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shieek 02-13-2010 01:11 PM

Sailing from San Francisco to Seattle
Alright, as a newbie, I have a simple question. With an experienced captain (and a low experienced owner/crewman) when would be the best time to sail my 35' sloop from San Fran to Seattle. She has a small Penta MD11C diesel for backup. Thanks for any responses from vessels that have made the trip. Cheers!

dabnis 02-13-2010 02:04 PM

Not now!! Maybe leave from about the first of June to early October, just my 2 cents worth. Try this link, kind of long but covers it pretty well.

Not a trip to be taken lightly, at any time.


shieek 02-13-2010 03:42 PM

Thanks for the link .. good reading (and eye opening)

jmolan 02-13-2010 05:25 PM


Originally Posted by dabnis (Post 569969)
Not now!! Maybe leave from about the first of June to early October, just my 2 cents worth. Try this link, kind of long but covers it pretty well.

Not a trip to be taken lightly, at any time.


Late April, May and June. After June the NW kicks in and it is a drag. I have made wonderful passages in April and May. Good chance for S. winds and not too hard. Spring gales blow through pretty fast.

nissantwa 02-13-2010 08:51 PM

I've made the SEA to SFO run in a Roberts 44. Blew like stink & took 7 days., Never in danger but N to S was a broad reach the entire way. Heading North is usually a tedious close hauled ordeal. The boat can probably take it until something breaks. Then it's almost impossible to scramble on deck for repairs, night time with cloud cover is unbelievably dark, and the fatigue factor will have set in by day 2. I think that's a real danger. Try sailing a Laser in 20+ knots with confused seas or a big swell for about 3 hours and you'll get a good idea of what to expect. Columbia bar is shallow, Ilwaco a few miles north can be better, or just as bad. Coos bay is best found by following a local, Florence is sometimes silted in, Greys Harbor is usually good if no visible surf with docking at Westport. Stay in the channel, you can bump a keel in a trough if the swells are big and granite jetty on both sides eats boats. Avoid Ocean Shores, real shallow. Once you round Cape Flattery, Neah Bay is good anchorage and interesting to walk around the Makah Indian reservation. Now comes problem two. Strait of Juan de Fuca can blowand the seas can build in a matter of hours. If you're lucky, no fog, steady wind with little tacking, you can make Port Townsend that same day. Port Angeles a halfway point with sketchy acommodations for yachts but a very good breakwater. Decent walking town. Once in the Sound, easy breezy or no wind except during a storm. I've heard of sailors going to Hawaii and then turning right, sounds extreme. No shame in turning back should you change your mind. Fair winds and following seas. Nissantwa

Stu Jackson 02-13-2010 08:53 PM

August. See George Benson's narratives, here: Cruising the Northwest Coast - A book by George Benson

read the narratives. click on the lower right hand corner box

The concept is simple: do day sails, no harbor is more thasn 50 or 70 nm apart and August has the most sunlight per day.

A friend sailed his C34 down the coast in July using this method. It IS "doable" going uphill, as George so well describes. Going offshore makes little sense.

blt2ski 02-13-2010 11:24 PM

Being as the longest day of the year is in the third week of June, How can August be the longest days?!?!?!?

You may find that sailing from Ca to Hawaii, then to the NW to be easiest, depending upon the time you try to travel. Otherwise, pick your weather as best you can.


jmolan 02-13-2010 11:44 PM

I have live and surfed and fished and boated on the Oregon Caost since 1973. So what.....:-) I have been up and down this coast more times than I can count.

I only say that to let you know. If you try in July, Aug. Sept. it will be a drag going North. If you go April, May, June, you have a shot at a decent trip. Is true, ports are 60 miles apart. Figure accordingly. The bars are OK except in big swell and the ebb. DO NOT CROSS ON THE EBB. Wait it out outside, It don't matter how lousy you feel. Go in on the flod. You'll be OK.

aquanta 02-14-2010 09:50 AM

I've made the trip too, August is your best month and plan on day hops up the coast. There are some great ports to enjoy all the way up through CA, OR & WA states so get a good cruising guide and plan your ports. Its an uphill run so plan on using the ol'e iron spinnaker a lot!

If weather bows in, you might find yourself stuck in a nice little port for several days before you can get back to sea. I met some great people (other cruisers) going both north and south so take your time and enjoy it!

dabnis 02-14-2010 12:35 PM

Shieek,some very approximate numbers:900 nauticle miles, average of 3 to4 knots over the ground,if you are lucky, uphill & against the current, at least to Cape Flattery, about 375 gallons of fuel for about $1100. Plus "Experienced captain" = ?$$$. The incremental cost difference to have it trucked might be a consideration?
If you go, a shakedown trip to at least Bodega Bay and back would give you a very brief look at what's ahead.


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