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Old 10-21-2017, 09:12 AM   #1
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West Coast U.S. Cruising

East coast cruiser here. Thinking of the possibility of buying a boat like a Nordic Tug 37 on the west coast, full time cruising for a few years and shipping back to the east coast afterwards. Seattle and the inside passage are very interesting, but transiting south seems a bit more challenging without an intercoastal-like option. Can a patient boater on a NT 37 safely transit to warmer climes in the fall, or should I anticipate spending winters in the Seattle area?

Matt (in Rhode Island)
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:20 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by mattinri View Post
East coast cruiser here. Thinking of the possibility of buying a boat like a Nordic Tug 37 on the west coast, full time cruising for a few years and shipping back to the east coast afterwards. Seattle and the inside passage are very interesting, but transiting south seems a bit more challenging without an intercoastal-like option. Can a patient boater on a NT 37 safely transit to warmer climes in the fall, or should I anticipate spending winters in the Seattle area?

Matt (in Rhode Island)
Winters in the Seattle or Vancouver Is areas are hardly tough duty. Not like the east coast where freezing conditions persist. We do not winterize our vessel which is in Sidney BC and use it anytime we choose. But, be sure to get a vessel with diesel heat!
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:50 AM   #3
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The weather is nice down here, and the water is warm in the summer, but there are not many cruising destinations and they are long runs. IE, from SD a typical run to the offshore islands, or up the coast to another marina is generally 40 to 90 miles. Also, getting a transient slip or a mooring ball at the island can be difficult in the summer. Personally, if I were going to spend a lot of time cruising I would do it up North in WA/BC.


Don't get me wrong, So-Cal is beautiful and there are great spots to see, I just think a long term cruiser who is not working and has the time would have more to see up north.
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Old 10-21-2017, 11:55 AM   #4
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A patient boater can easily take a Nordic 37 from Seattle to San Diego. You would likely need 30 days to get enough calm weather and you would likely need to run through the night twice.

As said, spending a winter in the PNW isnt a big deal.
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Old 10-21-2017, 12:42 PM   #5
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Speaking as a native California boy, I would instantly opt for keeping in the PNW. It'll take more than a few years to cruise it all. When we lived in Seattle we used our 32' Tolleycraft year around and had a lot of fun.
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Old 10-21-2017, 05:32 PM   #6
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I noticed that Sunchaser mentioned not winterizing his boat. I’d like to know more about that.

My wife and I bought a 2004 Nordic Tug 42 this spring. It’s docked at Cap Sante in Anacortes. We’re from Minnesota and just automatically thought that the boat would need to be winterized.

Do you use the diesel heater for freeze protection or electric heaters? Or are the temperatures mild enough to not require any heat at all?

Thanks!
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Old 10-21-2017, 05:56 PM   #7
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I home port in Comox, BC on Vancouver Island. Have never winterized boats (since 1982). Electric heaters have proven to be enough, with the caveat that if power goes out on the dock, you are not away for too long before finding an alternate source of heat of power hasn't been restored.
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Old 10-21-2017, 06:17 PM   #8
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We have been in the PNW for 3 years. We still work, so we get an 18 day vacation cruise per year. So far we have not been north of Cape Caution. We spend average 2-3 weekends, including a 3 or 4 day weekend, per month in the San Juan and Gulf Islands. This amounts to many days in many places, and just under 200 engine hours per year.

With this exposure, I can say we will be quite happy in this pattern for a few years before we do it full-time. I feel there are more places to go, with a more diverse variety of settings, than the Great Lakes or SE US. Top that off with exceptional wildlife viewing and Canadian hospitality (and a favourable exchange rate).

I think you would really enjoy your time up here if the cooler weather and water suit you.
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Old 10-21-2017, 06:54 PM   #9
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Have to agree with what everyone has said. If you just want to be somewhere warmer, get an apartment or something down south.

Also, the trip south (i.e. Seattle to SD) does not compare to the trip North. Heading North in the late Spring is much rougher, just the direction of the waves, the currents, wind, etc. I have done this many times on a 70' boat that weighs 110 tons. We get sloshed around quite a bit. We almost always have to pull in for days or up to a week along the way due to weather.

If you are close in, which I would be in a boat that size, there are also a TON of crab traps (etc) to avoid.

Keep the boat up North!
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Old 10-21-2017, 08:26 PM   #10
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I noticed that Sunchaser mentioned not winterizing his boat. Id like to know more about that.
It`s kept on Vancouver Isl which seems to have its own micro climate.
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:20 PM   #11
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I commercial fished the US West Coast. From SF south, if there's no storm, the ocean is mostly gentle. Vancouver Island to SF usually is nasty except for brief periods of 4-5 days. Late summer is better. If you want a nice ride, you need to plan on stops while the weather clears. Often in Jan or Feb it never clears. So far with my current boat running off the coast, I was always in small craft warning weather or worse since 2011.
I've wintered in Nanaimo, BC and on the Columbia River near the coast. I live aboard, so the boat's warmer than empty boats. At 0 or a little below, the coldest I measured in the bilge area in an unheated part of the boat was 34F. I only use a small amount of antifreeze in the coolants of 4 engines. Never had a freeze. Water tanks and plumbing didn't freeze either.
Best cold weather heat is diesel, either a stove or hydronic. Fuel's already on board, nothing to haul. Doesn't explode. If you have room, the cheapest is wood pellets or wood if you cut and haul.
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Old 10-23-2017, 06:28 AM   #12
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Follow up question: do most marinas in the Seattle Bay Area keep their water running in the winter?
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Old 10-23-2017, 08:48 AM   #13
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In Bellingham the water is on on all but the coldest days. Usually 3 or 4 days a year. During those days we use what is on board. Anacortes is the same way.
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Old 10-23-2017, 09:52 AM   #14
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Wifey B: Is it hot or cold? To someone from Anchorage or Duluth, MN, then it's hot I guess. To a bikini girl from FLL, it's freezing cold.

However, the PNW cruisers seem to love it there. Go look at some of the normal temps and see if they work for you. High today in Seattle is 62 and low is 47. FLL is High of 87 and low of 78. But heck no, don't winterize. Do protect it. Use it all the time if you can. It's more than fit for boating even if not for wearing a bikini. At 8 knots, you could cruise for years among the islands of the PNW.

Now, about going south. You're right, not the greatest trip. However, don't dismiss all the little towns between Port Angeles and San Francisco. Some interesting stops. You might get stuck somewhere for a while. Big deal. You get to SF and you have the entire bay and the Delta to explore. LA you have Hollywood and Beverly Hills to explore. San Diego you have a great climate but not close destinations. Still a trip south from there takes you to a whole different world.

There's no right or wrong. Just do a bit of research of temperatures and rain and think of your tolerance. I can say this. I don't freaking like cold. But I can also say this. If I lived in the PNW my boat would not get winterized and I'd use it year round. This year, Jan 16-21 all days mid 50's, all nights mid 40's in Anacortes. You button and zip up the bridge, turn the heat on. By noon with heat through the windows you'll be turning the heat off and removing layers of clothes. It will be beautiful. Won't matter the temp outside, as you'll be inside, inside your toasty boat. We use to boat in NC in 40 degree weather during the winter, when we could. Incredible was boating when it was snowing. So, have fun.
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Old 10-23-2017, 11:44 AM   #15
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Winterize? We in SE BC and the PNW don't know what that is.
Neither I nor any of my many boating friends know what true winterizing is, as all we do is to make sure the power to the bilge pumps is properly connected, the shore power is secure, the charger is properly connected, there are not too many loads on the shore power should there be a spell of really cold weather (as the marina may do a selective power reduction in extreme cold), the lines are secure, and we are good to leave the boat for weeks or even months.
The best part is, should there be a break in the schedule, it takes only a few minutes to get ready to go out, so cruising can happen at any time. Winter cruising in my home waters is a wonderful experience. We no longer do a lot of it, as we now snowbird to really warm climes, but while I was still working, we did lots of winter cruises. For over 25 years, we used our boat in every month of the year.
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Old 10-23-2017, 09:26 PM   #16
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In Seattle we have fresh water marinas and salt water marinas.

The salt water drops to 48 degrees in the winter. At salt water marinas, Water is not guaranteed from nov 1 to March 1 but in reality it is always available. However faucets will freeze up for a few days every year. I have never gone more than 4 days with out being able to fill water tanks.

Fresh water marinas are a little different. The fresh water drops to 38 degrees and marina policies are not consistent.
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