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Not So Offshore: the Vancouver to LA Summary

(originally posted on

In my last post I mentioned I was heading down the coast in a friend’s Baltic 42. The goal was to take it from Vancouver to San Diego so they could join the Baja Haha at the end of October. We allotted approximately 3 weeks for the journey and I imagined that it would primarily  be an offshore trip with two or three legs.

img_8471 Well it turned out that they —and their buddy boat Sea Esta X — decided to loosely follow the “Express Route” as set out in Exploring the Pacific Coast: San Diego to Seattle by Don Douglass and Réanne Hemingway-Douglass. This meant the voyage would mostly be day trips—albeit some fairly long ones— with only a few overnighters.

We got some good downwind sailing and a remarkable amount of motoring. That is, in my lowly opinion, the big downside to harbour-hopping down the coast. The nature of the bars at most of the ports is such that entering and exiting them is often tide and weather dependent: so trying to hit a schedule becomes a bit more important and it’s hard to justify much sailing in light winds.

When we hit Marina del Rey in Los Angeles, it really was time to start taking it easy, so rather than rush the last couple of days to San Diego, I decided to take advantage of the proximity to LAX and fly home from there. Northwest Passage continued on without me and, as of today, I think they still haven’t completed the “two day” trip to San Diego. Good on ’em.


Most of the ports on the pacific side of North America are in the mouths of rivers. This generally means you are negotiating breakwaters, dredged channels and bars. Bars are really what can make entering and exiting these ports uncomfortable or even impossible. Bars are formed by the sediments deposited by the rivers outflow and when the incoming swell hits this suddenly shallow area, steep and dangerous waves can occur. Quite often these bars will be closed to small boat traffic and occasionally they will be closed altogether. That means if you arrive at a bar at the wrong time you can’t come in to the harbour and will have to head offshore again to either wait, or move on to the next port in hopes their bar will remain open. The coast guard is constantly going out in these super tough little aluminum boats (47-foot MLBs) to physically check on the conditions and then report them on channel 16.

We were pretty lucky and got into all our ports without incident, although sometimes in the middle of the night, the middle of dense fog, or in one memorable entry, both. There were numerable small boat closures though.


I blogged about the whole trip in near real time and you can read about it over on although it intended was more for family and friends and rife with errors and typos. I learned a lot about downwind sailing, saw hundreds of whales, dolphins and sea lions and thoroughly enjoyed myself, with the most memorable moment being alone on deck going around Cape Mendocino at 3 am in 30 knot winds. I’ve also posted a bunch of images at the end of this post.


map-va-laThe Stats

  • Trip length: 29 days
  • Travel days: 20 days
  • Legs: 16
  • Travel hours: 232:25
  • Total km: 2392.4
  • Total nm: 1291.9
  • Hours motoring: 200 hrs
  • Fuel used 520 L
  • Overnight sails: 3
  • Longest leg: 54 hrs
  • Ports (marinas): 12
  • Anchorages: 4
  • Mooring Balls: 1

The Trip

Day Kilometers Nautical Miles Hours
1 Granville Island, Vancouver to Shallow Bay, Sucia Island (via Point Roberts) 84.4 45.576 5:00
2 Sucia Island to Anacortes, Washington (via Vendovi Island) 45.7 24.678 5:20
3 Anacortes to Neah Bay 165 89.1 15:40
4 Neah Bay to La Push (around Cape Flattery) 76.1 41.094 7:25
5 La Push to Westport Marina, Gray’s Harbor 130 70.2 12:25
6 Gray’s Harbor to Newport, Oregon (overnight) 271 146.34 25.75
7 0 0 0:00
8 0 0 0:00
9 0 0 0:00
10 Newport to Charleston Marina, Coos Bay 151 81.54 13:45
11 0 0 0:00
12 0 0 0:00
13 Coos Bay to Noyo River Basin Marina, Fort Bragg, California (around Cape Mendocino; via Crescent City) 498 268.92 54.00
14 0 0 0:00
15 0 0 0:00
16 Fort Bragg to Bodego Bay 166 89.64 16:25
17 Bogego Bay to Pillar Point Harbour, Half Moon Bay 120 64.8 11:45
18 Pillar Point Harbor to Moss Landing 114 61.56 10:50
19 0 0:00
20 Moss Landing to Morro Bay 212 114.48 20:50
21 0 0:00
22 0 0:00
23 0 0:00
24 Morro Bay to Cojo Bay (around Point Conception) 141 76.14 11:45
25 Cojo Bay to Santa Barbara 71.6 38.664 7:10
26 Santa Barbara to Ventura 43.6 23.544 4:00
27 Ventura to Pacific Mariners Yacht Club, Marina del Rey 103 55.62 10:20
28 0 0:00
29 0 0:00

Google My Maps version

Google My Maps seems to need a Google account to access it, although I can’t prove that. But zoom in if you can and check out some of the harbour entrances and remember most of them were done in the fog or the dark or both.

Some Images



Humpbacks and grey whales abounded.


The first part of the trip was often cold and foggy.


Newport Oregon emerges from the fog




Entering Coos Bay in the fog



The old spinnaker cut down to a gennaker. It made for some great (and easy) downwind sailing.




Morro rock in Morro Bay.


Cojo Bay anchorage


And then suddenly, immediately after rounding Point Conception, it was warm


At anchor in Santa Barbara


Our last sail of the trip


Santa Monica Pier from the ocean side



Malibu from the air

—Captain Why #Posts

Instagram This Week

As lovely as it is to have someone cook for you for a month, it's so nice to be back in my own kitchen.

As lovely as it is to have someone cook for you for a month, it's so nice to be back in my own kitchen.
My favourite spot has already been usurped by my replacement. #sackofflour #lastdayaboard

My favourite spot has already been usurped by my replacement. #sackofflour #lastdayaboard
Venice Beach. Just me and the surfer dudes at 8:30am

Venice Beach. Just me and the surfer dudes at 8:30am
I guess we aren't the only ones on our way to Marina del Rey #porpoises

I guess we aren't the only ones on our way to Marina del Rey #porpoises
A sunny day of sailing to Marina del Rey. But my last day of sailing unfortunately :-(

A sunny day of sailing to Marina del Rey. But my last day of sailing unfortunately 🙁
Good night Ventura! It's been a great day but now it's time to hit the hay...

Good night Ventura! It's been a great day but now it's time to hit the hay…

Twitter Digest

Vancouver to LA: The Wrap up

Well I have been home for a few days, and sorting through my 1200+ images and movies. Surprisingly there aren’t a lot of “fantastic” shots. I guess the ocean kind of looks the same after a while unless you are actually there. And a lot of the real interesting stuff was impossible to get a shot of. I have gone through and fixed a few things in my blog entries and extracted some data as well as plotted all my waypoints and gathered all my statistics. I will jot them down here for posterity.

Northwest Passage is now in Newport, CA and on their way south to San Diego. I am pretty bummed that I couldn’t do the whole trip but at the same time pretty glad to be home. They will pick up more crew at the end of October in San Diego and then head south with the Baja Hah, before making their way to their final destination of Zihuateneo, Mexico. I am so grateful I got to do this trip. Thanks Tim and Donna!

My Final Take

It wasn’t that hard. I was worried that a long offshore voyage wouldn’t be for me, but in the end, while it was challenging and occasionally intense, it really wasn’t that difficult. Like all things sailing, prudence goes a long way.  I think if we had done a lot more overnights then having more crew would have been good, because your energy levels start to diminish over time. But overall it was a fairly pleasant journey with the minimum of nerve-wracking experiences and a lot of glorious ones.

Having a solid boat counts for a lot. Watching Sea Esta X bob and bounce over the swell and comparing it to the real sense of secureness I felt on Northwest Passage, I can certainly begin to see where all the bluewater boat arguments come from. Because on a long downwind sail like that, it is the swell that you affected by much more than the wind.

Would I do it again? Yup.

The Stats

  • Trip length: 29 days
  • Travel days: 20 days
  • Travel hours: 232:25
  • Total km: 2392.4
  • Total nm: 1291.9
  • Hours motoring: 200 hrs
  • Fuel used 520 L
  • Overnight sails: 3
  • Longest leg: 54 hrs

Daily Distances

Day Kilometers Nautical Miles Hours
1 84.4 45.576 5:00
2 45.7 24.678 5:20
3 165 89.1 15:40
4 76.1 41.094 7:25
5 130 70.2 12:25
6 271 146.34 25:45
7 cont’d cont’d cont’d
8 0 0 0:00
9 0 0 0:00
10 151 81.54 13:45
11 0 0 0:00
12 0 0 0:00
13 498 268.92 54:00
14 cont’d cont’d cont’d
15 cont’d cont’d cont’d
16 166 89.64 16:25
17 120 64.8 11:45
18 114 61.56 10:50
19  0 0 0:00
20 212 114.48 20:50
21  cont’d cont’d cont’d
22  0 0 0:00
23  0 0 0:00
24 141 76.14 11:45
25 71.6 38.664 7:10
26 43.6 23.544 4:00
27 103 55.62 10:20
28  0 0 0:00
29  0 0 0:00
 Totals 2392.4 km 1291.9 nm 232:25 hrs

Embedded map version

This is a map of all the actual waypoints I recorded along the way. I used it to calculate the distances. A lot of times when we were sailing we would be tacking back and forth which may not be represented in the paths or the stats above so the numbers are approximate.


Google My Maps version

Google My Maps seems to need a Google account to access it, although I can’t prove that. That’s why I embedded my KML file above so I won’t be dependant on Google. But zoom in and check out some of the harbour entrances and remember most of them were done in the fog or the dark or both.

Vancouver to San Diego Part Fourteen: The End

Sept 28

6:50 am awake

I got up and had my traditional coffee in the cockpit. I’m gonna miss that. I spent some time watching the to and fro of the marina. A fire truck just backed out of the complex and it had a stand-up paddle board strapped to the top. I guess we really are in LA.

The crew took off for a run and I headed off at a more sedate pace to walk down to Venice Beach. They will give me a call when they are finished their tribulations and we will meet for breakfast.

I walk down Ocean to Washington and head for the seaside. Almost to the beach, I encounter a young crazy dude railing against two tattooed muscle boys outside a crowded coffee place. The tattooed dudes are all like “ya ya, move it along” and the crazy one is all like “it’s a violation of nature and the constitution and shit.” I just keep on trucking.

A mile or so after leaving Marina Del Rey I reach the Venice Pier and see my first real “California” beach. Did you know the sand is groomed overnight? Not a footprint on most of it. There are a few casual commuters this early but mostly it’s just me and the surfers at 8:30 am. I’m not sure if it’s a pre-work surf or just the start of a very long day of hanging 10.


I walk out pier a bit to observe their technique and then head back to start walking down the beach. The shadows are still long and the sand is incredibly pristine. I guess the beaches are as “manicured” as the people here in Tinsel Town.

I get tired of plodding through the sand and walk down the path, which as I am later corrected, is actually the boardwalk. The walk is still pretty sleepy with none of the shops open yet.


I wander through a movie set or tv show being filmed or something. I was just looking at all the tents and food and stuff when I noticed them off loading gear and all the movie trailers, I suppose filled with starlets and famous types. I thought about asking what it was and then I thought I would just wander off before I was escorted off.

The big black and white LAPD helicopter buzzed the beach a couple of times…this is just like being in TV! There are cops and life guards and ooh, it’s just so exciting.

Mark called and told me to pick a place for breakfast so I headed back toward the pier. As I approached the coffee shop where the confrontation happened there were 3 or 4 cop cars and motorcycles and 2 LA fire engines. The crazy dude was surrounded by casual-seeming, uniformed personnel and the muscle dudes were nowhere to be seen. I have to imagine the situation escalated after I left. But it didn’t look like they were gonna do much to crazy dude; although I wonder why the overwhelming response of equipment and people.

We met for breakfast at the Terrace. While I sat in Venice Beach just on the outskirts of Santa Monica (which was my next destination after breakfast), what should come on the radio but All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow. It made me laugh.

I parted ways with everyone as they headed back to the boat and then on to Costco. I retraced my steps back down the beach heading to the Santa Monica Pier which was apparently about 6K away. Things were starting to open now. Everything from head shops to t-shirts places to surf shops. Along the way I encountered Muscle Beach, with its weight equipment and even a mini-stadium. It’s a real thing but unfortunately had no muscle dudes to populate it. Maybe its a summer thing?

Bike rentals seem to be the big thing here with literally dozens of places that rent all sorts of bikes. There is also a Green Doctors medical marijuana analysis business with tons of franchisees all dressed in lime green scrubs.

Santa Monica pier is packed with restaurants, shops, an amusement park and even a trapeze school where you could watch wannabe trapeze artists try and fail to fly through the air. It was great fun but man it has to be frustrating to miss, climb back up, miss, climb back up etc. It is also, apparently, the official end of Route 66.


I head into town on my way back and walk down Main Street; lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. As I leave the core I come across those incredibly lush community gardens right in the middle of the residential area. Things grow big here and it’s nice to see the set aside room for gardens. The residential lots are certainly too small to grow anything. The houses range from affluent to ramshackle and the breadth of gardens and boulevard trees is amazing. Everything from palms to azaleas in the boulevards with succulent gardens. And even the occasional well-tended patch of grass. I also passed a couple of dog parks. They are all dirt here; I suppose with the lack of rain that dirt is easier to maintain than grass.


I am so, so hot as I headed back. I bought an ice-cold Gatorade halfway home but the sweat has been pouring off me. The boat is empty when I got back so I drink a couple of gallons of water, soak my face with cold water and relax with a couple more gallons.

Eventually everyone shows up in a cab with their haul from Costco. I help haul the boxes below and finish up my second last blog post while Donna unpacks.

Tim heads out to do some “projects”. The dinghy had been missing from the davits when I got back and I found it over on the dock. He was cleaning it and spraying on UV protectant. I lent a hand applying a stencil he had gotten made up and then we spray-painted the name of the boat on the side.


Somewhere around then I realized I was starting to get sunburnt ankles so I ducked back in to slather on the sunscreen. It would suck to come back painfully burnt on my last day.

All done with chores, Tim and I had a beer and I read for a bit as it started to cool down — it was after 5:30 by then. Sunset comes early here.

There is some talk of heading up to the club for the hockey game but it comes to nothing. A good thing really, since there actually was no game; we were apparently a day early. So we relaxed some more before we sat down in Sea Esta for a lovely Costco roast-chicken dinner and some wine.

It’d been a long hot sweaty day so I hit the shower. Of cours,e while I bring a clean shirt, I forget my towel drying on the life lines. Are you still clean if you use your dirty, sweaty t-shirt to dry off with?

And then it’s time to enjoy my last night in SoCal up on deck. We are waiting for Jim and Mark to return from their galavanting at the club so we can enjoy Tim’s 90-year-old mothers’ pound cake with fresh whipped cream and a good soaking in booze. And then we wait. And wait. And wait. Seems the party is going on up on the club’s deck and it’s not looking like they are going to be disengaging anytime soon. Eventually Donna makes the executive decision that if the mountain isn’t coming to the pound cake, then the pound cake is going to the mountain.

They slice me a delicious piece and then head off to the club to distribute the goodness. It sounds a bit too rowdy up there for someone as sober as I am. I enjoy my piece existing the temptation to just lick off all the whipped cream. But they aren’t gone long (apparently it was a bit too drunk out for them as well) and they bring the remnants back after only a short while.

And then it’s time for bed. I pack most of my stuff and then grab my book to “read” for a bit…mostly with my eyes closed.

Sept 29

6:30 am awake

Last Day. I pack up my remaining stuff and have my last cup of coffee. There was a heavy dew last night so I stay below as everything we didn’t put away is soaked.

Mark has booked a cab for 9:30 so we are good to go. Then I just hang out and chill. I am going to leave my new inflatable pfd behind as my share of the voyage costs. Northwest Passage needs another one with an integrated harness and I had agreed to chip in for beer and fuel and stuff so it’s an equitable exchange, although Tim and Donna kindly insist it’s not necessary. Still, it seems reasonable to me and my bag is already too full.

Then I have my my last, last cup of coffee.

By 8:30 I am already sweating. It’s going to be another hot one. But I left a fleece in my carry-on for home where it’s only going to be 14°.

Tim and I stick our noses in the bilge for a while and scratch our heads over the intermittent bilge pump cycling. At 2:00 am last night the pump started to cycle endlessly. Like on Never for Ever the pump can’t suck out all the water and always drops whatever’s in the hose back into the bilge. But on Northwest Passage the float switch seems to be miss-positioned and it always dumps just enough water to set off the float switch again and restart the cycle. This will just keep happening until someone uses the manual pump to take a tiny bit more water out. Which I did when it woke me up. It seems like it should be an easy fix but you never know. That’s why boats are so much fun.

Eventually Mark called over and we all trouped up to the parking lot to await the cab. A few pictures, smiles, handshakes, hugs and thanks all around and Mark and I were off. Partings can be so abrupt sometimes.

Traffic was light until we hit LAX then it just slowed to a crawl. But eventually we stopped in front of Terminal 2 and Mark and I shook and parted ways. Westjet was a bit further down but oddly to me, all the airlines are actually separated by walls so you have to walk outside. I guess that makes sense in rainless California.


After checking in, walking on to the security is also done outside. It went pretty quick and soon enough I was in line for a slice of pizza to enjoy while I waited. I did see an older couple take a header in the escalator. There were three of them and I think it was a chain reaction with only the fellow on the end remaining in his feet. The other gentleman and a lady were sprawled almost upside down legs and arms akimbo. The attendant did stop the escalator almost immediately but no one made any moves to help right away. Seemed an odd reaction to me. But I think everyone was ok.

10:00 am LAX
33° 56.8032? N,118° 24.2354? W

And then I waited. And typed on my phone and watched the hustle and bustle.

We boarded about 20 minutes before take off. This 737-800 has no entertainment system at all…unusual. My Plus seat comes with complimentary water and massive leg room. The middle seat is a fold down table with a
cup holder and space to store my reader…posh! I get free lunch and free booze (which I don’t avail my self of) and a hot towel for who knows what reason.


California from the air is as strange to me as California from the sea. Low dry mountain ranges interspersed with flat populated areas give way to intermittent drier mountain ranges and densely crowded, flat agricultural zones. Much like the Okanogan, water is seemingly both abundant and completely absent. It is not at all as I have imagined it. I don’t know why I have always associated California with lush even though I know its generally one big desert. Live and learn…

4:00 pm MDT
53° 17.7835? N,113° 34.4861? W

Touchdown. My bag is the first one off the carousel. That never happens.

And voila, c’est tout.