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Old 07-06-2011
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Passage Planning: San Francisco to San Diego


I am planning a passage from SF Bay down to Catalina and probably on to San Diego. Not long ago I made the passage from Seattle to San Francisco but this will be my first run down the southern part of California. I was hoping to ask some questions, get some tips and maybe create some interesting discussion.

Question 1:

I may be single-handing and would like to figure the most optimal way to break the voyage up into single days where possible. It seems that is a challenge between Monterey Bay and San Luis Obispo. Is there any hope for an anchorage somewhere in the middle?

Basically looking at day 1 to Half Moon Bay, 2 to Monterey Bay, 3 to San Luis Obispo (unless there is some sanctuary between that I am yet away of), 4 to Pt. Conception and then from there just puddle jumps.

Question 2:

Is it worth hitting up all the harbors in Monterey Bay (i.e. Santa Cruz, Moss Landing and Monterey)? I can make this trip as casual as I like and would like to experience the best parts of the coast as I cruise down. I am also looking for a live aboard slip anywhere south of SF so want to check out all marinas along the way.

Question 3:

I have heard that there is decent anchorage just around Pt. Conception...Can anyone provide coordinates to the ideal spot? I understand this is the area where weather can be tricky and would like to be as prepared as possible. Plan to stop before continuing to Santa Barbara.

Final General Question:

Any tips or tricks along the way? Anything I need to watch out for or be made aware of? Charts are one thing but those with experience probably have a lot to add

Thanks for your time and happy sailing.

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Old 07-06-2011
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I would suggest you go SF to Half Moon Bay; Half Moon Bay to Stillwater Cove in the northeast corner of Carmel Bay below the Pebble Beach Golf Course (or Monterey in the unlikely event that the winds/swells are not out of the Northwest); Stillwater Cove to San Simeon Bay (75 miles or so) where there is a very good anchorage in the northwest corner under the bluffs; then San Simeon to Port San Luis (roughly another 50 miles) where there is an excellent anchorage and a very good restaurant (the Old Port Inn) on the pier; and from there down and around Pt. Conception. In theory one could round Conception and than angle back north into Cojo Bay (about 75 miles from Port San Luis) but I can't imagine that when one can zoom on down to Santa Cruz and tuck into one of the anchorages on the south coast. From there to Cat Harbor on Catalina is another straight shot, about 75 miles or so and so long as you don't bang into Santa Barbara Island pretty hazard free.

In the foregoing you could skip San Simeon and try Morro Bay but that can be a problematic entry and unless you hit it right, there can be breaking waves over the bar. I'm not sure why one would bother.

For more details of the foregoing route/anchorages, click over to, register (it's free) and check out the "Interactive Cruising Guidebook"

"It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
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Old 07-06-2011
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How fast/robust your boat is and your level of seamanship will determine your routing down the coast. How did you do the Seattle – San Francisco leg? Your next leg will be more of the same. Stillwater is small, lots of kelp and not very good holding. If you don’t want to do Monterey, go all the way around the point and anchor off of Carmel. Still a lot of kelp but larger patches of sand to hook into. There is not a real harbor of refuge between Monterey and Morrow Bay and we usually do this as an overnight. San Simeon is hardly a cove and very exposed to a South swell. I prefer Morrow to San Luis Obispo(SLO)as it doesn’t take you very far from your route. If it is breaking at the entrance at Morrow, you really don’t want to anchor at SLO. Both are problematic in a Southerly which fortunately, is mainly a winter wind pattern. Cojo is hardly a cove at all and is situated just a few miles east of Pt. Conception. People will wait there for a window to round Conception going North. Heading South, you will be going with the prevailing winds so there is no reason to stop. Once you round the point the wind shuts down pretty dramatically. And it will be almost dead by the time you pass the first oil platform. From then on it usually is a motor to Santa Barbara. This leg is mostly a Marine Sanctuary, so unless you swing way out to sea, you won’t have much shipping to contend with, mostly fellow yachties, fishermen and the occasional tug and tow. On the other hand, it is a rocky lee shore all the way down, the wind is usually in the twenties to thirties and amazingly cold at night even in the summertime. You may experience periods of fog of varying densities. Other than that, piece of cake. I also hear that Smackdaddy is looking to more challenging trips, perhaps…
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passage , planning , san diego , san francisco , southern california

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