Sailing down the Pacific Coast of the US. Bars, bars, bars. Is this post about drinking? No, it is about waves, jetties and shallow water when entering a bay, harbor or marina. We started going south from B.C. Canada toward Mexico at the first week of October. That is certainly the beginning of autumn with a different weather pattern. With a pro dominant Northern wind which is oké when going South. The bad thing, there are more depressions with high winds and a North East direction. The wind isn’t the bad aspect, it’s the waves rolling onto the shore that is the factor to be aware off.
So the Pacific is deep, 1000 meters and beyond and it goes back to zero in 30 NM. When entering a harbor, marina on the west coast in the state of Washington, Oregon or California it’s usual a shallow bay or cove, protected by side jetties, partly submerged. Sometimes a canal, 20-30 feet deep, dredged. The entrance is called a bar…..
So the buildup of waves, rolling in from the west, can be 12-18 feet and then also breaking and rolling. That is a scary thing to look at and definitely not something you want to be in.
Website and Coast Guard for Bars
So information is key, you can’t go and have a look and be safe at the same time. Luckily their is a site for Bar Observations (by the Portland Meteo Office). And almost every harbor has a local coast guard with info on VHF 22A. (Switch your marifon from International to US)
A lot off actual data can be retrieved from NOAA buoys. Look at the app NOAA Bouy Reports in Google or Apple store. A graphical interface makes things so much easier.
Strategy for Bars
The down site, it takes a week before clearing up, the sea needs at least 2 days to calm down. And then you need 2,5 days for your next 300 NM south and the next harbor. So if the bar is open hop on the back a southwards going depression and sneak in the next harbor before the next depression arrives. It’s all about “reading” the weather predictions.
When 40-60 NM outside the coast, waves are back to 6-9 feet (2-3 meter) with a wavelength of 12-15 seconds. And in the same direction as the 15-20 knots of wind. So for a Seawind catamaran that is more or less a “perfect” combination. We like the sound of riding down a wave, the goorgeling sound of water under the bridge deck, salon floor. When the wind dies down, waves are back to 3 feet.
Most Harbors in WA and OR are fishery harbors, we visited Port Angeles, Grays Harbor/Westport, Goos Bay/Charleston, Bodega Bay. In general enter at slack tide, high water. For instance Bodega Bay is really shallow. We spent 13 days at Westport, partly because we did a 4 days road trip to Eugene, but mostly because the bar was closed. We skipped the Columbia river, Astoria. Notoriously difficult at high winds and wicked currents.
San Fransisco Bay
More south we stopped at San Fransisco Bay, Santa Barbara and Catalina Harbor. More relaxed, better temperature. San Fransisco Bay is special because of the Golden Gate bridge crossing. We came in by night, because of the slack tide we needed and a full moon. We anchored down town. I appreciated the site of Patrick Twohy with a top recommendation for Aqautic Park.
In Santa Barbara the main thing beside relaxing and eating out, aka anything else then fish and chips, was a visit to the West Marine shop. Needed a few things including a new barber hauler line for my Jib.
Catalina Harbor is a unplanned stop because of a gail warning of the Coast Guard. So some extra time on a nice anchorage. Mexico here we come ….
After our crossing to the Pacific Coast with a lot of mileage and severe weather, we where in need of some maintenance and repairs, spare parts and improvements.
James Conan, ronan.associates-at-gmail the Canadian representative of the Seattle Seawind dealership contacted us and helped us with all kinds of contacts, advice, arrangements etc. Thanks James
James arranged a meeting with Philbrooks Boatyard (PB) in Van Isle Marina at Sidney B.C. Our liancé, project manager is Daniel Thompson, daniel.thompson-at-philbrooks-period-com, who talked us through our wishes, helped us with the planning, did the estimates and introduced us to a lot of his fantastic colleges etc. etc. A few tips and tricks to maximize the experience:
Prepare your work list in advance and send it to Daniel at least two weeks before arriving in Canada,
Make sure there is room in the PB planning, so if you arrive at Van Isle Marina, they can start right away,
If you want to apply for the work to be tax free, (12% in summer 2023)
you need to be a non-Canadian vessel;
Van Isle Marina must be your first port of entrance, yes there is a customs dock;
ask PB to obtain the waiver before starting any work,
Any expertise not available, like a certified gas technician, will be arranged by PB;
You can ‘shop’ at the PB supply room. Marcus, the guy in charge, is a walking encyclopedia, well connected to any supplier. He managed to find my a few exotic Lewmar parts, busses for my water pump, soft cradle for my outboard etc etc.
It helps if you are on board and helps with the jobs, to build up your own knowledge, less hours and expectations-execution, results close to each other.
We like the Canadian way of doing things. Knowledgeably, skilled, no language barrier, hourly rates are better than US WA rates, good work ethics, friendly.
We like Sidney B.C because their are 2 Chandleries, A Yanmar dealer, UK sails for a repair and Blackline, also a Boatyard with a rigging department to help us with some issues.
We liked PB for their work and reasonable docking prices. We did some extra projects.
We like Sidney B.C. because Victoria Int. Airport is extually in Sidney, easy bus right to Victoria, shops, grocery, a few nice restaurants etc. And the summer weather in B.C. is top. For us none US/Canadian buying a local (prepaid) SIM made everything so much easier in communication. From calling a cab to a reservation.
At the end of this beautiful summer we are cruising in the B.C. area, East coast of Vancouver Island. The first two months of our journey where special, as in not moving around. So after arriving at the Victoria Customs Dock, we docked in Maple Bay Marina and took a 12 days break to the NL. There after we moved to Van Isle Marina where we spend 5 weeks at the dock of the Philbrooks Boatyard.
And now we are cruising for 6 weeks in B.C. until our visa expires at the end of September 2023. An overview of our route and some impressions. In general we had lovely warm weather, with little wind and less rain. The temperatures at night are slowly dropping to 10C. Winter is coming.
It’s on the North, more isolated, side of Portland Island. Uninhabited and completely a National Park. I went for a hike. Pretty easy an a sunny day. But It would be partly intermediate on a wet day. I discovered the Parks Canada App, useful.
Lovely garden and with a dedicated mooring in Butchart Cove. Tod’s Inlet is around the corner and a popular anchor place with a soft muddy bottom. The inlet was crowded and I could not use enough chain so our anchor keeps dragging. We see a lot of people arriving late, grep a private mooring and leave early in the morning. In Angler’s Anchorage Marina their is Blue’s Bayou Cafe, nice for drinks and a meal. Park your dinghy at the public dinghy dock, left off the marina.
Van Isle Marina
We had a very lay back time at Van Isle, did one chore a day at most, biked multiple times to Sidney town for a little bit of shopping, groceries, a fair, the Vancouver distillery etc. In the weekend multiple visits, by public bus, to Victoria. And off course a lot of visits to All Bay Marine, Vector Yacht Services Ltd (Yanmar dealer) and Canada Tire and Co-op McDonald Park Road Gas Centre for propane/lpg. And a lot of afternoon tea, early drinks, diners and other leisure activities.
It isn’t easy to sail the North Pacific. Going from Japan to Vancouver is a challenge, even to a well build Seawind1260 like our Kiskadee. We know that before doing it and experiencing it while doing it.
It’s roughly a month of sailing and you will experience both storms and very calm weather. The conditions are hard, the water temperature is 6-8⁰ Celcius, 15⁰ on daytime, 10⁰ at night. The Webasto could get the temperature up to 17⁰ but you need to run it long and hard. Consumes 0.6 liter per hour. Port tank only. About 50% of the days where foggy, flying water or raining, a few days really sunny.
Calm weather is annoying because you can’t motor-sail all of the time, doing 1400 – 1600 rpm on one engine you burn 1.4-1.6 liters an hour for 3.5 knots of boat speed. So a day of motor-sailing burns 35-40 liter, 16-17.5% of a tank. We were not able to do a stable drift on autopilot. Not enough speed for the AP to maintain a course and constantly rudder alarms. You can’t look the steering wheel by a friction nut, so a construction with elistics and rope is needed.
To munch wind
Bad weather is also annoying but for a different reason. You worry about the boat. Big winds, up to 30 knots, big waves 3 meters plus. Going on a broad reach, its very doable, long waves from behind, sometimes surfing. 90 to 120 is very oncomfortabel, a screwdriver wobble. And more into the wind, a course of 40 to 50⁰ is frightening if the wave length in between is to short. Big bangs of water to the hulls, underneath the bridge deck and to the watertank. So the main thing to do is depower, slow down your speed. Almost no Jib and put the boom outside and lose a lot of wind. Any speed over 7 knots is uncomfortable.
So up to 20 knots of wind we sail with all sails up, except when we are doing 30-45⁰ AWA and waves are short to each order. First reef then give a more stable boat going over the waves in stead of through them. We discovered that all weather models under estimate the wind strenght in the night by 3 to 4 knots. And more gusts. So the well known first reef by night and reduced job. The jib add a knot of boat speed between fully and 50% deployed, but is the first action to stop Kisadee slamming through the waves.
We had 2 times the furling badly shaved and replaced, shorted and the third reef line, already shaved, snapped during a storm with ~27 to 30 knots of wind. We anticipated the snapping of the third reef and had a second construction setup at the front and back at the boom. The outer hauler shaved and snapped. The parasailor tacklines and barberhaulers lines get broken mantles which we repaired.
Shaving is a major problem, all reef lines to the back off the main, especially at the batten pockets, all halyards at the lewmar clutches, all barberhaulers where they touch the sheets, furling line on the furling drum window. Three solutions, daily inspections, duct tape on lines at shaving points and no tension on lines like reefs, topline, furling line etc when not in use.
User errors like breaking a lewmar clutch when running a line directly to a winch in stead of first to a running block. Losing a stopper at the Jib rail by losing control of the furling line and no tension on the jib sheet in high winds. The block wasn’t secured, pin down, so the stopper took multiple hits and broke off. A broken and glued back stopper for the self trailing disk on the small winch on port side. A ring of the dighy snapped off, too much tension in the wrong direction with a hard polyester line. But all repairable.
Our biggest challenge is condensation. 10⁰ difference in temperature between out and inside and a lot of most is a real challenge. Not only windows and hatches, but complet hulls, inside cupboard’s, walls everything condensates. We generate to much most, by wet clothes, cooking, breathing. Airing is not a solution, we would like to stay a bit warm inside. So microfil clothes and wringing on an 2-hourly base. And everything is damp.
We long for a sunny and calm day to open hatches and and let warm and dry air into the boat.
We had our starboard engine running hot twice. The problem was an air leak at the gross filter between the housing and the top, hold together by a wing nut. A little petrol jelly and a hand tightening did the job. We learn the first time to look at the filter before looking at the impeller Wich was fine.
We had multiple errors on Vesper Cortex, Iridium Go and B&G MFD, NAC3 aka the autopilot. Running them constantly longer then 1 to 1,5 weeks generates software problems. The solution is simple, ones a week reboot all appliances. Do some hand steering.
After a delivery from the Seawind factory in Ho Chi Minh city and via stops at Philippines, Taiwan and Japan, we are now prepared to do a crossing, big circle navigation from mid Japan to Vancouver in Canada.
Straight line it’s an ~ 5000 NM trip, big circle 4200. We think it will be a max of 5000 NM including tacking, avoiding a depression etc. With an average of 132 NM a day it will be a maximum of 37 days crossing without any landfall.
The preparation is not much different then any, except you need to think harder about food supply, fresh, frozen etc. The freezer and fridge are full with fresh produce, yogurt, cheese etc. We were very pleased with frozen vegetables in addition to fresh. Fresh water is never an issue thanks to the water maker and the big tank on Kiskadee. Our Solar panels keep filling up our batteries to 100% even on a rainy day.
The usual stocking of diesel (light oil in Japan), we added 4 jerrycans of 20 liters. We calculate the amount of hours you can run your engine. With a 1600 rpm on one engine we use 1,6 liters an hour, and do about 3,5 knots of boat speed. Our Webasto heater uses 0.6 liter an hour. So there isn’t enough diesel to do long mothering, 2 * 125 hours or 875 NM. That is 17,5% of the distance. It is called a sailing vessel. 🙂
The first step is to look at the historical data when to cross. Luckily all that hard work is done by Jimmy Cornell with Pilot Charts and his well know book World Cruising Routes.
So crossing toward Japan is preferably done in March and April, latest in May, because the Typhoon season starts. And this year, perhaps of the really hot weather, they are early and powerful. The crossing of the North Pacific, Japan – Canada / US, is always a sailing trip between lows and highs with either a lot or no wind. Depressions are getting in from the Russian mainland, coming from (North) West going North East. The other path are the remainders of Typhoons, storms coming from the middle Pacific, going to Philippines or Taiwan and then up North East to Japan, Mid Japan. They tent to go East (or North East). The water around the Kuril and Aleutian Islands is still to cold to feed these systems.
The passage from Mid / North Japan – Middle Aleutian Islands is a nice one because their is a strong global current pushing you in the right direction. It is an alley between the most depressions and it avoids the big summer high pressure area between Midway / Hawaii and the east coast of the US. Its a great circle navigation and shorter than a direct straight line.
We had an option to leave Choshi, Mid Japan to have a favorable wind direction for almost a week. Combined with the strong Kushiro current. The down side, within 7 days the leftover of the Typhoon Mawar, a deep storm depression was going to pass us at 400 NM.
So on day five the storm took a path more North than the previous forecast. We adjusted our course to straight north, getting closer to Hokkaido and put an extra 100 NM between us and the outside of this depression. Winds at one time up to 30 knots, but current, waves and wind in the same direction. Big waves 3-4 meter but with more than a boat length between them, not uncomfortable. Its was a night with tension, the passing of the center and the turning and lowering of the wind took a long time.
Current we are motor-sailing with 6 knots of wind and the forecast is that will be the case for the next 2 days. Progress is good, we past the first 1200 NM.
This is a long read on the process of a delivery, especially for new Seawind owners in he process of buying, building a Seawind. Some comments are generic, so apply to all models, others are specific for our 1260 model. It’s reflex our experience and is subjective to our believes.
A general remark must be made upfront. If in a review 5 to 10% of topics are discussed, it’s means it is an excellent job. As a student, quality manager, program manager I would be delighted with such a good score.
The build stage
I really like the design of our Seawind 1260 with a lot of practical solutions. Looking at her proportions, the shape of her hull, the length, she is a good sailor for a catamaran. Her jib is to small for her main, fully trimmed you need a ~ 8′ angle on the rudder to go straight. To be solved be adding a genua or screecher.
The starboard aft bedroom is small, but a wonderful place on a bumpy ride with high waves. One shortcoming, it is missing a rear window for better ventilation.
Coming to a really annoying part: the dinghy support “things” at the rear. There is no way the dinghy will stay at its base. We did multiple elaborated tricks high, low, tilted and with ropes, more ropes redoing the ropes etc. No good on a ride with high waves. I think the easiest way for the factory is to do rings just above and below of the support thing or redesign the whole thing.
The last one is almost comical. When putting on all 4 groups of light in salon and cockpit you generate enough light to go squid fishing. The solution is simple: don’t put them on and buy a soft focus table light. But ‘warmer’ leds or a dimmer at 1 or 2 groups is a better long term solution.
The option list
Oké, the option list, it is your enemy as well as your friend. So, let me try to explain this one. The whole option list is a commercial thing between yacht companies. The base price is important for ranking etc. Your specific usage of your Seawind is the distinctive factor. Big difference between a live aboard, doing 20 to 40,000 NM like us, or weekend sailing and on holidays.
So 30 to 50% of the option list is needed for every kind of use. I put an extra column “Need” on our own option list. Yes the web site does a good job of explaining the options. But only a Seawind expert know what the real value is. So you need assistance. Three sources of information Seawind/Corsair Marine International, Dealer of an fellow owner. Keep in mind dependencies like dinghy and outboard requires outboard crane and bracket. I did a separate post on options.
We added last minute, 2 weeks before launch, the outboard crane option, a set of sheets for my own ParaSailor, 3th reef with was somehow not on our option list, 2 extra fenders, 2 extra 25 meter 16 mm mooring lines, a 2.5 meters 8 mm chain for the dinghy. Communication and tracking was the hardest part. In total we had 4 variations on top of our first long option list. The outboard store away bracket was ordered to late and didn’t fit in the launch schedule.
This is the interesting part because with delivery you are dealing directly with the factory and not with a dealer. It isn’t there expertise and there is a language barrier. Also all kind of needed marine supplies are not as widely available in Vietnam as in the US or Australia.
I did a pre-check, with a survivor list, 2 days before the launch while Kiskadee was still in the factory in District 7 in HCM. Good exercise, excellent idea to get familiar with the placement of pumps, thru hulls, wiring, fuses. I spotted several items missing, not completely installed or not fully embedded in Silka kit. I think that Q&C from Seawind would have picked up thus items as well. The manual is not up to date, none of the diagrams in the Annex displayed my situation correctly or completely.
Part of the delivery was the 3 day sail/motoring from Bien Dong Port (HCM) to Nha Trang, Ana Marina. We had Phil Harper as delivery captain and his interference with the factory and local people through the factory, made it a successful commission. We had some minor issues which were resolved in Nha Trang after receiving parts by night bus from factory. All Phil’s doing.
We finish the commission with these issues solved:
False gas alarm beneath the stove, fixed in HCM, at least for a week. Now filed as an issue to be solved in the future,
We had a Triton display with funky menu keys, replaced in Nha Trang,
We had a disconnected first block from the main sheet. It was in the same place as the outhauler, re-attached to the boom in Nha Trang,
A very late activation of IridiumGo, PredictWind etc. I solved myself all connection issues and got the set working for a 100%.
In the grey area, there is updating firmware/software to the latest version for Zeus3, Triton (difficult access), Nac and Radar. All where on the latest version, but Phil had all software on his laptop. Vesper Cortex I didn’t update, some issues with that update. Getting your knowledge up to speed before commissioning is quit essential, I think.
The Spectra manual is overwhelming but day-2-day use is easy. Seawind struggle with it as well. We will write a separate blog on it. The installation is without the tank switches and I am not sure my Z-ion filter is installed. That is an open issue for when we reach Japan.
We had several times a guided practice of reefing, unreefing, and especially a motor maneuver exercise in the Ana Marina harbor
To sign off the delivery / commission Phil and I went trough the factory list for half a day and we double checked all items.
Luckily our last crew member came in a day later and he was able to take my original boat registration, captains license, SRC license etc which were still at the support office in HCM (Oeps) and some much needed 6 and 8 mm lines as well.
Part of the delivery is a whole bag of tools, some spares etc from Seawind, ask for the spreadsheet. We brought with us to Vietnam a drill and multi tools on batteries, a set of torx screwdrivers, small hamer, magnetic tip pick up, multimeter etc. But not a can of TFL or Dielectric spray, which ais hard to find. Same applies for some Collonite products to clean up the surface rust on your stainless steel. I shall try to make up a list off things we bought in the first 4-8 weeks in Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan and Japan.
Some good, some less. We discussed our commissioning from Vietnam in the summer of 2022. They had a strong advice. Go to Subic Bay in the Philippines, there is a good Marina and we can flight in a mechanic with spares if necessary. So we went, its was a dirty, noisy bay, the marina was expensive with no yard facilities. During the crossing we developed a small leak and the advice was to get the ceiling down in the port hull. We expected a mechanic with knowledge and skills, which did not happen.
In hindsight, the leak is small, 30 drips a minute, only occurring when in rough water with a lot of water over the bows. But expectations of assistance was very different on our sight. We try to reproduce the leak, no luck. Our next option is to do a repair in Japan or delay it until Seattle.
We depleted our house bank (by using the anchor windlass in the morning and we didn’t turn StarLink off in the night). Trying to recharged them, we closed a relais on EasyView and then we charged only 1 battery. In our support group with the factory mister Hien was added. His first app was the solution. Super, solved that day and very valuable info as well.
The leak is annoying, it makes our hull damp, we need every change of ventilation and its hard to find. It will not influence the safety of the boat. The gas detector is just one of those things which happen. Silence the alarm by switching off the LPG fuse. The gas valve is closed because the solenoid is off. We put a mobile detector in the cupboard if we use the BBQ or Stove. We primarily use our IKEA induction plate.
Seawind provide a good build, quality and finish wise. Our delivery and commission was a good experience and sets us on our maiden voyage with no issues.
The support/after sales department acts within reasonable time and sometimes you have to remind them of an outstanding question.
We continue to sail happy and safely from Vietnam to Seattle, passing 14 time zones during this journey.
A famous frysian saying to indicate the 210 kilometers skating match on natural ice, “It is going on”. So we did. Finally our SV Kiskadee, a Seawind1260, was launched and we were part of the factory sail to commission her in Nha Trang.
Ho Chi Ming City – Nha Trang
A three day, 2 night sail from the Saigon Delta to the Northern city of Nha Trang. First serious sea trail for SV Kiskadee and part of the commission protocol from the factory. Skipper mr. Phil Harper and Mr. T, both from the factory and our self as crew.
A beautiful and difficult sail because of an overwhelming number of fishing vessels. The first full day, bumpy with 20 knots of wind. Reefed against the current. We alternated a two man watch, 3 hours up, 3 hours down. The second part was with less and less wind, motor sailing for at least a whole day. Arriving at night at 20 hours.
Commissioning in Nha Trang
We needed a complete 4 day hand over. Checking six pages of items. For most of the items out of our chairs into a compartment, bildge or behind the coach. Fixing things like getting all coms and navigation integrated, on the professional accounts. Checking software versions, all latest, 🙂 Putting the parasailor up for the first time, we had the turn the boat.
A few repairs, installing a new B&G Trition, adjust the first block on the main sheet. Instructions on Spectra watermaker, heater, washing machine etc. And the first oil change on the Yanmar engines and Saildrive.
And doing motor maneuvering for Therese, I listen carefully and got a lot of tips to. On Tuesday we had a handover and now we are the owner, in charge and responsible .
Nha Trang – Sub Bay Philippines
With our crew, Jon, Will, Therésè and Eddie we departed on our first journey, a 900 NM partly upwind course to Subic Bay in the Philippines. We prepared as much as possible, combined our experiences with a new yacht, in a new area, with a lot of fishing boats and big fast running cargo ships. Not scary but some time indeed excited.
Okay, as stated in our previous post our delivery got prosponed to the end of March. But today we are happy to say: All missing parts arrived, the finish of Kiskadee is getting there, and all yellow tape/cardboard is protection for finished items. And most important, a reconfirmed schedule.
Jon and Will are the two experienced crewmembers and they join us on our maiden voyage and beyond, all the way to Vancouver. A crew of 4 is so much more relaxed then dual handed sailing for long stretches. They will arrive last week of march and join us in Nha Trang, the delivery and embarkment seaport.
Another aspect of getting finished, all live aboard stuff is bought. Respect to my wife who resisted the temptation to buy the whole hypermarket. Our favorites are: