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Old 09-19-2021, 11:44 AM   #1
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Winter Cruising in the PNW

To introduce my family to trawler cruising, I'd like to charter a 3-cabin Selene over the Christmas holidays. The only ones I can find are in Anacortes. If all goes well, I'm hoping to buy one next spring. The weather looks cold there in December, and they are fair weather fans. Is it generally too cold to enjoy cruising there during Christmas week?
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Old 09-19-2021, 11:57 AM   #2
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If the boat has diesel heat then no problem. The real problem will be all the rain. Bring lots of indoor games.
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Old 09-19-2021, 11:59 AM   #3
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I do much winter cruising in the area, mostly sailing but also power.

The weather is very unpredictable in the winter here. Your charter could be blessed with calm seas and sunshine, or driving rain and heavy seas, or snow and freezing. Is your intention that your "fair weather" family have a wonderful time on this charter, hence cementing the deal on buying a Selene? If so, that may be very risky.
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Old 09-19-2021, 12:33 PM   #4
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Do it. If there is too much whimpering, better to find that out now.
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Old 09-19-2021, 12:52 PM   #5
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The three responses above are all right on!

To paraphrase one of my friend’s favorite sayings, “Winter cruising in the PNW can be an awful ordeal or a wonderful adventure!”
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Old 09-19-2021, 12:59 PM   #6
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I like cruising the bigger cities in winter. Lots of room on the dock and plenty of restaurants open. The smaller places and parks have pulled the docks and closed for the season so I tend to not bother with them.
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Old 09-19-2021, 02:39 PM   #7
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If you're open to chartering a Grand Banks, NW Explorations in Bellingham has many well-equipped boats to choose from. As said, the weather that you will have is a complete crap-shoot, ranging from sunny and calm to gale-force winds and snow.
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Old 09-19-2021, 06:53 PM   #8
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It will be one of those epic family adventures that will be told over and over at clan gathers for years to come, regardless of the weather.

Won't bore you with mine, but if you do this please post up here as I will be watching from my wintering place in Baja.

Would you harbor said boat purchase up here or down south?
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Old 09-19-2021, 06:58 PM   #9
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If it's a do or die for your family, in other words if this experience decides whether or not they will support getting a trawler, then I would not suggest doing it in December. The weather is too unpredictable. You might get fortunate and it will be cold and clear and beautiful. But much more likely it will be cold and gray and drizzling, with the potential for high winds. If it's really important that this be an excellent trip, I would recommend trying sometime after May.

Also, a second vote for Bellingham charters like Northwest explorations. They even have a Fleming, and I'm pretty sure they also have a Selene that can be chartered.
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Old 09-19-2021, 07:12 PM   #10
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“ Also, a second vote for Bellingham charters like Northwest explorations. They even have a Fleming, and I'm pretty sure they also have a Selene that can be chartered.”

I don’t think the Fleming is in their charter fleet anymore.
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Old 09-19-2021, 07:56 PM   #11
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Thanks for the guidance. It looks like Chitwood in Sarasota has a coupla 3-cabin trawlers. I'm gonna check their options. Miserable weather and conditions could dampen their enthusiasm, and we're not likely to be more than warm weather boaters once we take the plunge.
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Old 09-19-2021, 07:57 PM   #12
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I think it would depend on what your family defines as cold. Cruising can be beautiful up here on a nice clear day with fresh snow on the mountains. It can also be like putting on rain gear and standing in a cold shower.

Cold and rain aside it gets dark up here around 4:00 that time of year and the shops on the islands don't stay open very late. So you need to be happy hanging out on the boat from 6:00pm on.
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Old 09-19-2021, 09:16 PM   #13
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Those that complain about rain need to find something else to do. But I wouldn’t go forth in a boat w/o heat.

The brick wall that put us out of business is/was daylight. That was in Alaska and w a 6 knot boat. But even w faster boats and more daylight hours there still may be shorter hours underway and less distance traveled. And the sun is much closer to the horizon so “daylight” time is more like daylight time and twilight time. Add heavy winter clouds and indeed your daylight may be more of a downer than rain.
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Old 09-19-2021, 11:30 PM   #14
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The problem with winter cruising on a charter is that you are by definition on a schedule. Iíve had some of my best days on the water in the winter. Iíve also wound up in a gale with 40 knot winds and 7+ foot breaking seas within 5 miles of Friday Harbor trying to get home after avoiding the winds for 4 days, but with just a slight unexpected shift in wind direction I was suddenly fully exposed instead of protected.

Winter here, by definition, is often unpredictable and unstable weather. On my own boat, I can find the short windows in the weather to take advantage of. Showing up on a planned week for a charter, hoping for good luck, is in my opinion asking for trouble. Low probability, high risk.

Plus, during the winter, lots of things are closed, towns are not as much fun. Itís more for locals to enjoy than tourists. Nothing worse than being cold and wet, stuck on the flybridge for visibility in rain and fog in an area you donít know like the back of your hand.

Truthfully, good chance you would have a good time, but if you DID have a bad time, it would likely be epic bad. Not the kind you cherish and laugh about later, the kind you donít talk about and just never repeat.
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Old 09-20-2021, 01:54 AM   #15
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I like winter cruising here. However, Iím a bit odd.

If your family likes good books, board games, and the pleasure of a hot drink while the rain and wind are beating the windows, it could be a fantastic time. We have spent a number of Thanksgivings on a boat in my lifetime, mostly small sailboats without the creature comforts we enjoy with our trawler. But as i said, Iím a bit oddÖ.
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Old 09-20-2021, 07:27 AM   #16
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We spent 3 Christmasís in Victoria, BC on boats. Some of our best winter memories. We had snow one year at the dock in front of the Fairmount Express Hotel.

We like to anchor our but for winter cruising weíd go marina to marina. Availability was always good and it was easier (and drier) than taking the dinghy to shore. We did have to allow for weather days. We were stuck at the dock more than once from winter storms.
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Old 09-20-2021, 08:29 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by dhays View Post
I like winter cruising here. However, Iím a bit odd.

If your family likes good books, board games, and the pleasure of a hot drink while the rain and wind are beating the windows, it could be a fantastic time. We have spent a number of Thanksgivings on a boat in my lifetime, mostly small sailboats without the creature comforts we enjoy with our trawler. But as i said, Iím a bit oddÖ.

I'm with Dave on this one. We love winter cruising in the PNW, though I think the points made about the inherent schedule you are on with a charter is a good one. But if you plan short hops and remain in relatively protected areas, it will be fine. Now if you are sunshine and swimming people, then think twice about it.
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Old 09-20-2021, 09:52 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by ohno3kids View Post
To introduce my family to trawler cruising, I'd like to charter a 3-cabin Selene over the Christmas holidays. The only ones I can find are in Anacortes. If all goes well, I'm hoping to buy one next spring. The weather looks cold there in December, and they are fair weather fans. Is it generally too cold to enjoy cruising there during Christmas week?
Wifey B: As you're in TN, come south and nearer by than the cold, frigid PNW. Your family wouldn't be at all prepared for it. Last Christmas, Bellingham, WA...high 49, low 31. Last Christmas, Sarasota, FL a cold snap of 62 and low 48 but the entire week was in the upper 70's and even 80.

Two major charters are https://www.chitwood-charters.com/ and https://www.swfyachts.com/ . I would call now though as that time period may be full or fill up quickly.
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Old 09-20-2021, 09:57 AM   #19
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Thereís an old joke about the PNW that relates to your inquiry: SUMMER IN THE PNW IS AWESOME. BOTH DAYS OF IT.
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Old 09-20-2021, 10:07 AM   #20
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For years when the kids would come home for Christmas we would load up and cruise to Sucia Island and had it to ourselves most years. In those years they would pull the main dock but kept open the smaller dock. Hike the island and have hot drinks afterwards. Great memories. Spent a couple weekends cruising to Friday Harbor during Thanksgiving too. Have memories of some terrible weather and rough water trying to get home too.
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