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Old 30-11-2017, 06:52   #1
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best time sail san francisco los angeles

Would like to hear when people sail fro san francisco to los angeles.

Is during winter season say dec to mar reasonable if I watch the weather windows ?

There seems to be unavoidable overnight sailing.

In short, when do people recoomend sailing down to have the best chance of smooth sailing ?

Thanks,

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Old 30-11-2017, 07:34   #2
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

I have done it during the winter and had perfectly flat seas.
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Old 30-11-2017, 08:50   #3
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

What do you mean by, "There seems to be unavoidable overnight sailing." If you're thinking of coming into a harbor each night, it probably can be done on some very long days but it might take a long time to get to LA while waiting for the right weather.
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Old 30-11-2017, 09:57   #4
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

Typically late June to October although these days November hasnít been bad down south but up north pretty breezy. Winter is often feast or famine. And when it is stormy you canít enter some harbors. Spring is often windy. Are planning a singlehanded trip?
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Old 30-11-2017, 10:46   #5
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

Looking at the charts it seems,

San Francisco to half moon bay (day sail)

half moon to monterey bay (day sail)

monterey bay to moro bay (THIS is where I see an unavoidable night sail as
there are no good harbors between, except anchoring off san simeon)

moro bay to point conception to channel islands / santa babara ( san louis obisbo ?)

Plain sailing from then on.

With weather windows should be down wind all the way.
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Old 30-11-2017, 10:50   #6
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

Day sailing it makes little sense. Once you have a favorable weather window, you go for it.

It took us 46-1/2 hours to motor from Oakland to Ventura.
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Old 30-11-2017, 11:32   #7
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

Quote:
Originally Posted by arch007 View Post
Looking at the charts it seems,

San Francisco to half moon bay (day sail)

half moon to monterey bay (day sail)

monterey bay to moro bay (THIS is where I see an unavoidable night sail as
there are no good harbors between, except anchoring off san simeon)

moro bay to point conception to channel islands / santa babara ( san louis obisbo ?)

Plain sailing from then on.

With weather windows should be down wind all the way.
If you are not comfortable with sailing at night the trip from SF to LA might want to wait until you have more experience. I am not an expert on the trip but have done a total of 7 trips either up or down the coast.

It can be quite a brutal slog. Downwind included. I have seen 20 foot waves and 40 knots from behind off of Point Conception in the dark and I have seen oily smooth no wind days with a small ground swell.

There is an excellent book The Cruising Guide to Central & Southern California about sailing the coast. If you only want to sail from Marina to Marina it is pretty difficult to make the passage. Monterey to Morro Bay is around 100nm. There is also a problem that Morro Bay can be difficult to get into. I have never been there before. I was going into Morro Bay 1/4 mile from the approach buoy doing 7 knots and a fog bank overtook us before we could see the approach buoy. Decided to go into Port San Louis instead.

Sailing at night is an acquired skill. The other day I was with a friend on a 22' power boat. He has raced all over SF Bay. Never at night. We were at Soutbeach YC in SF and headed to Richmond YC. The boat did 20 knots. We were approaching a boat head on. I could see a red and a green light 20 feet apart and a white light above between the two. I suggested that he alter course by 15*. He said we weren't that close but he did it anyway. In less then a minute we passed a barge. From there we spent time watching each of the red buoys and staying in the channel. It is a bit complicated doing it from memory. He said it was safer but we didn't need to stay in the channel. When I got home I looked at the charts there were 4 unlit buoys on the route he had wanted to take. At 20 knots I don't know if I would have seen them.

Take someone who knows what he is doing so you can acquire the skills you need to sail down the coast safely.
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Old 30-11-2017, 11:54   #8
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

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...We were at Soutbeach YC in SF and headed to Richmond YC. The boat did 20 knots. We were approaching a boat head on...
It is foolhardy to run at 20 knots at night.
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Old 30-11-2017, 19:10   #9
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

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It is foolhardy to run at 20 knots at night.
Actually it is pretty common.

Rider Info | San Francisco Bay Ferry

What boats do you use?
The San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet consists of 12 boats all of which are catamarans (i.e., have two hulls). Vessel speed varies but ranges from 25 knots (28.7 miles per hour) to 35 knots (40 miles per hour). All boats are owned and maintained by the ferry service on behalf of the public.
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Old 30-11-2017, 20:51   #10
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

Arch007, let us know your boat, crew or not, fuel supply and if engine is reliable? If you can handle anchoring in one out of the way cove (Pfeiffer) which in normal NW winds is very safe, then no overnighters is easy. SF to Half Moon bay, HMB to Santa Cruz . Santa Cruz to Pfeiffer cove, Pfeiffer to San Simeon or Morro Bay, Morro Bay to Coho and on down to marinas the rest of the way. Every commercial fisherman on the coast knows Pfeiffer Cove, yet yachts rarely use it. It is just below Point Sur. Cojo is just below Point Conception and has a good bottom also. Good ground tackle is your friend. A stern anchor to keep your bow into the swell when the wind dies at night. Rolling all night makes for no sleep. Have fun and learn while you are doing it. ____Grant.
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Old 30-11-2017, 21:01   #11
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

SF Bay ferries are run by professionals that have traveled the same course many times with radar and probably extra lookouts at night. They also have and know how to use charts (paper or electronic). To run at 20 knt at night without knowing what you are doing is pretty foolhardy. I could say"To each his own" but I dont want to be on the same water as someone like that. ______Grant.
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Old 01-12-2017, 09:56   #12
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

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SF Bay ferries are run by professionals that have traveled the same course many times with radar and probably extra lookouts at night. They also have and know how to use charts (paper or electronic). To run at 20 knt at night without knowing what you are doing is pretty foolhardy. I could say"To each his own" but I dont want to be on the same water as someone like that. ______Grant.
Hear, hear.
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Old 01-12-2017, 10:10   #13
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

I've done that trip and I actually PREFER to run at night because I like to come into my next destination with plenty of daylight to spare. Mid-morning is a good target but often tides, etc. have to be considered.

And note that winter days are shorter than in the summer meaning you have less daylight to make your leg.

Rushing to get into a strange port before dark, or coming in AFTER dark is a recipe for disaster. Depth perception is shot and navigation lights that are perfectly obvious heading out to sea are very often masked by town lights behind. I can remember coming into one port perfectly confident about a red light on our starboard side - until it turned green, then a while later yellow, then red again. It was a traffic light on the street leading up from the quay.
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Old 01-12-2017, 10:50   #14
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

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Originally Posted by Scorpius99eh View Post
I've done that trip and I actually PREFER to run at night because I like to come into my next destination with plenty of daylight to spare. Mid-morning is a good target but often tides, etc. have to be considered.

And note that winter days are shorter than in the summer meaning you have less daylight to make your leg.

Rushing to get into a strange port before dark, or coming in AFTER dark is a recipe for disaster. Depth perception is shot and navigation lights that are perfectly obvious heading out to sea are very often masked by town lights behind. I can remember coming into one port perfectly confident about a red light on our starboard side - until it turned green, then a while later yellow, then red again. It was a traffic light on the street leading up from the quay.
Very good advice. We came into Grays Harbor at dusk in 2016 in August (long days). But we had been delayed leaving the Columbia River Bar earlier that morning by almost two hours because heavy rains upriver had delayed the start of the flood. The buoys were hard to make out, although they were where they should be. It wasn't until we entered the jetties that the lights came on on the buoys. Only then did it make any sense at all. No background lights were in the way.

Another: We had a friend sail his boat down the coast of California. He told me that had big trouble around Point Conception, a notoriously heavy wind area. "We were running with just the main up and we had a lot of trouble turning back upwind to drop it." All I asked was if they were able to do it. What I was going to say, before I realized it would sound rude, was "What the hell were you doing going downwind in heavy wind and seas with only your main instead of just your jib?" So many people forget they can, and in many cases, should do it.
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Old 01-12-2017, 11:44   #15
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Re: best time sail san francisco los angeles

Winter travel on the Sur Coast can be quite beautiful. When high pressure builds in between storms the air is very clear (no fog), it is warm and the wind is light (so light you probably will motor). Just a few hours of good NW wind in the late afternoon.

But May has longer days and maybe still no fog. Pick a forecast of NW10-20 and reef your sails if you get going too fast. I stop at Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz (maybe), Pfeiffer (maybe) and San Simeon for sure. Morro Bay is my home port. Santa Cruz to Pfeiffer can be made in a day but I would not recommend Pfeiffer to an inexperienced person. It is safer and easier to night sail all the way to San Simeon.

Morro Bay to Cojo (65 miles) is a long day but Port San Luis to Cojo is only 50 miles. I leave MB in the dark so I can arrive at Cojo with daylight. Trying to anchor in kelp-filled anchorages in the dark is not ideal. This applies to Pfeiffer and Cojo although Cojo is easier. San Simeon has no kelp.

When you arrive at Point Arguello (12 miles north of Conception) get ready for increased wind. If you had 20 knots it will be 25-30 knots when you get south of Arguello. Reef before the wind starts. It will blow all the way to Conception but once you turn into Cojo (in the late afternoon) the wind drops, the water becomes very smooth and anchoring is easy. After Cojo it is 40 miles to Santa Barbara Harbor and you may need to motor part way. Harbor-hoping the rest of the way to LA.

You asked about smooth water- This is the big Pacific Ocean so smooth means swells of 6 feet or less and wind waves of 4 feet or less. Few days will be much smoother than this. If this bothers you bring an experienced friend with you.
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