September 15, 2014

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

    Are you considering sailing from Los Angeles to San Diego? Or if you've got a fishing boat in LA and want to fish Coronado Island, you may want to know the distance for boating from LA to San Diego. This post provides the distance (nautical miles) and travel times for the journey from the most common LA harbors down to San Diego.

sailing from LA to san diego
Sailing from San Diego to LA harbors

I just sailed south from Channel Islands Marina (near Oxnard) back down to San Diego - stopping at these marinas along the way. I thought it would be a good online resource to post all these distances and travel times. There are lots of folks boating between LA and San Diego, so hopefully this will be of use.

For the San Diego way point, I started the distance at the mouth of Mission Bay jetty (because that's where my boat is docked). If you are starting your journey from San Diego Bay instead of Mission Bay, then add 7 nautical miles onto each distance or for calculating time required for each journey, add 1.5 hours (if in a 30 ft sailboat).

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

Mission Bay to Dana Point:                   50
Mission Bay to Newport Beach:            62
Mission Bay to Huntington Harbor:      73
Mission Bay to LA harbor:                    80
Mission Bay to Marina del Rey:            99

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.

distance sail san diego to LA
chart plotting with a good set of dividers

We made this journey 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 the right average speed for mixed conditions.

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 Dana Point:                10.6              
Mission Bay to Newport Beach:         13.1 
Mission Bay to Huntington Harbor:   15.5  
Mission Bay to LA harbor:                 17
Mission Bay to Marina del Rey:         21

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.

And, if you have a powerboat, you will be going much faster. So, you can cut these times in half or more, depending on your cruising speed.

July 2019 update: Incidentally, my Newport 30 sailboat is now for sale. She is moored in a fancy marina in La Paz, Mexico. She is all yours for 10K.

distance boating Los Angeles to san diego
Sailing south around Point Vicente, a prominent point on the LA headlands.

Before you head out into the Pacific Ocean and start exploring the coastline, you should have at least one cruising guide on board. I think Fagan's book is the most comprehensive guide for boating Central and Southern CA. It has kept me out of trouble a few times. Amazon has a good price on a used copy.

And... if you're thinking in broader strokes than just southern California, Coast Pilot 7 (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.

Fair Winds!

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

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

Sailing to Catalina Island: distance and time from Los Angeles

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).

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).

And, if you are going to make this journey, prepare for some down time in the cabin. It's a bit of a distance, so you're going to need some light entertainment. This will help keep up the morale of the crew. Now, usually you can just defer to cold beer in this situation. But, sometimes you need more than cold beer. This is when it helps if the captain can rattle off some good boating jokes. Every captain needs to be well versed in nautical puns and a few salty one liners. Here's a site that can give you a few ideas.


MikeCharles said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Captain Curran said...

Yeah - always good to be well prepared at Sea -

famous quote
'You don't go to Sea half-boiled!'

Unknown said...

Awesome ready thanks

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Captain Curran said...

about to make the leap up to Marina del Rey - looking forward to biking into Venice from the marina...

lovpeppard said...

Writing a script. Need to know how far and how long someone (without a life jacket) hanging onto a large piece of flotsam from a boat explosion would take to go from La Jolla to San Diego Harbor, more or less. Any help appreciated! Many thanks.

Captain Curran said...

Hello Lovepeppard,

Ok - I am going to jump in and give you a number - this is a reckless speculation - but it is something...

So - there is a 2 mph current moving south - (in general) there are kelp beds off of La Jolla - that this dude would get tangled in...
but let's assume he was out past the kelp beds - so .5 mile out....

its about 15 miles from Windensea (la jolla) to the tip of point loma...

so...that is about 7 hours to float that way - assuming wave action/swell didn't impede this movement -

Unknown said...

Can you possibly tell me the distance from Channel Islands Harbor to Dana Point Harbor by powerboat?

Captain Curran said...

S Jones -
Try using Google Earth on your computer. You can draw a line between 2 locations and find out the nm distance. I tried to do this for you but google earth won't load for me...

Good luck

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info. I w

Unknown said...

Is it further to the tip of point loma from mission bay or glorietta bay coronado?

Unknown said...

Is point loma lighthouse further from glorietta bay coranado or mission bay san diego

Captain Curran said...

That's a good question.... they are approx the same distance. I just looked at a chart.

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Unknown said...

Ignore the "wise-guy" comments.. I enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for the info!

Frank said...

most comprehensive guide for boating Central Buy Customized Essays and Southern CA. It has kept me out of trouble a few times.

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