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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 11-07-2014
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CA-HI Passage and High Swell at sea

Hey folks,
We are planning to start the passage from SoCal to HI next week. From the common literature, November is one of the best month to attempt a passage from CA to HI because this is the end of the Hurricane season and not yet just winter.
However, this year, a couple of systems are still/already pounding in the north and create High Swell advisory (10 to 20m) accross the full Pacific.
I do not see that as an issue as usually the swell period do not create break waves, but I have limited experience on offshore passages.
What do you guys think ? Is it really a no-go sign ?
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Old 11-07-2014
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Re: CA-HI Passage and High Swell at sea

Quote:
Originally Posted by thevdeub View Post
Hey folks,
We are planning to start the passage from SoCal to HI next week. From the common literature, November is one of the best month to attempt a passage from CA to HI because this is the end of the Hurricane season and not yet just winter.
However, this year, a couple of systems are still/already pounding in the north and create High Swell advisory (10 to 20m) accross the full Pacific.
I do not see that as an issue as usually the swell period do not create break waves, but I have limited experience on offshore passages.
What do you guys think ? Is it really a no-go sign ?
My experience/observations is in Northern California & Oregon coastal waters. IIRC, anytime from about the middle of October you can see big seas all winter into about the first to middle of May. Big seas can come at any time of the year, but "winter" months seem to be the worst, to me, anyway.

Hopefully, someone who has done it will reply.

Paul T
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Old 11-07-2014
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Re: CA-HI Passage and High Swell at sea

I looked at PassageWeather and did not see anything like 10 to 20 m waves. The maximum seemed to 5 to 6 m on Friday and that was in the worst spot north of Hawaii. Waves looked to be pretty much abeam. Should be OK as long as the winds are strong enough to keep you heeling. Would be unpleasant in really light airs, which brings me to - looking at those weather maps the thing that seemed most problematic is the large high pressure area to the SW of Southern California. You might want to stay to the south of the rhumb line to keep away from the depressions further north, but there does not look to be much wind at all. How is your boat in light stuff?

The second depression that appears from NW on Friday is quite nasty but if PW is correct, it fills in a lot in only 12 hours. Before you leave you might want to see what the forecast is saying about that one. If the forecast is accurate it looks to be staying pretty far north so you would only get some of the waves and any boat doing a trip like this should be fine in waves like that.
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Old 11-07-2014
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Re: CA-HI Passage and High Swell at sea

I would agree with Paul that the crappy stuff is off northern California and northward and you are starting in southern California and going even further south.
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Heading back to Lake Ontario for this summer. Relatively few stops along the way from Grenada. Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin (must have something to do with the French food), then Bermuda, New England and up the Hudson/Erie Canal. We were going to go via Newfoundland and Labrador but June remembered that one of the kids is getting married this summer - details, details!
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Re: CA-HI Passage and High Swell at sea

That was my understanding. Boat is a Tartan 37.
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Old 11-08-2014
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Re: CA-HI Passage and High Swell at sea

I have never done a passage like that, but, if there was a 20m swell I would be cr@pping my pants 24/7.
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Old 11-08-2014
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CA-HI Passage and High Swell at sea

What does ol' jimmy say about it in Cruising Routes? East coaster here, nothing much to add except make sure you get some searoom, and have your strategies thought through for when you encounter weather like you are seeing now. Practice reefing early on, or whatever your tactics are, keep a tight ship, and you'll be ready. Besides jimmy Cornell's book, check out the pilot charts for your passage. The averages are a good place to start, but I'd also be looking at some long term forecasts and expect a good chance for major trends to continue. Heavy swell at sea is not necessarily a problem, just depends on the wave's characteristics.

Do you have a weather routing service out there? I don't know if Chris Parker works outside the Atlantic but he could likely refer you to someone who works the region. It's worth getting some expert advice from someone that can also advise you while on passage. Do you have an HF radio and have you had a chance to make contact with any local nets?

Very exciting. Safe passage-


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Old 11-09-2014
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Re: CA-HI Passage and High Swell at sea

In the cruising routes, November is one of the best month. With a couple in Spring.
Yes, we do have a Sat Phone and I am setting up the HF WeFax.
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Old 11-09-2014
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Re: CA-HI Passage and High Swell at sea

Here is the passageweather link for that part of the pacific Sailing Weather - Marine Weather Forecasts for Sailors and Adventurers - PassageWeather shows waves of two to four meter height on Friday the 14 and improving from then and winds from ten to fifteen knots
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Re: CA-HI Passage and High Swell at sea

Not having done the passage but looking closely at the charts here is what I am seeing (for a 8 day forecast ending 11/17):

- the high this coming week is moving to 32N 125W and seems to remain positioned there.
Q: Will it move back West? Not sure as when I look at the pilot chats for December it seems to be it's normal position.

- the route would need to be substantially off the rhumb line and go south first for a stretch at 26N 124W before going west.
Q: Is this the most most effective route?

- by going south and having a high in 32N 125W means little wind with an average of 7-8 knots. The pilot chart for both november and december shows 17-21 knots wind from E, NE with 30 to 53% of the time.
Q: Could this be significantly different this year on a 3 weeks passage with El Nino and record TS energy in the Pacific?

- on the route going towards HI, I see up to a .3-.4% of probability of whitecaps and seas reaching 3.7m or 13 feet generated from the storm in the pacific north which starts coming down south. The winds remain low, around 6knots
Q: Does this present a risk? Could this get significantly worst?

- I am using the NOAA/GFS model for weather and FNMOC-WW3-GLOBAL for the waves (using zyGrib)
Q: Is there a better model to use?
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