San Francisco to San Diego
Reaching San Diego signifies the real beginning to our tropical cruising adventure. The weather has progressively gotten warmer, and the summer clothes are getting more use. We’ve enjoyed the sights that CA had to offer.
Our weeks in the San Francisco area allowed us some time to adjust to the boat, start home school, and recover mentally from the long trip at sea. We visited China Town, the Wharf, Golden Gate Park and played at the beach. As Autumn began to creep in on us, we started planning the trip south.
Half Moon Bay was the next stop, just 20 miles south. It was a very calm anchorage, after the rolling around in Sausalito. We visited Farmer John’s pumpkin patch and picked out the smallest pumpkins we could find. They stayed safe in some coils of rope in the cockpit until it was time to carve them later in the month.
Monterey Bay, including Santa Cruz, Seaside and Monterey Harbor offered lots to see and an enjoyable week. The aquarium gave us close ups on some of the critters that live in the kelp that floated around the boat. The highlights though, were the animals we saw in the wild. Whales, otters, sea lions and pelicans kept us entertained daily. Both Seaside and Santa Cruz celebrated town birthday parties so we saw two firework shows in one week. We encountered one significant storm in Monterey that had us anchored in 8 foot swells with the wind gusting 35 knots. Again the Lord was watching out for us, as we were able to get a space at the Yacht Club dock for the night.
After that we did a couple of day trips to make some progress south. San Simeon was a nice little bay but with no where to land the dinghy, we didn’t want to stay long. The next day we set sail to the next anchorage in search of new sights. Unfortunately, the 1/8th mile visibility coming in didn’t allow us to see the beach, the channel markers, or the 578 foot high Morro Rock at the channel entrance. We “felt” our way in using radar and GPS.
It’s quite a nerve-wracking experience to feel your way into an unknown harbor when you can’t see between one buoy and the next. Again we felt the prayers for our safety being answered as the anchorage came into view a few feet ahead.
The next day the fog lifted somewhat to give us a view of at least the bottom or Morrow rock on our way out.
Leaving Morrow Bay took some courage on our part, since it was to be our first overnight passage with the kids. We also had to round Point Conception, which can be dangerous and rough. Pete wisely decided that if we left in the moderately foggy conditions, we would probably not get high winds. He was right and we motored into southern California on a Pacific Ocean that looked like a flat lake.
We had a little visitor along the way who made itself at home in various places!
There are lots of oil well platforms along the coast here. They are lit up like cities at night, and look like something out of Star Wars.
The next night we spent in Santa Barbara. We debated about going on to LA overnight as we were all anxious to get there, but the wind was coming from the south and we didn’t want to tack back and forth through the freighter traffic all night long. The boats that came around Pt. Conception that night got clobbered. We met several of them limping into Santa Barbara to make repairs after encountering huge head winds and large waves… the boats that came the night after that motored the whole way in flat seas…
I (Kellie) find sailing at night to be tedious. I sail from 8 pm ‘til 2 am while Pete sleeps then we switch. It’s an introspective and lonely time for me, although Pete enjoys the time, especially the sunrises.
As the weather gets warmer, I think the passages will get easier and I hope to spend the time writing.
We’re glad we stayed in Santa Barbara for a few days because we ended up meeting Kanaloa, another boat with kids and enjoying a great playground together.
Another storm was forecasted, so again we changed our plans and headed for Ventura instead of the Channel Islands. There we were welcomed at the Ventura Yacht club and invited to a “homeless” potluck. Pete was able to use the nice picnic area under the yacht club to do some sail repair and I got laundry done. Our new friends Brian and Marilyn on Icarian had us over for brownies to celebrate Carter’s birthday. We waited out a torrential downpour and strong winds that had the natives running for cover as it hadn’t rained there in seven months.. Us Northwesterners were feeling right at home.
When the weather finally cleared we left for the southern Channel Islands. We stopped for the night at Santa Barbara Is, which isn’t much more than a giant rock rising up several hundred feet out of the water. We could see our anchor on the bottom in 45 feet. We were finally in clear blue water! (still cold though)
We moved on to Catalina Island in the morning to Two Harbors for the Latts and Atts cruisers rendezvous. Carter was very excited about the cactus field.
By this time Disney land was calling, so Pete got up at 3 am and started us on our way towards LA. We found 2 friendly Yacht clubs in Alamitos Bay (in Long Beach) and left the boat, rented a car and went off to meet Mickey for a day. Ellie and I spend hours waiting in lines to meet princesses, Pete rode a Segway and Carter got his drivers license at Autopia. No doubt that was the highlight of the trip thus far.
My mom e-mailed about then and we arranged to meet her in San Diego the next week as she had some sky miles burning a hole in her pocket.
We nearly skipped Newport because we’d heard it was crowded… there are are around 9000 boats moored in there! Sure enough, the harbor is REALLY packed full of boats, but there is a small area reserved for transient boat anchorage and we were able to stay there and at the Newport Yacht Club for a few days. Kellie and Kelly (from Wyndeavor) and the kids all went trick or treating on Balboa Island via the dinghy.
This section of the trip was a series of nice daysails, each around 25 miles, so there was no difficulty making it to the next port before dark, even if the wind was light. We hopped from Ventura to Alamitos to Newport to Mission Bay, where Kellie’s mom was to meet us. We thoroughly enjoyed the visit, the hotel, and the pool and hot tub! Kellie, her mom and the kids went to Sea World, where they got to pet dolphins, feed bat rays and enjoy the California sun together. Pete had studied for his Amateur Radio (HAM) license during the week prior to arriving in San Diego. He managed to figure out the public transportation system enough the morning after we arrived to get to El Cajon by 9am and take the three tests… and passed!
We arrived in San Diego harbor on Sept. 8th with plans to finish up a few projects, get our visas and paperwork in order, then head south to Mexico around the 14th. We’re hoping to fast-track to La Paz because we’re anxious to get to warmer water… Southern California has been disappointingly chilly!