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Cruising Cats in the PNW why not more?


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Doing research for our next cruiser.  Always mono sailors and have lived/sailed in PNW entire adult life.  As we our making our short list for next cruiser, cats keep entering picture but they are not common in PNW.  So what are we missing? Cost of moorage etc, lack of trade wind sailing conditions :), tradition hmmmmmmm,  ........
 Plenty of cruisers in our area but very few cats - thoughts?

 

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 I've been wondering about this too - I race a Farrier trimaran, and cruise a monohull, so I would consider myself fairly unbiased. I think it comes down to a combination of factors that just make cruising cats less attractive here than elsewhere

- Shallow draft is of minimal or no benefit

- Wide, stable platform is of minimal benefit when cruising mostly involves motoring in a flat calm. As well, our anchorages tend to be well protected, so you're not often dealing with rolling at anchor either.

- Facilities aren't really set up for them - pretty sure you'd have a harder time finding moorage and haulout facilities for a 45' x 25' cat than you will a 50'+ monohull.

- Predominant light winds, you'll need a big rig to do much sailing at all during the cruising season


Something like the Maine Cats, with decent performance under sail and power, plus a huge enclosed bridge deck seem like it could be a nice option in our weather. 
 

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Mostly,  the problem is that the PNW is the absolute ‘end of the line’ for multihulls.  They don’t come by truck (except for a Gemini...).  Cats are built in Europe, NZ, Australia , S Africa and only Mainecat are built in the US but please note the 3000 mile wide ‘island’ you’ve got to go around...    Similarly, active cruising cats are somewhere on a tropical milk run between the above mentioned places and all funnel through Panama.  Again, the PNW is just a ‘few’ (4000?) miles out of the way.  All this can be solved with a yacht transport ship but plan on dropping $30-$50k for the ride from Florida to Victoria.  (Ask me how I know...twice)

 

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3 minutes ago, TwoLegged said:

The pattern generally seems to be cruising cats for the tropics, cruising monos for higher latitudes.

Indeed - we know we will sail our home waters (PNW et al) but would like to take the left turn For a couple seasons - part of what raised the question.  

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19 minutes ago, Max Rockatansky said:

I keep being told that ‘moorage cost’ is higher, but I’ve never observed that personally. I’m beginning to think that is yet another of the myths that leaner sailors like to disseminate about multihulls.

I think in our area (PNW) this is true but simply part of it if your going to play with bigger toys.  

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23 minutes ago, Max Rockatansky said:

I keep being told that ‘moorage cost’ is higher, but I’ve never observed that personally. I’m beginning to think that is yet another of the myths that leaner sailors like to disseminate about multihulls.

Well, here at Shilshole marina in Seattle, if your beam is more than ~15', you've got to rent two adjacent slips or get on an end tie, both of which are expensive.

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5 minutes ago, IStream said:

Well, here at Shilshole marina in Seattle, if your beam is more than ~15', you've got to rent two adjacent slips or get on an end tie, both of which are expensive.

We cruised the PNW for a couple of summers, the depths there precluded anchoring for much of the time, we mostly had to use marinas, which were usually quite full.

The few multis we saw were generally tris with folding amas, like dragonflies or farriers.

 

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1 hour ago, Veeger said:

Mostly,  the problem is that the PNW is the absolute ‘end of the line’ for multihulls.  They don’t come by truck (except for a Gemini...).  Cats are built in Europe, NZ, Australia , S Africa and only Mainecat are built in the US but please note the 3000 mile wide ‘island’ you’ve got to go around...    Similarly, active cruising cats are somewhere on a tropical milk run between the above mentioned places and all funnel through Panama.  Again, the PNW is just a ‘few’ (4000?) miles out of the way.  All this can be solved with a yacht transport ship but plan on dropping $30-$50k for the ride from Florida to Victoria.  (Ask me how I know...twice)

 

Transport: Oh the pain ........   if not a cat, likely mono candidates are from EU so transport built into budget but not so fun.   Regardless I think your spot on as this adds significantly to budget and frequently not mentioned.

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18 minutes ago, IStream said:

Well, here at Shilshole marina in Seattle, if your beam is more than ~15', you've got to rent two adjacent slips or get on an end tie, both of which are expensive.

That is generally true north of the border too.  With the additional issue that moorage availability is very limited in general, so trying to find a spot(s) that are available to fit a multihull is a challenge

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3 hours ago, IStream said:

Just a few thoughts:

1. Not much benefit to shallow draft around here

2. Moorage is very expensive

3. Light air conditions

Shallow draft:  Your correct but specific to us - home port is PDX.   The Columbia is a beautiful place to cruise so shallow water capability is a big plus for us.  That noted the boat will spend equal time in areas that this is not a concern and the deeper draft of a mono would not be a negative. 

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24 minutes ago, Epi-sailor said:

Shallow draft:  Your correct but specific to us - home port is PDX.   The Columbia is a beautiful place to cruise so shallow water capability is a big plus for us.  That noted the boat will spend equal time in areas that this is not a concern and the deeper draft of a mono would not be a negative. 

No one is trying to dissuade you or negating your particular specific requirements. Just answering your general question why PNW isn’t catamaran central like Florida 

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54 minutes ago, olaf hart said:

We cruised the PNW for a couple of summers, the depths there precluded anchoring for much of the time, we mostly had to use marinas, which were usually quite full.

The few multis we saw were generally tris with folding amas, like dragonflies or farriers.

 

What kind of draft did you have? Mine's nearly 6' and I've never had an issue anchoring in local waters. I've even foolishly gone in and out of Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island at low tide and, though I kissed the mud, I still made it through.

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28 minutes ago, IStream said:

What kind of draft did you have? Mine's nearly 6' and I've never had an issue anchoring in local waters. I've even foolishly gone in and out of Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island at low tide and, though I kissed the mud, I still made it through.

It was a Tartan 30, shallow depth wasn’t the problem, it’s just a lot of places are too deep to anchor comfortably.

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Ah, got it. I was thinking of the other end of the problem. 

My safe rule of thumb is (6' freeboard of bow roller + 12' approx tidal exchange + 15' target anchor location depth) * 3 = ~100' of rode. If I'm anchoring at low tide, this keeps my scope sufficient through the next high tide. If I'm anchoring nearer high tide I can shorten the rode to ~75' but if I don't know where I am in the tide cycle, 100' pretty much assures I'll stay off the bottom with plenty of scope but not so much that I'll swing into others. 

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4 hours ago, olaf hart said:

We cruised the PNW for a couple of summers, the depths there precluded anchoring for much of the time, we mostly had to use marinas, which were usually quite full.

The few multis we saw were generally tris with folding amas, like dragonflies or farriers.

 

Ah, well, you get used to anchoring in deep water with a big boat.  I tried to anchor in less than 60’ with 3:1 scope.  The good news is that PNW summer wx is pretty benign.  We don’t generally get thunder bumpers and squalls in the evening.  If it’s going to be a bit blowy, then we find shallower depths and better protection as needed.  The really challenging part of deep water anchoring is ensuring adequate swinging room for the req’d scope.  Not to cast aspersions but, the prevalence of charter boats means that what they think is plenty of room, really isn’t because they don’t use the scope needed, or get good sets and, well, they can be a bit nervous making...

 

Multihulls tend to cheap out on chain, so between light weight, high windage and a large swinging radius on line, you ‘wander’ at night.  All chain rodes pile up or swing around where ever it hits bottom until/unless wind or current stretches things.  Multis and monos don’t play well in crowded anchorages, even without wind.

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7 minutes ago, Veeger said:

Ah, well, you get used to anchoring in deep water with a big boat.  I tried to anchor in less than 60’ with 3:1 scope.  The good news is that PNW summer wx is pretty benign.  We don’t generally get thunder bumpers and squalls in the evening.  If it’s going to be a bit blowy, then we find shallower depths and better protection as needed.  The really challenging part of deep water anchoring is ensuring adequate swinging room for the req’d scope.  Not to cast aspersions but, the prevalence of charter boats means that what they think is plenty of room, really isn’t because they don’t use the scope needed, or get good sets and, well, they can be a bit nervous making...

 

Multihulls tend to cheap out on chain, so between light weight, high windage and a large swinging radius on line, you ‘wander’ at night.  All chain rodes pile up or swing around where ever it hits bottom until/unless wind or current stretches things.  Multis and monos don’t play well in crowded anchorages, even without wind.

What the industry needs is a remedial edu campaign to bring back anchor weights - we don't need much, but properly used will save a lot of grief.

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2 hours ago, IStream said:

Ah, got it. I was thinking of the other end of the problem. 

My safe rule of thumb is (6' freeboard of bow roller + 12' approx tidal exchange + 15' target anchor location depth) * 3 = ~100' of rode. If I'm anchoring at low tide, this keeps my scope sufficient through the next high tide. If I'm anchoring nearer high tide I can shorten the rode to ~75' but if I don't know where I am in the tide cycle, 100' pretty much assures I'll stay off the bottom with plenty of scope but not so much that I'll swing into others. 

My basic rule in settled weather is 3-4X depth in shallower water, once it gets over 50 feet we put 100 feet of chain on the bottom and enough nylon to leave it there at high tide. Add up to 50% more nylon if it's snarky. Double it if it's blowing the dogs off chains.

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27 minutes ago, Miffy said:

What the industry needs is a remedial edu campaign to bring back anchor weights - we don't need much, but properly used will save a lot of grief.

These things are true.  See Ish’s practice, mine was similar,  I had over 100’ of chain so a Kellet solution wasn’t necessary for me—-others on the other hand...

 

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I'd agree with Verger on shipping costs. Lots of them are sailed on their own bottom from France or S.Africa. Getting to Canadian SW is just more costly. And of course there is a limited market in used ones here too because new ones don't get here.

When I was in the market a decade+ ago I thought we'd fly to Australia to get one because Oz dollar was low and lots were for sale there. 

For a PNW buyer I'd just keep looking for used boats for sale in Mexico and CA.

And Olaf I've sailed here for decades. Typically anchored in 10m of water and very, very rarely visited marinas. There has to be more anchorages per square m/km than just about anywhere else except maybe the Baltic.

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The lines of longitude are closer together up north than down south. In other words, the seas are too narrow for wide boats.

It’s also why the average person is much wider in Florida than in, say, Alaska.

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38 minutes ago, Black Sox said:

The lines of longitude are closer together up north than down south. In other words, the seas are too narrow for wide boats.

It’s also why the average person is much wider in Florida than in, say, Alaska.

It's obvious now you've explained it so clearly.

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G.Zeus, really?

Leaners definitely wander more than multis. I can’t believe with all the anchor hunting I’ve seen monos do that y’all don’t get seasick at anchor. Y’all scare me to death. Put a bridle on, leaners!

And the folks who colonized the entire Pacific as well as invented windward rigs thousands of years before the Euros blundered upon the Marconi would certainly call leaners somewhat less than proper

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1 hour ago, Max Rockatansky said:

G.Zeus, really?

Leaners definitely wander more than multis. I can’t believe with all the anchor hunting I’ve seen monos do that y’all don’t get seasick at anchor. Y’all scare me to death. Put a bridle on, leaners!

And the folks who colonized the entire Pacific as well as invented windward rigs thousands of years before the Euros blundered upon the Marconi would certainly call leaners somewhat less than proper

Lots of good points there, but I am worried by your terminology.

I thought that the correct term for boats which lack a second hull is "sinkers" 

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39 minutes ago, TwoLegged said:

Lots of good points there, but I am worried by your terminology.

I thought that the correct term for boats which lack a second hull is "sinkers" 

Nope, just leaners and flippers.

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I don't think all or most of the multihull pluses work in the PNW.  Lots of outside area in the sun, shallow draft to get in anywhere, flat water easy reaching.  You need to get comfortable anchoring in deeper depths lots of bow stern to the beach. Moorage is relatively cheep compared to alot of places but alot of Marina's don't have the amount of end ties, so you would be taking two slips.  And I'll leave the amount of sunshine to the obvious.

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8 hours ago, Veeger said:

Ah, well, you get used to anchoring in deep water with a big boat.  I tried to anchor in less than 60’ with 3:1 scope.  The good news is that PNW summer wx is pretty benign.  We don’t generally get thunder bumpers and squalls in the evening.  If it’s going to be a bit blowy, then we find shallower depths and better protection as needed.  The really challenging part of deep water anchoring is ensuring adequate swinging room for the req’d scope.  Not to cast aspersions but, the prevalence of charter boats means that what they think is plenty of room, really isn’t because they don’t use the scope needed, or get good sets and, well, they can be a bit nervous making...

Yech. With 300' of chain we spent a night or two in Bora Bora in 90'-ish water. I moved to a mooring at the Mai Kai after no more than two essentially sleepless nights.

Not a pleasant way to sleep. It felt like dozing off perched on the roof of a building.

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Anchorage in Teakerne Arm.  Surrounded by cliffs in very deep water!

In that photo my anchor is in 90' of water, the bow is probably in 60' of water and the stern in 50' of water.  Teakarne Arm, near Desolation Sound.  That's my old Pearson 28.

I also anchored in very deep but more open water Squirrel Cove.  I was less comfortable sleeping there for whatever reason (I don't think it was as protected).

I can't wait to get back up to that part of the world in a couple of years when my kids are older and borders are open.

On multihull moorage I don't think multihull owners at Shilshole Bay Marina are paying for two slips.  They get interior or exterior end ties, fit on linear docks like B dock, or have folding amas.  I used to have a slip for really beamy boats (unnecessarily, I just wanted it because it was near the gate) and Shilshole didn't charge any extra for it.  My slip was wide enough that a friend rafted up his Olson 30 next to the Pearson in that photo, and there was still another 8' or so of open water to the next boat over.

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On 7/29/2020 at 11:40 AM, andykane said:

 I've been wondering about this too - I race a Farrier trimaran, and cruise a monohull, so I would consider myself fairly unbiased. I think it comes down to a combination of factors that just make cruising cats less attractive here than elsewhere

- Shallow draft is of minimal or no benefit

- Wide, stable platform is of minimal benefit when cruising mostly involves motoring in a flat calm. As well, our anchorages tend to be well protected, so you're not often dealing with rolling at anchor either.

- Facilities aren't really set up for them - pretty sure you'd have a harder time finding moorage and haulout facilities for a 45' x 25' cat than you will a 50'+ monohull.

- Predominant light winds, you'll need a big rig to do much sailing at all during the cruising season


Something like the Maine Cats, with decent performance under sail and power, plus a huge enclosed bridge deck seem like it could be a nice option in our weather. 
 

Like andykane I race a trimaran and cruise (previously raced) a monohull in the PNW.

On 7/29/2020 at 2:35 PM, Max Rockatansky said:

I keep being told that ‘moorage cost’ is higher, but I’ve never observed that personally. I’m beginning to think that is yet another of the myths that leaner sailors like to disseminate about multihulls.

All of the inside slips at marinas I've seen around here are designed for monohulls, so multihulls are stuck with the outside slips, which are far fewer in numbers. So technically the same price, but much higher demand so hard to get one. Or you rent two inside slips which is more expensive.  

On 7/29/2020 at 1:34 PM, Veeger said:

Mostly,  the problem is that the PNW is the absolute ‘end of the line’ for multihulls.  They don’t come by truck (except for a Gemini...).  Cats are built in Europe, NZ, Australia , S Africa and only Mainecat are built in the US but please note the 3000 mile wide ‘island’ you’ve got to go around...    Similarly, active cruising cats are somewhere on a tropical milk run between the above mentioned places and all funnel through Panama.  Again, the PNW is just a ‘few’ (4000?) miles out of the way.  All this can be solved with a yacht transport ship but plan on dropping $30-$50k for the ride from Florida to Victoria.  (Ask me how I know...twice)

There is also very little used multihull inventory in the PNW so you really need to go out of your way to get one. 

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23 minutes ago, gspot said:

Like andykane I race a trimaran and cruise (previously raced) a monohull in the PNW.

All of the inside slips at marinas I've seen around here are designed for monohulls, so multihulls are stuck with the outside slips, which are far fewer in numbers. So technically the same price, but much higher demand so hard to get one. Or you rent two inside slips which is more expensive.  

There is also very little used multihull inventory in the PNW so you really need to go out of your way to get one. 

There’s a 38’ Mainecat for sale in Seattle.   For a slip, i found a 57’ slip that had a 21.5’ max width allowed. My 21’ beam just snuck in...

when cruising, i found BC to have far more linear docks available where the beam essentially didn’t matter. Home moorage is the challenge but that’s pretty much true even for monohulls these days. 

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2 minutes ago, Rasputin22 said:
45 minutes ago, B.J. Porter said:

If you use rope, sure. 12mm G4 or G7 chain, not so much!

Still cheap when you consider the consequences.

Staying in marinas all the time? Absolutely.

I just bought 100m of Maggi Aqua-4 a couple of months ago. It was $2,777 NZD. Down in South Island that would buy about 60 nights in a marina for my boat, in Newport RI it'd be less than a week as a transient in the summer.

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When I bought a 40' cat in Vancouver I talked to one marina about a slip. They had a linear dock so beam didn't matter. Spot was right behind a dive charter mono with 17' beam. They wanted to charge me 50% more 'because you're a multihull'. I tried to explain to idiot office staff that beam didn't matter because there was nothing beside this dock. 'Well that's our policy'. I went elsewhere and found a nice fisherman's dock on the Fraser River for $200/month. Super nice folks and a great deal.

 

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On 7/30/2020 at 3:40 PM, Zonker said:

I'd agree with Verger on shipping costs. Lots of them are sailed on their own bottom from France or S.Africa. Getting to Canadian SW is just more costly. And of course there is a limited market in used ones here too because new ones don't get here.

When I was in the market a decade+ ago I thought we'd fly to Australia to get one because Oz dollar was low and lots were for sale there. 

For a PNW buyer I'd just keep looking for used boats for sale in Mexico and CA.

And Olaf I've sailed here for decades. Typically anchored in 10m of water and very, very rarely visited marinas. There has to be more anchorages per square m/km than just about anywhere else except maybe the Baltic.

Agree with depth round the Gulf Islands, but there must be a reason the whole PNW is full of marinas and has few decent mooring fields.

You should try round here, there are 92 sheltered anchorages in a days sail from Hobart...

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3 hours ago, olaf hart said:

Agree with depth round the Gulf Islands, but there must be a reason the whole PNW is full of marinas and has few decent mooring fields.

You should try round here, there are 92 sheltered anchorages in a days sail from Hobart...

Do you mind?

At least foreigners can't get in ATM.

Down side, I'm currently in Sydney sans boat.

FKT

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I guess from a outside view I could see Olaf's point.  Much of the US west coast and PNW is not accessible, after being there a while you tend to just block out the areas that are no go.  Fortunately the San Juans on up into BC are very accessible with tons of places to anchor.  I know there are areas south sound but from what we saw the west coast down to CA and alot of non park areas seem to not be boater friendly.  Or at least the suitable Ancorages are all pay moorings with lots of anchoring restrictions.

A smaller boat has big benefits in the PNW as there are many great little nooks and bays you can go into.

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Mooring fields are rare around here, that may be part of the reason for less multis since dock space for them is scarce. It may be tradition, or state laws that protect our waters from much development. There are lots of places to anchor, but depths and 12 foot tidal swings do restrict things. At first glance a large bay may seem to offer lots of room, but by the time you find enough depth to not be aground at low tide, but not too much as to have 100's of feet of rode out and end up swinging all over the place, there may be only room for a few boats. 

I have always though of the big cats as platforms to enjoy tripical sun and crystal blue waters. Around here we are more likely to go ashore and take a hike festooned in fleece and goretex. I also would not look forward to cleaning the moss and lichen of those big trampolines.

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8 minutes ago, steele said:

Mooring fields are rare around here, that may be part of the reason for less multis since dock space for them is scarce. It may be tradition, or state laws that protect our waters from much development. There are lots of places to anchor, but depths and 12 foot tidal swings do restrict things. At first glance a large bay may seem to offer lots of room, but by the time you find enough depth to not be aground at low tide, but not too much as to have 100's of feet of rode out and end up swinging all over the place, there may be only room for a few boats. 

I have always though of the big cats as platforms to enjoy tripical sun and crystal blue waters. Around here we are more likely to go ashore and take a hike festooned in fleece and goretex. I also would not look forward to cleaning the moss and lichen of those big trampolines.

Diff ppl have diff experiences and reasonable minds may differ - but most of the multihull boom business the last decade seems to be mainly folks who particularly enjoy sunshine - cats with more interior space than some apartments and the charter business. The PNW is beautiful- but in the same way that Norway, Iceland, Faroe Islands or Scotland can be. 

It isn’t... exactly bikini sunshine country. 

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Except it was about 29 C a few days ago...

image.thumb.png.602ed500533628395dd06a015d8ba9f0.png

I think public mooring fields are just not at all traditional here - nobody wants to row out to their boat if they can walk down a dock. The marinas are mostly privately run, with few government ones in existence. Waterfront land is costly so if you have a spot to park a car and store a dinghy to get out to a mooring field, you might as well build fixed docks outwards.

Lots of marinas because demand is high and population of SW British Columbia (around Vancouver, Victoria, southern Vancouver Island) is around 3.5M.  Not because of a lack of natural anchorages. I'll see your 92 anchorages within a daysail of Hobart and raise you 50 more around here.

It is very OK to drop a private mooring in front of your vacation home in the Gulf Islands. No permit etc required, just  have to write your name and phone number on the buoy.

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do we really need to get into a climate vs weather thing or can we just agree to stipulate above a certain latitude, bikini sunshine isn’t the norm? I mean it was 90° in Camden, Maine last week. 

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12 hours ago, olaf hart said:

Agree with depth round the Gulf Islands, but there must be a reason the whole PNW is full of marinas and has few decent mooring fields.

Winter storms around here can be quite violent.

As such most accessible natural harbour areas are already filled with marinas, and any desirable mooring location that doesn't have natural protection needs a substantial breakwater, so you might as well built docks while you're at it.

In other words, unprotected mooring fields around here could only be for seasonal use, and because it's not cold enough to need to haul out for the winter, you'd need somewhere else to keep your boat during the stormy season.

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I'm with Veeger and Zonker that it's far from the source, and they don't ship easily. There aren't that many in SoCal either.

I've seen as many Farriers as anywhere else, and a few Dragonflies and Geminis. And homebuilts.

The increased costs are no different from anywhere else.

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