I've done the trip four times but never single
handed. And, I have single handed our Caliber 40 for over 5,000 of miles during the last 19 years. That includes a number of single handed overnight passages at sea.
I think the real issue with single handing from Cape Flattery to San Francisco
is the high probability of very low visibility in often crowded waters. I have experienced visibility that was below 1/4 mile for up to 60 hours straight. I have seen 50 yard visibility last 12 hours.
There is no conceivable way for a single hander to stand a safe watch for the duration of those lo-vis events
. Fairly intense concentration is required to listen for fog
lights and to watch the radar
. My fairly extensive experience says that one person can keep up the necessary level of concentration for several hours and after that they are not alert enough to stand a solitary fog
Four examples that could be difficult for a single hander:
1) Sailing south from Westport to Newport
we heard a boat on VHF 16 asking for help. They were stranded in 25 yard fog and had no radar
. The couple on the boat had sailed there from Anchorage so were not rookie sailors. But, the fog was so deep and had been so for 10 hours that they were afraid to get any closer to Newport
and the extended Jetty. We met them, via GPS
coordinates, and they followed us (VERY Closely) thru the Newport Jetty where the fog suddenly lifted.
2) 80 miles SW of Coos Bay in the middle of the night my brother woke me from a sound sleep. He could not sort out the radar display, the hundreds of sodium vapor lights glowing in the fog, and the sound of big powerful motors on all sides. Turned out there were four trawlers fishing
the area in light to medium fog. We could see the glow of their lights at 1/2 mile but could not make out their shapes until 100 yards.
They were doing circular net sets and haulbacks with big net tenders so there were eight radar targets going in circles.
We turned on our spreader flood lights, my brother went to the bow with a spotlight, and I motored slowly, with a lot of course changes thru the fishing fleet spread over 2 miles.
3) North of the Golden Gate but within the approach traffic lanes. I talked with VTS on the VHF to confirm that no heavy traffic was withing 30 miles. The visibility was up and down from 1/4 mile to close to a mile. VTS told me closest large ship was two hours distant and would cross well ahead of us.
30 minutes later an enormous ship passed 1/4 mile astern of us, based on radar, at 12 knots. We never physically saw the ship but it smeared the target all over the radar.
4) Headed SE out of Noyo River about 25 miles offshore in 25 knots, eight foot seas, and driving rain with light fog. I take pride in my radar skills (at that point 10 years of Puget Sound
had taught me a lot) and was keeping a very close eye on the radar as well as frequent standup observations over the dodger
. The radar showed no targets and my eyeballs saw no targets.
Suddenly, a 65 foot sport fisherman doing 12 knots appears out the mist and fog and crosses my bow at 50 yards. I had absolutely no warning that boat was there until it was way too late to avoid a collision
. Maybe they saw me - I sure hope so because I could not see them.
I just don't see how a single hander can stay awake and alert for the length of time required to stay out of trouble in the low visibility that is so common along the US West coast
On the other hand...
Bob and his beautiful trimaran
Pantera has made an annual single handed trip from Victoria, BC to Puerto Vallarta
and points beyond for at least 15 years. And, he does it carrying only 20 gallons of gasoline for his Honda outboard