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October is late in the season for the northern Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Santa Rosa), but if you have a good weather window you should be ok. Catalina is pretty good year round. Fall is Santa Ana season in Southern California which means the possibility of strong NW winds so plan anchorages accordingly.

Marina Sailing Sailing Instruction | Marina Sailing - Instruction, Rentals & Yacht Charters Southern California
operates sailing school and charter operations out of various Southern California harbors. We have out own boat so we have never chartered with them. I am not associated with them in any way.

Southern California is very different from the BVI. Water is colder and distances are longer. The northern channel islands are all anchorages, there are no moorings and some of the anchorages are not easy due to rocks and kelp. Catalina is almost all moorings and they are unique moorings because they have both bow and stern ties.
 

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Brian M Fagin has written extensively about Southern California sailing. Anything I write about local weather he has already written much better than I could. Amazon.com: The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California: Golden Gate to Ensenada, Mexico, Including the Offshore Islands eBook: Brian Fagan: [email protected]@[email protected]@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51%[email protected]@[email protected]@51%2BMDYTgHeL is his more general book on Southern California cruising. He also wrote a Channel Islands specific book.

You are right about Catalina being more protected that the northern islands and Catalina coves tend to offer more protection as well. Also on Catalina you will be on a mooring which offers additional security if the conditions change.

I am not familiar with Blue Pacific.
 
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