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Old 19-02-2024, 18:50   #1
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Sailing Washington -> Kodiak, AK in late May

I'm wondering if anyone has done this route and if they would be willing to share about their experience. Gathering data for cruising this summer. Thanks!
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Old 20-02-2024, 09:07   #2
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Re: Sailing Washington -> Kodiak, AK in late May

Sailing or motoring?
Cruisers do it every May... motoring 85+%.

What sort of info are you interested in?
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Old 21-02-2024, 09:45   #3
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Re: Sailing Washington -> Kodiak, AK in late May

We transit the Gulf of Alaska as part of our regular cruising grounds, but between Alaskan coastlines typically [e.g., 3-5 day crossings.]

Generally speaking, if I wanted to cross non-stop to Kodiak from Seattle [~1200+nm as the crow flies] I would wait for a closed high centered in the Gulf of at least a week to 10 days predicted duration. This is more prevalent during El Niño.

In late May I still might still expect some cross seas from southerly quadrants competing with the prevailing NW swell in the Gulf.

I would plan on enough fuel for motoring much of the way as a hedge against having to outrun undesirable Wx.

I would also be planning any other Gulf transits to be completed before Sept.

Have a deep understanding of Wx prediction, and especially the 500mb Wx charts.

Download and consult Coast Pilots 8 & 9.

Pilot Charts are helpful for general planning when to attempt what crossings.

Be capable of handling 40kt winds in 20+ ft seas which, while reduced in intensity and probability, can still occur in the milder summer months.

If you aren’t comfortable making the 1200-1500 mile open Gulf crossing safely, consider heading N along the coast and transiting to Kodiak as you enjoy all the coastal cruising to be had… [maybe ~2500nm?] Your Gulf crossings will be much briefer with more opportunities to select ideal Wx windows.

Safe travels.

Cheers, Bill
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Old 21-02-2024, 11:02   #4
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Re: Sailing Washington -> Kodiak, AK in late May

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Originally Posted by wrwakefield View Post
Have a deep understanding of Wx prediction, and especially the 500mb Wx charts.

Bill. can you explain how you use the 500mb charts? ... I know what they are, but have never really understood how to use them to predict how the lows out in the North Pacific will move/change as they approach the continent, which I understand they are supposed to help with.
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Old 22-02-2024, 08:24   #5
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Re: Sailing Washington -> Kodiak, AK in late May

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Bill. can you explain how you use the 500mb charts? ... I know what they are, but have never really understood how to use them to predict how the lows out in the North Pacific will move/change as they approach the continent, which I understand they are supposed to help with.
Hi Kelkara,

Very generally speaking, comparing 500mb charts to surface charts helps us determine direction and intensity of highs and lows [and associated fronts] in these latitudes. [Within ~25° of the equator they are not as useful…]

The ‘closed high’ I suggested to the OP as the ideal summer westerly crossing Wx for the Gulf of Alaska would show up as an Omega blocking high on the 500mb charts. Surface winds would be about half [or less] of the velocity [and direction] of the 5640m line winds [Jet Streak, not to be confused with Jet Stream], so one can interpolate the best sailing route with updated Wx charts each day.

The late Lee Chesneau was one of the leading experts in this area.

Here is an updated version of an earlier paper he co-authored that provides an excellent overview of 500mb charts and their use.

This paper predates the publication of Lee’s mariner’s bible of 500mb chart analysis; Heavy Weather Avoidance [at Sea.]

David Burch’s Wx books [with an NE Pacific emphasis so in your area] also cover this topic very well, as do the courses he offers.

This is a complex topic and the resources I listed above do it far better justice than I could here.

In case any of this is of interest.

Cheers, Bill

PS: Here is the Wx chart page I like to use [twice daily typically….]
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Old 22-02-2024, 19:08   #6
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Re: Sailing Washington -> Kodiak, AK in late May

Bill, thanks for this wealth of info. It's exactly what I was looking for. I'd love to do this journey clockwise to get the most time in Alaska but we will see how it goes.
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Old 22-02-2024, 19:25   #7
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Re: Sailing Washington -> Kodiak, AK in late May

I've been collecting threads related to western U.S. cruising in the social group called "Pacific Coast Sailors," there may be something in there that could help you.

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...t+sailors.html
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