Southern California Cruising
"The problem with sailing around San Diego is that there is nowhere to cruise to.” chimed in my favorite East-coaster during a crew planning discussion about our summer cruising and racing schedule aboard Sally.
"I grew up sailing on Long Island Sound, where there are great anchorages within a couple hours of sailing.” she continued.
“It's a good thing there's only a couple hours of sailing between anchorages, with the indifferent weather one encounters on the Eastern seaboard!” I replied in the spirit of West-is-best.
“Well OK Krabby, the weather is an issue out there - that's why it's so nice to sail in Southern California; but I still say there are not that many places to go.” she conceded
“Fair enough. Cruising out of San Diego does require a little bit more planning, but I'll bet you a drink that I can show you the beautiful cruising grounds at Catalina Island within a day of sailing from here. If you don't want to make the offshore passage, there are places to stop coastwise all the way to the island.”
“Alright you’re on – it’s a bet!” she said, with confidence.
“First of all, we can sail almost every day of the year in San Diego. What we consider bad weather is a good day on the East Coast. It's never too hot or cold and, best of all, there are no bugs. You have to work hard at finding the bottom to run aground; in fact, finding water shallow enough water for the anchor to reach the bottom is often the biggest challenge. Sure, some of the best cruising spots are more than a day sail away; but once you reach your destination, you can easily sail for couple hours from one spot to another. Catalina Island is a great place to cruise; it is almost 90 miles from SDYC to our outstation, Buffalo Beach. There are great places to anchor or pick up a mooring within an hour or two sailing between each location. These places are on a par with the iconic Long Island Sound cruising destinations – and without the bugs, thunderstorms, shoals, and reefs. I have been cruising Catalina Island for the past 30 years and still have not visited all of the anchorages. Some locations on the Island are set up with moorings and shoreside facilities. There are plenty of more secluded spots where you can anchor on your own. You can use our outstation Buffalo Beach as your base station and from there you can work your way around the Island and find the anchorages that suit you. All the stops on Catalina are unique in their own way and I’m sure you'll find a favorite spot, but you’re not likely to swat a mosquito or have to put on the storm covers for a summer thunderstorm.”
“Sounds great Krabby, and it’s no problem for a 59’ sailboat like Sally. But it is still a long trip to Catalina in a small boat – 90 miles of ocean can be a challenge for people who are just getting started cruising,” she said trying to save her bet.
“Those who don't want to do an overnight trip to the islands can work their way up the coast in a series of day sails. San Diego to Mission Bay is an easy two to three-hour trip and you can anchor in Mariner’s Cove. If you get an early start you can make Oceanside in a day. Oceanside to Dana Point is another day sail. It's an easy trip from Dana to Buffalo beach or take another day sail to Newport Beach then cross the channel to Catalina. All of the stopping places have wonderful yacht clubs that are reciprocal with SDYC. Yes, I agree, it is not the iconic New England cruising grounds like Newport, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, and the list goes on; but you will be buying me that drink once you have spent a week cruising around Catalina.”
“Okay Krabby, you could be right. I hear that there is a drink called ‘Buffalo’s Milk’ at a bar named Doug’s Harbor Reef” in the Catalina Isthmus. I might be buying you a drink there”