Sailing from Neah Bay to San Francisco
Does anyone have any experience sailing from Neah Bay (NW Washington) to San Francisco?
I'm interested in harbors along the way that can be entered by a sailboat with 6-foot draft. Weather and sea conditions encoutered in September. Sailing time, etc.
Please if you have experience I'd like to hear about it.
Here is a link you might be interested in although it covers going north instead of south:
I did the trip 12 years as the start to our offshore sailing life. I contemplated that trip for several years, as it can be one of the nastiest bodies of water on the globe. They don't call it the graveyard of the Pacific for nothing. I do not recommend you stopping anywhere on that coast. The limited harbors all have bar crossings, which will be very dangerous in any kind of unsettled weather conditions, this is probably when you will want to go in....tired, poor decision making time, breaking bar conditions can all spell disaster for the small yachtsman.
I suggest you take an off shore route. we went out about 175 miles off the coast and then made our rhumbline for SF. Nice passage with 2 days of 30-40 knots. The day after the big blow we had these long Pacific with swells winds of 15 to 20 knots, sunshine and a great feeling of accomplishment for our first big offshore passage. Man that was some good sailing.
After many more years and a few voyages in the roaring 40's I'd still say that the PNW passage to SF may be the toughest one of all. Good luck, prepare well and good sailing!
I made the trip last Sept. 2010. I took on 2 crew and we took an offshore route that took us between 40-70 NM out. We had planned to go the entire way but a storm we anticipated did not let up by the time we reached it so we put into Eureka for an evening and set sail again the next morning. We planned for 8 days from Seattle and did it in 10.
We had winds from the NW most of the way though we did have to motor some. The following sea gave us a nice push down as well. On my Beneteau 440 we only used the 110 jib the entire way. It made life easy not having to deal with the main. We surfed up to about 16 kts at times.
I personally do not think going more than 60 NM out gains anything. We saw almost zero traffic, maybe 6 boats total. We were well outside of the crabbing and saw no major hazards. We had a few whale sightings and plenty of dolphins surfing our wake.
We did have to cross the bar at Eureka in 35+ kt winds and thankfully had the CG guide us through. I would not have wanted to do it without their assistance and I agree with the advice above, I would only consider a stop into these ports out of absolute necessity. Otherwise, just stay offshore and enjoy the ride. It is amazing out there! Closes I have felt to nature in a long time.
3 people turned out to be a good number on board and we had a nice rotation with plenty of sleep. We were worried about long watches at night so we made those smaller than our day watches. This helped, but I can also honestly say the night watches were always be best. It is just you and the sea and it give you a great time to reflect on what you are doing.
I have much of the weather forecast information you will need if you are interested...Also you can see our actual course here: Serenity Experience's Photos - Wall Photos | Facebook
It is a pretty serious voyage so I would take is serious and prepare as best you can. Know your weather window and I would not go much later than Sept. as the conditions get more severe and unpredictable. I am happy to help where I can. It is a great sail as long as you are prepared and even more importantly, ready to adapt to the conditions that you actually see rather than predicted.
Late July to september seems to be the time to go south. As there is generally speaking a North wind pushing you south. Most folks I know that have done the trip south did it in this time.
We made the trip in early October 2009, taking 4.5 days from Port Angeles to the entrance to the traffic separation lanes off San Francisco. There is a short write-up on the passage in this blog post: Passage to San Francisco
Sailing south from Neah Bay to San Francisco
I enjoyed reading the responces to my post. I cannot wait to sail but I have to admit that I feel just a bit nervous about making that left turn past Cap Flattery:).
Departure date is Sept 4th and I still have much to do. My liost includes: rebuild windlass, replace scupper hoses, rebuild toilet, install jack lines, buy a smaller inflatable, replace reef lines, buy teathers for crew, inventory spare parts, change engine oil and filters.
My son and a good friend will make up the crew headed to San Francisco. I'll be home schooling my son on the trip. He'll be in 11th grade and we have correspondance courses set up for English, Math and US History. I'd like to have a good supply of reading materials to supplement his text books.
Can anyone recommend any good books (non-fiction adventure, history, or fictional adventure) that take place on the west coast that might grab my son's attention and imagination?
I read "My OLd Man and the Sea" and it made me think about the bonding between father and son on a blue water cruise and I'm really looking forward to that part of our adventure.
Not that you were asking but I thought to contribute a few tips and tricks I learned on my voyage...A suggestion that I did for jack lines and tethers since marine products can be so very expensive...I grabbed two lengths of 1in webbing from REI for jack lines that I lashed to my cleats, one on each side. I used to rock climb so I trust these lines with my life and it is much cheaper than purchasing from marine chandlery. For tethers get yourself lengths of static cord there while you are at it, then one auto-locking carabiner and one screw lock carabiner for each tether you need to fashion. Use figure 8 knots for each end and make them tight against the biner.
There is a great email system setup with NOAA which when emailed with proper instructions will respond with specific weather reports. Let me know if you would be interested and I can sent you Google Earth files which have the instructions for these for each zone along your path. Here is an example for Cape Flatter reports:
Anything you want to identify your weather report request
I have also created Google Earth files that adapt NOAA grib image files to overlay on the globe. This was very helpful to click through a 7 day wind, fog, rain and wave forecast which overlaid our exact GPS position within GE.
We had a crew of three and devised an excellent watch schedule...We broke the late night, early morning into small 2 hr watches starting at midnight, thus Person A would come on from midnight to 0200, then B from 0200-0400, C from 0400-0600. Each subsequent watch would be 3 hrs, thus A from 0600-0900, B from 0900-1200, C from 1200-1500 and so on...
Cannot think of West Coast literature but from my personal favorites I might suggest: Joshua Slocum's Sailing Alone Around the World, Alexandre Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Michael Crichton's Pirate Latiitues, anything from Kurt Vonnegut, Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander series, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.
Happy and safe sailing :)
2 of my favorites would be:
Richard Henry Dana Jr's "Two years before the Mast"
Ivan Doig's "The Sea Runners"
Maybe skip the homework on this trip. Enough to learn out on the ocean. Especially critical thinking skills, which seem to be absent in much of today's curriculum.
Have a great and safe journey. Time well spent with your son!
Let us know how it goes.
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