wristwister

Santa Cruz to Vallejo in January?

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I'm looking into helping my daughter bring her boat up from Santa Cruz, up the coast, into the bay, and to her slip in Vallejo later this month. Total trip looks to be about 110 miles. There's a marina at Half Moon Bay that neatly splits the trip into 2 equal days. I'm a PNW sailor, a bit unfamiliar with Cal sailing. Couple questions:

  • How realistic is 55 mile days on this course and this time of year? We'd like  to sail, but will fire up the motor as needed
  • Wind forecasts are looking reasonable so far, but how flukey and unpredictable can things get in that area?
  • Will fog be a big consideration this time of year?
  • I understand the currents flowing at the Golden Gate and at the river getting into Vallejo and the timing looks good for those. Any other tricky currents to watch out for?
  • How far off shore do folks typically go along the coast from Santa Cruz to Golden Gate? I don't see much in the way of obstructions. Hug the coast or go out a ways?
  • I understand about shipping traffic inside the bay. Hows the heavy traffic along the coast?
  • Other advice or nuggets of wisdom about this trip?

By the way, it's a very seaworthy Tartan 30 with an experienced crew.

Thanks in advance for any advice you all can provide.

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Guess I should have done a search before I posted this. Looks like thevoyage is doing almost the same trip at the same time, and has gotten some good advice here: 

Looks like a pretty easy 2 day trip. I'll monitor that thread also for further advice.

Hey thevoyage, when are you planning to make this trip? Maybe we'll see each other along the way.

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It’s fundamentally a very easy trip, all about timing and finding the weather window. Weather forecasts for frontal passages are usually very good. You don’t want to be out there when a big front is coming through, particularly if you are used to PNW inland waters. I assume your daughter is up to speed on current SC harbor mouth conditions- in my years living there swells often closed it out in the winter. Fog should not be a problem this time of year. 
Other than frontal passage, winter is usually calm, it’s spring/ summer when there are buckets of wind- the opposite of PNW sailing.   Fishing boats are likely the only traffic other than right near the bay. There are few obstacles and they are easily avoided, no real need to go far offshore. Check cruising guides for the entrance to Half Moon Bay, as there is a rather famous offshore reef and the entrance is not obvious. And don’t be tempted to cut the corner and take the apparent south channel into the Bay, every winter boats are lost there to breaking swells that come from seemingly nowhere. 
Sounds like a great trip, particularly as I look out at the PNW rain. 

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5 hours ago, Oceanconcepts said:

rather famous offshore reef world championship Big Wave surfing spot 

Google "Mavericks 

 "Waves can routinely crest at over 25 feet (8 m) and top out at over 60 feet (18 m). Routinely, waves that break can be recorded on seismometers. The break is caused by an unusually shaped underwater rock formation.

Mavericks is a winter destination for some of the world's best big wave surfers. Very few riders become big wave surfers, and of those, only a select few are willing to risk their lives under the hazardous, sometimes deadly, conditions at Mavericks. An invitation-only contest is held there most winters, when the waves come."

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Holy crap! I've heard of Mavericks, but I never really paid attention to where that is. Yeah, that's something to look out for. Does the big surf there just happen in conjunction with a storm? Is there a  minimum distance off shore where boats are pretty safe from that surf?

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26 minutes ago, wristwister said:

Holy crap! I've heard of Mavericks, but I never really paid attention to where that is. Yeah, that's something to look out for. Does the big surf there just happen in conjunction with a storm? Is there a  minimum distance off shore where boats are pretty safe from that surf?

150 miles sounds good.

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21 minutes ago, wristwister said:

Holy crap! I've heard of Mavericks, but I never really paid attention to where that is. Yeah, that's something to look out for. Does the big surf there just happen in conjunction with a storm? Is there a  minimum distance off shore where boats are pretty safe from that surf?

The Mavericks contest was just called for this weekend... so, the wind is calm but the swell is coming. Mavericks breaks about 1 mile off IIRC. Pick a nice deep line and follow that and you should be ok. Charts have the traffic zones for commercial and yes, there is NS traffic. You “might” have cell coverage depending on how far out you are, and you can track real-time commercial AIS on that.  Couple apps out there.

should be an easy trip, watch the depth, and come into SF in the main shipping channel as mentioned. We lose those boats when Mavericks is going off....

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If coming from Half Moon Bay harbor, avoid the reef that is at the bottom right of chart and give that green buoy plenty of room.

I've seen Mavericks from land when it was pumping. Very scary waves.

 

bobo.png.b831bd485fc5e281a391bfc58d0b36eb.png

 

 

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Raz'r, I'm going to talk my kid into getting a VHF/AIS radio for the boat, probably the same Standard Horizon GX2200 I have in my Tartan (so cool that my daughter and I own the same boats!). With all the shipping traffic in the bay I think it will be a wise investment.

Zonker, thanks for the detail. I'm also going to hit up the marina there for info on avoiding trouble.

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23 hours ago, wristwister said:

Guess I should have done a search before I posted this. Looks like thevoyage is doing almost the same trip at the same time, and has gotten some good advice here: 

Looks like a pretty easy 2 day trip. I'll monitor that thread also for further advice.

Hey thevoyage, when are you planning to make this trip? Maybe we'll see each other along the way.

Actually I am close to pulling the trigger on a boat in Monterey but I haven't yet. Either way you'll sail by my marina in Point Richmond. Are you planning on going from Half Moon Bay to Vallejo on the second day?

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The plan is Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay Saturday the 20th, then HMB to Vallejo Sunday.

But ... long term marine forecasts are starting to come together, showing potential for a major blow that weekend. Might have to play the schedule by ear.

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54 minutes ago, wristwister said:

The plan is Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay Saturday the 20th, then HMB to Vallejo Sunday.

But ... long term marine forecasts are starting to come together, showing potential for a major blow that weekend. Might have to play the schedule by ear.

be smart, crossing the SF bar in a southerly blow isn't smart...

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I've done it multiple times, it's no problem for a well found T30. But if you have a date picked out ("the 20th") you're asking for trouble. I can't stress enough how important it is for you to be patient. Check the wind, check the waves, check the tides. This part of the world is dangerous in the winter, it goes through cycles. Wait for your weather window and then go. It can be the difference between a lovely outing on flat seas and someone dying. Don't cut the corner coming into SF Bay, go out to the #2 buoy. The south bar has claimed the lives of many unwary sailors.

HMB to Vallejo is a long day this time of year. If you have the time do it over three days. Stops at HMB and either Richardson Bay or Ayala Cove. All great places to visit.

Check the state of the entrance to SC Harbor before you leave. It shoals in the winter. Someone I know almost lost his boat there last year. 

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Thanks Afterguy. Yes, we're paying close attention to weather and wave forecasts, and things aren't shaping up well for next weekend. If the forecast doesn't change for the better, we'll probably postpone the trip. But tide-wise, the timing for next weekend looks good, as we'd catch the top end of the flood tide as we transit the San Francisco Bar Sunday afternoon (yes, through the shipping channel. No cutting corners).

Our plan is to do it in 2 days, with the understanding that it could turn into 3 days. However, Saturday we pretty much have no choice but to make it to Half Moon Bay which is a 60 mile day. There's absolutely nowhere to tuck in before that. Might involve night sailing, which I've done much of.

Thanks for the suggestions on the places to tuck in along the bay, I'll mark them on the charts.

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OK, weather forecasts for next weekend are getting worse, but there's a glorious weather window over the next few days, so I'm at the airport on my way down. Plan is to leave Santa Cruz tomorrow morning. We MUST make the tide window at the San Francisco bar between 9:00 AM and noon Monday, so no stopover at Half Moon Bay. We'll sail through the night, get up there in plenty of time and drift around waiting for the window. Maybe we'll visit the Farralons, I hear they're lovely this time of year!

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What a glorious trip! Nice winds most of the way, clear weather, and we timed the SF bar and GG passage perfect for a smooth transit. As expected, we got to the mouth of the bar about 5 hours before the tidal window for crossing, so we heaved to and just bobbed around for a while, taking turns napping and keeping watch. My daughter did incredible, including managing the helm and sails for hours under confused winds and waves. Her new home is now snug and safe in it's slip in Vallejo. Gotta say, between my Tartan 30 and now my daughter's Tartan 30, I've got mountains of respect for these old tubs! Here's the kidlette and I about to go under the GG:

 

 

GGBridge.jpg

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Good job!  I'm a little surprised that you wanted to get to the GGate no earlier than 9:00 AM Monday.  It looks like 09:30 was max flood, and while that makes the waves lie down, unless conditions were really nasty you could have entered well before slack @07:00.  Even the max ebb @ 03:30 was only 2 kts, which usually doesn't create problems.  On the other hand, I've certainly been out when it looked like a washing machine off Pt. Bonita, and you were there, I wasn't.

Anyway, congratulations!

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Valis, you are correct. I misspoke (mistyped?) in my post above with the new plan. We actually began our transit through the bar from the #2 buoys at about 6:30 AM, and were under the GG bridge about 8:30. I think we timed it perfectly, smooth going the whole way. Interestingly, a couple hours later while sailing up the bay a pan pan came over the radio from a boat attempting to transit and getting knocked about under the bridge!

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