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Old 09-27-2019, 05:51 PM   #1
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Small trawler OK to cruise PNW?

At Seattle's TrawlerFest last year, we were told by a number of professionals and trawler owners that a trawler less than 35 feet long was too small to cruise the San Juan and Gulf Islands and into Desolation Sound --- because it would not have the tonnage needed to withstand the wind and waves we might encounter in the Strait of Juan de Fuca or even in the Vancouver roads.

Were we misinformed?

I ask because I have just read a post from a couple who own a 25' motorcruiser and are asking for cruising ground recommendations in the San Juan area. No one replied "Whoa, that boat is too small for cruising this area!"

We'd like to buy a displacement motorcruiser on which we can spend weekends and two to three weeks at a time, but we can't afford a boat over 30 feet, and would prefer one that isn't much over 28 feet.

I am grateful for all comments!
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Old 09-27-2019, 05:55 PM   #2
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We used to cruise from Seattle to the San Juans, Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound in a 26' Four Winns cruiser. A trawler of the same size can handle these waters as long as you don't go out in gale conditions.

Heck, a friend on a 55 OA MK 1 just did a trip up to Alaska and back, and their cruising buddy was on a 27 Ranger Tug.

You can do it!
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Old 09-27-2019, 06:08 PM   #3
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Listening but to a small percentage of people ....general info leads you nowhere..

Design is everything, size is irrelavent.....to a point.

While size matters much of the time, history has shown the right vessel in the right hands can go pretty much anywhere.
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Old 09-27-2019, 06:46 PM   #4
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You were grossly miss informed. You can go from Seattle to Nanimo and never stick your nose out in any serious water. The Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Straight of Georgia must be given some serious respect. However with Apps like Windy and Predict Wind, there is no excuse for getting caught in serious seas. Most of my crossings are in flat glassy seas.
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Old 09-27-2019, 06:53 PM   #5
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I did it 25 years ago -Seattle to Victoria and back- in a 26 foot Regal express cruiser. Looking forward to 2020 and making imilar trip in my Nordic Tugs 32. Someone provided very poor advice.
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:06 PM   #6
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There are hundreds of 25' boats doing this routinely, and even much further north. A smaller boat must pick the weather more critically, that is all. With only a couple of short exceptions, it is protected water all the way to Juneau. The west coast of Vancouver Island is a bit different story, but you will see plenty of small fishing boats out there as well.
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:18 PM   #7
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We've been quite a few places on BC's north coast and as far south as Calvert Island in our 30 footer. Knowing your boats limits, when to find shelter ahead of bad weather, or when to stay anchored an extra day are good skills to foster in a smaller boat.
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:21 PM   #8
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Many years ago, I had a 26' Sea Ray with twin V-6 outdrives. Fast, redundant, and good in choppy water. In the 15 years we had it, we annually went to Desolation Sound and the Broughtons. It's very much the same as running a bigger boat....pay attention to the weather, go when you can and stay put when you should. The brokers you were talking to were hoping to sell you something. Their comments are bs.
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:49 PM   #9
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I've linked Slowboat Webinars so frequently here, I'm beginning to think I should get a cut of their revenues for advertising. Anyways enough of my whining. Rather than me saying your boat is good enough, the link I have provided is a company out of Washington state that takes flotillas up to Alaska. The webinars are good links to familiarization of various areas, suggested provisioning and prepping for Alaska.

There are three individuals in the company and each leads a flotilla up and back from Washington up into Alaska and back down Vancouver Island on the West side, which some approach with "fear and trembling." One of the leaders had taken his 22 foot boat with 90 hp motor up solo into the Northern state.

The link should open at "Is my boat good enough?" for Washington, BC and Alaska cruising: [Jump to the three minute mark]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=JcAvQSdvdyg
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:56 PM   #10
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Of Course

Here's our small trawler just west of Petersburg in Duncan Canal.

And not long before we had our 25' Albin at 1/4 the displacement of the Willard.

It's a bit more like camping.
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Old 09-27-2019, 08:59 PM   #11
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Absurd. That's what you get for taking advice from someone who wants to sell you something. My 41' trawler is the first "big boat" I've owned . I have many summers experience in those waters in sailboats in the 22-30' range. Usually with children.
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Old 09-27-2019, 09:02 PM   #12
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I agree advice of that nature is nonsense.

THEY may not want a boat of less than 35 ft but there are thousands of us that do just fine with smaller vessels. Of course in some conditions 35 ft is still too small.
You must learn to avoid some conditions.
As mentioned you must learn something of the area. Pay attention to the forecasts and the VHF weather and lighthouse reports. Ask locals and those who are travelling what they look for.

Learn to read Tide Tables and Current tables. This is a must IMO. Wind against tide can turn an otherwise decent trip into a miserable experience.


Use one or two of the on line forecasters such as Predict Wind, Windy or Sailflow. Just be aware that there can be local winds that defy predictions. However, in about 5 yrs of using Predict Wind in particular we have learned to mostly trust it. I also use Sailflow and Windy as a cross check. If they disagree much then I will be suspicious.

Last year we went to Barkley Sound through Juan de Fuca Strait and had a good trip.
There was 8-10 swell with a 10 sec interval, some fog and chop but our 32 boat handled it fine. One day we held back when the swell forecast was more like 12 - 13 feet with a less than 10 sec interval. THe others of our group got somewhat beaten up.

I will admit I had a boat problem that forced my decision to hang back. My wife was quite thankful. The day after we made it comfortably.

Desolation Sound and Broughtons have had the displeasure of our visits on many occasions so don't be put off by others comments.

We see ALL sizes of boats down to 25 ft in all these areas and many are not locals.
Just don't be in a rush though to cover a certain amount of territory in a given time. That can be a recipe for trouble. If need be and the weather won't co-operate do as a friend often said,

"Leave something for next year."
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Old 09-27-2019, 09:09 PM   #13
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We have done Desolation, Prideaux Haven et al in our 25' C-Dory powered by a Suzuki 150 outboard. Choose your weather windows, check tides/currents and you will be fine. We crossed the Straight of Georgia from Nanaimo to Pender Harbor without issue. Only big rollers which were not a concern. Upon our return, we crossed from Smuggler's Cove to Nanaimo in utterly flat seas, but thick fog that required we use our radar.

We ran into terrible weather while at the dock in Ganges and just stayed another night. Wandered up to Moby's pub and watched MNF on the big screen. Outside, blowing to 30 knots with rain. But again, I checked it daily and we were snug and safe at the dock.


The San Juans are even more protected cruising. There are some big water crossings, like Rosario Straight, but again check the weather/tides/currents and it's totally doable. Same with the Gulf Islands. I know and have accompanied friends that routinely do the same cruising in 22' C-Dorys.


From Seattle you could route up between Camano & Whidbey, thru Deception Pass or the slow route via La Conner... Either way, you'd be on the door step of the SJ's.



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Old 09-27-2019, 09:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernDiver View Post
At Seattle's TrawlerFest last year, we were told by a number of professionals and trawler owners that a trawler less than 35 feet long was too small to cruise the San Juan and Gulf Islands and into Desolation Sound --- because it would not have the tonnage needed to withstand the wind and waves we might encounter in the Strait of Juan de Fuca or even in the Vancouver roads.

Were we misinformed?

I ask because I have just read a post from a couple who own a 25' motorcruiser and are asking for cruising ground recommendations in the San Juan area. No one replied "Whoa, that boat is too small for cruising this area!"

We'd like to buy a displacement motorcruiser on which we can spend weekends and two to three weeks at a time, but we can't afford a boat over 30 feet, and would prefer one that isn't much over 28 feet.

I am grateful for all comments!



Never been to that area but I know people that have. You pick your times and weather to move. One guy and his son did it on an aluminum hulled fishing boat that was 24', weighed 3500lbs on the trailer, had a small V birth, and a small pilothouse. It cruised 25mph with a 90hp Honda outboard. Another couple I know have done around the world cruises on a 27' Albin Vega including Desolate Sound. I've seen some people's videos and there are guys fishing out of 16' V hull runabouts.


I sometimes think some people say stuff like that to others to keep out anyone that isn't sporting a large half-million dollar plus yacht, or either they are ignorant.
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Old 09-27-2019, 10:03 PM   #15
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As others have said, small boats can cruise those waters just fine. The first time I went to the San Juans was in a 21 sailboat.

Most of the time there is reasonably protected water. Juan de Fuca, Rosario, Haro, and Georgia straits can all be very bad. They can also be flat calm. Ive crossed them in both types of conditions.

It is just a matter of picking your time.
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Old 09-27-2019, 10:05 PM   #16
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Ask the thousands of kayak paddlers who explore these waters on lengthy trips....
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Old 09-27-2019, 10:22 PM   #17
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Ask the thousands of kayak paddlers who explore these waters on lengthy trips....
Or the participants in R2AK, the annual race to Alaska. Starts in Port Townsend and finishes in Ketchikan. many small participants, due to prohibition of power. SUPs, Kayaks, rowboats, small sailing craft of all descriptions. One common thread, they are out to have fun. Usual winner completes the race in around a week. Average finishers complete in around 2 weeks.
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Old 09-27-2019, 10:31 PM   #18
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A fellow Willard owner has spent the last 20 summers or so cruising the PNW on his mid-1970s Willard 30. Top speed: 6.5 kts. The attached is SE Alaska. He also owns a Willard 40 that he keeps on the sea of cortez for winter cruising. I can't imagine he finds his 30-footer too small.

Sounds like you might want to consider the source of the information. Trawler Fest has been owned by passagemaker magazine for 15-years or so and is unabashedly commercial. My impression when thumbing through their pages is modest 30-foot boats are not their target demographic. Click image for larger version

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Old 09-27-2019, 11:41 PM   #19
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Or the participants in R2AK, the annual race to Alaska. Starts in Port Townsend and finishes in Ketchikan. many small participants, due to prohibition of power. SUPs, Kayaks, rowboats, small sailing craft of all descriptions. One common thread, they are out to have fun. Usual winner completes the race in around a week. Average finishers complete in around 2 weeks.
Hmmmm,, it takes nearly 3 days to get to Ketchikan from Seattle on a 10 knot tugboat running 24 hours a day. Gonna be a bit of a struggle to make it in 'around a week' in a kayak or small sailer with no power. Its a 600 plus mile trip depending on the route taken.
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Old 09-27-2019, 11:52 PM   #20
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Hmmmm,, it takes nearly 3 days to get to Ketchikan from Seattle on a 10 knot tugboat running 24 hours a day. Gonna be a bit of a struggle to make it in 'around a week' in a kayak or small sailer with no power. Its a 600 plus mile trip depending on the route taken.


https://r2ak.com/2019-daily-updates/...of-sending-it/
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