If you want to discover the pristine California that hardly anyone gets to see it should be done from the water looking back at the coast. That is the view that original European explorers and native American Channel Island dwellers had. Much of the coast and most of the Channel Islands remain unspoiled. However, relatively few California visitors or residents venture out by boat whether power or sail, charter or private because of perceived or actual discomfort. Such discomfort is minor compared to the experience of seeing large schools of dolphins playing, pelicans diving, whales breaching and seals sunning themselves on large buoys at harbor entrances greeting you with a yawn or a bark.
In sheltered coves of the Channel Islands some moorings and safe anchorages exist where, after arrival one can swim and snorkel an enjoy world class under water wild life with family and friends before preparing the evening meal. Cruisers are also a social group usually prepared to help the next arrival set anchors safely or trade stories and comparing experiences.
The following are a series of links that document such experiences. For those visiting at some point we also have done a round up of charters (bare-boat and skippered) as well as other related commercial links. Have fun clicking around and then get busy to plan a coastal cruising adventure of your own!
Cruising The Southern California Coastline
By Zuzana Prochazka
Boat U.S. Magazine
Published: October/November 2014
Boat U.S. Magazine
Seven days and six great spots to visit on a weeklong cruise to some of Southern California’s most popular harbors.
When we have a week to spare, most of us Californian residents make a beeline to Catalina, Southern California’s boating equivalent of Disneyland. But if you’re a new boater to the area and a shakedown cruise across 30 miles of open Pacific doesn’t sound that enticing, or you’d rather take in the sights and sounds of SoCal, consider coastal hopping and getting to know a few familiar harbors. There’s plenty to keep you entertained, and you might even recognize some of these star quality spots from the movies.
California cruising 2005 ( an extensive trip log with notes about boat ownership, weather, etc)
Where: San Francisco to San Diego and back, a total distance of 1400nm over a 5 month period.
When: April to August 2005
Who: Me single-handing blue water passages and family visiting at fun stops and for summer vacation.
What: ‘Nino’ 1981 Islander Bahama 30 sloop.
Why: If you’re considering getting a sailboat to go coastal cruising, this is the information I wish I had when I started out. The information below is all my own opinion, its not based on any group consensus or intended to make everyone happy. I hope to inspire others to do the same.
This is a sort of ‘Cruising Guide’ to free anchorages along the California coast — specifically for those of us who do not identify as cruisers. Most cruising guides are not written for us, and instead include information on where to find comfortable slips at harbor or good shopping malls on shore. This is a collection of information for those of us who refuse to pay $16 a night for a slip; for those of us who’d rather ride at anchor and then sing a shanty as we haul up the rode on our way out. Our boats are the ones that stare down the manicured yachts which strongly resemble a West Marine catalog, even as we wave with calloused hands.
Anchoring is always a little nerve-wracking, but it’s also rewarding. Instead of blindly sailing up a dredged channel provided by a marina, riding at anchor requires that we use the lead-line to learn the depth, that we check the bottom-type, and that we’re acutely aware of the tides, current, surge, and swell. And so the art of anchoring is reminiscent of sailing in general in its capacity to make us aware of our surroundings.
Included is some information on spots to anchor along the California coast from the Bay Area to San Diego. Conspicuously, all of the Channel Islands are omitted, mostly because there are too many anchorages there to write about. Consider those islands One Big Anchorage, and find a cove that looks interesting.
California Cruising Guide (Wiki)