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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 09-11-2008
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Sail down the Pacific Coast?

Just wondering if anyone has made a trip from the Puget Sound area south to California or Mexico. Does anyone have any good stories or information on this type of voyage?
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Old 09-11-2008
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Lot of people do it every fall and join up in So. Cal. to go "en masse" with the Baja HaHa, see link.
Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers Rally: Sailing from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas
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Old 09-14-2008
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Not a trip for a beginner; if you are a beginner or even and advanced sailor you should be extremely careful in the decision to sail down the coast. Puget Sound alone can be very trecharous going out to the Pacific (from what I have heard) and if you don't time the weather correctly there is little shelter along the coast from Washington all the way to Los Angeles. Just a week ago a sailor who was returning from Hawaii who had just won the Singlehanded Trans-Pac (from SF to HI) abandoned 300 miles west of SF. Luckily was picked up by a cargo ship. He had over 35 years of experience and an extremely well equipped boat. The gale force winds had the ocean up to 20-30' seas and breaking waves.

I'm not saying it can't be done; but be sure you, your boat, and your crew are up for it. Study the wind patterns and plan very carefully before you commit to making the trip. Know where you can find shelter and be sure you can enter those places with rough seas; many ports become blocked by breaking surf when the seas are heavy.
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Old 09-14-2008
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Sure, you can run down the coast. ccam and another boat are leaving the Strait Wed. You best pay attention to the weather because of two things. It's a Lee coast. All of the harbor bars are closed once the weather kicks up and you cannot run for cover. Other than that, it's doable.
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Old 09-14-2008
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Nicely understated....
Quote:
It's a Lee coast. All of the harbor bars are closed once the weather kicks up and you cannot run for cover. Other than that, it's doable.
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Old 09-14-2008
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After September 15th local insurance companies don't insure for runs down the coast...
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Old 09-14-2008
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This trip is doable, as already stated, pending careful attention to the weather and a flexible schedule. Friends recently made this trip (August) and took 20 days to get to SF. Other friends are currently on a similar schedule and last I heard they were in southern Oregon.

Those choosing to take an offshore approach will usually make SF in a week or so, with more reliable (but possibly stronger) winds and less concerns about shipping except when crossing lanes outbound and inbound.

I did the coastal version some years ago, and based on that experience would not likely try it again. Any problem with the weather leaves you stuck out there with relatively little sea room. With the improved weather forecasting these days, (and vastly improved navigational positioning) perhaps this is a more doable thing today.

Whatever your plan, ensure that you have charts for EVERY possible hideyhole along the way whether you plan to stop there or not.. plans can and will change.
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Old 09-15-2008
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Guys; he's posting in the "Learning to Sail" thread. I don't think you wanna learn to sail off the coast of California, Oregon or Washington; unless you are in protected waters (like Monterey Bay near Santa Cruz, or Los Angeles well East and South of Pt. Conception).

As I said before; know what you are doing before setting out into the PNW ocean. Conditions change rapidly, fog can fill in in a few hours, and winds can build the seas into huge steep swells due to sustained offshore winds running North to South. I don't disagree that it's "doable"; just be sure of what you are setting out into and know where you can duck in if weather is approaching. I don't consider any sailing west of Pt Bonita here in SF "coastal". Once you are out of the SF Gate area you are "offshore" and your boat should be well equipped for offshore sailing.
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Old 09-15-2008
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KH is right about that... this is not a trip you want to attempt as you're trying to figure out how to sail the boat.

Many experienced sailors will tell you that that particular passage can be tougher and rougher (and more treacherous) than a passage to Hawaii and beyond.
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Old 09-16-2008
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Thanks for all the info.
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