San Diego 1996

Our third trip, for a little variety, was to San Diego.   This was a 7-day charter this time, picking the boat up on 27 December 96, and returning on 2 January 97.   Our plan was to head up the Southern California coast, stopping at Oceanside and Dana Point, then heading over to Avalon on Catalina Island for New Years.
Since The Moorings doesn't have a charter operation in San Diego, for this trip we chartered from San Diego Yacht Charters, located on Harbor Island in San Diego Bay.
We considered a couple of boats for this trip - a Hunter 37 and a Morgan 41.   I had made a trip out to San Diego before our vacation, so while I was out there I visited SDYC to look at their fleet.   We decided on the Morgan for several reasons.   First, it was advertised as having radar, and we were going out in the winter.   Second, it was heaver than the Hunter by several thousand pounds, so I figured it would be a little more stable in the channel across to Catalina (although I have sailed much smaller boats across to Catalina with no problem).   Third, it had greater fuel and water capacity.   And fourth, it had a full keel (the keel ran the whole length of the boat) instead of a fin keel (the keel hangs down from the middle of the boat), and I thought that might be better in the large kelp beds off the Southern California cost.

There were 4 of us on this trip - Kevin and Anita, and Jacquey and me.   Anita had been with us on our last trip to the BVI in '95, but this was Jacquey's first sailing adventure.   And an adventure it was.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of this trip, but the weather for this whole trip was cold, wet, and a lot of rain, so the pictures probably wouldn't have been too good, anyway.   There were a couple of high points, though.   I'll mention them later.

Friday, 27 December

We picked up the boat (the Jolly Roger) from San Diego Yacht Charters this morning.   The office is located at the Cortez Marina on Harbor Island.   Here's a web site for San Diego Harbor.   Take a look at the link to the harbor Port Maps.   If you click on the map of San Diego Harbor, you'll get a larger image.   Harbor Island (looks like a peninsula) is the one close to Lindberg Field (San Diego Airport).   The other island (also looks like a peninsula) to the left is Shelter Island.   San Diego Yacht Club (former and future owners of the America's Cup trophy) is also located here.
Here's another link to some more information on San Diego and the Bay.
By the time we got provisioned and everything, it was a little late to get started, so we decided to stay in San Diego Bay for the night and then head out for the start of our trip the next morning.

Saturday, 28 December

This morning arrived along with a Small Craft Warning (for weather).   We decided to head out to the mouth of the Bay, just to take a visual look at the Pacific Ocean.
I should mention that there is a local navigation rule in San Diego Bay: always give way to the LGBs - the Large Gray Boats.   The US Navy has several facilities here, including home ports for a couple of aircraft carriers, a major submarine base, and on the Point Loma side is a major US Navy SEAL base.
On another sailing trip while I lived in San Diego, I was coming into the entrance to the Bay and watched one of the nuclear attack submarines headed out.   That is one awesome experience.   One of the other people on the boat said he had one surface almost alongside him once as the sub approached the entrance to the Bay returning home.   Wow!
I also got to go on a Dependent's Day Cruise aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV-64).   Check out the photos link, and the photos for the F-18.
On the tour I was on, we got to watch as an F-14 broke the sound barrier just as it got alongside the boat.   A truly unforgettable experience!   But, that's another story.

So - where was I.   Oh, yes.   We headed out towards the Bay entrance, and the closer we got, the bigger the swells got.   We were looking at probably 6' swells and we weren't even to the entrance yet.
Near the entrance to the Bay is a Navy degaussing facility.   That's a process they use to reduce the magnetic signature of the subs as they head out on patrol.   We could hear them yelling something over the loudspeakers from the office, but couldn't make out what it was they were saying.   We think they were yelling at the stupid idiots in the sailboat (us?) and probably telling us to get our butts back inside the Bay.
Well, we had already decided (long before the Navy started yelling, by the way) that it was way too rough outside for us to try the first leg of our trip up the coast , so we turned around and headed back into the Bay.   We spent that day sailing down the Bay and back, cruising under the Coronado Bay Bridge and checking out the various sights inside the Bay itself.   We eventually headed back to the dock for another night in San Diego.

Sunday, 29 December

Winter weather in San Diego is strange.   Yesterday we were faced with heavy winds and huge seas.   This morning we had really flat seas and no wind.   At least we could get out of the Bay and start our trip.
We head north towards Oceanside, under power.   Shortly after leaving the entrance of the Bay, we spotted a lone grey whale headed south on its annual migration.   This was a smaller whale, and by itself.   We tuned and followed it for a while, watching it surface and blow several times.
There are very strict laws about how much distance you have to keep away from migrating whales (and for very good reason), so we made sure we were in compliance.   These are magnificent animals, and I get really angry when I see idiots go screaming around them in their power boats with absolutely no regard for these creatures and their welfare.
Since we were heading south, and our destination was to the north, we finally had to give up watching and turn around.   We got a little wind, so set the sails and gave sailing a try.
We found out a couple of things.   One of the reasons we selected the Morgan was because it was heavier.   Well, that meant it also took more wind to move it.   We discovered that it took around 12 knots of wind just to get this thing moving.   We did have that minimum wind, and it even lasted for about 4 hours, so we got some sailing in as we headed up the California coast.
One thing about being under sail is that the boat is pretty quiet in the water (no engine noise).   At one point during this under-sail period, another whale (this time a really big one) surfaced no more than 50 yards off to the side of the boat.   Since we needed to make our first stop (Oceanside Harbor) before it got dark, we didn't turn to follow this one.   But it was still exciting to see.

We pulled into Oceanside Harbor (Here's another link to the city of Oceanside itself.) in the afternoon, and checked in with the Harbormaster for a slip.   We had pulled into a slip in front of the Harbormaster's office, and found that we didn't quite fit.   The Morgan is a very beamy (wide) boat, and we could get the boat and fenders on one side in the slip, but there wasn't room for any fenders on the other side.   So, we got a wider slip up near the Oceanside Yacht Club.
A note here about Oceanside Harbor.   First, they have done some major work on the jetties at the harbor entrance (specifically, extending the northern arm).   Oceanside used to have a real problem with a sand bar building up at the pretty narrow entrance.   This meant that quite a swell would build up across that bar.   The problem was that the swell wasn't going straight into the entrance - it was running across the entrance.   I came in one time in a Venture 22, and actually got to surf the boat into the harbor channel.   You had to be really careful about timing the swells, and make sure you started on the northern edge of the entrance, since you were getting a ride across to the southern side.   The extension to the northern jetty very nicely eliminated that problem.

Anyway, there are showers on the dock, so we got a chance to get properly cleaned up.   Later we walked around the area a bit, and then had a great dinner at one of the restaurants at that end of the harbor.
After dinner we settled in for the night, resting up for the next leg of the voyage.

I'll mention here that the 4 hours under sail we got today was the only sailing we got to do on this trip.   The wind yesterday was strong enough to cause Small Craft Warnings.   It must have grabbed all the wind for the next week to put into yesterday, because there was no wind for the rest of this trip.   Just lots of clouds and rain.   Oh, well - all part of sailing.
Did I care? No.   While a decent breeze and sunshine would have been nice, even a bad day sailing is better than a good day at work.

Monday, 30 December

This morning we left Oceanside and headed further up the Southern California coast, destination Dana Point Harbor.
On this trip we passed through some serious kelp beds, and if we had had the time and equipment, it would probably have been some pretty good SCUBA diving.   But, we'll have to save that for another trip.   We drove past the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, and arrived at the Dana Point Harbor early that afternoon.
Dana Point is a really nice harbor, and we enjoyed the stay there.
Not much to say about the trip up - under power under cloudy and sometimes rainy skies.

Tuesday, 31 December

Our original goal was to spend New Year's Eve in Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island.   This means we want to leave fairly early this morning, so we fix an early breakfast, head over to the fuel dock to top off the fuel tanks, and (still optimistically hoping for wind) leave.
The trip over is uneventful, but still no wind.   We actually do get a mooring inside the harbor, which is really good luck, because there are limited moorings inside the harbor and they're allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.   There are more moorings just outside the breakwater of Avalon Bay, but again, it's first-come, first-served.
Avalon Bay is a no-dump area.   You cannot dump any sewage of any kind, either treated or untreated, into the Bay.   This rule is strictly enforced.   When you check in with the harbormaster and get a mooring, a patrol boat comes out and they put this flourescent dye into your waste tanks.   If so much as a drop leaks out, there is a very bright arrow leading directly to your boat.   The penalty is a one-year banishment from Avalon Harbor, and a $500 fine.
The good news is that we got a mooring in Catalina Bay in time for New Year's Eve.   The bad news is that Kevin has managed to catch some kind of bug and is really under the weather (no pun intended).   Jacquey and I go ashore for dinner and a little bit of entertainment, but unfortunately, Kevin's stuck aboard.   We don't stay out too late, however, and bring back a pint of Haagen-Daaz for Kevin - maybe it'll help.

Catalina is still half privately-owned.   The Wrigley family has a large ranch there, and just as an aside, my great-grandfather used to be a foreman on the Wrigley ranch on Catalina.

Wednesday, 1 January

Well, Kevin's feeling a little better this morning, so that's the good news.   There's still no wind, but we have to head on back because we have to have the boat back to San Diego by tomorrow.
We leave Catalina and head back for Oceanside, again under power.   Another uneventful day, with wet and cloudy skies.   We arrive back at Oceanside Harbor that afternoon, and get another slip there for the night, before our final leg back to San Diego.

Thursday, 2 January

Today dawns cold, wet, and foggy.   This is not good.   We have to have the boat back today.   There is minimal visibility, but we head out of the harbor to check on things out outside.   The fog itself didn't bother us, since we had 2 GPS units aboard and knew where we were.   The problem was the radar.
If you recall, one of the reasons we selected the Morgan was the radar.   The bad news was that the unit had been removed for repair.   While we knew where we were, we wouldn't know where anyone else was.
In addition, as we get outside, and we find that the engine is overheating.   So, we head back into the harbor and try to fit into one of the slips by the Harbormaster's office again.   And, we give San Diego Yacht Charters a call.

This is where real customer service makes a difference.
I talked with the owner, and he agreed to work things out with us.   What he wound up doing was sending one of his Captains and a mechanic up in his own personal car, and they would check over the boat and sail it back to San Diego.   He let us use his car to drive back and complete our trip.
Now, that is customer service.

If you ever consider chartering in San Diego, San Diego Yacht Charters should be the first charter outfit on your list.

Friday, 3 January

Well, we finally reach the end of another trip.   We spend another couple of days at the Hyatt Regency in San Diego just checking out things like Seaport Village and other cool San Diego things before heading home, already making plans for the next trip.

Back to the sailing list.