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Old 09-13-2014, 06:26 PM   #1
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Sailor headed south in a Trawler. Help!

Ive been a sailor all my life, and I have a 50 ton license. Ive been up and down the West Coast from Seattle to Cabo and across the ocean to Hawaii, Australia and so on. What i haven't done is to drive around the oceans on a power boat.

In October, my girlfriend and I are planning to spend a few days or a week in the San Juans, then point the boat South and get her home to Alameda where we will keep her as a live aboard and probably cruise around the Bay and Delta some. Im not sure how much use the boat will actually get, but I couldn't talk her in to living on the Sailboat any more, so this iso how we compromised.

The boat is a 44 foot Nova Sundeck Trawler with twin Volvo 165 hp diesels. The survey looks good, with a few little issues which I plan to address as we get acquainted with the boat inside the sound. I think she can make something like 10 kts. max, so Im using a number like 7-8 kts. as a cruising speed. I think in reality she may do a bit better. If we plan to hit a harbor each night and be inside and tied up before dark, it means we have to do about 100 miles a day, which looks easy enough. I'm planning to avoid the Columbia Bar, and Cape Mendocino, as I know them to be crappy areas for boating, and Im sure that the folks around here will have suggestions where we should and should not go under any conditions. I'm also hoping to have an experienced power boat captain with me. Still looking around among my sailing friends to see who might have this (dirty secret) skill set, and also be willing to take the trip with us.

Assume that I know something about the coast and about weather, but that I know nothing about this type of cruising. What can I expect? How big of seas are too big? How will a boat like this handle in cross wind? Should I remove all the canvas from the bridge to reduce windage, or do I need to be up there to steer the boat all the time?

Your thoughts?
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Old 09-13-2014, 09:57 PM   #2
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100 miles a day will be tough to make. Plan for 60 and if you get 80 your doing good. Good Luck!
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:14 PM   #3
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Nice looking boat. If 7-8 knots is your cruising speed then I agree the 100 miles is too optimistic and 70 to 80 more in line as a maximum.

As far as the rest, a lot depends on the weather and the conditions. If it's like it is today in the 70's, I'd want it open. I don't think though that the windage is as much an issue as just potential annoyance. I don't know how wet the windshield gets in rough conditions and whether that might drive you up.

The only other thing I noticed is that I would go to extra lengths to make sure the rib is very secure. It appears very close to the water and especially if you're getting hit on the stern by waves, I could see some problems there. But recheck it regularly as well.

I would think it could be a very enjoyable trip on that boat. As to conditions, I'm assuming it doesn't have stabilizers and a large swell might cause a lot of rocking depending on how it's working with or against the wind waves. Today was nice and the next week or so is. 3 foot waves and 3 foot swells at 7 seconds should be no problem. When it gets to something like 5 foot waves and 5 foot swells then that could make for a pretty miserable day and a time you'd prefer to stay ashore. 10 hours of that would make a very long exhausting day. Often the swells are at such long periods though in that area as to not be bad. Then there are the conditions under which you clearly would not want to be out there which in our limited time in the PNW we've seen a good bit off the coast and that is 6 foot wind waves and 10 foot swells at 12 seconds or something similar.
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Old 09-14-2014, 12:09 AM   #4
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We are already planning to remove the RIB for the trip. As it stands, a good wave would fill that thing and tear the transom off the boat. Definitely not an ocean going arrangement. I will probably load the outboard and all the gear in the Lazzarette and strap the dink in the cockpit or on the sun deck. The problems with the transom will be addressed in a more permanent fashion when we get home.
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Old 09-14-2014, 01:53 AM   #5
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One question here. If I can make 8 knots for 12 hours, why am I being optimistic about 100 mile days? is it that much more exhausting being on a power boat? Maybe Im missing something, but on a sailboat, we do days and weeks without stopping. Usually we do long deliveries with a crew of four or five, each person doing a four hour watch with two hours on the wheel and two hours supporting the other crew member. Is it impossible to do long stretches on a trawler, taking shifts on watch?
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Old 09-14-2014, 06:25 AM   #6
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Not impossible at all to run 12+ hour days and make your goal. Bear in mind that the ideal weather window for southbound transit is closing; an October transit could be beautiful, or really crappy and uncomfortable.

The 44 above should make the trip just fine.
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Old 09-14-2014, 08:18 AM   #7
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8 knots in that boat is most likely very doable....doing 8 knots for 12 straight hours may be the issue.

There is usually a little slower speed at some point whether just in/out of marinas, harbors, waiting for bridges, traffic etc....

Then there's current, wind and sea state that may slow you a little bit...but even a half knot over a 12 hour day is like adding almost another hour to the trip....but hopefully you already know that as an experienced sailor.

Not sure why...but I'll take a stab at the question in the frame that just because it's a powerboat with two big engines compared to what you are used to...it's still a slow boat for the most part.

I think once you get comfortable with the boat and see what cruising speed she really does...and even a sprint speed you may need for some legs of greater distance..you can plan a bit better. Obviously even a knot or so can mean the difference in shooting inlets in light or dark which it sounds like you are concerned about.
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Old 09-14-2014, 09:28 AM   #8
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The real issue on that trip, time wise, is the distance between harbors that you are comfortable entering, and going into a new-to-you inlet at night is not a great idea. The Columbia bar is one of the better entrances, especially on a slack or flood tide and calmer conditions. It's bogeyman reputation is based ebb tide in bad conditions. I'm more afraid of Tillamook or the rightly infamous Depoe Bay, to name two. Taking a few days on a car trip and visiting the various ports, obtaining local knowledge, is fun. And/or call ahead and talk with the local station of your towing company and the CG.

The quartering seas you are going to get will have more effect on a square-stern boat than your sail boats, so get some experience for you and the autopilot dealing with that. Thousands of recreational boats like yours, and smaller, have made this trip happily. Be patient, choose your weather, do your research and have a great time!
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Old 09-14-2014, 10:05 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Lutarious View Post
One question here. If I can make 8 knots for 12 hours, why am I being optimistic about 100 mile days? is it that much more exhausting being on a power boat? Maybe Im missing something, but on a sailboat, we do days and weeks without stopping. Usually we do long deliveries with a crew of four or five, each person doing a four hour watch with two hours on the wheel and two hours supporting the other crew member. Is it impossible to do long stretches on a trawler, taking shifts on watch?
You could run 24 hours per day subject to weather. However, you talked about dipping in and out to marinas for the night. This time of year, daylight is about 12 1/2 hours in the area you're going to be traveling and it's shortening. You indicated you wanted to arrive before dark. Now, timing crossing bars may come into play, early morning fog. Also the marinas are not going to be precisely placed at 12 hour intervals. You may have one at 83 and the next at 140 or one at 80 and the next at 106 but the time at which you'd hit the 106 to enter is not good for crossing the bar. Also, are we counting trip miles as in miles nearer your destination or total miles for the day. I figure 30 minutes in the morning until you're out and back on the open water and probably heading in 30 minutes to an hour before darkness in the evening. That cuts your day to 11 hours or so of southward movement. Plus there is time fueling and adding water.

Just as a hypothetical, since I had the information readily available, I had you making it to Westport over some number of days. Then Tillinook is 83 nm, with Yoquina 140, so you make it 83. From Tillinook you have a hard decision as Yoquina is 57 but Suislaw is 97. Let's say you get a very early, maybe pre-dawn start and go for Suislaw. Port Orford is then 80 or Gold Beach 101. You settle for Port Orford after the long day before as you need to fuel. From there Crescent City is 65 or Eureka 150, so you make Crescent City and then the second day 85 to Eureka. From Eureka you decide you want to go 115 to Fort Bragg. This requires starting two hours before dawn. Then 75 to Bodega Bay.

And all that is a delivery pace, not enjoying any of the ports along the way. But you made 83, 97, 80, 65, 85, 115, and 75 nm on that stretch.
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Old 09-14-2014, 10:50 AM   #10
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You could run 24 hours per day subject to weather. However, you talked about dipping in and out to marinas for the night. This time of year, daylight is about 12 1/2 hours in the area you're going to be traveling and it's shortening. You indicated you wanted to arrive before dark. Now, timing crossing bars may come into play, early morning fog. Also the marinas are not going to be precisely placed at 12 hour intervals. You may have one at 83 and the next at 140 or one at 80 and the next at 106 but the time at which you'd hit the 106 to enter is not good for crossing the bar. Also, are we counting trip miles as in miles nearer your destination or total miles for the day. I figure 30 minutes in the morning until you're out and back on the open water and probably heading in 30 minute.
oh so true!
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Old 09-14-2014, 12:03 PM   #11
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Don't know the area at all, but when we are in a delivery mode we find it easier to leave early (pre-dawn) from an anchorage than from a marina. Thus if you want to make 115 miles in a day you can leave an hour/two hours before Sunrise.

Your goal of 80 miles a day will not work if you have to refuel in route as the fuel docks are typically open later than dawn and close before sunset. Thus on one day at least you will be losing three to four hours waiting for the fuel dock.
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Old 09-14-2014, 01:57 PM   #12
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Don't know the area at all, but when we are in a delivery mode we find it easier to leave early (pre-dawn) from an anchorage than from a marina. Thus if you want to make 115 miles in a day you can leave an hour/two hours before Sunrise.

Your goal of 80 miles a day will not work if you have to refuel in route as the fuel docks are typically open later than dawn and close before sunset. Thus on one day at least you will be losing three to four hours waiting for the fuel dock.
Anchorages of any type are very few and far between, and calm protected ones even rarer.

Most of the harbors listed by B and B require local knowledge in all but the calmest conditions for first-time visitors.
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Old 09-14-2014, 02:11 PM   #13
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Most of the harbors listed by B and B require local knowledge in all but the calmest conditions for first-time visitors.
And those are the bigger harbors. Not at all like the east coast. We've found too that the best sources of local information are fishermen and other commercial users. Personally, I would try to spend more time at some of these places. But if I was just going to go in and out and if I could find crew then just going 24/7 might make sense.
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Old 09-14-2014, 03:02 PM   #14
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As has been mentioned above, the weather window for trips down the coast is starting to close. You could be in for a very uncomfortable trip. We made a trip in June, 2013 from Seattle down to Stockton, CA on a 58' Bayliner. Here's a link to a thread on that trip that you might find interesting. Journey of a Lifetime

I wouldn't let the Columbia Bar or Cape Mendocino scare you away. We crossed the bar twice (in and outbound) and it was a non-event. The ports along the WA coast are few and far between. We were cruising at about 10-13kts and cruised long days.

We did go into ports every night because we felt cruising at night was just too dangerous. I didn't want to be the one who had to go beneath the boat, in the dark, in the waves, to cut a crab pot line out of the props and rudders.

Just a thought....if you're going to make the trip without a RIB, please rent a life raft. I think you can pick one up in Seattle and return it there via truck freight when you get to CA. Had I known the boat owner didn't have a life raft on board I wouldn't have made the trip, but we didn't find out until near the end of the trip that he hadn't rented one.

If you read my thread and have any questions, just PM me if you want.

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Old 09-14-2014, 04:36 PM   #15
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Just a thought....if you're going to make the trip without a RIB, please rent a life raft
RIB or no RIB, an excellent recommendation.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:06 PM   #16
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A fast reply.

We did the trip the other way - San Fran to Canada.

We elected to run 24/7 as we wanted to capitalize on weather winds when available. Two legs - San Fran to refueling at Crescent City (no bar worries), then Crescent City to Port Angeles.

We just needed to get there - exploring the ports along the way was not the goal.

Yes lots of rolling, so uncomfortable but nothing dangerous.

If you have the same objective, the range, the crew, and the experience, then I would consider 24/7!

(and I really need to do a proper posting of the trip. A take-away.... )
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Old 09-15-2014, 12:17 AM   #17
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We are going to rent a life raft here in the Bay Area and take it up in the car, along with my tools, an anchor, bedding fishing gear and some other stuff. I guess a RIB would be better than nothing, but I don't consider a dinghy on davits equal to a real life raft on any trip.

Looking now for an experienced crew to join me. I think we are going to spend more time in the San Juans, and probably have to break up the trip into two sections. Running 24/7 seems like a more realistic plan since girlfriend may not be aboard, leaving it to me, and two crew members, maybe three...
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Old 09-16-2014, 04:10 AM   #18
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...but I'll take a stab at the question in the frame that just because it's a powerboat with two big engines compared to what you are used to...it's still a slow boat for the most part.
Yes. Basically, my experience has been the stronger the winds the slower end up going, since unlike a sv the winds are not adding energy, but taking it away.
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