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Old 03-08-2017, 07:22   #1
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Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

I am really bummed that my friend postponed the trip that she planned to Hawaii when we were supposed to leave on her boat in just 5 days. I spent over a hundred hours getting the dang boat ready! She says that her sources now say that October is better than August. I ran into a thread here that says May thru September is the best time according to Cornell. I'm not going anywhere with her now but just wondered if she was off about the October sail? I think there would be the potential for more bad weather up here and and more Hurricanes down there.

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Old 03-08-2017, 07:32   #2
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

Imo leaving the puget sound to hawaii in october would be asking for at the least a very long and uncomfortable ride and at worst the possibility of not making Kauai especially in a lightly but racing tri .
If she is dead set on october to leave the mainland , the best would be to use the time between now and her actual jump off date to stage the vessel south to at least san Francisco if not clear down to San Diego.
Once the north pacific low sets in it becomes dangerous in this part of the pacific.
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Old 03-08-2017, 11:22   #3
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

The trip south till you get below SF will be the challenge in the fall. Certainly doable but keep a close on the weather for a good window of at least and preferably longer without a low blowing through. There in lies the rub as these low pressures march across the N. Pacific with regularity in the later fall, winter and early spring. You can do it harbor hopping which may be more realistic if you want to be relatively sure of not getting dusted by a low.

August is not a bad time but most people would go for earlier in the summer as there is less of a chance for bad weather from the hurricane belt between 10 and 20 degrees N Latitude as you near the islands. Normally these storms are spaced well apart and accurately forecast so easy to sail in between them. Stay north of 15 degrees till you have a clear run into the Islands. The storms usually stay south of the Islands and begin to dissipate well east so not an issue if you sail accordingly. Unfortunately last year there were two that were back to back and more than normal went N of the Islands. Don't know who gave your skipper the advice to go later but there is a reason all the races start in late June/early July.

It's a cold sail till you get to at least the latitude of LA even in summer. Made the sail from SF a few years back and froze my butt off and didn't see the sun for the first 10 days. Have made the sail from SF south a number of times and was cold till Point Conception no matter what the season.
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Old 03-08-2017, 11:49   #4
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

Read Cornell...He recommends April to May and October to November...Tropical storms June to October.

The skipper just made a good decision based on a solid source!
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Old 03-08-2017, 11:58   #5
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

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Read Cornell...He recommends April to May and October to November...Tropical storms June to October.

The skipper just made a good decision based on a solid source!
That would hold true if they were leaving from 38°north or closer to the equator however they are leqving fromabout 49° north when they enter the pacific ocean. Hence the reason iI recommended going south to sfo then to hawaii.
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Old 03-08-2017, 12:08   #6
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

San Fransisco lies at 37.78N.
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Old 03-08-2017, 12:21   #7
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

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San Fransisco lies at 37.78N.
Ok so Sausalito then still a long way south of Neah Bay.
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Old 03-08-2017, 14:40   #8
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

If you are sailing to Hawaii from the PNW you have to go South with maybe a little West to avoid running into the high. If you get too far west between the PNW and SoCal you may be doing a lot of motoring. When I did the trip, the high was quite far north so was able to rhumb line it from SF to Hilo. Quite often you have to go south from SF to get around the bottom of the high. If memory serves me right, the high moves south in the summer and is a pretty constant phenomenon. In the winter it moves north and is quite often non existant because of the train of Low Pressure waves going across the N Pacific. Still would head south in the winter even if you had fair winds for a rhumb line passage to get to warmer weather and avoid the lows.

Tropical storms that head west almost always stay between 10-20N and are easy to dodge. Just keep in close contact with the weather and don't go below 15N till there is a clear path to the Islands. Did that on the passage to the Marquesas in July before there was really good tracking of the tropical depressions generated in the Gulf of Panama. Had a go/no go line that we wouldn't cross if there was a chance of any weather heading west. On the sail to Hawaii. you cross the line with a lot more distance to get out of the danger zone if you are sailing direct to the islands. If there is weather, all you have to do is head West instead of SW till the storm passes and then reach south to the islands.

The Tropical storms that track to the West typically build in strength over the first half of there vacation cruise to the Islands often reaching Cat 3 strength. At about midpoint they get into cooler water and have higher level windshere and begin to dissipate. By the time they get here they are downgraded usually downgraded to a tropical depression with winds not a whole lot stronger than the trades. The waters around Hawaii aren't all that warm. I know you West Coasters think they are bath tub temp but to a tropical low, they aren't warm enough to keep building into significant weather. There is always the exception however like Iniki that hung out south of the Islands in warmer water building to a Cat 3 storm before it turned due North and wiped out Kauai. Several of the lows last summer maintained Cat 1 status almost to the islands with one making a direct hit on the East Side of the Big Island. Another passed just to the North while still a tropical storm. Last year was an anomaly and even with that, the three ocean races got to Hawaii without much drama. One cruiser did sail too far south too soon and got beaten up. I would not want to make the passage from Panama to Hawaii after June and before November, however.
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Old 03-08-2017, 15:02   #9
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

Jeanne Socrates left Victoria in October last year and had the snot kicked out of her, I think winds from the south of around 60 knots?
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Old 03-08-2017, 16:56   #10
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

Sounds like the front end of a N Pacific Low. They can pack hurricane force winds and are painful even when not a big one. Last year they went through at about 4 day intervals with only one or two breaks of maybe 10-14 days in January and February. Was trying to deliver my boat to SoCal from SF and finally had to give up and wait for spring. Still got into some nasty weather in April for the first part of the trip. Luckily had ducked into Monterey to fix what broke before the main force of the front hit. Fortunately sat out the worst weather in harbor.


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Jeanne Socrates left Victoria in October last year and had the snot kicked out of her, I think winds from the south of around 60 knots?
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Old 04-08-2017, 07:17   #11
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

Thanks everyone. It seems like neither month is ideal. Leave in August and take a chance on hurricanes or leave in October and take a chance on a northern Pacific storm. I haven't read any of Cornell's books but he does always caution about going anywhere during hurricane season on Noonsite which is just a bit overly prudent because places like Hawaii are not major targets and right now there is nothing down there at all.
FWIW She is a professional sailor and teaches sailing and was going to have a weather router friend give advice on the way and the original August date was her plan. Changing it at the last minute after I did so much work was very inconsiderate.

Anyway, I'm done with that. Thanks again everyone.

I am going to hike and camp on the beach in the Olympic Peninsula next week. This was also on my bucket list.
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Old 04-08-2017, 08:34   #12
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

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Thanks everyone. It seems like neither month is ideal. Leave in August and take a chance on hurricanes or leave in October and take a chance on a northern Pacific storm. I haven't read any of Cornell's books but he does always caution about going anywhere during hurricane season on Noonsite which is just a bit overly prudent because places like Hawaii are not major targets and right now there is nothing down there at all.
FWIW She is a professional sailor and teaches sailing and was going to have a weather router friend give advice on the way and the original August date was her plan. Changing it at the last minute after I did so much work was very inconsiderate.

Anyway, I'm done with that. Thanks again everyone.

I am going to hike and camp on the beach in the Olympic Peninsula next week. This was also on my bucket list.
I just hope we dont have the lung ta show up on the lost at sea list this winter.
Would be a shame to loose that vessel I have lots of my sweat and some blood in her.

Well Bob enjoy the hike . You will love staircase if you choose to start there.
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Old 04-08-2017, 11:35   #13
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Re: Seattle to Hawaii in August or October

Good advice here. In Hawaii we do get late season Hurricanes in October or November. Had a real panty-ripper on Thanksgiving about thirty years ago and another one about ten years after that. The real dangerous ones for Hawaii track from the Gulf of Panama nearly straight west between 10-15 north in the warm water where they develop plenty of energy. They may have enough forward momentum to pass the Hawaiian island chain where, to the west of Kauai, they button-hook back and cream that island and maybe bring significant damage to Oahu as well, but rarely impacting the other islands with any great force.
Most of the Panama generated storms begin to spin north of the islands, before they get close, into colder water and are not a threat to Hawaii but if you are sailing in this area when one is in the process of dying up there you could be in for a rough ride for a few days.
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