March 28, 2015

Two Harbors mooring

When the work schedule clears and I can sneak out of town, my thoughts usually gravitate to a Two Harbors mooring ball. In my opinion, here in Southern California, Two Harbors is the the coolest possible cruising destination for boaters living in San Diego or Los Angeles. If you want a spot with more more people action and a range of bars and restaurants, then Avalon is always there for you. But if you want tranquility and empty rolling hills, then Two Harbors is your spot.

Two Harbors mooring reservation

The popular summer weekends can be crowded, so its best to secure a two harbors mooring reservation. Here's a link to get info on two harbors mooring reservations.

two harbors mooring reservations
floating on a mooring ball in Two Harbors
A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I shook off our mooring lines in San Diego and headed out for Catalina Island. We have had an unseasonably warm winter here in Southern California. Unfortunately, we have not had the nice stiff breezes that usually arrive with the Santa Ana winds or with the low pressure systems from the Northwest. So, the air has been light. This means we motored for most of the passage. However, the benefit to a calm sea, is that you also get a calm mooring. We tied up in Two Harbors and got a few nights of very restful sleep.

Two Harbors mooring

When we take my boat out from Mission Bay and make the 76 nautical mile journey to Two Harbors, it usually takes a very full day. So, we leave very early, usually around 4 am.
A few years ago, I wrote up this blog post on all the information you need as you boat from San Diego to Two Harbors or Avalon. 

Then, because I have quite a few friends moored in Los Angeles, I also wrote up this post, which gives all the travel information for boating from the most popular Los Angeles marinas over to Catalina Island. One nice things about living in LA is you can boat over to a Two Harbors mooring in an afternoon..

san diego to catalina on a chart
plotting out the journey to Two Harbors

Well - if you can get out there, do it! Catalina is the gem of Southern California.

Fair winds!

March 24, 2015

It looks like sea lions do occasionally bite...

Sea lions will occasionally bite humans. Don't get too close!

SAN DIEGO – A five-year-old was bitten on his face by a sea lion Sunday around 1:30 p.m. at La Jolla Cove.

According to witnesses, the boy tried to pet the sea lion, and the sea lion snapped back its neck and lunged at him. People who saw it happen said the boy approached the sea lion from behind. The boy was taken to the hospital with minor injuries

Lifeguards it is rare for sea lions to bite people, but they may be more easily provoked during pupping season. At least 2 sea lion attacks have been reported in the last 3 months, possibly because there have been more sea lions on the beach, lifeguard Lt. John Sandmeyer said. People should stay 20 meters away from seals and sea lions, he added.

See full article here

March 22, 2015

looking for that lost shaker of salt...

It is hard to over-estimate the influence that Jimmy Buffet has had on an entire generation of boaters.
His legacy will live long after he's gone. 

I love this house boat.

If I owned this boat, I would spend far too many hours walking around barefoot and drinking rum.

March 16, 2015

another pirate is in the clear

My girlfriend and I were returning from a quiet sail when we noticed this fishing boat. We've never seen it before.

We would like to think - that this skipper just finished the legal proceedings and is now back on the water - preparing to head south to Mexico before anyone changes their mind.

Either way, we are glad to see he will not be cooped up in a jail cell anymore. 

He is out with the rest of us riff raff - making waves in the Bay.

To see similar clever boat names for the ethically challenged, follow this link.

March 3, 2015

storm front rolling into Mission Bay

I miss the low pressure storms from the Pacific Northwest. San Diego is good for year round t-shirt sailing, but where's the squalls?
I miss being out sailing in light air, then suddenly the horizon line darkens and next thing you know, you're in a small craft advisory.

Anyway, we got a nice weather system last week - in Southern California. You can see the first dark clouds arriving. But this weekend was back to hot and dry and light air..

finally get some weather in San Diego
I'm tied up in Mariner's Cove - waiting for some 15 knot winds. Then I'm heading out...

February 28, 2015

How to install a sailboat winch pad

If you're installing a winch on a sailboat, you may want to install the sailing winch on a teak winch pad. I just re-seated a new stainless steel chimney flue on this winch pad. The deck of my Newport 30 sailboat has a curve right in the spot where the stove pipe exits the deck, so the teak pad lets me flatten out the plane of the chimney flue. The pad is generally used as a platform for winches, but it also worked out well for this project.

buy a teak winch pad
Teak winch pad used to mount a fireplace chimney
I think you can find these at some boating stores, perhaps West Marine, not entirely sure. I found this teak winch pad online Its the one in the pictures, its a nice piece of teak and looks good with a coat of varnish. 

For my application, I drilled out a 5 inch hole with a circular drill bit, then sanded down the base of the winch pad, till the slope of the pad was complimentary to the slope of my boat deck. Then I laid down some 4200 sealant and drilled the teak pad down into the balsa core fiberglass deck of my boat. This makes for a solid, water-proof attachment. I've never seen a leak on the inside of the boat.

drilled out hole in teak winch pad
we drilled a 5 inch hole in the teak winch pad

This is the pad I used. Looks pretty, ages well...

February 15, 2015

Boat drone over San Diego

We got this shot flying the Phantom drone above the sailboat in Mariner's Cove.
Gorgeous shot at about 50 feet in the air.

February 8, 2015

Is your boat insured in 2015?

      I just returned from some traveling this winter and when I got back down to my boat, I realized something felt different. Something felt a bit more unhinged. And then I realized, 'oh yeah, i let my boat insurance expire'. I am now the owner of an uninsured boat. This is a bit unsettling. I have decided to wipe the slate clean and attempt an unbiased pursuit of a new insurance company. I have not settled on one company yet. But, I am making the calls and seeing who is best suited to insure my 38 year old sailboat. I found this helpful review of the top boat insurance companies and thought I would pass it on. Here is a link to a Comparison of boat insurance companies for 2015

If anyone has any recommendations for me, please let me know. I should be able to find something for under 500$ for the year. All the best!

insurance reviews san diego

February 4, 2015

The Gary down in La Paz

My good friend - Gary Caprario - has made the leap to salty expat down in the salty expat town of La Paz, Mexico. Follow his adventures at

He now lives a simple life of swimming with whale sharks and fixing boat problems in the hot, subtropical climate of southern Baja. If you are down around the docks of La Paz, reach out to him on his website. Maybe he will take you out for a sail!

The Gary at the helm of his 36 Catalina

a windy sunset near La Paz

exploring Espiritu Santo on foot

January 30, 2015

Boating distance from Seattle to nearby harbors

Seattle is a world class home port for boaters. The cruising destinations are arguably better than all other west coast ports. I was docked in Seattle (Shilshole marina) for 4 years and did as much cruising around Puget Sound as possible. 

     Before you untie the dock lines, its good to know how many miles from Seattle (Ballard Locks) to all nearby harbors and marinas. When I was boating around Seattle, I could never find all this information online in one spot - so, I made my own page.

     Here I provide the: distance from Seattle to Eagle Harbor, distance from Seattle to Elliot Bay, distance from Seattle to Kingston, distance from Seattle to Edmonds, distance from Seattle to Blake Island, distance from Seattle to Bremerton, distance from Seattle to Port Ludlow, distance from Seattle to Gig Harbor, distance from Seattle to Tacoma, distance from Seattle to Quartermaster Harbor, distance from Seattle to Everett, distance from Seattle to Port Townsend, distance from Seattle to Oak Harbor, distance from Seattle to Friday Harbor and the distance from Seattle to Victoria.

Distance: How many miles from Seattle to nearby harbors / marinas.

(all distances from Seattle start at the Ballard Locks)

Distance in miles (nautical miles)

Seattle to Eagle Harbor                                       4.8 m  (5.5 nm)

Seattle to Elliot Bay (downtown harbor)              6.1 m  (7 nm)

Seattle to Kingston                                              6.5 m  (7.5 nm)

Seattle to Edmonds                                             7.4 m  (8.5 nm)

Seattle to Blake Island                                         8.3 m  (9.5 nm)

Seattle to Bremerton                                          13.5 m  (15.5 nm)

Seattle to Port Ludlow                                          20 m  (23 nm)

Seattle to Gig Harbor                                         21.3 m  (24.5 nm)

Seattle to Tacoma                                                23 m  (26.5 nm)

Seattle to Quartermaster Harbor                       24.8 m  (28.5 nm)

Seattle to Everett                                               25.2 m  (29 nm)

Seattle to Port Townsend                                  28.7 m  (33 nm)

Seattle to Oak Harbor                                        35.6 m  (41 nm)

Seattle to Friday Harbor (San Juan Island)          53 m  (61 nm) 
(via Admiralty Inlet)

Seattle to Victoria (Vancouver Island)               56.5 m  (65 nm)
(via Admiralty Inlet)

A nautical mile is based on the circumference of the earth. One nautical mile is equal to one minute of latitude on a chart. A nautical mile is slightly more than a land mile (1 nautical mile = 1.15 land mile)

boating distance from Seattle to friday harbor
I plotted out these Puget Sound distances the old fashioned way
     For each distance, I used the outer navigational markers from each harbor as the starting/ending waypoint. For the Seattle starting point, I used the navigational markers just outside the Ballard Locks. If you're moored down in Elliot Bay, just add or subtract a few miles, depending on your destination.

    If you're heading out into Puget Sound and beyond, you need at least one good boating guidebook (cruising guide). When I was out exploring Puget Sound, I always had these three on board.They compliment each other nicely.

I like the 2014 Waggoner Cruising Guide because it has broad travel info. (phone numbers) on all ports from Seattle up to Alaska. This is a very affordable way to get loads of valuable boating info.

For more detailed information on boating around Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, then I like A Cruising Guide to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands: Olympia to Port Angeles. This is regarded as the definitive guide book for local Seattle boaters. Lots of tips on anchorages and smaller bays.

If you're looking for a an old classic, salty guide book to help with dropping anchor in secluded bays, bights and 'gunkholes' in the San Juan Islands, you will want the time-tested, Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands: A Comprehensive Cruising Guide Encompassing Deception Pass to the Canadian Boundary. This book also helps find productive spots for pulling up dungeness crabs...

Seattle Boat

If you're a Seattle power boater, the distances provided should be all you need to approximate your travel time. If you're a sailor who wants to put the sails up, then your travel time will be much more variable. I've written a more thorough post, that approximates the time required to make these trips (based on a 30 foot sailboat).

ballard locks to Puget sound harbors
taking my Newport 30 through the Ballard locks

Hope this page has been helpful.
Fair winds!

January 21, 2015

Diving for California Spiny Lobster around San Diego

In California, during winter months, it is legal to dive down into the Pacific Ocean and harvest a few California spiny lobsters. The Department of Fish and wildlife lobster harvest rules are stringent: you need to grab them with your hands and you need to size them out under water, but the payoff is huge. It's nice to end your night with a few of these crustaceans. Each one of these tails makes for a full meal.

how to catch a lobster in san diego
I recently snagged these legal sized California spiny lobsters near Mission Bay
My friend and I prefer free diving at night, as the lobsters wander farther out into the open at night. They leave their rocky crevices and seek out food. This makes it easier to swoop down and grab them with your hands. We work the rock wall along the Mission Bay jetty. This is a legal area to dive for lobster.

lobsters are just under the surface of the water along the jetty wall
These spots are common knowledge, so I am not giving away any secrets here. Another spot to explore is the kelp beds along Point Loma, You can either snorkel along the coast or get your dive gear out. If you're willing to go the extra mile with scuba tanks, you can get down 30-50 feet and find some good sized 'bugs' tucked along rock ledges near the floor of the kelp beds.

Diving for lobster around San Diego

a quick surf before dropping down into the Point Loma kelp beds

Dave got these on a night dive near the OB jetty wall
Then of course, the best part of the lobster experience is eating the tails. We cook them up in my boat right after coming to the surface. I boil the tails, toast the bread and melt the butter. Sometimes, I will cook up some angel hair pasta as well. But, fresh lobster tail and a glass of wine is really all you need.

Cooking California Spiny Lobster

a quick meal coming together: lobster, toast and butter

January 11, 2015

Boating to Catalina Island: distances from LA harbors

Most boaters in Los Angeles eventually take their boat out to Catalina Island. It's helpful to know how far the main LA harbors are to the Catalina Island harbors (Avalon and Two Harbors). I am providing the boating distances from: Dana Point to Avalon, Dana Point to Two Harbors, Newport Beach to Avalon, Newport Beach to Two Harbors, Huntington Beach to Avalon, Huntington Beach to Two Harbors, LA harbor to Avalon, LA harbor to Two Harbors, Marina del Rey to Avalon, Marina del Rey to Two Harbors.

Taking your boat from LA to Catalina Island.

Dana Point to Avalon:  33 miles (38 nautical miles)

Dana Point to Two Harbors: 38 miles (44 nautical miles)

Newport Beach to Avalon: 26 miles (30 nautical miles)

Newport Beach to Two Harbors: 32 miles (37 nautical miles)

Huntington Harbor to Avalon: 25 miles (29 nautical miles)

Huntington Harbor to Two Harbors: 27 miles (31 nautical miles)

LA Harbor to Avalon: 25 miles (29 nautical miles)

LA Harbor to Two Harbors: 22 miles (25 nautical miles)

Marina del Rey to Avalon: 38 miles (44 nautical miles)

Marina del Rey to Two Harbors: 31 miles (36 nautical miles)

(distances are measured from the outer navigational buoys of each harbor)

Boating to Catalina Island

taking your boat to Catalina Island
Boating to Catalina Island: distances from harbor to harbor

If you are a power boater, these distances should be all you need to approximate your travel time. If you're a sailor who wants to put the sails up, then your travel time will be much more variable. I've written a more thorough post, that approximates the time required to make this trip (based on a 30 foot sailboat).  Keep in mind, the California current moves north to south. Most weather (wind) comes out of the northwest. Depending on the direction of the swell, you may be in a swell shadow (and wind shadow) for most of the journey between LA and Catalina Island. 

If you're planning on taking your boat out to Catalina, you will need to have at least one boating guide book on board. Brian Fagan's book is the standard guidebook for the area. The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California. There is a very thorough section on boating in and around Los Angeles and exploring all the anchorages and harbors around Catalina Island.