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Eastbound Pacific Crossing - Singapore to N. America

By Sue Richards last modified Oct 20, 2010 09:48 AM

Published: 2010-10-20 09:48:15
Topics: Pacific Crossing
Countries: Singapore

See Summary after the trip at bottom.

Dear Mr. Cornell:

We are struggling with getting back to N. America from Singapore, after 9 years cruising eastabout. As to which coast of N. America, we have children on both coasts, so are ambivalent on this - however, as we have departed Singapore heading east, I guess we are looking at the Pacific coast.

I pour over World Cruising Routes - and am stymied. We had originally planned a west-about return (Bali-Chagos-Seychelles-Madagascar-Capetown-Caribbean) following your routes but have demurred, given much negative anecdotal evidence about the Seychelles-Madagascar passage (Aug-Sep), along with the Madagascar-Richards Bay (Oct), run.

The taking of the yachts near Aldhabra of the Seychelles and the publicly stated intention of the Somalian pirates to seek revenge against Americans has pretty well provided the coup de grace to our Indian Ocean alternates - although we could perhaps go Chagos - Mauritius - Richards Bay; after rounding the eastern side of Borneo. We are currently on a beam reach along the northwest of Malaysian Borneo, heading for Kota Kinabulu and an inland visit to orangutan reserves.

Then we focused on Singapore-Philippines-Japan-Pacific NW routes, but again we are receiving a lot of anecdotal horror stories of PN72 passages, even with a July departure from Japan.

I cannot find a link in WCR to comfortably get from NE Borneo down to New Zealand, from where we could pick up PS 67 (although it too has its gales, eh?). (My apologies for the "comfortable" criteria - I guess I have gotten older while we have been out here!).

Am I missing something? Any suggestions as to which alternate (new or old) might be more comfortable?

The boat is a 1974 Camper-Nicholson 48' motorsailing ketch; far sturdier than her crew I believe.

Assuming we stay headed for the west coast of N. America - can you compare and contrast the alternates? We have read your routes Philippines-Japan-Pacific NW - and are willing to undergo the N. pacific if that is our final answer. I have struggled trying to find a good way from the Philippines to the S. Pacific - your input would be most welcome. Patricia just is not comfortable with N. Pacific route.

Steve Lochner


If you had read all that anecdotal evidence 10 years ago, you'd still be back home! Believe me the sitation is not that bad.

Whenever I give this kind of advice, I ask myself; what would I do in this situation myself. Well, the answer is now easy: with your boat and with family on the wet coast, just continue going east!

I describe in WC Routes a motorsailing route going east in the N. Pacific just north of the equator, taking advantage of the east setting current, and motorsailng in the light winds. As you are in N. Borneo you already have a great head start. So, fill up with fuel (maybe take a few additional jerrycans) and head east.

You have some great places to stop by in Micronesia whenever you need to pop north to pick up fuel. Your best bet is to go north to Hawaii at some stage... maybe continue as far as Palmyra, and from there it will be a beat to Hawaii (I did it in 1999), unless you continue about 200 miles east of Palmyra (still on the old track) and then head for Oahu when you judge to have gained a reasonable angle to the NE winds.

If you can do it soon-ish, you should be able to make it to the west coast by September.

Good luck!

Jimmy Cornell

Posted October 12, 2010

A little over a year ago, we were in Singapore, struggling to find a route back to N. America, and had a series of e-mail communications with Jimmy Cornell regarding possible routes. I thought I would just take a moment to touch base and thank him again for his assistance.

We ended up taking the Japan to Alaska route; 22 days from Yokohama to Adak in the Aleutians. We left Japan on August 2, 2009. I would recommend an earlier departure date - as we were running from developing lows much of the time. Fortunately, we did not encounter a typhoon per se, but an earlier departure would have been better. I believe we were the 9th and last boat to clear into the USA at Dutch Harbor last summer.

I think we made an error in trying to follow the Japanese Current - and not taking the more direct route. Again, an earlier departure from Japan would probably mean lower risk of typhoon, and give the cruiser time to go more north, perhaps even stop in Petropavlovsk.

Following the Current east from Yokohama, we encountered a number of calms, as well as a lot of lows coming across from Siberia. My weather router, while well-intentioned, did not work out very well; the communications schedule was just very impractical for our boat during this passage. There is a most knowledgeable meteorologist currently working for the NWS in Kodiak who, if contacted, would be a wonderful resource for anyone considering this passage.

Thanks again for your time and thoughts of last year.

Steve Lochner