All,

I bought a lovey & seaworthy Hardin 45 about a year and half ago. She lays in Mazatlan where I found her. Since I live in San Francisco, makes sense to bring her up here with the help of an experienced crew. I've heard that beating up the West Coast can be a rough ride. Is there a preferred time of year to do this? And how long does it usually take? (I found reference to this passage in one my my sailing books, but trouble is I have too many sailing books and cannot find the reference.) Thank you in advance for any comments or pointers.

Michael C.
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Old 26-07-2021, 20:13   #2
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

Google "Baja Bash" for many viewpoints. Read "The Baja Bash" written by Jim Elfers.

Some just sail to Hawaii and then return to the mainland.
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Old 26-07-2021, 20:19   #3
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

If you're from SF, you're familiar with the short SF summer where temps soar and wind lays down for a few weeks in September and October. Generally a good time to move a boat but you'll need a couple wx windows - I think that's in the order if 1500 nms.

Make sure your new boat is weather tight. Ports and decks on those Hardins can be a bit porous.

Cruising our 36-foot trawler from California to Florida
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Old 26-07-2021, 21:15   #4
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

A couple of years ago I crewed on a boat from Mazatlan north. We went in January -- a dead calm most of the way, and no strong winds or seas. We stopped in Ensenada (issues with the other crew member), though probably could have made it at least to Santa Barbara in those conditions. We're planning the rest of the way to SF in (hopefully this) October.
Make sure you have plenty of fuel.
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Old 27-07-2021, 08:22   #5
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

How much time do you have? A number of places to pull in and enjoy Mexico on your way up waiting for weather windows.
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Old 27-07-2021, 08:33   #6
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

I moved my boat up the CA coast last Aug. we had a mix of wx and sailing conditions. 100% motor sailed from Ventura to SF. Wind mostly on the bow. Had to duck into Monterey for a few days to avoid 30+ knots and associated sea state as a wx system moved through. Read the Baja bash book for sure.
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Old 27-07-2021, 09:03   #7
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

Emphasis on 'BEAT UP". the west coast can really be absolutely a beautiful place to sail or the nastiest of places. Take, for example, Point Conception. It's normal summertime winds vary from 18 to 40 and sizable seas 6-20'. In winter it blows either nothing or way too much with huge storm seas. coming up the coast from Mexico can also be a nasty experience. Again, it's more the sea conditions than wind. My experience over the years has been the best time to head North from Cabo is early May. Take a nice long starboard tack offshore and stay 20 to 30 miles outside. The seas don't have as much shallowing to kick them up as high and square as closer inside and the Southerly current is usually less also.
Good Luck, have a nice sail.
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Old 27-07-2021, 09:11   #8
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

We had our 30 footer returned to San Diego from Cabo many years ago. I had to return to work so we paid for delivery.
The delivery approach was to get up very early am when the wind had died down and then motor/motor sail like hell until 2-3 pm when it started blowing again. This kept the seas from the NW from stopping the boat speed so badly. Then anchor in a rolling anchorage (there are few real protections on the coast) again until next am.
I think it took them 2 weeks with some lay days? can't remember for sure.
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Old 27-07-2021, 09:14   #9
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

It's a mostly easy trip if you wait in harbors for the NW wind to lay down a bit, even in summer. This will be mainly a motoring exercise. Know your fuel supply is clean and will remain clean when the boat is being tossed around. Know your fuel consumption and plan accordingly. Maintain the engine and systems well. Spares for clamps, hoses, belts and water pumps.

Try to time your arrival at the windy points for the early morning hours. For example, you'll fuel at Cabo, but anchor outside and don't leave until late evening. Time of year: You can go harbor to harbor south of Cabo even in hurricane season, keeping a close watch on the tropical storm situation. But harbors on the Baja coast are far apart, so I'd avoid the Baja Bash in Aug to October. Once in Southern CA, almost any time is OK to go north, if you can wait for reasonable weather. Last few winters we've had very few strong storms on the coast in winter, but who knows, that (hopefully) will change.
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Old 27-07-2021, 09:47   #10
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

That's really saying something - when the best route might be via Hawaii. Nice side-trip though.
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Old 27-07-2021, 09:49   #11
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

Mate, I am also in Napa. Just want to say that this is the windiest year I can ever remember. I’m in the boat yard in Napa. Almost everyday it is blowing like stink.

My point? It seems the normal weather pattern here locally isn’t the same. That may also pertain to latitudes further south. So, past experiences of the fellas may not necessarily apply. I wish you luck.
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Old 27-07-2021, 13:12   #12
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

Thanks to everyone for the super helpful replies. Wow. This is gold!
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Old 27-07-2021, 13:34   #13
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

Couple last tips from an ex-delivery skipper out of San Francisco:

1. Fuel - it's been a couple years, but last I heard, Enrique was still selling diesel at Turtle Bay. It ain't cheap, but chances are you'll need it if you're coming from Mazatlan

2. Beach-route. If you have confidence in your boat/engine and navigation, consider tucking-in along the shoreline - within a mile of the breakers during the day, more offshore at night when winds reduce. This will knock-down about half the afternoon wind chop. Careful though - south of Mag Bay is a Nordhavn 62 (very high quality trawler-yacht) that washed-up on the beach about 15-years ago after hitting a rock at night. Remnants of the carcass remain. READ HERE for more on Charlotte B.

3. Winter transits are possible, and the weather can be smooth. But you have to be careful - there can be large swells that are fine, but if the wind kicks-up, can get pretty nasty. You need good access to weather.

Good luck!

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Old 27-07-2021, 14:42   #14
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

I sailed up from Panama to SF nonstop around 2008. One of the most incredible passages Iíve ever made. Nonstop 20-25 knot winds the whole way. The wind vane did almost all the work. If you get out beyond the diurnal winds you wonít have to run the engine at all except maybe to charge if you donít have solar. The route is in jimmy cornels book and itís a clipper route. Took me 64 days nonstop. 2 tacks. You sail as long as you can without going over or thru the pacific high, then sail under and up into SF bay or Half Moon bay depending on how high the pacific high is. It was flat and fast. After that I would never do a Baja Bash.
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Old 27-07-2021, 21:25   #15
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Re: Best Time to Beat Up West Coast (California)?

I think that Mexico to Southern California, and Southern California to San Francisco should be considered two separate trips.

I have done four trips north from Baja California. The first was at the end of our six month shakedown cruise several decades ago. We were trying to get to Southern California in time for my mother's 70th birthday in early June. I ended up sending her a birthday telegram from Turtle Bay, because that year was a particularly windy Bash. Not recommended!

About fifteen years later, returning from our circumnavigation, I'd had time to consider that spring--unless you must please an insurance company--is a terrible time to motorsail up the coast. I'd also gotten into the habit of reading the Pilot Charts carefully before any passage. We waited until early July, and had a simple (mostly motor sailing) trip, with a few overnight stops. A few years later, after a trip to the Sea of Cortez, we repeated our July northbound trip, with a similar experience. Neither of those two trips was a Bash at all, though we did wait a few days in Turtle Bay on the second trip.

Though you will have to keep a "weather eye" out for hurricanes, July is not generally a particularly bad part of the season. Before sailing off to the South Pacific, we did deliver a trawler-type motor boat to San Diego from Puerto Escondido in August. We ended up stuck in Cabo San Lucas for an extra day, because the Port Captain closed the port until he was sure that a hurricane to the south was heading out to sea.

Our two trips to San Francisco Bay were in the fall. Our first commenced in September, and we had time for a few days in the Channel Islands and Morro Bay before heading north. It was a mostly calm trip from Morro Bay to Monterey. The second time, we didn't leave until well into October. Because we could see that we had a weather window (with strong signs that it was going to close after a few days), we didn't get that pleasant cruise that we remembered so fondly. It was not bad weatherwise, but we only stopped once--for a couple of hours to wait for the Santa Barbara fuel dock to open--and were pretty tired by the time we reached Monterey. As Waterman said, clean fuel (and plenty of filters), as well as a willingness to tuck in and wait, will help. Also, rounding Pt. Conception either at night, or in early morning before the wind comes up, is much easier than trying to beat around it in the late afternoon.

July and September trips will be warmer than a winter passage, though if you must do the latter, your Hardin has a nice deckhouse!

An excellent book, with lots of weather and strategy information, is Brian Fagan's "The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California."
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cal, california, west coast

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