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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
I am a long time reader, first time poster on sail net.

I am considering doing a sailing trip as crew on a Alberg 35 from San Diego to Honolulu. We want to leave on February 20th. With that said, I am wondering how to best plan for weather and estimate the time it would take. Should we sail north or south or west or what to catch the best weather? Is there a good weather website to find this information for this time period. (I am not the captain and he may already know this but I am trying to see how I would plan the trip if I were going solo)

I am in the military and I am taking leave from 18 Feb- 17 March (26 days) but I have to work on 18 March so I need to fly from Honolulu back to Texas on the 17th.

I know that passage times vary from about 17 days to 30 or more. Just trying to figure out if I should go for it :)

What do you guys think? Good or bad time to attempt this?

I have an RYA coastal skipper certification and an ASA basic certification but not a whole lot of knots under my belt.

Patrick
 

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Hi all,
I am a long time reader, first time poster on sail net.

I am considering doing a sailing trip as crew on a Alberg 35 from San Diego to Honolulu. We want to leave on February 20th. With that said, I am wondering how to best plan for weather and estimate the time it would take. Should we sail north or south or west or what to catch the best weather? Is there a good weather website to find this information for this time period. (I am not the captain and he may already know this but I am trying to see how I would plan the trip if I were going solo)

I am in the military and I am taking leave from 18 Feb- 17 March (26 days) but I have to work on 18 March so I need to fly from Honolulu back to Texas on the 17th.

I know that passage times vary from about 17 days to 30 or more. Just trying to figure out if I should go for it :)

What do you guys think? Good or bad time to attempt this?

I have an RYA coastal skipper certification and an ASA basic certification but not a whole lot of knots under my belt.

Patrick
As for weather, go to the NGA web site and down load the Pilot Charts for the North Pacific for February and March. I think you'll find you are a tad early in the season in February. You might also check the Transpac Yacht Club web site for information available on the planned 2013 race, in July. (One concern is the possibility of encountering debris from the Japan Tsunami.) From San Diego you're looking at about 2100 miles to Hawaii. You can do the math, eh?
 

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x62617, what the Pilot Chart is indicating is that 30-40% of the time, the wind will be favorable. That means 60-70% of the time it will not be favorable. Remember, during the winter time, clouds over Hawaii become storms in California. In the Pacific, weather moves in cycles of 4-6 days between storms, which is consistent with what the almanac (what a Pilot Chart really is) is telling you. It is also saying that you will be sailing in a cross-current. Down-load the Pilot chart for July to see why that is the month most mariners prefer to head towards Hawaii. Pilot Charts don’t give you everything, you should also be working with a weather router or at least looking at NOAA’s GRIB files if you are a proficient weather forecaster. As you will be sailing towards weather, you don’t have very many options in the Alberg to sail around on-coming storms. Fortunately, it has a good reputation and if the boat is well prepared you should have nothing more than a very rough (and probably miserable) passage. Your only option to avoid weather is to head south. You might want to take your passport in the off chance something bad happens and you wind up in Mexico.

As you are only one week away from your trip, I’m assuming that you are looking for validation more than anything. When I raced to Hawaii in ’08, we made it in 12 days (we took 2nd place) and sailed under spinnaker for 10 of them. What kind of sail inventory is the Alberg taking? How many helmsmen and what are their experience levels? I guess that your average VMG is going to be somewhere between 4 and 5 and, I think your passage will be more like 20 - 24 days. Of course, I know nothing about this particular vessel and crew so if you would be so kind and supply me with some details so I can become more optimistic.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The captain is experienced. He is an instructor or training to be an instructor right now. Also he is a Naval Academy grad with experience on navy ships (not sure if that translates to sailing vessels but it's something). I know he has sailed extensively in the Pacific near Japan on a bristol 32 but I don't know what his off shore sailing experience is. He told me he expects it to take 20 days. He is going to continue on the trip all the way to Japan via Hawaii and Guam. I don't know if he has any other crew yet. I don't know what his sail inventory is. The boat has an auto helm.

Looking at the Pilot Chart... July is definitely preferable.

I am not able to read weather charts but I will take a look at the NOAA website later.

I am dying to get some sailing in and ready to pull the trigger on these plane tickets to California but I'm worried about getting back in time. So yes, you are right, I am looking for validation. The captain is going to call me tonight to go over more details. I'll ask about the route, weather forecasts, other crew, etc.
 

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S/V Lilo, Islander 32
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I don't have much to add on the timing and the trip, but one thing that stands out to me... Being the military, what happens of your late? Things can and do go wrong, and can lead to trips taking way longer then expected. Another Sailneter (vega1860) made the trip from Hawaii to Washington a few years ago, and I think it took them something like 50 - 60 days, double their estimate IIRC due to an issue with their forestay and not being able to use their headsail most of the way.

Usually I'm on the "just go for it" side of things, but I'm curious. Should something happen and your late getting back, do you end up arrested for being AWAL? Or is there some understanding with your superiors that this could happen?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Technically I would be AWOL but if I tell them the risks of being late and keep in contact they will not classify me as AWOL.(it is a pain in the ass to do the AWOL paperwork believe it or not) AWOL soldiers are not arrested immediately. A warrant for their arrest is initiated after 30 days of being AWOL, assuming the commander does the paperwork on time.

If I am late and they know the reason then I will just get a slap on the wrist and they will charge me leave days and probably chew my ass. Nothing too bad but I just don't like being "that guy".

I think I will request more days than I need and if I make it back I will sign in early and not be charged all the days I requested. I am rationing the leave that I have built up because I am getting out of the military in a few months and would like to take it all at the end so that I can still get paid while I transition into my new job.

Patrick
 

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S/V Lilo, Islander 32
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Good to know there's some room for being reasonable there. A long time ago I had a friend in the reserves who loved it when they got to go chase down AWOL folks. :) Just made that come to mind.
 

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x62617, How well do you know this particular Alberg and its skipper? Were they and you referred to each other or is this trip in response to an ad? Have you seen pictures of the boat in question? You really need to ask a lot of pointed and detailed questions concerning this trip. Things, like “what is your energy budget”, and is the boat only equipped with an auto helm or is there something like a Monitor Wind Vane? What is the watch schedule and what exactly will be your duties and responsibilities? Everyone going through the Academy has to take some sailing training. How far did your skipper go? Was he a watch captain on a 44 or higher? Did he spend his junior summer racing? I occasionally sail with an Academy grad – The USNA is no guarantee that he is “god’s gift to mariners”. I’m not saying don’t go, you just need to have your eyes wide open. Here is a little picture taken not too far off the coast in California in mid March and during one of those lulls between late season weather systems. Are you ready for three weeks of this?

 

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Seconding George's concerns.. not to discourage adventuring but heading out to sea on a boat you don't know with a crew/skipper you don't know can be a recipe for great discomfort at the very least. ( of course you two could be lifelong buddies... we just don't know.....)

There's not another more 'escape proof' environment....
 

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Barquito
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Lack of wind may not be a problem on this passage. However, you might want to discuss what capacity he has for extended motoring, if you can't maintain an average speed you agree upon.
 
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