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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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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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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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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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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-


Sent from my iSomething using tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #8
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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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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The only thing certain will be that the weather and swell conditions will change once your are out there. Sure, conditions could get a lot worse, or for that matter a lot better as well.
 

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considering the furycame season on west coast is until END november, i would say unless you like sailing seas and sometimes too much wind, wait until later in nov to sail south of san diego.
from pnw to kali is august, from san diego to mexico and south is december thru may. have fun.
btw-- the worst seas i ever sailed in were 30 ft swells from an el nino storm one january in the early mid 90s, catalina to oceanside.
swells in pacific are 14 sec to 21 sec timing, so you are not gonna be chopped to crap, but you WILL be able to surf down hill, which is what the run from pnw on southward is.
be prepared for huge winds from just north of cabo san lucas to cabo from 0400-0600, as chubascos blow over baja sur.
we were hit by a 60 kt one when i came downhill in april 2011--was FUN sailing this boat at 8.4 kts over ground.
normal swell height is 1-2 meters.
then there are storms.....

many sail from pnw to sd before jumping off to hawaii.

if you consider the pacific ocean is one stretch of fetch from japan to kali, mebbe the natural swell height will be better understood. going to hi from sd is easy, per a new sailorette who did it in a cal 28, as it is essentially downhill run.

passage weather is a good place to begin planning your route--watch the flow of currents and follow the swell heights, then figure your best route. you might want to check out the cornell book for recommended routes, as well
 

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Won’t the waves from that typhoon/super storm that hit the Bering Sea be working their way down about the same time that this boat will be in the trades? I would guess that they would manifest themselves as a pretty significant secondary wave pattern which at best would give the helmsmen a pretty good workout and at worst disrupt the trade wave pattern enough so it would be hard to surf on multiple successive swells. I haven’t heard any surf reports for Mavericks yet, but I’m guessing the big waves will start to show up there in a week to ten days.
 

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World cruising routes book indicate that it was a fair month to do it and pilot charts didn't present any obvious concerns as dominant wind is ENE and seas are moderately high but fine. They don't seem to reflect conditions generated by an El Nino year. Waves generated by an early storm this week could be really high at the cruising latitude of HI and the current storm is getting way lower than expected; result is that the winds are getting much more finicky and weak or even counter.

One has to plan for extra fuel to go thru the dead zones while bracing for 36h continuous pounding of 3.7m and up to 6m and plus waves at the cruising latitude of Hawaii from South California.
And that for multiple storms with 24hrs break (2-3m waves).

I also imagine that if something must break in an old boat, it will break there.

Would not consider doing it.
 

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just wait a bit

like a few weeks swell isnt an issue after say the first few hundred miles its a non issue for a long passage like that

what you dont want to do ever is leave when a storm or huge swell just hit, you can right after but you will not enjoy the lack of wind and rolly seas...

from experience we often left on long passages like this after a long high or in general terms after a week of steady wind and wave patterns

however I have not done this northern pacific pasage just the south so really throw my comments in the trash

ajajajaja

lastly look at transpac and pac cup weather routing as well as those return sailors/racers use for weather, it will give you an idea of the conditions they look for to go to and from hawaii from the ca coast

(as usual latitude 38 has great articles on passage planning to and from the west coast of the states)

albeit different times of the year
 

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The only thing certain will be that the weather and swell conditions will change once your are out there. Sure, conditions could get a lot worse, or for that matter a lot better as well.
wise words...as its the only truth...

whenever we crossed an ocean or a long passage just plan to leav in good or as good as can be weather because the initial days can make or break even the most seasoned sailors

leave on a good day...usually I prefer to leave on a windy day doesnt matter when or where it motivates me and fills me up with good vibes so to speak

then after a day or so you will usually lull and roll around then after say 200-300 miles you are in the zone wind wise and your goal there is to stay in that belt of wind so to speak...trades or not.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you folk.
This became irrelevant. My only crew has been convinced this passage was not safe and bailed on me.
I brought the boat in Mexico and will wait for Spring and better\more crew :) for the HI passage.
 
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