PN Routes from the west coast of North America

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California to Hawaii


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Southbound from California


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Northbound from California


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California to British Columbia


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Alaska to British Columbia



British Columbia to California


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Pacific Northwest to Hawaii


PN10 Routes from the west coast of North America

The Pacific coast of North America is a more hostile area than its Atlantic counterpart, the weather is harsher, there are fewer all-weather harbours, and the chilly California Current is exactly the opposite to the warm Gulf Stream. The coast, in particular the Pacific Northwest, is therefore a real challenge, not only for the sailors setting off from that area, but also for those, undaunted by its reputation, who have decided to visit this beautiful region. The Pacific Northwest has indeed a well earned reputation for gales, rain, and poor visibility. The prevailing winds are either from the northwest or less frequently from the southeast. In summer, from May to September, northwest winds predominate, although some northeast winds also occur. In winter, as well as the prevailing northwesterlies, southeast winds, often of gale force, are more common. Further south, the hur ricane season is from June to October, when the tropical areas should be avoided. Mexico and Baja California are hit by an average of six hurricanes every year, so this part of Mexico should be avoided during summer and early autumn.

The premier destination for anyone contemplating an offshore cruise from California, the Pacific Northwest or British Columbia is undoubtedly Hawaii. For those who lack the time for a longer cruise to the South Pacific, Hawaii offers the chance of a Polynesian landfall which can be reached during an extended summer vacation. For those who do not wish to return straight away, Hawaii is an excellent springboard for voyages west, to Micronesia and the Far East, or south, to Tahiti and the rest of Polynesia.

The major meteorological feature affecting routes between the mainland and Hawaii is the

North Pacific high. In summer it reaches its most northwesterly position in about 38 °N, 150°W, while in winter it moves southeast to approximately 30°N, 130"W. The high is particularly stable between June and August, which is the best time for return passages to the mainland, although one should stay north of the tropics to avoid any hurricane forming farther south.

Those who are heading south from California bound for some distant destination, be it Panama, Galapagos, Marquesas, or Tahiti, are faced with two choices: either to head offshore and sail direct, or hug the coast and cruise in shorter stages. Both alternatives have certain advantages, but as this book deals with ocean routes only, the second alternative will not be dealt with in detail. Some people have successfully combined these two alternatives

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