September 15, 2014

Sailing distance (nautical miles) and time for a sailboat trip from San Diego to Santa Cruz Island

This is a long haul. But once you drop the anchor in Smuggler's cove on Santa Cruz Island, you'll be glad you made the journey. The island is much more desolate than Catalina Island, yet has an equally interesting history and is really fun to explore. Plan the trip, make it happen!

boating to Santa Cruz Island from San Diego
Boating from San Diego to Santa Cruz Island

You can either make the whole trip (San Diego to smuggler's cove in one step), or you can spend the first night on Catalina Island (this was our route). I included sailing distance for both options.

For the San Diego waypoint, I started the distance at the mouth of Mission Bay jetty.
If you are starting your journey from San Diego Bay instead of Mission Bay, then add 7 nautical miles onto the distance or for calculating time required for the crossing, add 1.5 hours.

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

Mission Bay to Smuggler's cove:     141
Mission Bay to Avalon:                      63
Avalon to Smuggler's cove:                73
Mission Bay to Two Harbors:            76
Two Harbors to Smuggler's cove:       63

I plotted out these distances based on my route (direct), and took an approximate start point for each distance at the outside of each harbor. Each mariner may experience a slightly different distance, depending on their mooring location and line of sail, but consider these good approximations.

chart plotting the Channel Islands

We made the round trip in a 30 foot sailboat (1976 Newport), and considering the range of conditions we experienced (current, swells, headwind), let's say - our average speed for this trip was 4.7 nautical miles/hr. This average speed accounts for some sailing in good to moderate winds and then the engine turned on at moderately high RPM when the wind goes light. For most folks with a sailboat near 30 feet, just under 5 nautical miles/hr is probably about right.

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

Time needed for each leg (if averaging 4.7 nautical miles/hr)
                                                           Hours (in decimal)

Mission Bay to Smuggler's cove:       30
Mission Bay to Avalon:                      13.4   
Avalon to Smuggler's cove:                15.5  
Mission Bay to Two Harbors:            16.1   
Two Harbors to Smuggler's cove:      13.4

Of course, sailors rarely use a completely direct path from one point to another (either due to some tacking or due to unintentional meanderings) and so, it would be wise to plan for 1-2 hours on top of these estimates.

Approaching Smuggler's Cover after the crossing from Two Harbors.

 And, before you go, you should have at least one cruising guide on board. Fagan's book is the most comprehensive and widely used guide for sailing Central and Southern CA. They have a nice section on the Northern Channel Islands. It's a great compliment to your GPS screen.

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

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

Sailing from Los Angeles to Catalina Island: distance and time for a sailboat trip (Avalon, Two Harbors, Dana Point, Newport Beach, Huntington Harbor, Los Angeles Harbor, Marina del Rey).

Sailing from Seattle to Puget Sound harbors: distance and time for common sailboat trips (Blake Island, Kingston, Edmonds, Bremerton, Port Townsend, Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Everett, Oak Harbor, Victoria, Friday Harbor).

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