san diego to catalina

oceanside and dana point on the way to avalon

overnight in oceanside on the way back

13 days in September 2008
How far is it? long does it take?

We've gone from San Diego to Catalina "rhumb line" for many years and just about every time the wind and current are right on the nose making a darn uncomfortable trip with that noisy diesel tractor engine on almost all the way. Those trips were 13 - 14 hours depending on how long we actually sailed without the engine, which of course takes you further from the destination! The engine noise and the blazing sun makes pretty tired people. In 2008 we broke out of the usual routine and planned stopovers in Oceanside and Dana Point on the way to Avalon. Next year we'll just make the stop at Oceanside.

san diego to oceanside
Oceanside is about 42 nautical miles from San Diego so we had a leisurely morning and left a little after 9:00. The typical no-wind morning involves motoring around the kelp beds out of Point Loma, but after a couple of hours we had a great sail pretty much straight up the coast. As the afternoon and the wind waned it was engine on again and we arrived in Oceanside harbor too late to pick up the shower key from the harbor police but we tagged along with another slip guest from Temecula. Oceanside harbor was dreamily quiet on this Tuesday night in slip #5 in front of the Jolly Roger restaurant. Bring your dock power cord and a hose and enjoy the guest slip just like it is yours. Tip: Watch out for the water pressure at the Jolly Roger slips - it will destroy a cheap hose!

oceanside to dana point
Dana Point is only about 22 nautical miles north of Oceanside, so why not leave late? like 10:30? Well, this day the wind was blowing 19 knots and taking us pretty far out, so after a few enjoyable hours tacking way out and then back (with not much northerly progress),  we resorted to motoring again and got into Dana Pont at 4:00. Dana Point is a completely different experience from Oceanside - more like a resort with all the restaurants and shops a short walk away. Tip: Get to the management company's office well before 5:00 if you want that all-important shower key.

dana point to avalon
The 30 miles from Dana Point to Avalon was mostly spent motoring, not sailing. On the plus side, we arrived at Avalon Harbor at 3:30 and got a mooring for the night.

Avalon harbor
Avalon harbor

Descanso moorings
The next 4 nights were in Avalon, doing the usual activities of dinghy tours, walking tours, hanging around the boat mixed with a bit of reading. Tip: After Labor Day is a great time to visit, but to be sure of a mooring "inside" arrive early or mid-week. We had to move out to Descanso Friday morning and thanks to Steve checking with the Harbor Patrol, were able to move back inside in the afternoon.

The Casino theatre has a pipe organ - before the scheduled movies on weekends you can experience a real pro playing this astounding instrument, a rare treat. Amazing to observe how all the levers, dials, keys and foot pedals are manipulated.

Sept 6 and 7 was the Outrigger Championship race crossing the Catalina channel, we heard the cheers and finishing horn blasts so sped out in the dinghy to see the ladies and co-ed teams coming in. Next day was the men's turn to return to Newport, pretty exciting stuff to see 51 outriggers paddling like mad for the win. I think they paddle faster than we motor.

two harbors
Two Harbors terrace
Two harbors terrace with wireless internet service

cat harbor and the isthmus
View showing both Cat Harbor and the Isthmus, thus Two Harbors

The Isthmus Two Harbors was the next destination and only 10 miles up the island, just a short 2 hour cruise (nope, no wind, no sailing). Two Harbors is completely different from Avalon and a fantastic change of pace. We spent 3 nights at the Isthmus and enjoyed the convenience of the great showers, one restaurant and one store so scrapped the plan to go around the island to Cat Harbor (the second harbor that gives Two Harbors its name).
Buffalo on the road next to Cat Harbor

A hike up a mountain to see the other side has great views. Tip: Instead of starting the hike at the Banning Lodge like we did, start at the west end of Cat Harbor - the steep and rocky trail is easier to climb than descend.

An easy walk was along the road to Cherry Cove. Next trip we'll bring the bikes and blast on up to the West End and back. Another unexpected treat was the wireless access at the terrace restaurant, complete with plenty of AC outlets for all the mobile warriors.

avalon again
You can be pretty flexible on a boat vacation, so -- more nights in Avalon! The mountain hike in Two Harbors had us ready for the Hermit Gulch trail to see the other side of the island. Tip: The trail takes you to the back side of the Wriggly Memorial and Botanical Gardens, a heck of a way to save the $5 entry fee :D
guest slip in Oceanside

avalon to oceanside and then back to san diego
We didn't know what we were missing all those years of a grueling 13-14 hour trip going "rum line" from San Diego to Avalon! Avalon to Oceanside was an easy 7 1/2 hour trip. The marine layer was with us most of the day and the most wind we had was right in Oceanside harbor. I am beginning to think we are a motor boat, not a sailboat :)  The peaceful repose we enjoyed the first time in Oceanside wasn't to be found until the Karaoke ended at the Jolly Roger.
On the way back to San Diego we got a little bit of sailing in off of Carlsbad and into San Diego bay, where it was howling about 14 knots. Back in our Sunroad Marina slip at 4:00.

2008 Photo Gallery

How far is it?* How long did it take in 2008?
7.75 hours from San Diego to Oceanside - 41.7 nautical miles
5.75 hours from Oceanside to Dana Point - 21.9 nm
7.00 hours from Dana Point to Avalon - 30.5 nm
2.50 hours from Avalon to Two Harbors - 11.6 nm
2.00 hours from Two Harbors to Avalon - 11.6 nm
7.50 hours from Avalon to Oceanside - 47.2 nm
7.75 hours from Oceanside to San Diego - 41.7 nm

*Distance shown is rhumb line, the actual distance is determined by your course

Around Point Loma Kelp
Latitude/Longitude locations approximate

 If you don't want kelp wrapped around your prop you have to keep your eyes peeled and navigate around it. The most kelp-free way is to head southwest to San Diego Buoy #1 and turn northwest to Avalon Harbor, Catalina at that point.

San Diego Channel Buoy #5 (Lighted Bell Buoy) latitude/longitude
decimal: 32.650278 -117.218333
degrees: 3239.1' N 11713.6' W

San Diego Bay Approach Lighted Whistle Buoy #1
decimal: 32.6175 -117.235278
degrees: 3237.3' N 11714.7' W

Avalon Harbor
decimal: 33.347167 -118.323667
degrees: 3320.83' N 11819.42' W