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Vancouver to San Francisco in September - Further Comment

By doina — last modified Mar 02, 2009 09:00 AM

Published: 2009-03-02 09:00:25
Topics: Pacific Ocean East
Countries: Canada , USA

We plan to sail from Victoria to San Francisco in mid/late September 08. We would choose to go 50-100 mi offshore. We have a Hanse401 and a reduced (mom & dad) crew with limited offshore experience. Any advice on the weather or other concerns at that time of year.

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Late August or early September is still ok to head south, but you need to keep an eye on the weather. You are absolutely right to go immediately offshore and stay in deep water.

What concerns me is the comment that your crew has limited offshore experience. How limited is... limited? Under good weather conditions this should be an easy trip but what concerns me is that if the weather deteriorates and you are under pressure from your crew to run for shelter, most ports along that coast are dangerous to enter and you may be much safer staying offshore... but, as I said, your crew may not like that option. What then?

Jimmy Cornell, noonsite

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From: "Amgine"
Date: Sat, February 28, 2009 11:17 pm

I've been planning this passage for some time, and have spoken with a couple dozen crews, including commercial crews and yacht delivery, who have done it as well as examined logs and gps tracks.

The fastest and most comfortable passages southbound appear to be moderately off shore - 20 to 50 nm - and not 50 to 100 nm. This moderate offing avoids the current back eddy along the state of Washington coast which sometimes forms in October, and gets the maximum benefit from the current. Although the wind does average a bit higher in this belt, the waves actually tend to be somewhat lower according to the NOAA daily observations.

Anecdotally, further off shore boats report more rain. One boat following a longitude southward reefed down leaving Cape Flattery and never set full sail until entering San Francisco, and made a very slow passage of 31 days.

In shore boats who sailed from port to port, waiting for clear weather windows to make day-long passages, reported the longest time en route. All of them were storm bound in ports at least once, and all took more than 30 days to make the voyage. One boat was trapped inside the Columbia River Bar for 2 weeks, and gave up going south to spend 2 months cruising up the river before returning north to Puget Sound and Seattle.

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