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first sailed january 2008
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm starting to watch the noaa charts, so over the next couple of months I get familiar with the weather patterns to hopefully be able to pick a good California window.

Here is today:

Active Watch/Warnings - NOAA's National Weather Service

First off gale warning? In summer, really? I mean c'mon north, central pacific. 40 knots huh? Yesterday there was a hazardous seas warning. I didn't even know they had hazardous seas warnings. Lovely sailing out there I'm sure.

Anyways, besides complaining about the coast, I do have a question in here. As many people have told me, and it is hard to find people knowledgeable about the coast because most people seem smart enough to avoid it, but they say sail 50-100 miles offshore. Now, if you notice the chart, the areas further out from the coast don't have any warnings, even though those close in have small craft or gale.

Is that because:
A. It's good enough conditions to not have a warning, probably because as the air gets closer to shore, land formations intensify it
B. they don't actively monitor it offshore or there are no monitoring stations.

I'd hate to keep watching the charts and build a false sense of security by consistently seeing clear areas offshore, only to discover it's not because of good conditions, but no reporting.
 

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I'm starting to watch the noaa charts, so over the next couple of months I get familiar with the weather patterns to hopefully be able to pick a good California window.

Here is today:

Active Watch/Warnings - NOAA's National Weather Service

First off gale warning? In summer, really? I mean c'mon north, central pacific. 40 knots huh? Yesterday there was a hazardous seas warning. I didn't even know they had hazardous seas warnings. Lovely sailing out there I'm sure.

Anyways, besides complaining about the coast, I do have a question in here. As many people have told me, and it is hard to find people knowledgeable about the coast because most people seem smart enough to avoid it, but they say sail 50-100 miles offshore. Now, if you notice the chart, the areas further out from the coast don't have any warnings, even though those close in have small craft or gale.

Is that because:
A. It's good enough conditions to not have a warning, probably because as the air gets closer to shore, land formations intensify it
B. they don't actively monitor it offshore or there are no monitoring stations.

I'd hate to keep watching the charts and build a false sense of security by consistently seeing clear areas offshore, only to discover it's not because of good conditions, but no reporting.
This site shows conditions off shore.

Northern California NOAA/CDIP Buoy Data

It has been our experience that things off the Northern California & Oregon coast generally start to calm down from about the first of July through September. However, it can get really rough any time of the year.

I made 4 San Francisco to Victoria (Esquimalt) round trips, three in Destroyer Escorts, one in an LST, oh my, about 50 or so miles off the coast, and got the stuffing kicked out of us on every trip. I learned that LST's bend in the middle, a lot. :D

Paul T
 

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Worst trip we ever made - Neah Bay to Eureka in September
Ah, yes, it can be very rough anytime. Generally, it can be rougher than rough in the late fall, winter, & spring, doesn't leave much left over. At least you were going downhill, not to minimize it in any way. :D

Paul T
 

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first sailed january 2008
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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Great.....

I really should have titled my post:

Understanding Noaa maps and forecasts for offshore sailing. As a matter of fact I'm going to see if I can go back and change it.

July to late august is when I plan to go. Close to shore seems to have some benefits, but the negatives also appear to outweigh them

Near shore
+chance to seek shelter
Chance to park and sleep
Access to supplies if there is a boat problem
More peace of mind, knowing that land is near

- chance of getting blown into rocks(lee shore)
Chance that if I need to seek shelter, I can't, because harbor entrances are closed
Significant distance between shelters, large enough that I feel I may well be far away and
not bother

Offshore
+supposed warmer, less confused, better conditions, less wind
+Better to learn what I really want to learn, which is multiday offshore sailing.
Will be forced to just "do it". Even if I'm scared and even if I'm tired, I will have no
choice, and I believe that although I will be scared, once I learn that I can handle it and
get into a rhythm, I know I can do it. Plus, I don't want to have this be something I
can't do. Admittedly I wish that I was starting in an easier place, but I'm not.
+no land to run into! sounds goofy, but isn't running aground the number one sinker of
boat not at dock?
+able to get into a sleep, wake, sail pattern.
+less traffic

-no haven to bail out if I just can't do it or need repair
?

im also listening to any advice on things you think should do to the boat or must have. Here is my short list or what I have that I consider essential

New heavy cloth sails
All new standing, running rigging and deck hardware. Standing rigging one size larger than original
Ais
Gps plus two backups
Offshore foul weather gear
 

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I've done both North and South several times. Latest end of Oct. Big mistake. I prefer about 30 miles offshore.Figured no rocks there and potentially rougher further out. GPS and AIS must make it a snap today. Just guessing.
 

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I'm expecting to wake up tomorrow, when more peeps are checking sailnet and have just loads of encouragement, tips, and positive experiences.
Well, sorry, but you won't be getting any of that from me... :)

Keep in mind, I've never done the trip you're planning, myself, I only know what I've read, and heard from some who have, and from what I've seen from driving down the coast numerous times... It's no Milk Run, and anyone should find it sobering that one of the finest, most experienced sailors of my generation - Skip Allan - was forced to abandon his WILDFLOWER a few years ago off Northern California, out in Gale Alley, on his return from the Singlehanded TransPac...

But from many of your posts, I can only wonder whether you're really ready for this trip, or fully appreciate the seriousness of it... Doesn't sound like you're gonna have the time to do a proper shakedown cruise beforehand, no? Have you configured a bulletproof companionway/bridgedeck arrangement yet? Figured out how you're gonna approach the sleep issue? And, forgive me for saying so, but it certainly appears you're still a ways off from having the sort of fuller understanding of your boat's systems, etc, than a singlehanded sailor embarking on such a challenging trip should rightfully have...

Now, I'm sure you have your reasons for wanting to get going, but do you really need to do this this summer? The ideal shakedown cruise for you would seem to be a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. Spend the summer doing that, getting the boat fully sorted, and getting a fuller appreciation of the challenges that sailing off the west coast, singlehanded, in a 26-footer can present...

Just a thought, take it or leave it...
 

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I am with Jon with this.

I have been around Vancouver Island over a dozen times.

I have done three Maui to PNW deliveries.

I have many friends who have done the Vic Maui race.

If you have not done a crewed offshore / ocean sail, you should not even consider single handing. I will single hand while coastal sailing - never on the ocean.
 
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What a great Summer we had in 99 circumnavigating Vancouver Island for our final shakedown. Good advice from others here. We had a good offshore trip down to San Francisco with the winds getting up to 40 knots and pooped three times in some large and confused seas. It was about what we expected and prepared for. Having a third crew member really added to our confidence and ability to handle the nasty stuff with confidence.

I believe you are a bit premature in your seamanship development stage for this trip single handed. Not sure what your hurry is? Plenty of fantastic cruising grounds in the PNW and on up to Alaska to develop your skills, get to know your boat and figure out what works and what doesn't.
I really don't want to read another disaster story from somebody who was told how it really is...and ignored sound advice from those that have been there.
 

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In my original post I should have said "about the first of July through September is about as good as it gets", based on my experience. IIRC, the four SF to Victoria round trips, courtesy of the US Navy, I took, were in the middle of July.

As mentioned, we got the stuffing kicked out of us on every trip. Did you know that Destroyer Escorts can run for long periods of time almost submerged? "Where is the bow, can't see it" :D

Paul T
 

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Discussion Starter #15
My hurry, is because I want don't want to stop cruising when the weather turns in the PNW. I also want to be in warmer weather and go surfing again. California also offers me the option next year to sail to Hawaii or Baja. In retrospect I probably should have bought a boat in San Francisco.

I may not be ready, but I'm not underestimating it, believe me. I just think I can do it. Even if I have to hug the coast and wait for days for a couple day weather window and go:

Neah bay, greys harbor, Astoria, Newport, coos bay, brookings, eureka.

I just have to get to San Francisco. I have time to get familiar with the boat, I have two months of all day every day. Maybe even two and a half.

The Vancouver island idea sounds good. How long does that take? I could do it in a month if I didn't stop all the time to smell the roses?
 

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The Vancouver island idea sounds good. How long does that take? I could do it in a month if I didn't stop all the time to smell the roses?
I have done it in two weeks. But I have also turned back three times, twice for weather, one for an alternator failure. The hard part is actually the inside.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The inside? Because once you past desolation sound there are many gale warnings, all upwind and a lot of passes and rapids you have to cross to get to port hardy?

How is the outside? It looks like it offers the same challenges as the northern US coast, BUT with lots of places to hole up in.
 

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The inside? Because once you past desolation sound there are many gale warnings, all upwind and a lot of passes and rapids you have to cross to get to port hardy?

How is the outside? It looks like it offers the same challenges as the northern US coast, BUT with lots of places to hole up in.
Your assessment of the inside is correct.

The outside can quite benign, but it can also be especially nasty. Strong SE or NW winds can make the area from the Brooks Peninsula to Estevan Point extremely rough. Scott Channel with a strong NW is not pleasant.

I usually do an an over night sail from Winter Harbour to Hot Springs Cove via the Brooks weather buoy. That takes me away from the influence of the peninsula. It also means I do not get much of a chance to explore. On the other hand I get to spend time in Barkley Sound.
 

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Northoceanbeach, The difference between “outside” and “inside” is the “outside” is in the synoptic wind and wave pattern. Up in Canada and Washington the synoptic pattern can be as much as 100-200 NM off the coast. This pattern will give you consistency and you can use the GRIBS to forecast the winds. Pay attention to how the upper level high is positioned over the lower level high. If it is on the eastern edge of the lower, you will have gale winds. They will (quaintly) notate this as “Gale Alley” on the GRIBS. The “inside” route is influenced by the land mass and the various points and capes will disrupt the wind and wave patterns well out to sea. Points St George, Arena, and Cape Mendocino are notorious for this. The “inside” route is also influenced by the synoptic pattern too. So if the synoptic pattern is for gales, you will see them here too. Unfortunately, if it is too rough for you to sail in, it is probably too dangerous to enter harbors. The “dog holes” up and down the coast are for waiting weather out and not really refuges in gales. With a little boat like your 26, have you consider the Hwy 5 route? It could be cheaper than the potential damages you may accumulate on the way down?
 
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