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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some of the boats for sale that most interest my wife and I are located in the San Francisco Bay area. I have quotes now for trucking the boats in question up to the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and the trucking costs are steep, but might be do-able.

The other option is to go for a BFS, or perhaps a "Big Freakin' Motor-Sail" BFMS up the CA, OR and WA coast and bring her home myself. I can get the time off of work to do it, and even if it was monotonous motoring, I would still enjoy the trip. My concern is that this patch of water is renown to be quite unfriendly and the trip would be "uphill" ie, against the prevailing winds and currents.

Anyone with more experience in this area care to comment on this proposed trip? Dangerous? Unpleasant? Just fine at the right time of year?

EDIT: I should add that the boats in question would be pilothouse sailboats with large fuel tanks (150+ gal) with inside steering stations.

MedSailor
 

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Think truck.

Or go way outside - like Hawaii.
 

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Jack, I was hoping you would chime in. :) Why truck? Is the trip unsafe, too much reliance on motoring?

MedSailor
I have not done the trip.

I have a couple of friends who tried it. With the current and wind against it you, the ride is not great. As well between Cape Mendicino and Gray's Harbor, there is no bail out spots available as the harbors have bars and get closed during bad weather.

Both friends trucked up to Seattle. They did have smaller boats: Yamaha 33 and Islander 34 ketch.

Another friend did crew on a boat that made it up. He said it one of the worst experiences he has had.

I have heard of folks that went way out and succeeded, but I have not spoken with them.

On the other hand, boats do come up to Victoria from Portland for the Swiftsure, Vic Maui and Van Isle 360 races.

You might succeed with a good long weather window.
 

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Master Mariner
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I've made the trip many times some 40+ years ago on commercial salmon/crab boats of around 50 feet. If you had the time to do short hops from wx window to wx window, it probably wouldn't be too bad a trip, but on the top (north) end of each wx window, you'd better not be late, unless you'd like to hone your bar running skills. Running a West Coast bar in a gale is truly one of the most exciting and fantastic adventures any 15 year old kid could have, but for anyone who can actually die, not so much.
With a pilothouse and a well found boat with a very reliable engine, I really wouldn't have too many qualms about just buckling down and taking the beating, if I had to, but there's no telling what damage you might do to the boat or what problems might arise, such as dirt in the fuel tanks, etc. Take twice what you might think were plenty of fuel filters, on a trip like that, with a new (to you) boat, anyway! Also, have storm boards made for your pilot house windows, should you decide to make this trip.
 

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Senior Member
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I think that would be my biggest misgiving - aside from the probable discomfort - doing such a trip on a new-to-you-as-yet-unproven-with-who-knows-what-gremlins-will-pop-up boat. A boat that's been for sale for a while is bound to have been to some extent neglected.


Maybe a good litmus test would be to find a seller willing to accompany you on the trip! ;)
 
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how big of a boat are we talking about?
I'd consider going up if the boat were seaworthy, over 40ft and I had all the time in the world. I'd consider trucking if time were any sort of factor.
If you are considering it because you will save money, dont be so sure you'll be saving that much. You could get laid up somewhere, have engine or rigging problems, flights, etc etc on the way up the coast.

A typical owner delivery goes something like this
Owner gets his buddies to help him deliver his boat.
boat leaves (insert name of any port on west coast) and heads north.
Weather gets nasty at some point.
Owners buddies bail on him at first possible opportunity because they are all sick or think they are going to die.
Boat sits at dock until owner figures out new plan.

I personally know boats that have left Santa Cruz on their way to SF and returned days later saying that they only made it a few miles up the coast. The weather can be very unpredictable and hairy. On the other hand some boats have been able to squeak through by having an open calendar and being able to move quickly taking opportunity of weather windows.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Running a West Coast bar in a gale is truly one of the most exciting and fantastic adventures any 15 year old kid could have, but for anyone who can actually die, not so much.
Awesome. I love this. :) Ahhh... to be immortal again. ;)

I think I would only consider this trip if I was sure the boat had clean fuel tanks, a good engine and preferably a dual racor fuel setup. While I can get the time off, I don't have all summer off, and would want to arrange crew, which creates dates and schedules. Schedules and dates would be my biggest worry as they may not coincide with the weather windows...

MedSailor
 

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How it was explained to me is the upper and lower altitude high pressure areas that make up the “Pacific High” weather phenomena sit on top of each other on the eastern edge of the zone creating a funneling effect and concentrating the northerly winds along the coast. I’ve seen this area labeled as “Hurricane Alley” or “Hurricane Gulch” on some charts. I have been told that the best time to make the run north is in the fall when the “High” isn’t so well formed and the prevailing winds are down. If you make it down to the Bay, perhaps we can get together a quaff a pint or two.
 

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Kynntana (Freedom 38)
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If you're considering the water route, why not take along an experienced skipper who can watch for the right weather conditions and hit it hard when things are looking good? I can provide a name for you. He's not cheap, but he's done this trip before and is very thorough in sending check lists on things to cover before you leave. Let me know and I can PM his info to you.
 

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美国华人, 帆船
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I have not done the trip.

Another friend did crew on a boat that made it up. He said it one of the worst experiences he has had.
Damn... I would go in a heart beat. Just want to have the experience. Ok, it may be worse than going the infamous Thorny Path.
 

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MikeGuyver
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122 Posts
I've made this tip twice in both directions. If you cannot wait till August-October, plan on taking it in short harbor hops with a close eye on weather. The bar entrances can get hairy even at slack tide but they are not so far apart that you can't plan 1-2 days between them. Going way out at this time of year only puts you in dangerous seas further from shore. Study Coast Pilot 7 and make sure you have good charts of each port. You will find cell coverage most of the way up but don't rely on it. If I am preparing for this trip I want the diesel tanks emptied, cleaned , inspected and refilled with NEW diesel .
 

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69' Coronado 25
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I have two weeks off in August, that is the prime time to go. LMK
 

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first sailed january 2008
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I'm going the opposite way than you. I'm going from anacortes to San Francisco.

From what I have talked to people about my way is much easier but your way can be done. Especially in a big boat like that. Although it is supposed to be one of the potentially rougher voyages you can make in the mid latitudes.

People are telling me there is a big shelf off the coast an in August if you stay 100 miles off the winds and seas that are 30+ near shore are a more manageable 20+ an the water is much warmer.

There are a good few people on the cruisers forum that have done the trip. I mean one guy I was talking about lives in coos bay oregon. These people sail. It's doable. I think the consensus is just to stay 100 miles off and go.

How much is a truck? I'm going to guess from pickup to drop off in anacortes $10000. Let me know what your plans are. I'll wave to you as we pass.
 

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Water Lover
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We had three friends who tried to take a 44' boat from San Francisco to the PNW in April. They suffered through a miserable, cold, soggy, nasty, sick, wet, wild 36 hours before turning back, later re-doing the portlights and hatches (they learned the significance of opening ports that only dogged on the side opposite the hinge the hard way after everything in the boat got fire-hosed), and later changing plans to take the boat to Mexico for a year. It seems that a few days of a test sail out the Gate during active weather might do a lot to reality-test a planned delivery northward.
Second most dangerous item on a boat: Schedule.
Most dangerous and failure-prone item on a boat: Nut that holds the steering wheel.
 

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Water Lover
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773 Posts
As I recall (no guarantees!), our friend Dan had a Norseman 447 "Sophie" (I could be wrong about some details!), that had openable portlights/windows in the upper hull just a bit below the gunwales; these were hinged at the top and could be dogged with two dogs to seal the ports near the bottom corners. He had the boat for a year or more but likely had never sailed in extreme conditions for very long.

When they left San Francisco in the springtime, at a time that worked with his college son's schedule and another friend's availability [Warning: Schedule!!], they encountered strong winds and rough seas... I'm thinking on the order of 30 kts, 15' or higher combined swells and wind waves, short enough period to impart rather wild motion, lots of spray, bow going down deep into the water, one of the crew seasick and pretty much out of it for the count.

When the bow dove down into the waves, water would spurt into the boat through the top (hinge/undogged upper side) of the portlights/side hatches/small openable windows... when the hull was under water and stressed by motion, there was enough of a gap for a bit of water to shoot in at each dunking. That got just about everything inside the boat wet, including clothing, and was very nasty for crew morale and endurance. In other words, with wet foulies and clothes and no way to keep much of anything dry from the water spitting into the boat, they were rather literally hosed.

After maybe about 24-30 hours-ish of this sort of marvelous ride, they rapidly got to the point of having had quite enough fun and turned back to San Francisco. That's my recollection of the story told by one of the participants.

My takeaways...
- you don't really know your boat until you've experienced it in relatively extreme conditions;
- shakedown trips need to have some "shake" in them;
- maybe it isn't best to be short on crew and to challenge crew who are new to distance voyaging with a violent passage;
- in rough stuff, dry clothing/foulies and a dry, warm sea berth are gold;
- and schedules really are nasty, evil, vengeful, cursed beasties.
 
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