Monthly Archives: October 2016

San Diego, Next Stop Turtle Bay.

San Diego Morning

San Diego Morning

We arrived in San Diego bay, on the 6th of October about three weeks before the Baja HaHa. Initially we anchored in the transient anchorage just east of Harbor Island. You are only allowed to stay here for three days. This anchorage is next to the San Diego Airport with jets taking off every minute or so. The noise was phenomenal. When the Coast Guard called us to let us know that we were anchored inside their security zone, just outside the anchorage, we left….

Moon Rise at Glorietta Bay

Moon Rise at Glorietta Bay

Motoring for just 15 minutes or so found us anchored at Glorietta Bay a temporary anchorage for HaHa participants and good for the month. Glorietta Bay is off of Coronado Island. We were anchored off of the Coronado Golf course. Downtown Coronado was an easy dingy ride away. We laid low for a few days reading and SUPing. We did a little shopping in Coronado stopping to admire the multimillion dollar properties advertised in Real Estate windows. After a good walk we stopped for a drink at the “Del” once a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt, Marilyn Monroe.  On another day, we dingied to the beach to play nine holes at the Coronado golf course. As a new golfer I don’t know how anyone puts up with 18 holes.

Golf at Coronado

Golf at Coronado – Footloose in the Background

Glorietta bay is also home to a Naval amphibious base so we were treated to morning reveille, and small boat operations in the bay including groups of marines practicing paddling their small inflatables..stroke, stroke, stroke, hopefully they don’t shout the cadence during covert ops. Another group took a swim across the bay to the Coronado Bridge and back…

Here is a link to Guys training at Glorietta bay

For the rest of the month we are tied up at the “Police Dock” Clean, convenient to more boat stores than I’ve ever seen in one place. The San Diego Marine Exchange gets very high marks. We are having new lifelines made. Ed and the rigging crew are really great. A welcome to San Diego party hosted by them included 40% off everything in the store. WOW, their pricing is already pretty good, much better than West Marine.

Another happy moment was filling our tackle box for trolling with the help of Captain Art.  Art is long time friend who operates Searcher and specializes in Sport Fishing, Whale Watching, and Pelagic Bird watching.  Want a trip with a great outfit, Click Here

Boat Yoga - Cleaning Bilges

Boat Yoga – Cleaning Bilges

The police dock is a little weird. With a large population of cruising boats, many flying the HaHa Flag  like us. But at night homeless vagabonds bring their boats into any empty space to take advantage of the water and power. Then it gets a little rowdier as they greet their buddies and help each other bring their often engineless and undoubtedly uninsured craft into the dock.

Strange Doings at the Police Dock

Strange Doings at the Police Dock

Mark has a pretty nice looking 46 foot Jeanneau, not sure how he came to own it. We had seen him in Glorietta bay using the Jeanneau to tow an old William Garden Ketch and wondered about the story. One evening after the police went home, the Jeanneau pulled into the slip next to us. Mark began cleaning and tidying immediately. About 8:00pm we were ready to eat dinner and offered to share our simple dinner so he joined us. He had been moving the ketch every three days for over a year hoping to sell the ketch. Proudly he told us the boat was solid teak and a bargain at only $2500. The next morning at 7:00 am we awoke to a loud rapping on the hull. I jumped out of bed, but it was actually the harbor police knocking on the Jeanneau.. “Mark, Mark, we are gonna tow this boat” shouted the burly harbor policeman. Tough life.

Driving at night


Night Driving

It’s a moonless night the fog hanging low on the water as you navigate your way down the coast.  Your running lights flare back at you from the fog.  How do you keep from hitting “stuff” , stuff like freighters, fishing boats, rocks, or buoys.  One of our readers Dennis, wanted to know.

Like driving a car, somethings you can control and others not.  You never know for sure that a piece of plywood won’t fly out of the dump truck ahead or a rock will have rolled off the hillside just around the next bend.  We drive anyway, we are used to the risk, basically most people don’t think about it.

Likewise with sailing.  We can do pretty well with things that stick up above the water a few feet, especially if they are made of steel or rock.  But things in the water are a little tough.  Most offshore boaters would list whales and cargo containers as the biggest risks. The odds of hitting something like that are pretty low, but at night, we slow down a bit, following the boater’s adage, don’t approach something faster than you want to hit it… We hope the whales will look up from their cell phones and hear us coming… Oh wait that’s a human trait.

Radar is a device that sends out a beam of energy and then looks for that energy to be reflected from the objects that it hits.  Our radar can probably “see” about 30 miles.

A newer device that we love is called AIS.  AIS is a small box that boats carry that announces by radio what kind of ship it is, the name of the ship, how fast it’s moving and what it’s course is.  These are now mandated for commercial shipping internationally.  The thing we love is that it also calculates the CPA, closest point of approach, and TCPA time to closest point of approach.  When you change course to avoid, you can see the numbers improve, even if the ship is not in sight.

Red symbols on the left side are other vessels black boat is us.  The red AIS sailboat is about 100 feet ahead of us going in our direction the yellow arrow is the wind the greyline is our Course Over Ground- San Diego Harbor

We sit outside and watch a split screen. The left side has a chart which shows the depth, the buoys, rocks and other navigational challenges. The right shows the radar.  When we know there are no rocks about, we zoom the chart out so it covers about 40 miles around the boat.  The AIS triangles are on the chart so we can see the big ships moving.  The radar portion is usually set to about six miles so we can see fishing boats and smaller objects close to us.  Unfortunately fiberglass boats tend not to show up as well, but it’s what we have.

As we approach San Diego Bay, A stream of freighters are converging on the entrance.  At 4 pm a small fishing boat, invisible to radar, throws on his search light as he passes…. No running lights.   The radio squawks to life “This is Warship 6 located at 32 degrees 15 minutes north, 120 degrees 20 minutes west preparing to conduct live fire exercises, maintain a 50 mile distance from my ship.”  In southern California there is a lot of military activity.  We are about 4 miles out from the entrance buoy to San Diego harbor.  I peer ahead through stabilized binoculars and see a dark shape in the channel, the silhouette of a navy destroyer, illuminated with the minimum of lights and NO AIS.  Luckily this is not warship 6.  Now, a stream of fishing boats are zooming out of the harbor into their familiar waters.  We slow way down and wait 45 minutes for sunrise.  As we enter the harbor three Navy tugs race out to greet an aircraft carrier.

Monterey to San Diego, planning & learning along the way

Rounding Cape Conception

Rounding Cape Conception

First Overnight, Building Trust

Leaving Monterey to head south would be our first overnight voyage alone without other crew. We would have a 3-hour watch schedule. We planned to go straight to the Channel Islands or to Santa Barbara, rounding Cape Conception at night, all weather permitting. We monitored Predict Wind Offshore for departure plans. According to the software, the weather and winds all looked benevolent, but still we were a bit uneasy, not yet confident with the predictions matching the reality. We checked NOAA too and monitored weather on the VHF radio. We waited for the best window and committed to the departure. We cleaned, provisioned, organized. There was a quiet anxious edge in the cabin as we both prepared. At last we talked about the anxiety and the tension lifted. Michael was reassured when I admitted that I was nervous too. In fact, he was relieved that I was scared (nice). I told him that some of this requires a good dose of trust and faith.  The boat was ready. We would depart at dawn.

We left the dock at 6 am in the dark fog, bundled in foul weather gear and drinking coffee.  I had the first watch 6:00-9:00 am, with Michael nearby. It will take some time for him to relax. He does need his rest. I assured him that I would alert him of anything I’m unsure of. I also pointed out (with good humor) that I care about the boat and want to live just as much as he does. Relax honey, I got this. During my first watch, he pretended to sleep in the cabin with one eye open. We quickly realized that the wind would not be as expected. Lacking knots and favorable direction, again we had to motor, which changed our timing. We made the best of our passage, motoring through the cold and dense fog.  I slept well during my off time. Michael slept some too, gaining some trust in me on watch. 

Porpoises on our bow

Porpoises on our bow

Michael woke me once for the best of reasons: porpoises dancing under our bow. There were 20 or more, diving and swimming with us. Delightful.  


Entrance to Port San Luis

Entrance to Port San Luis

Running low on fuel, we stopped at Port San Luis at 6am the following morning.  After fueling, the wind began to pick up and then some! With less than a mile off shore, we decided to turn back and anchor for a night.The Harbormaster recommended we tie up to a mooring ball instead of anchoring. And so we go —and in howling winds, we each take turns trying to drive and slow the boat down, while the other catches the ball with the boat hook. Surely we’ve done this before, but not with this strange type of ball setup, nor in these conditions. Several attempts with no cigar. And so it happened that we broke a rule. We yelled. Cursed even. A broken boat hook was thrown into the water (and recovered). We retreated and did the most sensible thing – anchored.  I felt ashamed for Footloose, our proud boat. I imagined her scolding us, “ excuse me, you are embarrassing me, you promised there would be no yelling. what happened to your normally calm manners?…”  Our calm manners did return and that evening we were treated to an amazing display of whales and a mass of seabirds feasting 1/2 mile offshore. The next day there was a small craft advisory warning with gale force winds predicted. We stayed on the boat, nervously watching for anchor drift. We remained at anchor for not one night, but three, waiting for the wind to calm down for the “Conception rounding”.  We kept our cool, visited Avila beach, did laundry with our on board bucket system, and waited.

Rounding a Great Cape, Point Conception

All Systems GO, we left on September 24 bound for Conception. We got some wind and sailed for a while with the big reacher. We rounded the great cape under sail with daylight to spare, arriving in Southern California with gentle breezes and following seas. We anchored at Cojo Anchorage and toasted a beautiful passage. After a peaceful night, we were off to Santa Barbara. We motored along happily on a beautiful sunny day. Our cold weather foulies replaced by T-shirts and shorts!  We reached Santa Barbara Harbor on a balmy, busy Sunday afternoon. Michael cautiously navigated the channel teeming with boats, kayaks, paddle boarders, birds. It was crazy. He turned Footloose around to make a smooth starboard dock landing. I caught the cleat with the dock line and we parked. We made it!

Shorts and Sails, Santa Barbara Passage

Southern California, The Cruising Life

We made several stops in Southern California. We’re adapting to cruising. There’s a lot of planning and boat work, intermixed with quick bursts of seeing the sights. Our first stop was Santa Barbara, where we enjoyed 4 nights. Beautiful and HOT. We visited State Street, shopped at Lazy Acres market for more provisions, and took in the busy harbor activity. Linda, an old friend of Michael’s visited for fun dinner aboard.

Little Scorpion, Santa Cruz Island

Little Scorpion, Santa Cruz Island

Time for the next destination, Santa Cruz Island. We anchored at Little Scorpion Cove. So glad we made it for one night to the Channel Islands!  We explored this cove by dingy, taking in the birds, caves and the quiet desolate beauty.

Up at 5 am and off to Avalon, Catalina Island. Another overnight and all was calm. We arrived Avalon on another busy Sunday afternoon and tied up to our assigned mooring ball amidst an armada of large boats. In the process, we wrapped a line on our prop and got to meet a local diver, who quickly undid our mishap. (no yelling involved, only check writing.)  After the serenity of Little Scorpion, Avalon was at first sensory overload. Soon, the island’s charm grew on us. The best part was having our friends Celia and Art join us on the boat for a few days. We toured the Island by golf cart, had movie night at the gorgeous Casino theater, and snorkeled off of Descanso Beach. 

As soon as our friends departed, we decided to leave sooner than planned for our next overnight to San Diego.  We left at 5:30pm and arrived San Diego Harbor at 8:00am. We are now anchored in Glorietta Bay with a view of the Coronado Golf Course. There’s another Baja Ha Ha boat alongside. We’ll be busy here in San Diego too, preparing for the arrival of our crew and the start of the Baja Ha Ha Rally, which begins on Halloween!  In our brief cruising life, we’ve covered some 500 miles. It seems like so much longer than two months time.