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Old 08-11-2015, 05:57 PM   #1
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Victoria, BC to the Sea of Cortez

This weekend we will be departing on quite the adventure in our 1984, 36' Universal Europa Sedan. Picked up the boat in April and have been learning the ins and outs since.

Our intended destination is Mexico and beyond, but we're in no rush to get there. The goal is San Diego by mid-October.

We just came back from three weeks of cruising the Gulf Islands to "shakeout" the boat and figure out what else was needed before we depart. Mechanically the boat performed extremely well though I'm still hunting the source of an oil leak on the 120HP Lehman which is requiring me to add about a quart every 5 running hours. The valve cover bolts were quite loose so they've all been tightened up; hopefully that's the problem. Looks like it's all ending up in the oil pan (and being absorbed by soak-up pads). My next guess is the fuel lift pump, for which I have a spare. The "extended cruising kit" from American Diesel is also on order.

Besides the departure date, we're not on any sort of schedule and I'm going to limit the overnight cruising as much as possible, fully appreciating that it is not completely avoidable, especially once we hit Oregon.

My main "concern" is keeping apprised of weather. I'm not equipped with HF SSB, so I'll be relying on VHF for weather reports. Is it realistic to expect that I could call up another nearby and better equipped boat (commercial or otherwise) to get an update on the weather, if need be? Will I pick up VHF NOAA broadcasts out to 25nm, as they seem to advertise?

I'm also not entirely sure what this boat can tolerate in terms of swell/wind waves or the combination. We saw 4'-6' wind waves up passed Nanaimo for a brief period of time and though we were tossed around quite a bit, there was barely any water on the deck, if any. I intend to keep fuel and water tanks pressed full for maximum stability and wait for optimal weather windows. I spent more than a decade in the Navy, most of it sailing the west coast, so I have a lot of respect for the Pacific.

We just acquired a new 4-person liferaft and EPIRB, so I'm covered there.

Anyone else ever do this trip in such a "small" trawler? Though I'm 36' at the water line, I'm displacing 22 tonnes fully loaded, so I hope that helps keep the ride as smooth as possible. I've read Ken's blog (genesisincalmh2o) and they've done the same trip in a similar boat.

Appreciate your advice and comments.
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Old 08-11-2015, 08:11 PM   #2
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VT, we took a 58' boat from Seattle to Stockton, CA a couple of years ago and I posted a thread about the trip, complete with videos and pics.


Journey of a Lifetime


In post #40 I put up some videos. Check out the one that is titled "Rough Water". It's the 6th one down. That was the roughest water we encountered, but keep in mind we did spend 3 days in ports to avoid the heavy weather that blew through.


We did not run at night. There were crab pots way out beyond the 50 fathom depth line and none of us was willing to go beneath the boat in a choppy sea to cut lines off the props. Two of us out voted the skipper on that one.


Weather reports should be accessible from the USCG stations and some of the fishing vessels out there.


Good job on the life raft and the EPIRB. We did not have one on that trip but I now have a life raft for when we take our boat around the coast and up into your beautiful area.


If you have any specific questions, fire away. May you have fair skies, calm seas and light winds.
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:16 PM   #3
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GFC,

That's a great read. Obviously your boat was larger than mine but the seas you experienced don't look like anything we couldn't handle. Also that was one hell of a pace you maintained!

I'm going to start planning my way down the coast now that most of our pre-departure tasks are wrapped up. Any idea how many nights we'll have to spend at sea (before we get to a place we can pull into) if we can only make good 7 knots?
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:48 PM   #4
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VT, I do my trip planning on Google Earth. It's easy to measure distances along a line or along a path. Google Earth doesn't show any additional information about harbors beyond a sky view picture, but if you use Active Captain you can find TONS of info about the ports, notes on getting into them, what services are provided, etc. Also they post reviews of the facilities by boaters who have been there. It's invaluable when trip planning.


One loooong day you might have is coming down the WA coast. There are a couple of intermediary harbors between Neah Bay and the Columbia River so they will cut down your night travel.


I do have an Excel spreadsheet that I put together before taking that trip that you might want to see. It has a mileage chart for all the ports on the way down the coast (as far as San Francisco) and a workpage that has some notes about what is available at the ports. The material was obtained from Active Captain and it's a couple of years old but it should give you a good base of information.


PM me with your email address and I'll send it to you.


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Old 08-11-2015, 11:15 PM   #5
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Your oil leak may well be the fuel lift pump gasket if it's not the rocker box cover. Those gaskets have a habit of developing leaks and when they do it's like blood--- a little can look like a whole lot. The oil ends up in the drip pan and looks like it came from all over the engine.
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Old 08-12-2015, 12:08 AM   #6
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Vic trawler,
You really should fix that leak, I personally would not want to "have to" top up oil on the trip outside on a schedule. You will need or be ready to run overnight on the trip south on that boat.. It has been some time since I read it but if I recall the boat GFC did this trip was faster and able to make more miles in daylight.
I will be along the lower part ot the same route this fall.. SF bay to so Cal.. then in early Nov. So cal to the Sea of Cortez.
Don't be too reliant on vhf weather.. out on the coast I have found it lacking or out of date and not correct many times. I use Buoy Weather as a app on my phone when there is service and have found it a useful tool and reasonable.

Sounds like a great trip in the making, I will keep a look out for you this fall.
Fair Seas,
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Old 08-12-2015, 04:09 AM   #7
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I am looking forward to reading and seeing the trip
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Old 08-12-2015, 10:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marin View Post
Your oil leak may well be the fuel lift pump gasket if it's not the rocker box cover. Those gaskets have a habit of developing leaks and when they do it's like blood--- a little can look like a whole lot. The oil ends up in the drip pan and looks like it came from all over the engine.
Thanks Marin. Seeing as I have a couple of days before we go, I'll go ahead and replace the pump.
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Old 08-12-2015, 10:20 AM   #9
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Vic trawler,
Don't be too reliant on vhf weather.. out on the coast I have found it lacking or out of date and not correct many times. I use Buoy Weather as a app on my phone when there is service and have found it a useful tool and reasonable.

Sounds like a great trip in the making, I will keep a look out for you this fall.
Fair Seas,
HOLLYWOOD
Then I shall install that app as well! Any idea how far out you can receive a cell signal? I wasn't expecting any at all. I'm planning on picking up an AT&T sim card in Port Angeles. Phone is already unlocked.
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Old 08-12-2015, 10:48 AM   #10
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Among the trip planning things have the bar crossing windows prepared in advance so you can duck in if you need to at the right time. Sounds fun and safe travels.
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Old 08-12-2015, 10:52 AM   #11
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Thanks Marin. Seeing as I have a couple of days before we go, I'll go ahead and replace the pump.
Scratch that. Just pulled the "spare" fuel pump from my stores bin and it's obviously the previously installed pump. Gaskets don't look too reliable. I'll have to wait until I get the new spare in Port Angeles.
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Old 08-12-2015, 11:07 AM   #12
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We did San Fran to Vancouver a few years ago (still have to post out a summary . So many things, so little time.....)

We elected to run 24/7, as bar crossings can often be the worst part. We stopped only at Crescent City for fuel. San Fransisco bar was also one to watch out for. Didn't know that before we started researching the trip. There are some good links online on the San Fran bar. PM me if you can't find them.

Crap pots were unbelieveable in close - even in the day-light. We had to get to over 400' to avoid them. Running further out solved that one.

A rule-of-thumb that seemed pretty good for us is once the wave period is at or below the wave+swell height it is getting uncomfortable. (ie 8' wave+swell on 12 sec period = totally fine, 5' waves on 4 sec period = bad, and so on).

Take *lots* of diesel filter replacements. Older boats - once they get the tanks stirred up offshore - can run through them quickly. We had our tanks polished before we left and still ran through a number.

We never had an issue picking up weather on VHF, and in a few spots (off the more major centers) could get cellular data and web updates.

Yes definitely try to track down that leak. There will probably be other things to attend to once you are out there! I laid down a carpet of white absorbent pads under the entire engine to help track down where a particularly puzzling leak came from. YMMV.

And take tools and spares for everything you can think of! (belts, impellors, hoses, etc, etc).

We installed an AIS before we went. Best thing I have added to a boat. We did also have to run on radar alone for a large part of our trip.

Good luck and have fun!
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Old 08-12-2015, 12:00 PM   #13
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While I have yet to see any real value of AIS for the waters we cruise in, were I planning a voyage offshore and down the length of the west coast I would definitely add AIS to our onboard instrumentation per nmuir's suggestion.
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Old 08-12-2015, 12:09 PM   #14
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Two votes for AIS is enough to convince me. I'm picking up an ICOM-M802 (SSB) today (though I won't have the opportunity to install it until we get to San Diego and I can get an antenna). I'll throw an AIS in the shopping cart while I'm there; doesn't seem like it would be difficult to setup.

Spending a lot of boat bucks these last couple of weeks!

Also, glad to hear that VHF reception should be decent.

I'm also hoping that the huge, "unprecedented," algae bloom off the west coast will limit the crab pots. (Huge bloom of toxic algae hits West Coast)
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Old 08-12-2015, 02:39 PM   #15
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VC,

A more likely location of your oil leaks are the bulkhead fittings where your injector lines pass into the cylinder head. The large round washer is actually a rubber gasket on the back side. I will post a photo of it this evening. It is a major PITA to replace them but you can loosen them enough to apply a good bead of Permatex to the surface.
We will be in Victoria down by the Empress this Saturday and Sunday. Stop by for a beverage if you like.

Cheers,
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Old 08-12-2015, 05:05 PM   #16
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Two votes for AIS is enough to convince me. I'm picking up an ICOM-M802 (SSB) today (though I won't have the opportunity to install it until we get to San Diego and I can get an antenna). I'll throw an AIS in the shopping cart while I'm there; doesn't seem like it would be difficult to setup.

Spending a lot of boat bucks these last couple of weeks!

Also, glad to hear that VHF reception should be decent.

I'm also hoping that the huge, "unprecedented," algae bloom off the west coast will limit the crab pots. (Huge bloom of toxic algae hits West Coast)
Get a Pactor modem as well, it's crazy expensive but worth every penny. I was offshore this spring, and with my 802 and modem (and sailmail, another $250/year) I think I used the satphone to download weather twice. Not only can you easily download weather and grib files via email, the modems have built in weather fax decoders, which I think I used more than anything.

I use a Vesper Marine AIS transponder, which as an added bonus translates NMEA 2k to wireless for use with OpenCPN. It made a huge difference being able to call a tanker by name, and not having to fire up the radar to figure CPAs. The nice thing about the transponder is the traffic can see me as well. I had a few big ships alter course to come check me out as I drifted around becalmed (long story), and when I'm bopping around nearshore the wife can see where I am on marinetraffic.com.

If you have or can get your ham license, the 802 can be put in VFO mode and makes a great radio for checking into various nets. The community of hams is amazing.
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Old 08-13-2015, 10:06 AM   #17
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VC,

A more likely location of your oil leaks are the bulkhead fittings where your injector lines pass into the cylinder head. The large round washer is actually a rubber gasket on the back side. I will post a photo of it this evening. It is a major PITA to replace them but you can loosen them enough to apply a good bead of Permatex to the surface.
We will be in Victoria down by the Empress this Saturday and Sunday. Stop by for a beverage if you like.

Cheers,
Bob & Jill
Thanks Bob. I will keep that one in mind if my other easier fixes haven't solved it.

We are departing Saturday morning, so won't be able to drop in. Enjoy the Empress though!
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Old 08-13-2015, 10:44 AM   #18
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First off, you do not have a schedule, that is good. You can happily sit in port and wait for nice weather days.

If you do this right, and are patient, you will never see rough weather. Just hop from port to port. You do not need to do any long overnight offshore passages.

If you look closely at the trips noted in this thread they were all delivery trips, made by people on a schedule. When you have a schedule to meet you will get yourself into rougher weather than necessary.

You do not need anything special for this trip. No need for HF, or anything other than VHF radio for weather communications. Thats because you do not need to go out of VHF range to make this journey.

Just remember the key concept that this is not a long journey with a destination in mind. It is a series of day trips between harbors. Plan your trips to hit a harbor at a slack tide, or close. If you have to leave a harbor at 3:00 AM do it. It's allot funner to leave a harbor in the dark than pull into a strange harbor in the dark.

People fear the Oregon coast unnecessarily. Thats because they are almost always on a schedule. They go out in rough weather, they get into trouble.

My son spent two years with the USCG as a crew member on one of the motor lifeboats at station Coos Bay Oregon. When I asked him about the Oregon coast his words to me are exactly what I am repeating to you. Do not have a schedule and you'll not see rough water. He said that every SAR case he went out on involved someone going out in conditions that they should have known better.

His advice was to hop harbor to harbor. Day trips. When I take our boat back south (It spent its first 11 years at Newport Oregon) Thats how I'll be doing it.
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Old 08-13-2015, 02:31 PM   #19
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Good advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by ksanders View Post
First off, you do not have a schedule, that is good. You can happily sit in port and wait for nice weather days.

If you do this right, and are patient, you will never see rough weather. Just hop from port to port. You do not need to do any long overnight offshore passages.

If you look closely at the trips noted in this thread they were all delivery trips, made by people on a schedule. When you have a schedule to meet you will get yourself into rougher weather than necessary.

You do not need anything special for this trip. No need for HF, or anything other than VHF radio for weather communications. Thats because you do not need to go out of VHF range to make this journey.

Just remember the key concept that this is not a long journey with a destination in mind. It is a series of day trips between harbors. Plan your trips to hit a harbor at a slack tide, or close. If you have to leave a harbor at 3:00 AM do it. It's allot funner to leave a harbor in the dark than pull into a strange harbor in the dark.

People fear the Oregon coast unnecessarily. Thats because they are almost always on a schedule. They go out in rough weather, they get into trouble.

My son spent two years with the USCG as a crew member on one of the motor lifeboats at station Coos Bay Oregon. When I asked him about the Oregon coast his words to me are exactly what I am repeating to you. Do not have a schedule and you'll not see rough water. He said that every SAR case he went out on involved someone going out in conditions that they should have known better.

His advice was to hop harbor to harbor. Day trips. When I take our boat back south (It spent its first 11 years at Newport Oregon) Thats how I'll be doing it.
One additional comment, As a general rule it is best to get going early and end your day by 3pm or earlier. The wind can and is often localized, so buoy data is helpful. You will have fairly reliable cell service until Bodega bay. from Bodega bay to the gate there is little or no cell service. I personally would be more concerned with getting an early start than bar crossings. You can always contact the Coast Guard for bar information or for that matter an escort if concerned. As Kevin advised night bar crossing can be very stressful, some of the entrances are narrow and an broach into a rock jetty is entirely possible. Better to know absolutely where you are in the channel to lose your boat.
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Old 08-13-2015, 07:21 PM   #20
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Hey Vic,


Have fun on your trip if you get stuck in Ilwaco/Astoria, let us know. You never know, we may bring down some Klondike Ice Cream Bars. Ask GFC.


We used Omni Bob for are weather from SF to the Columbia and I would highly recommend him. He is an expert in what he does.


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