Well, we’ve been narrowing it down a bit.
What started as a search that basically included anywhere in coastal US, Caribbean, or Central America, has now been refined to either Southern California, the Sea of Cortez, or the Pacific coast of Mexico.
We scratched the Pacific Northwest. With our final destination being loosely defined as “somewhere warm”, this would mean a passage down the coast of Washington and Oregon in late Fall, a stormy place that we didn’t really want to sail for our first major passage.
We scratched the East coast of the US, partly because it wasn’t exotic enough, but mostly because of the high expenses and vast number of people.
The Caribbean didn’t make the cut because most countries down in the region have very strict regulations concerning dogs. When posed with quarantines, fees and general rigmarole at every port, we decided that El Caribe will be an adventure for another day.
The Florida Keys were abandoned due to the fact that we didn’t want to live in Florida, combined with the aforementioned dog issues we would have encountered once we headed South from the Sunshine State.
So by default, we are posed with the choice of Southern California or the Western portion of Mexico.
- It’s not in the hurricane zone, so we would in theory encounter less severe storms from June 1-Oct 31.
- Finding temporary work might be easier than in Mexico (although I hear they got that recession on in California)
- Lots of boats to choose from between San Francisco and San Diego
- Too many people
- Cruising ground not terribly interesting
- It’s exotic! Living there during hurricane season would be a great adventure in itself, as opposed to San Diego. And the hurricane season timeframe looks to be a substantial portion of the whole voyage.
- Dogs are welcomed (hopefully they’re not just being nice because they have an eye on fattening him up, if you know what I mean)
- Cruising waters look great (of course this would depend on what city we end up in)
- Less expensive than the states
- Northern Sea of Cortez is less likely to get hit with severe storms during hurricane season
- Job opportunities and wages will be slimmer
- It is technically in the hurricane zone
- Fewer boats to choose from
I’d still leave El Carib in the mix. Lots of boats to pick from in Ft. Lauderdale, though, of course, you may find someone desperate to unload a boat in CA. The dog issue isn’t that big a deal unless you’re near a British territory. We have a bit of experience in that area if you’ll check out my entry on Belle being cast out of the BVIs. Good luck regardless.
Timing is Key…both Caribbean and Mexico are well within hurricane zone in the late summer…not really a matter of if…they will happen and do every year…and would probably be less fun even than a foggy Oregon coast. Cool thing is Hurricanes are avoidable by just not being there…just sayin’. Pros for Mex would be some inexpensive boats already turnkey for cruising from people who gave up on their dreams, to the cons side add: severed heads. Pros for So Cal are that the Channel Islands are actually a pretty interesting, unspoiled and challenging cruising ground that would prepare you for longer passages while still being near enough to civilization to refit and re-provision easily as you learn your boat.
June to Oct. I think nice weather in Pacific NW, but then, as you say, rough getting south. Maybe cruise for a summer, then lay over for a winter?
Don’t write off Sothern California entirely. Catlina and Channel Islands have a good bit of adventure available. Your map seems to show up to Morro Bay or Monterey. Variety enough. Benign weather in summer. You’d be poised to go south with the Baja Ha Ha in Oct after hurricane season.
Chesapeake Bay is a great cruising ground with great weather spring and fall, and miserable heat and humidity in summer and cold winter. If you can do it spring of fall though, great!
Thanks for the comments. Yes, we haven’t entirely ruled out Southern California, but according to Mark’s spreadsheets (yes, I’m being entirely serious!), the cost of living in that area will greatly decrease our cruising time in the long run. Thanks again for the comments!
Katie and Mark
Chesapeake Bay is my recommendation. Many adventures have started there and plenty of boats to pick from. I especially favor the southern bay. Lots of available work. Affordable slips and plenty of free anchorages. Bay sailing, Ocean Sailing, and a 650 mile sail to Bermuda is a great way to gain experience. Can always explore the north east in Summer then head south winter. Yes this is where I sail and live.
Hi Ray and Nicole,
Thanks so much for your thoughts on the boat and starting location. We are certainly interested in the Alberg 30s. Classic lines, quality build and affordability are key components to what we are looking for and the Alberg 30s have them all. We’ve made the decision to start in Mexico, for a variety of reasons, and have a post that’s coming up soon explaining all the hows and whys. Thanks again for your thoughts and fair winds to you up in Chesapeake Bay!
Katie and Mark
After you get some experience, plan to live on the hook a lot of the time. A small investment in a reasonable dingy and small dingy motor (they will become your car) makes this all the more doable, and will save a lot of money. As you expand your horizons, anchoring out will be the way you live most of the time. Save the marinas and associated fees for repairs that must be done there – and good luck…..Al
Good points. We certainly are putting a lot of thought and energy into our dinghy choice and see the importance of this critical item. Do you have any specific thoughts on inflatable vs hard dinghy options? We are currently trying to evaluate them both, especially with the smaller size of our boat (28.5′)! Thanks so much!
Katie and Mark
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