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.

5 thoughts on “Monterey to San Diego, planning & learning along the way

  1. Chiara

    Wow! You guys really are having quite the adventure! And it really tested your mettle in having faith with each other and Footloose! I like to believe the porpoises were providing you a VIP accompaniment and escort leaving Monterey heading South. Delighted to hear you made it to Santa Barbara, Catalina, and Avalon. Looking forward to hearing about your experience Baja Ha Ha Rally and Halloween in San Diego! Continued adventures and safe travels to you both!

  2. John Schulthess

    Hey Kids, What a great update. Question…you mentioned needing fuel in SB…on my 1800 miles up from Panama I found that my best cruising speed/RPM to be around 7kts /2200. Also we only got 1kt more running both engines, AP adapted to steering with no problem and did little correcting with one engine running 12 hour then the other…average 7knts…and about 1 gal per hour. 172 gal=1200 miles.
    Mike whats your tankage ?
    Looks like you went right by Matthews old aircraft carrier base…don’t get too close…twin 55 cals ready to take out any scary terrorist looking vessels.
    We’re heading down and will be waiting in La Cruz for you guys, Need us to reserve a slip for you?

    1. Michael Britt

      We have 2 100 gallon tanks. Get about 1.3 gallons per hour. at 2400 we do maybe 6.5 2700 7.5 but the fuel consumption doubles. WE loose on knot with one engine. The engine doesn’t sound as “happy” to me. WE pretty much run both all the time. I would revisit that with 6 dollar diesel, or hard to get fuel. Gen set is about 1/2 gallon per hour.

  3. Carol

    Wow. Lot’s to think about. I guess you guys aren’t just pretty faces on a pretty boat. Thanks for the wordy update! Safe travels.


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