Things You Will Need
  • Long range motorcruiser

  • Fuel

  • Radio equipment

  • Autopilot

  • Nautical charts

  • Navigational equipment

  • Crew

  • Rations

  • Fresh water

Cruising in a large blue water boat is one of the most liberating experiences anyone can have. Many sailors prefer to make short jaunts to and from ports that are familiar, and one of the most common trips is between California and Hawaii. Though both the origin and the destination are States, they are separated by over 2,500 nautical miles. To undertake such a journey requires a specially outfitted long range motor cruiser with a fuel capacity to be able to handle countervailing winds and currents.

Plan The Journey

Plot your course. Depending on the specifics of your origin and destination and the time of year you undertake such a journey, you may have to take weather systems and ocean currents into account. The best path may not be a direct heading. The Pacific ocean current along the California coast runs north to south, so the most efficient path may be to head south along the coast with the current, before heading west towards the Hawaiian islands. This path also takes you out of the path of strong prevailing winds, which blow strongly against your direction of travel at more northern latitudes.

Calculate the fuel needed for your trip. To undertake a journey from San Francisco, California to Honolulu, Hawaii requires a boat that can carry 2000 gallons of fuel or more, depending on the power plant. You will need to ensure that you have a craft with an hourly fuel consumption, cruising speed, and fuel tank capacity that will give you a range twice as far as the course you take, in order to compensate for wind and ocean currents that may be working against you. Examples of such a yacht are the 54 foot long Kanter LRC (long range cruiser) and the 85 foot Diverse. These are large yachts and require an experienced skipper.

Calculate the amount of food necessary. For a yacht with an average cruising speed of 10 knots, the trip could take as long as 2 weeks or more. You will need enough fresh water and food for you and your crew and passengers to be able to consume between 2000 and 3000 calories and a gallon of water a day, for a minimum of 14 days.

Ensure all engines, mechanical systems, electronics and navigational equipment are in working condition, with spare parts as recommended by the manufacturer. A marine radio, global positioning system (GPS), radar, and autopilot are generally considered to be the bare minimum for an ocean-going craft.

Recruit a crew to share the watch duties and assist with other tasks on the vessel while underway. Willing crew members can often be found by posting a notice at your local marina. In some cases, crew members perform their duties for free in exchange for the transportation provided by the voyage.

Undertake The Voyage

Divide up watch shifts so that there is always a trained crew member at the helm. It is illegal for a ship that is not moored to have the helm unmanned, so someone will need to man the cockpit throughout the two week voyage. The average shift is usually 4-8 hours, but in some cases where there are not enough skilled crew members 12 hour shifts may be necessary.

Listen to weather updates on your radio on a daily basis so that course corrections can be made to avoid foul weather.

Recalculate your route to Hawaii with each course correction. Keep in mind that the fastest route is not always the most direct route. Use your navigational charts and information from the weather reports to take ocean currents and prevailing winds into account.

Stay calm when things go wrong. Rough seas and howling winds can be hard on any vessel. An uneventful trip is exceedingly rare. While out at sea, there is nowhere to pull over to complete a repair and there are no places to get spare parts. With the proper preparation accomplished in Section 1 of this article, you will have both the tools, equipment, and redundant backups to either perform an at-sea repair or use another system to complete the voyage.


Undertaking an ocean voyage is inherently dangerous. It requires an experienced captain with the skills and knowledge to handle unpredictable conditions. Never undertake such a trip without a well outfitted craft with an experienced crew.