August 15, 2012

Sailing from San Diego to Catalina Island: distance and time (Mission Bay, Oceanside, Dana Point, Avalon, Two Harbors)

Are you considering sailing from San Diego to Catalina Island? Here, I provide the distance and travel time for sailing to Catalina from San Diego (Mission Bay, Oceanside or Dana Point) to Catalina Island (Avalon or Two Harbors).


sailing from San Diego to Catalina Island
Sailing from San Diego to Catalina Island

This is a great sailing trip. You can bang it out in a week. And in doing so, you will have covered a lot of the waters around Southern California. Plus, once you get to Catalina - there's lots of bays and bights between Avalon and Two Harbors where you can drop the anchor, go fishing or spend the night.

I thought it might be helpful for other sailors to have all this travel info. in one place.

Sailing from San Diego to Catalina

Distance in nautical miles:               (1 nm = 1.15 land miles)

Mission Bay to Oceanside:      27
Oceanside to Dana Point:        22
Dana Point to Avalon:             33
Dana Point to Two Harbors:    38
Mission Bay to Avalon:           63
Mission Bay to Two Harbors:  76
Oceanside to Avalon:               45


I plotted out these distances based on a direct route, and took an approximate start point for each distance at the outside of each harbor. Each sailor will experience a slightly different distance, depending on their mooring location and line of sail, but consider these good approximations. If you are starting your journey from San Diego Bay instead of Mission Bay, then add 6 nautical miles onto the distance.

It is worth noting that the marina locations I have included in the map, are the only marinas you will encounter while sailing San Diego to Catalina Island.

We made the round trip in a 30 foot sailboat (1976 Newport), staying a night or two at each harbor.

There were certainly glorious moments when we were holding 7-8 knots under sail. However, considering the range of conditions we experienced (current, swells, headwind), let's say - our average speed for this trip was 4.7 knots. Yeah, a bit humbling, this is about the speed of a brisk walk.

At that average speed, the approximate time it would take us to get from A to B was:

Time needed for each leg (if averaging 4.7 knots)


                                               Hours (in decimal)

Mission Bay to Oceanside:        5.7
Oceanside to Dana Point:          4.7
Dana Point to Avalon:               7
Dana Point to Two Harbors:      8
Mission Bay to Avalon:           13.4
Mission Bay to Two Harbors:  16.1
Oceanside to Avalon:                9.6

         If you're in a 30 foot sailboat, or something resembling that - these times should be a decent estimate, whether under sail or engine. Of course, sailors rarely use a completely direct path from one point to another - and so, it would be wise to plan for 1-2 hours on top of these estimates.

sailing to Catalina from San Diego
Best part of the trip: sailing into Avalon

Sailing to Catalina from San Diego

Before you go, you need at least one cruising guide on board. Fagan's book is the standard for local cruisers. It has kept me out of trouble many times. There is a great section on sailing San Diego waters and sailing between anchorages in Catalina and the other Channel Islands.






And... if you're thinking in broader strokes than just southern California, Coast Pilot 7, edition 2016 (NOAA) is the gold standard in navigation books for the entire west coast. This will get you from Mexico to Canada and all points in between...including the big jump out to Hawaii.






Alright  -

Sail on Sailor.

Additionally, I've posted similar nautical information for other sailing regions, follow links below:

Sailing to Catalina Island: distance and time from Los Angeles. This LA boating link provides simple and easy to read distance data for the routes between the popular Los Angeles harbors and the harbors on Catalina Island.

Sailing from San Diego to Los Angeles: nautical miles and time required for a sailboat trip (Mission Bay, Dana Point, Newport Beach, Huntington Harbor, Los Angeles Harbor, Marina del Rey).

Sailing distance (nautical miles) and time for a sailboat trip from San Diego to Santa Cruz Island (Mission Bay, Smuggler's Cove, Avalon, Two Harbors).

If you are a boater in the Seattle or Puget Sound area in the state of Washington, then I recommend you refer to this Seattle boating link. Similar to this page, the Seattle boating link provides all the boating distances between Seattle (Ballard Locks/Shilshole marina) and all the common harbors and marinas in between South Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands.

Incidentally, if you are planning a trip out to Catalina, it's good to know about Buccaneer's Weekend. You may or may not want to arrive on the island this weekend. It really depends on how you feel about tons of people getting drunk and dressed up as pirates. If you're in the right head space it could be a blast.

Buccaneer's weekend happens in the first weekend of October every year. And it happens at Two Harbors, not at Avalon. If you're a fan of pirate ships and the swashbuckling lifestyle, then prepare to have the greatest weekend of your life. The Harbor Reef bar will be converted to a pirate's den. There will be DJs, there will be dancing, there will be rum
The Santa Catalina Island Company is hosting the 26th annual Bucc Days October 1 to 4, 2015 at Two Harbors on Santa Catalina Island, California. Attendees are invited to don their best pirate costume and set sail for a weekend of great food, cold drinks, live music, a treasure hunt, costume contest and much more. One cover charge provides access to four days of swashbuckling fun.  
This year’s event will feature more entertainment than ever before with  live bands on all four days and DJs spinning hits late into the night. The Pirate Village will encompass the Harbor Reef Restaurant deck and the plaza below, with multiple satellite bars, treasure hunts and costume contests to provide fun for everyone.
- See more at: http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/event/buccaneers-weekend-2015#sthash.LCK3xuFe.dpuf
The Santa Catalina Island Company is hosting the 26th annual Bucc Days October 1 to 4, 2015 at Two Harbors on Santa Catalina Island, California. Attendees are invited to don their best pirate costume and set sail for a weekend of great food, cold drinks, live music, a treasure hunt, costume contest and much more. One cover charge provides access to four days of swashbuckling fun.  
This year’s event will feature more entertainment than ever before with  live bands on all four days and DJs spinning hits late into the night. The Pirate Village will encompass the Harbor Reef Restaurant deck and the plaza below, with multiple satellite bars, treasure hunts and costume contests to provide fun for everyone.
- See more at: http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/event/buccaneers-weekend-2015#sthash.LCK3xuFe.dpuf
The Santa Catalina Island Company is hosting the 26th annual Bucc Days October 1 to 4, 2015 at Two Harbors on Santa Catalina Island, California. Attendees are invited to don their best pirate costume and set sail for a weekend of great food, cold drinks, live music, a treasure hunt, costume contest and much more. One cover charge provides access to four days of swashbuckling fun.  
This year’s event will feature more entertainment than ever before with  live bands on all four days and DJs spinning hits late into the night. The Pirate Village will encompass the Harbor Reef Restaurant deck and the plaza below, with multiple satellite bars, treasure hunts and costume contests to provide fun for everyone.
- See more at: http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/event/buccaneers-weekend-2015#sthash.LCK3xuFe.dpuf

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good info!

jesse drummond said...

Good Morning Captain,

I found your sailing chart showing the miles and time between Avalon and Dana Point, Oceanside, etc very interesting.

Hoomi said...

Great information for a story I've been working on. Thank you!

curran said...

great! glad the info was helpful. Hoomi I look forward to seeing that book on the shelves one day.

Susan Hahn said...

Thanks for this great information it will be used soon

curran said...

good to hear Susan,

Fair winds!

Anonymous said...

great info. just did the trip and your numbers were good guidelines for the journey -

appreciate it!

Dave

Kevin Curran said...

glad to hear it Dave,

Fair winds!

Anonymous said...

What would you suggest for a good time to go to Catalina. What months have the safest weather?

Kevin Curran said...

the short answer is to avoid the winter month, when we get the big northwest storms

If you're wanting the safest weather, go with sometime between May and September -
make sure to check the marine forecast before you go, so you know swell size and wind speed forecast for your window of time on the water -

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! It's all been good advice I'll let you know how the trip goes.

Kevin Curran said...

about to make the crossing this July - provisioning the boat!

S/V Emmy said...

Capt Curran we are preparing to make our first trip to Catalina from San Diego as per your blog. Can you please tell us how far off shore you travel?

Kevin Curran said...

S/V Emmy,

Well, I leave from San Diego and sail in a straight line to Catalina. This is 73 nautical miles from Avalon to Mission Bay.
I never sail outside - or farther offshore than Catalina Island.

Where are you departing from?

Kevin

April Cook said...

I've always wanted to sail to Catalina. I think it would be such a fun adventure. I didn't realize it would take so long to get from San Diego to Catalina. I think it would be easier for me to split the trip up as we work our way up the coast. Do you have to make arrangements to dock at a marina beforehand, or can you just show up? Thanks for this information! http://www.sirensailingcharters.com/services/

Kevin Curran said...

April

Definitely call ahead if you know your marina plans.


The harbor master will appreciate the heads up.

But Avalon is first come first serve...