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Old 19-12-2019, 14:49   #1
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Maiden Voyage

TL:R Is taking on the voyage described below certain suicide or simply riskier than advised or fine? *Columbia 10.7 1978*

After a year of refitting and sailing in the SF Bay, I am (or was) ready to make my first blue-ash water sail. 2-3 friends, all more experienced than I (but none a Moitessier or even close) are planning to sail to Santa Cruz Sunday/Monday Dec 22/23. For perspective*I asked 5 different sailor friends all very experienced. Most had some advice but seemed to not find the idea of this voyage*to be anything eye-brow raising.

However! One friend called it a "suicide mission." I trust her, so it gave me pause.

The NOAA prediction looks like this:

SUN NW winds 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 3 to 4 ft. NW swell 7 to8 ft and SW 2 to 4 ft. Rain likely.
MON NW winds 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 3 to 4 ft. NW swell 8 to10 ft. A chance of rain.


My friend's main observation is that shipping traffic along the california coast is "nuts" and without AIS we are as good as dead.*
She explained that the boat is untested in such conditions, the engine is unreliable, I have no EPIRB, no radar, no AIS no depth sounder. All true!. The engine is probably ok, but hey, I have only about 2 hours on it since my repairs. It has always started well.

To do the voyage we DO have:

Good VHF, hand-held good v\hf, reliable running lights, old sails (main, strom job a, 100% and 1030%), a reliable hand-pump (gusher 10), two electric bilge pumps and two brand new 200amp hr marine batteries. I'm a little worried about not having an emergency tiller--what if the cable snaps? (recently rebuilt the entire steering system on haul-out, but the cable, un frayed, is original). We're hoping to have a metalworker make one to our specs.


Also, I am making some jacklines to professional spec (5000lbs test, etc).

I am happy to put the voayge off to a better time if necessary. I can allways just sail in the bay for two or three days.

Plan as of now:
We inted on sailing out the gate on Sunday, despite the admonition of my friend, to "see what 10ft swells" look like. I DO NOT know what the predicted period of the swells is.

Your thoughs are requested.

Thanks, Moe

Columbia 10.7 1978
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Old 19-12-2019, 15:25   #2
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Re: Maiden Voyage

That WX is as mild as anything. You've been sailing the SF Bay? The ocean is easier current-wise. Not as many wind variations. Swell doesn't cause trouble.

This much nervousness on your part seems to indicate a lack of faith in your judgement and/or seamanship.
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Old 19-12-2019, 15:32   #3
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Re: Maiden Voyage

What is your plan for the trip? Plan to anchor at Santa Cruz? I'm not sure... but isn't that pretty much an open anchorage to the ocean? Something to think about any way.
Sooner or later you have to do something like this, but this is not a great time of year. Still, if you've been sailing in the Bay you are probably ready. Time the tides going out and write them down for coming back can help a lot.

VHF Weather predictions up here in the PNW seem to go like:
- 5-15 mph. (this means no wind, flat calm most of the time)
- 15-20 mph, (this usually means it's a quite stiff breeze)

SO knowing what your local forecast usually means in reality is a good thing.
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Old 19-12-2019, 15:44   #4
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Re: Maiden Voyage

I was quite confident in myself and especially in my crew. The 25 minute long conversation with the friend I speak of, gave me pause.
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Old 19-12-2019, 15:45   #5
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Re: Maiden Voyage

We plan on paying the big bucks to dock in Santa Cruz. If we think it is prudent, we'll spend the first night in Half-moon Bay rather than doing a night sail.

The cargo ship do unsettle me a bit.
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Old 19-12-2019, 19:56   #6
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Re: Maiden Voyage

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Originally Posted by moegev View Post
I was quite confident in myself and especially in my crew. The 25 minute long conversation with the friend I speak of, gave me pause.
I have friends like this too. They're all part of the info that you should use to process and filter to make decisions. They are helpful. Doing this trip at any time of the year should involve timing certain things well such as leave early when there's light wind and an ebb. The tidal heights are really big right now. Then make sure you don't cut any corners especially near Ocean Beach and the reef near HMB and don't sail at night till you know what you're doing. Aligning the lights at HMB to get into the harbor is very difficult at night. It messes with me every time and I know what to look for. Ten-foot swells also won't kill you directly unless you run inside the channels along the shore where the swells get bigger or you break your rudder, which is not unusual around here. Remember swell height is not the max you could experience. Did you say you were going this weekend? It will be rainy and likely poor viz. I haven't looked at offshore conditions but wouldn't think they will be very good either. You do need a depth gauge for the harbors or just make sure you anchor at high tide. Good luck.
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Old 20-12-2019, 01:08   #7
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Re: Maiden Voyage

Okay, here's what this tells me:

'" SUN NW winds 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 3 to 4 ft. NW swell 7 to8 ft and SW 2 to 4 ft. Rain likely.

This tells me that the sea conditions are likely to be at odds with each other, you should expect seas 5 to 8 ft. 8 ft is usual ceiling height in CA. It will be rolly. Rain likely. Well that is a blessing for those ashore. At sea, it means visibility reduced, possibly very reduced, it depends on the heaviness of the rainfall. It also means, depending on when it rains, that lights you want to see to lead you into harbors will be difficult to see, might be easier at night than in daytime, depends on the rainfall density. Honestly, it may be unpleasant. Your waterline length is in the vicinity of 25 ft. It will not be fast. You should calculate possible arrival times for the place where the power station is, under Montara Point, possibly your first place to get out, but also for Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, and Monterey.

"MON NW winds 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 3 to 4 ft. NW swell 8 to10 ft. A chance of rain."

When you have wind waves on top of swell, you have to add them together. When you are on the tops of waves, you get to see far (visibility permitting), but down in the dips, *stuff* hides, like the stuff you want to see to enter the harbor. However, "a chance of rain" makes it sound like visibility might be better, but sea conditions more vigorous.


Whether you want to try this now is ultimately a personal issue, and it is a trade-off between risk tolerance and need to learn. No one else can tell you whether to go or not.

As a guideline, I would not normally choose to go to weather in 5 m. seas, but downwind, with 20 kn. behind, not comfortable (don't take someone you want to introduce to sailing), but possibly doable, especially if you're okay to continue south and wind up at a different destination. If not, and given the rain, imho, you could pick a more propitious forecast.

I hope that's clear enough. It isn't that it wouldn't be doable, and it would teach you a lot, but small waterline, tall seas....dollars to donuts it would be uncomfortable, and maybe scary. And, after all this chat from me, is it what you want for your maiden voyage? If you do not have ocean experience, mate, best leave it for a while.

Always benefits to experiencing and surviving scary, though. So there you go.

Ann

PS. Haven't sailed between SF and SC or Monterey for a looong time.
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Old 20-12-2019, 04:20   #8
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Re: Maiden Voyage

"Good VHF, hand-held good v\hf, reliable running lights, old sails (main, strom job a, 100% and 1030%), a reliable hand-pump (gusher 10), two electric bilge pumps and two brand new 200amp hr marine batteries. I'm a little worried about not having an emergency tiller--what if the cable snaps? (recently rebuilt the entire steering system on haul-out, but the cable, un frayed, is original). We're hoping to have a metalworker make one to our specs."

This says a lot. Perhaps you have valid doubts about your boat's condition/systems. I would address those before attempting any offshore sailing.

Why would you go to all the trouble of rebuilding the steering system and not replace the "fraying" cable?
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Old 20-12-2019, 20:51   #9
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Re: Maiden Voyage

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
Okay, here's what this tells me:

'" SUN NW winds 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 3 to 4 ft. NW swell 7 to8 ft and SW 2 to 4 ft. Rain likely.

This tells me that the sea conditions are likely to be at odds with each other, you should expect seas 5 to 8 ft. 8 ft is usual ceiling height in CA. It will be rolly. Rain likely. Well that is a blessing for those ashore. At sea, it means visibility reduced, possibly very reduced, it depends on the heaviness of the rainfall. It also means, depending on when it rains, that lights you want to see to lead you into harbors will be difficult to see, might be easier at night than in daytime, depends on the rainfall density. Honestly, it may be unpleasant. Your waterline length is in the vicinity of 25 ft. It will not be fast. You should calculate possible arrival times for the place where the power station is, under Montara Point, possibly your first place to get out, but also for Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, and Monterey.

"MON NW winds 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 3 to 4 ft. NW swell 8 to10 ft. A chance of rain."

When you have wind waves on top of swell, you have to add them together. When you are on the tops of waves, you get to see far (visibility permitting), but down in the dips, *stuff* hides, like the stuff you want to see to enter the harbor. However, "a chance of rain" makes it sound like visibility might be better, but sea conditions more vigorous.


Whether you want to try this now is ultimately a personal issue, and it is a trade-off between risk tolerance and need to learn. No one else can tell you whether to go or not.

As a guideline, I would not normally choose to go to weather in 5 m. seas, but downwind, with 20 kn. behind, not comfortable (don't take someone you want to introduce to sailing), but possibly doable, especially if you're okay to continue south and wind up at a different destination. If not, and given the rain, imho, you could pick a more propitious forecast.

I hope that's clear enough. It isn't that it wouldn't be doable, and it would teach you a lot, but small waterline, tall seas....dollars to donuts it would be uncomfortable, and maybe scary. And, after all this chat from me, is it what you want for your maiden voyage? If you do not have ocean experience, mate, best leave it for a while.

Always benefits to experiencing and surviving scary, though. So there you go.

Ann

PS. Haven't sailed between SF and SC or Monterey for a looong time.
I'm all about taking risks and pushing boundaries, but when swell runs in one direction and windwaves in the other, I call this the "washing machine" effect. Makes it very difficult to want to sail again offshore after a day or two in that shtuff. Like Ann says, you really want that first experience to feel good. Otherwise, it colors everything afterwards.
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Old 22-12-2019, 07:21   #10
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Re: Maiden Voyage

How much sailing experience do "you" have. That's all that matters.

I've sailed in SFO bay 3 times. You can have conditions in the bay that are very challenging. Of the places I have sailed I would say SFO bay is a great place to learn and train.

I am with Santiano - If you know how to short the sails and maneuver the swells you will be fine.

My wife and I started penetrating thunderstorms on purpose to get experience. 45kts and 3 reefs is as fun as 20kts and full sails - if you like getting wet - LOL...


Quote:
Originally Posted by moegev View Post
TL:R Is taking on the voyage described below certain suicide or simply riskier than advised or fine? *Columbia 10.7 1978*

After a year of refitting and sailing in the SF Bay, I am (or was) ready to make my first blue-ash water sail. 2-3 friends, all more experienced than I (but none a Moitessier or even close) are planning to sail to Santa Cruz Sunday/Monday Dec 22/23.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Santiano View Post
That WX is as mild as anything. You've been sailing the SF Bay? The ocean is easier current-wise. Not as many wind variations. Swell doesn't cause trouble.

This much nervousness on your part seems to indicate a lack of faith in your judgement and/or seamanship.
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Old 22-12-2019, 12:29   #11
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Re: Maiden Voyage

The main reason I disagree with the above is that it is a maiden voyage with a small, new to him, boat. I really don't think it will be very nice, due to the sea conditions outside the bay. The OP is someone of unknown to me experience. Ymmv.
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Old 22-12-2019, 22:12   #12
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Re: Maiden Voyage

A few years ago, I helped dismantle (completely sawzawed and hiked out every piece up a cliffside and into a waiting dumpster) of a small sailboat that the new owner had bought in SF and was taking to LA. It came to rest at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve after the owner mistook the reef bouy light for the HMB harbor entrance after conditions kicked up at night like they do around here. Last year, I scavanged the remnants of another sailboat in Santa Cruz while a marine salvager was sawzawing a power boat that was nearby after another bit of bad weather. Coasties just rescued a couple of fishermen from a sinking boat a few days ago. Seems we have at least a dozen of these sad boat losses along this coast every year. You'll only hear about the ones when people die.
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Old 27-12-2019, 15:13   #13
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Re: Maiden Voyage

Thank you all for your advice.

We did indeed attempt the voyage. We had a life boat, new radios, AIS and cellphone-based charting.

Sunday 22 December was both the right and wrong day to attempt the voyage.
Wrong, because we encountered strong squalls outside the gate that I was not ready for. That is both true in terms of technique and also in in equipment, particularly the sails.

No injuries were sustained by the crew though one of my sails suffered some. On the bright side, Goodwill Santa Clause brought me a new Singer sewing machine ($40USD) so all will be remedied.

Sunday tteh 22nd was the 'right day' to attempt this as it showed me more of what I need to learn and what I need to improve on my boat.

After returning to the bay, we spent the rest of that Sunday sailing around the bay as the skies cleared. Had we attempted the sail later in the day, we would certainly have been half way to SC before encountering trouble -- and I would have been completely unready to deal with it.

I am looking forward to the next adventure.
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Old 27-12-2019, 15:19   #14
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Re: Maiden Voyage

Glad you're safe and optimistic about the next run!
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Old 02-01-2020, 05:35   #15
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Re: Maiden Voyage

The luck bag gets a little removed and the experience bag gets a little added.

Well done...
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