Not So Offshore
In my last post I mentioned I was heading down the coast in a friend’s Baltic 42. The goal was to take it from Vancouver to San Diego so they could join the Baja Haha at the end of October. We allotted approximately 3 weeks for the journey and I imagined that it would primarily be an offshore trip with two or three legs.
Well it turned out that they —and their buddy boat Sea Esta X — decided to loosely follow the “Express Route” as set out in Exploring the Pacific Coast: San Diego to Seattle by Don Douglass and Réanne Hemingway-Douglass. This meant the voyage would mostly be day trips—albeit some fairly long ones— with only a few overnighters.
We got some good downwind sailing and a remarkable amount of motoring. That is, in my lowly opinion, the big downside to harbour-hopping down the coast. The nature of the bars at most of the ports is such that entering and exiting them is often tide and weather dependent: so trying to hit a schedule becomes a bit more important and it’s hard to justify much sailing in light winds.
When we hit Marina del Rey in Los Angeles, it really was time to start taking it easy, so rather than rush the last couple of days to San Diego, I decided to take advantage of the proximity to LAX and fly home from there. Northwest Passage continued on without me and, as of today, I think they still haven’t completed the “two day” trip to San Diego. Good on ’em.
Most of the ports on the pacific side of North America are in the mouths of rivers. This generally means you are negotiating breakwaters, dredged channels and bars. Bars are really what can make entering and exiting these ports uncomfortable or even impossible. Bars are formed by the sediments deposited by the rivers outflow and when the incoming swell hits this suddenly shallow area, steep and dangerous waves can occur. Quite often these bars will be closed to small boat traffic and occasionally they will be closed altogether. That means if you arrive at a bar at the wrong time you can’t come in to the harbour and will have to head offshore again to either wait, or move on to the next port in hopes their bar will remain open. The coast guard is constantly going out in these super tough little aluminum boats (47-foot MLBs) to physically check on the conditions and then report them on channel 16.
We were pretty lucky and got into all our ports without incident, although sometimes in the middle of the night, the middle of dense fog, or in one memorable entry, both. There were numerable small boat closures though.
I blogged about the whole trip in near real time and you can read about it over on macblaze.ca although it intended was more for family and friends and rife with errors and typos. I learned a lot about downwind sailing, saw hundreds of whales, dolphins and sea lions and thoroughly enjoyed myself, with the most memorable moment being alone on deck going around Cape Mendocino at 3 am in 30 knot winds. I’ve also posted a bunch of images at the end of this post.
- Trip length: 29 days
- Travel days: 20 days
- Legs: 16
- Travel hours: 232:25
- Total km: 2392.4
- Total nm: 1291.9
- Hours motoring: 200 hrs
- Fuel used 520 L
- Overnight sails: 3
- Longest leg: 54 hrs
- Ports (marinas): 12
- Anchorages: 4
- Mooring Balls: 1
|1||Granville Island, Vancouver to Shallow Bay, Sucia Island (via Point Roberts)||84.4||45.576||5:00|
|2||Sucia Island to Anacortes, Washington (via Vendovi Island)||45.7||24.678||5:20|
|3||Anacortes to Neah Bay||165||89.1||15:40|
|4||Neah Bay to La Push (around Cape Flattery)||76.1||41.094||7:25|
|5||La Push to Westport Marina, Gray’s Harbor||130||70.2||12:25|
|6||Gray’s Harbor to Newport, Oregon (overnight)||271||146.34||25.75|
|10||Newport to Charleston Marina, Coos Bay||151||81.54||13:45|
|13||Coos Bay to Noyo River Basin Marina, Fort Bragg, California (around Cape Mendocino; via Crescent City)||498||268.92||54.00|
|16||Fort Bragg to Bodego Bay||166||89.64||16:25|
|17||Bogego Bay to Pillar Point Harbour, Half Moon Bay||120||64.8||11:45|
|18||Pillar Point Harbor to Moss Landing||114||61.56||10:50|
|20||Moss Landing to Morro Bay||212||114.48||20:50|
|24||Morro Bay to Cojo Bay (around Point Conception)||141||76.14||11:45|
|25||Cojo Bay to Santa Barbara||71.6||38.664||7:10|
|26||Santa Barbara to Ventura||43.6||23.544||4:00|
|27||Ventura to Pacific Mariners Yacht Club, Marina del Rey||103||55.62||10:20|
Google My Maps version
Google My Maps seems to need a Google account to access it, although I can’t prove that. But zoom in if you can and check out some of the harbour entrances and remember most of them were done in the fog or the dark or both.