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). For detailed information on boating around Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, then I like Migael Sherer's Cruising Guide to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. This is regarded as the definitive guide book for local Seattle boaters. Lots of tips on anchorages and smaller bays.

Or, if you're looking for an old salty classic. Carl Nyberg and Jo Bailey, an older boating couple from the Northwest wrote a really cool book to help with dropping anchor in secluded bays, bights and 'gunkholes' in the San Juans, Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands: A Comprehensive Cruising Guide Encompassing Deception Pass to the Canadian Boundary, This book also helped me find some productive spots for 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: distance from LA harbors

Most boaters in Los Angeles will eventually take their boat out to Catalina Island. Boating to Catalina is certainly the best boat trip possible from LA. Before you go, it's helpful to know how far the main LA harbors are to the Catalina harbors (Avalon and Two Harbors). I am providing the boating distance 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 Catalina distance (Avalon and Two Harbors.

Boating from LA to Catalina Island.

Dana Point to Avalon:  33 miles (29 nautical miles)

Dana Point to Two Harbors: 38 miles (33 nautical miles)

Newport Beach to Avalon: 26 miles (23 nautical miles)

Newport Beach to Two Harbors: 32 miles (28 nautical miles)

Huntington Harbor to Avalon: 25 miles (22 nautical miles)

Huntington Harbor to Two Harbors: 27 miles (23 nautical miles)

LA Harbor to Avalon: 25 miles (22 nautical miles)

LA Harbor to Two Harbors: 22 miles (19 nautical miles)

Marina del Rey to Avalon: 38 miles (33 nautical miles)

Marina del Rey to Two Harbors: 31 miles (27 nautical miles)

(distances are measured from the outer navigational buoys of each harbor, values are rounded to the nearest mile)

Boating to Catalina Island

boating 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 about sailing to Avalon from San Diego, Dana Point and Oceanside.  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. In general, expect to be running with the wind and swell for much of the return journey, but against the wind and swell on the journey towards the island.

If you're planning on taking your boat out to Catalina, you should 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 and the surrounding Channel Islands.

Have a safe journey!

Incidentally, people often ask me which do I prefer, Avalon or Two Harbors. The honest answer is that they're both great. It just depends on what you're into.

The people watching in Avalon is top notch. There's nothing better than snagging a mooring ball near the beach, cracking a beer and watching the parade of dingys and tourists cruise past. You get a lot of big fancy powerboats and yachts coming in from LA, so its always funny to read the latest yacht names on the mega-boats and see how that class of folks is doing.
On the other hand, if you want quiet serenity, you want to head up to Two Harbors. You have miles of empty, scenic trails and the Harbor Reef restaurant. Plus in my opinion, the snorkeling is better up by Two Harbors.

2019 Update: Here is the latest website to get a reservation for your boat at Avalon or Two Harbors.

January 9, 2015

How far is Catalina Island from San Diego?

Most San Diego boaters eventually get around to making the trip out to Catalina. Before they go, everyone wants to know how far is Catalina Island from San Diego. I can answer this question quickly.

There are two harbors in San Diego: Mission Bay and San Diego Harbor. Assuming everyone is going to arrive at Avalon, the main harbor on Catalina Island, then there are 2 possible distances: Mission Bay to Avalon or San Diego Harbor to Avalon.

How far is Catalina Island from San Diego?

Mission Bay to Avalon Harbor:
72 miles (or 63 nautical miles)*

San Diego Harbor to Avalon Harbor:
78 miles (or 68 nautical miles)*

*distances given are from the outer navigational buoys of each harbor

how far is Catalina Island from san diego
straight line from Avalon Harbor to San Diego Harbor

If you are a power boater you should follow this line, with a bit of wandering. If you're a sailor who wants to put the sails up, you will follow this line much less stringently. I have written a more thorough post, that approximates the time required to make this trip (based on a 30 foot sailboat). 

how far is Catalina island from san diego
we hiked up to this Avalon overlook upon arrival

If you are thinking about making this trip in a boat, you definitely want to have a boating guide book. Brian Fagan's book is the standard for boaters around Southern California. The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California: Golden Gate to Ensenada, Mexico, Including the Offshore Islands  There is a good section on boating in and around San Diego and tucking into anchorages around Catalina Island.

Enjoy the journey!!

January 7, 2015

Sailing trip to Espiritu Santo in December

We sailed out from La Paz to Espiritu Santo in December 2014. The Winter is the best time to sail in Baja Sur. By the Sea of Cortez standards, December sailing conditions are not too hot and not too windy. These are a few more photos of our journey.

winds starting to pick up at sunrise

Captain Gary at the wheel of the Catalina 36

a dried out trigger fish

our hearty crew
Plenty of hikes into the island of Espiritu Santo. We found Gallo Bay to be filled with natural treasures.

The Aussies found a dead Sea Turtle in Bahia Gallo

The renaming ceremony on the 'Sea Turtle'

Gary and I at the helm

a jumping Pacific White Sided dolphin

January 5, 2015

Sailing around La Paz in December.

We just returned from sailing in La Paz over the Christmas Break. We had high winds, sometimes uncomfortably high winds - and beautiful anchorages out at Espiritu Santu. December is normally the perfect month to sail in Baja Sur. As you are well clear of the hurricanes and the temperatures are not too hot or humid. We found this to be true, however, on 3 of our 5 days sailing, there were 15-30 kph winds coming straight down the Sea of Cortez. This kept things interesting...

Bahia La Paz from the window of our room at Hotel Perla

The marine protected island Espiritu Santo is a 3-4 hour sail/motor from La Paz. We anchored at Playa Gallo and Playa Gallina. The snorkeling and hiking are both phenomenal.

Playa Gallo and Playa Gallina

We anchored in the part of the water that transitions between aquamarine and navy blue. This is about 40 feet of depth.

Gary and his 36 foot Catalina, Sea Turtle
My old friend from Seattle, Gary Caprario graciously hosted us on his 36 Catalina. 

A beached fiberglass whale 
Anyone know where we found this beached whale? Hint: it is a one day drive from La Paz...