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Old 04-05-2020, 18:29   #1
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Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Pandemics permitting, we have decided to take our floating home to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest in 2021, where I started my sailing life many years ago.

I have been analyzing passage options with the following summary:
There is no good or easy sailing route from Philippines to PNW without going around the world

Direct you have:
  1. Warm: beating headwinds to Marshalls and Hawaii then headwinds again up to BC. Done that on superyachts…. Very uncomfortable!
  2. Cold: Great Circle route Via Taiwan, Japan, heading to Juan de Fuca from Tokyo, dodging Lows and Typhoons. Done that also…. Many boats get stuck on East coast of Japan near Yokohama waiting for an offing as early Typhoons south tend to recurve into their path
  3. Very Cold: Leaving Northern Japan from most northern Hokkaido Island, skirting the Kuril Islands, up into the Bering Sea along the Aleutian Islands to Dutch Hbr. Never done that but seriously considering!

The very cold route has shorter legs with places to hide for favorable sailing windows and a more flexible time line for us to do in stages next year.
Most summer storms are associated with fronts; therefore, wind and waves are mostly from the southerly quadrant. So better to favor the Bering sea side once you get there where you can hide behind Islands for protection if needed.

Not too many boats have done this High Route passage, but it seems logical if you can handle the cold with proper gear and clothing.

Lots of research to do and hopefully some advice from skippers who work that area in the summer months plus anyone who knows of links or information from yachts who have gone this high route

Timeline would be like this…..while waiting for weather windows:
  1. Leave Philippines around March/April 2021 coasting up the West side Sea of Japan to Hakodate on Hokkaido. About 2000nm on allowing 8-10 weeks of tourist cruising the West side of Japan during Cherry Blossom season.
  2. June/July leave Hakodate to Dutch Hbr via Aleutians. Again, about 2000nm allowing 4 weeks, with the longest leg of 1240nm from Hokkaido to refuge behind Attu island done in 8-10 days in a favorable weather window
That would put us in Dutch July/August and we will slowly explore the East Side of Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak/ Seaward/ Prince William Sound till early October, before getting the northerly winds to carry us South towards Vancouver, when anchorages have quietened down from the summer boats. (I will definitely have a good heater system) 😊

I’ve cruised twice in Japan before on larger yachts, each time during the Cherry Blossom Season.
Mostly from Nagasaki thru the Seto Naikai to Kobe and Osaka before heading across to Seattle from Yokohama.
This route I know well and loved it, but I want to see the different West side of Honshu to get up to Hokkaido.

The part from Okinawa to Hokkaido on the west side is where I would appreciate any points of interest from anyone who has cruised or visited that area and may have some useful network links for me to study.
Thanks Again
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Old 04-05-2020, 18:47   #2
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Hello there.



If you don't mind a bit colder (but really only a bit vs. the great circle), the Aleutian route has a lot to be recommended.



I'm skipper of one of the big trawlers out of Dutch, have been working in the Aleutians for nearly 30 years.


A couple of thoughts-

First, your timing is a little later than I would go for. I would shoot for Attu by mid-may. By 9/1, the weather is starting to turn, and I would certainly plan to be into SE AK's inside waters no later than 10/1, preferably by mid-September.



The Aleutians have some excellent choices for shelter, as well. Massacre Bay on Attu, Kiska harbor (fascinating place-use a trip line on your anchor due to all the war debris, though), Constantine Harbor on Amchitka (illegal to go ashore, technically-nuke testing), Adak has a small boat harbor, a couple of good anchorages there, Atka has some good shelter, the options are endless.



Also, if you need parts, Adak has 2 flights a week, and you can of course get things sent to Dutch. Adak and Dutch have fuel.



The weather's generally quite mild May-August. Just the odd gale, really.



The fog in summer sucks. You can go days without seeing anything, but that's ok. Clear days are spectacular.



I'm happy to help further if you have any questions.



TJ
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Old 04-05-2020, 22:54   #3
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Quote:
Originally Posted by TJ D View Post

I'm skipper of one of the big trawlers out of Dutch, have been working in the Aleutians for nearly 30 years.

A couple of thoughts-
First, your timing is a little later than I would go for. I would shoot for Attu by mid-may. By 9/1, the weather is starting to turn, and I would certainly plan to be into SE AK's inside waters no later than 10/1, preferably by mid-September.

The weather's generally quite mild May-August. Just the odd gale, really.

I'm happy to help further if you have any questions.

TJ
Hi TJ,
Hope all is well wherever you are hunkered down.

Your intimate working knowledge of the area as well as being a travelled sailor gives me the kind of perspective and advice, I was hoping to find.

So, I may PM/email you with some detail queries if that's ok?

Your advice to go earlier in May is very doable, as my observation over these past 3 weeks show families of Lows sweeping up the West side of the Kurils with favorable winds on the right side from Hokkaido to Attu.

I was just not confident of what to expect once up inside the Aleutians that early in the year and you’ve helped to put my mind at rest

It also gels with my observations from the Philippines of Typhoons recurving from mid-June to late August and sweeping towards Alaska.

Later in the season, they normally head across the Philippines and wreak havoc right up to December.

Making that 7-10-day passage from Hokkaido to Attu in May now makes more sense in my much slower boat....Thanks!.

Note that it is better to get across the gulf into SE Alaska before October, which with this earlier arrival in May, would not be rushing it.

My understanding is that Dutch Hbr. is the first Entry Port on my passage, so any stops before that could only be for weather, without going ashore.

Is that still the same or have seasonal Entry Ports been added to support the cruise ship traffic?


I also don’t know how close to skirt the Kuril Islands on the way to the Aleutians as far as the political and Russian patrol aspect of those contested waters?


I expect after working the Bering Sea for months, you want to have your sailboat somewhere warm, but do you know of anyone who pleasure cruises the Alaska Peninsula?

I’ve skippered superyachts as far up as Seaward in the summer a few times, towed year-round to Skagway from Vancouver, but that was always to someone else’s schedule.
Look forward to revisiting some of my favorite places and discovering new ones

Cheers
Nick
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Old 05-05-2020, 01:05   #4
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Please don’t take your Q&A with TJD offline, as we will be heading that way in a few years (following time in the central Pacific and SE Asia) and plan to winter in SE Alaska so we can have more time to explore Alaska in a second season.

The timing of the passage north from the Phillipines through Japan is certainly very interesting, and we would like to spend some time cruising Japan. Maybe even a visit to Vladivostok.
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Old 05-05-2020, 02:34   #5
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Ok, will keep everything not confidential online
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Old 05-05-2020, 02:45   #6
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

In 2009, a small fleet of Nordhavn trawler yachts did a Seattle to Japan run via the Aleutians. Dubbed "The Great Siberian Sushi Run," Ken Williams, owner of San Souci, wrote extensively about the trip and prep. You may want to peruse his blog for tips on routing and weather even though a much different boat. Below is just one blog post I came across via a Google search. I believe he also wrote a book on the trip.

https://www.kensblog.com/a-good-day-aleutians/
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Old 05-05-2020, 05:12   #7
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Quote:
Originally Posted by fxykty View Post
Please don’t take your Q&A with TJD offline, as we will be heading that way in a few years (following time in the central Pacific and SE Asia) and plan to winter in SE Alaska so we can have more time to explore Alaska in a second season.

The timing of the passage north from the Phillipines through Japan is certainly very interesting, and we would like to spend some time cruising Japan. Maybe even a visit to Vladivostok.
Hi fxykty,
I have been rethinking my route to Aleutians, following TJ's advice about arriving there mid-May, rather than August.

Having cruised Japan twice already, my main attraction is to visit the NW Alaska Peninsula.

To arrive by Mid-May would mean rushing through Japan and leaving Philippines in February-early-March, against the prevailing NE Winds with a difficult slog up to Nagasaki.

I have done that twice before on big Superyachts and it was not comfortable especially if you get caught in the North bound Kuroshio current.

So, in our case, a 3,354 nm great circle route from San Bernardino Strait to Aleutians, with a possible weather and provisioning stop in Yokohama is now being considered.

April in the Philippines is a transitional period when you get periods of easterlies, Highs start to develop in the Pacific and you can ride between Lows as they sweep up between the continent and main islands.

Your dealing with Gales rather than Storms and can maneuver around most

We would then leave Philippines mid-April with time to stop on east coast of Japan if needed.

In your case if Japan is still on the bucket list then I would consider wintering in Japan and/or South Korea instead of SE Alaska.

If you really want to explore the best of Alaska, then the Aleutians, NW Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak and Prince William Sound are far more pristine these days than SE Alaska with its glut of cruise ships.

That would nicely harmonizes with an unhurried cruise in Japan and a visa run to South Korea.
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Old 05-05-2020, 05:19   #8
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
In 2009, a small fleet of Nordhavn trawler yachts did a Seattle to Japan run via the Aleutians. Dubbed "The Great Siberian Sushi Run," Ken Williams, owner of San Souci, wrote extensively about the trip and prep. You may want to peruse his blog for tips on routing and weather even though a much different boat. Below is just one blog post I came across via a Google search. I believe he also wrote a book on the trip.

https://www.kensblog.com/a-good-day-aleutians/
Thanks, that looks like some great reading
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Old 05-05-2020, 05:28   #9
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
Thanks, that looks like some great reading
Ken Williams was some sort of tech entrepreneur. He's been cruising a Nordhavn 6+ months per year for 20+ years. He's a prolific writer with an easy-to-read and candid style. He's now having a 60-foot Grand Banks commissioned to do the Great Loop, perhaps the Med (again) and he has gone into great detail about the design trade offs such as stabilization, generator selection, dinghy selection, refrigeration, etc.

I know the price-point of a 62+ foot Nordhavn is well beyond most of us, but guys like this cruise long distances and encounter many of the same challenges modest sail-based cruisers encounter (perhaps more given the complexity of their boats). I've never met him, but to me, he's one of the great role models in cruising as he contributes so much to his fellow cruisers.

Tip of my hat to him!

Peter
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Old 05-05-2020, 08:18   #10
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

I have sailed, single handed, from Hokkaido (Murriran) in 29 days to Victoria in 1991.

Couple of comments:

Cyclones re-curve in the summer and I was recommended to leave Japan by June 15th at the latest. The Pacific is warmer now and it might entail an earlier departure.

I have fog as far as the dateline. I chose to cross below the great circle route due to the freighters. There were bow to stern about 10 kn miles apart in lines. It added about 150+ miles to my passage. There was no AIS at that time. Crossing those lines of ships was an issue while single handing. Also I did not plan on seeing Alaska but needed to be in Vancouver.

There were Japanese fishing boats long netting in the fog .Illegally I think.

It was noticeable warmer at 40-42 north once the fog was gone and the cold water current was left.
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Old 05-05-2020, 09:20   #11
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
Pandemics permitting, we have decided to take our floating home to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest in 2021, where I started my sailing life many years ago.

I have been analyzing passage options with the following summary:
There is no good or easy sailing route from Philippines to PNW without going around the world

Direct you have:
  1. Warm: beating headwinds to Marshalls and Hawaii then headwinds again up to BC. Done that on superyachts…. Very uncomfortable!
  2. Cold: Great Circle route Via Taiwan, Japan, heading to Juan de Fuca from Tokyo, dodging Lows and Typhoons. Done that also…. Many boats get stuck on East coast of Japan near Yokohama waiting for an offing as early Typhoons south tend to recurve into their path
  3. Very Cold: Leaving Northern Japan from most northern Hokkaido Island, skirting the Kuril Islands, up into the Bering Sea along the Aleutian Islands to Dutch Hbr. Never done that but seriously considering!

The very cold route has shorter legs with places to hide for favorable sailing windows and a more flexible time line for us to do in stages next year.
Most summer storms are associated with fronts; therefore, wind and waves are mostly from the southerly quadrant. So better to favor the Bering sea side once you get there where you can hide behind Islands for protection if needed.

Not too many boats have done this High Route passage, but it seems logical if you can handle the cold with proper gear and clothing.

Lots of research to do and hopefully some advice from skippers who work that area in the summer months plus anyone who knows of links or information from yachts who have gone this high route

Timeline would be like this…..while waiting for weather windows:
  1. Leave Philippines around March/April 2021 coasting up the West side Sea of Japan to Hakodate on Hokkaido. About 2000nm on allowing 8-10 weeks of tourist cruising the West side of Japan during Cherry Blossom season.
  2. June/July leave Hakodate to Dutch Hbr via Aleutians. Again, about 2000nm allowing 4 weeks, with the longest leg of 1240nm from Hokkaido to refuge behind Attu island done in 8-10 days in a favorable weather window
That would put us in Dutch July/August and we will slowly explore the East Side of Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak/ Seaward/ Prince William Sound till early October, before getting the northerly winds to carry us South towards Vancouver, when anchorages have quietened down from the summer boats. (I will definitely have a good heater system) ��

I’ve cruised twice in Japan before on larger yachts, each time during the Cherry Blossom Season.
Mostly from Nagasaki thru the Seto Naikai to Kobe and Osaka before heading across to Seattle from Yokohama.
This route I know well and loved it, but I want to see the different West side of Honshu to get up to Hokkaido.

The part from Okinawa to Hokkaido on the west side is where I would appreciate any points of interest from anyone who has cruised or visited that area and may have some useful network links for me to study.
Thanks Again
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Races have departed from Qingdao, China and sailed nonstop to Seattle...but there have been fatalities.

~ ~ _/) ~ ~ MJH
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Old 05-05-2020, 10:09   #12
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Hi, I cruised the Philippines in company with an Australian couple who then took their boat---a 40foot bilge keeler (!!!!) up to Japan, overwintered there, and set off in late spring, as suggested and enjoyed a passage to Kodiak via Alucians. They had heating but there were no problems for them on that route that voyage. I also met Ken in Hong Kong with his boat and we chatted quite a lot, he is an amazing skipper. His book can be obtained on Amazon & Kindle,worth reading for excellent info for this trip.
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Old 05-05-2020, 10:11   #13
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Quote:
Originally Posted by TJ D View Post
Hello there.



If you don't mind a bit colder (but really only a bit vs. the great circle), the Aleutian route has a lot to be recommended.



I'm skipper of one of the big trawlers out of Dutch, have been working in the Aleutians for nearly 30 years.


A couple of thoughts-

First, your timing is a little later than I would go for. I would shoot for Attu by mid-may. By 9/1, the weather is starting to turn, and I would certainly plan to be into SE AK's inside waters no later than 10/1, preferably by mid-September.



The Aleutians have some excellent choices for shelter, as well. Massacre Bay on Attu, Kiska harbor (fascinating place-use a trip line on your anchor due to all the war debris, though), Constantine Harbor on Amchitka (illegal to go ashore, technically-nuke testing), Adak has a small boat harbor, a couple of good anchorages there, Atka has some good shelter, the options are endless.



Also, if you need parts, Adak has 2 flights a week, and you can of course get things sent to Dutch. Adak and Dutch have fuel.



The weather's generally quite mild May-August. Just the odd gale, really.



The fog in summer sucks. You can go days without seeing anything, but that's ok. Clear days are spectacular.



I'm happy to help further if you have any questions.



TJ

We made that voyage in the Spring of 1970 without a refuel/port visit from Subic to Sasebo to San Francisco to Home Port in Los Angeles Long Beach Harbor. Ship was OBVIOUSLY nuke powered. Fastest voyage and best voyage I ever made on a warship, no fossil burners or sails restricting us !
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Old 05-05-2020, 10:33   #14
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Pelagic,
What a great list of experiences you have had. I had customers many years ago that circled the Pacific in Columbia 50. They went about the route that you described... I do not remember the details, but the owner was a retired airline pilot who also made money in oil and lost some of it in cattle. Hailed from Texas. I fixed the autopilot when others around the world had failed... worn pin at the quadrant. Not the electronic part. The connection between the mechanical and the hydraulic piston from the auto pilot. Sometimes I get it quickly and right.
Love to be there on your journey... perhaps I am a bit old for the finish but gaining on the start date.
Uncle
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Old 05-05-2020, 10:38   #15
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Re: Voyage Subic to Dutch Harbor Alaska

Quote:
Originally Posted by TJ D View Post
...
First, your timing is a little later than I would go for. I would shoot for Attu by mid-may. By 9/1, the weather is starting to turn, and I would certainly plan to be into SE AK's inside waters no later than 10/1, preferably by mid-September. ...
Can't comment on the Japan-Aleutians leg, still on my bucket list. But will second TJ's comments on timing re: getting into sheltered waters. When the weather turns it turns. May be a couple of weeks into October (a really nice year) or it may be a couple of weeks before October. For long-range planning use the mid-September date, you don't want to be out in the middle of the Gulf when it becomes an early season.

For the alternate legs, we've done the trip from Hawaii up several times, always a decent passage. You use the trades to get any easting, then the WNW to reach to destination. Still, wouldn't envy the passage PI-Hawaii.
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