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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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Old 07-09-2010
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Crossing Georgia Strait in T22

Hi all,

I have a Tanzer 22, nice little boat, in very good shape, stable and reliable. She is moored on Gabriola Island. I would like to make use of the great weather and take her over to Vancouver.

I am not a total novice but have never crossed the Georgia Strait (except on the ferry). So far I have mainly sailed in protected waters, and I'm wondering if the crossing is safe enough on a T22 and what you'd recommend as the upper limit to go.
Now the forecast announces NW 5 to 15 knots increasing to 15 to 25 in the afternoon. Same forecast pretty much for every day, and I am wondering whether the chance of hitting those 15 to 25 knot winds might make it a bit unsafe in this relatively small boat and if we should wait a little for more stable winds. I've heard the Strait can be pretty rough at times. Or am I too careful?

Any suggestions/comments from more experienced sailors in the Georgia Strait are welcome.

Thanks!
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Old 07-09-2010
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First, when it comes to boating, caution is a good thing. Way back when I took my Power Squadron course, the guest lecturer from the Coast Guard summed it up nicely: "If in doubt, don't go out". If you have doubts, you won't go wrong by waiting.

While I know of several people who have had enjoyable crossings in a 22 foot boat, 25 knot winds may be pushing the envelope. What is your personal comfort level?

Also, are you planning to make the trip by yourself; or will you have crew? More important, what is your experience level and the experience level of your crew. In the conditions that you mention, a combination of limited experience and a crew of novices may make you a very unpopular skipper; and that could be the least of your worries.

My advice would be to wait until:
  • you can get a good weather window. 10 to 15 knots?
  • experienced crew to come with you.
If there are Tanzer owners out there with some thoughts on this subject, I'd love to hear from them.
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Old 07-09-2010
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Assuming you're in the Silva Bay area, then the good news is that with a NW wind the breeze you encounter when you poke your nose out of the bay is likely the most you'll see all day. It routinely blows 5 knots or more harder at Entrance Is that anywhere else across the strait in summer.

I'd have no qualms taking a fixed keel T22 across in those conditions as long as you had no nervous passengers and the ability to easily reef the main.. putting a reef in before you go is probably a good bet - it's always easier to shake one out than put one in in the bumpy stuff.

Your shortest trip across will be due North Magnetic to Gibsons Landing.. about 15 miles, probably on a close-ish to beam reach. Going to Vancouver/False Creek area is more like 22 NM, but you'll be sailing quite a bit lower angle.

If you're nervous about it try getting someone who's got some experience and comfort level to go with you the first time....
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Old 07-09-2010
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My most recent San Juan experience was tacking south in Bellingham Channel with 110% jib and one reef in the main with ~20-25 knots of wind, and then getting into Rosario Strait, then Strait of juan de Fuca and shaking out the reef and hoisting the 150% genny with a nice gentle 8-10 knots for the crossing to Pt Townsend.

So you just never know for sure what it's gonna do, but from what I've experienced, it's good to be prepared for 25 knots before leave protected waters in these parts.
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Old 07-12-2010
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I would encourage you to not do it alone the first time or so, take somebody with you that has some experience. I'll actually be out there tomorrow for a few days visiting friends, maybe we should have a sit down at the local coffee shop and I can pass on some tips? Let me know.

Either way though, if you do happen to do it alone (which it's not a big deal, today would be a bad bad day to try that though.. and this week seems a bit strong for a beginner) then just be sure to wear a life jacket, tie yourself to the boat if wandering around at all and let a few people know what you're doing and check in when you can.

For the most part though, take a good book. It takes about 4 hours to cross on a sailboat and it's BORING.. relatively, depending on wind of course.

Always check the marine weather forecast before going:
Pacific - Georgia Basin - Forecast - Environment Canada
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Old 07-12-2010
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One other factor to consider when crossing the Strait is the current. If the wind and current are blowing in different direction, you can get some pretty lumpy seas. Get a Current Atlas and Murray's Table's to check on the current direction.

Jack
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Old 07-14-2010
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I have crossed the Straight of Georgia in sailboats as small as 18' as well as larger. In daylight as well as at night. Watch your weather and if an experienced friend is along all the better. As Faster posted start with a reef if you expect rough weather. You can always shake it out if the breeze doesn't live up to the forecast.
While it isn't a direct help to crossing the Straight here's an interesting link.BigWaveDave - Windsurfing, Kiteboarding, marine weather, Victoria, Vancouver Island, coastal British Columbia, BC, Canada, windsurf, kiteboard, webcams, surfing, photos, kayaking Click on webcams at the top of the page for current conditions in many places along Vancouver Island. A neighbor uses this site a lot, except he hopes for calm conditions as he is an avid fisherman.
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Old 07-14-2010
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First off Environment Canada forecasts are not particularly useful. They exaggerate the numbers in moderate conditions (leading you to believe you're in for a brisk sail when it really turns out to be a snooze) and tend to fall behind when predicting gales, as at least four boats that ended up ashore in English Bay yesterday found out. The other forecasters recommended here are good; I also use windfinder.com.

However, the pattern that you described---of light to moderate winds in the morning that build in the afternoon---is a pretty regular pattern, provided no frontal systems are moving in, and that's something you can see coming beforehand. Faster's recommendation of heading to Gibsons is a good one; if you leave around sunrise, you should arrive before the winds are at their strongest. Alternatively you can depart in the late afternoon as the winds are dying (also pretty typical summer pattern), but then if you're not making good time you're likely to end up motoring (though maybe this July will be different).

As for using the T22, I will have to defer to the more experienced folks, but if she's "stable and reliable" I don't see any problems. If she has a ballasted keel and you know how to reef, what's the worst that 25 knots can do?
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Old 07-18-2010
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Thanks for all your precious advice. Also thanks, GraemeInCanada, for your offer to meet up. Unfortunately, it was too late when I saw your message. I did the crossing with a friend and experienced sailor on Friday, July 16, a few days after the storm in Vancouver. And it was great, except for 60 min. of motoring in the middle of the Strait when the wind died on us but fortunately picked up again. Most of the time we had between 8 and 15kt. Probably boring for most of you, but on my first crossing, maybe that's better than 25 kt.

And I have to say, the Tanzer 22 is great and could probably easily handle 20 kt or more.

Again, thanks to all.
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Old 07-19-2010
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Excellent to hear you got things going along and made it across. Friday would have been a pretty good day to go, I came back here on Thursday afternoon from Silva Bay. I think you got pretty good winds.
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