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Home » Weather and Routing » Sailing North along west coat of America

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14/07/2010 22:57:39

roland stockham<br>United Kingdom
roland stockham
United Kingdom

Posts: 2
I am going to be heading to Vancouver from the Uk via Panama over this winter. Leaving for the Azors in early Sept then crossing to Caribean at start of december oncehurricain risk isdown. I expect to get through the canal shortly after Christmas and head up the westcoast in Jan/Feb which could mean arriving early March. Whats the weather like off the coast of Oregan and washington in winter/early spring. Do I need to plan to lay up around San Fransico until May/June or do you get long enough spells of settled weather in the winter to keep going. I expect to be doing it 1-2 weeks at a time sailing 100miles+ offshore rather than coastal hops
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20/09/2010 21:18:15

Robin Collins<br>USA
Robin Collins
USA

Posts: 1
I made the passage from Seattle to San Francisco and back to Seattle during the month of April this year, 2010. We were sailing our boat, a 46' Hylas, cutter-rig. The passage in both directions was difficult: 48 kts + going south, 45+ heading back north. The passage is rugged, but doable. Advice:

1. When north of San Francisco up the Oregon and Washington coasts the opportunity to duck into a protected anchorage is very limited during winter and early spring months. Most harbors and ports, and there aren't that many, involve transiting a bar. For example, the bar entrance to the Columbia River (border of Oregon and Washington) is where the United States Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment is located and is renowned for operating in some of the roughest sea conditions in the world. It is also home to the National Motor Lifeboat School, the only school for rough weather and surf rescue operation in the United States. During the spring winter and early spring months the US Coast Guard issues frequent closures of the bar for small craft. For this reason, I would recommend an offshore passage which will provide you with adequate sea room. There is a fair amount of near-shore commercial traffic in addition to fishing vessels galore. You can avoid most of this congestion by staying 40 - 100 miles off the coast.
2. You can make it with 2 crew, but 3 would be better as watches longer than 3 hours can be exhausting.
3. Weather windows of 5-7 days are available, but the weather can change very rapidly.
4. The trip up the Oregon and Washinton coast is characterized by beating, beating, beating at the time of year you considering. Some cruisers heading north up the west coast of the US head first to Hawaii, then to Washington. A longer, but much more pleasant sail.
5. By May 15 all is forgiven and the passage becomes much easier.

Hope this helps.

--
Robin Collins
s/v Mersoleil
Shilshole Marina, Seattle, Washington
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28/10/2010 23:54:31

Bob Lorenzi<br>Australia
Bob Lorenzi
Australia

Posts: 4
Roland,

I sailed from Neah Bay, Washington to San Francisco, California in August, 2008. Most information I was able to garner before leaving Washington alerted me to the fact this passage could be at the very least challenging, if not a down right dangerous. Shipping my boat over the road was my first choice but had insufficient funds. No need to repeat the information Robin provided regarding why sailing a route far enough offshore is a good idea. A downside though is that the farther off shore you are the stronger the wind and bigger the waves. Having sailed the route "downwind" I would never undertake a passage from South to North. In my case wind was 35, gusting to 40 - waves 12'-14'. Granted, the diminutive size of my boat, 27' on deck figures into my thinking. Nearly broached once. I do not know whether a big wave or a broach was the cause, but I awoke after going below for a quick snooze with my boat 110 degrees from vertical. This happened after altering course from dead downwind onto a port tack with the wind 45 degrees aft of her beam. Thought I waited long enough, observed long enough to believe everything was copesthetic before going below. My position was about 80 n.m. west of Cape Mendocino, California. I can honestly say without reservation, after completing one global circumnavigation I have never experienced conditions approaching those encountered during this passage any place else...

If you can afford trucking your boat...

Bob Lorenzi
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29/10/2010 11:46:31

roland stockham<br>United Kingdom
roland stockham
United Kingdom

Posts: 2
Thanks for the info - that as they say 'food for though' particularly the idea that bad conditions start that far south. I was seriously thinking about a truck from San-Francisco but will make more definate plans neare to the time.
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