Slips and Anchorages/Moorings for Ha-Ha boats Headed South
September 29 - Southern California
Cojo Anchorage - Just around Pt. Conception. It's beautiful, it's unspoiled, it's free, and there often some good surf.
Santa Barbara Harbor - Forget October 8-10 as they have three groups coming in. Otherwise, it's first come, first served, and they often have space at this time of year. The first 14 days are 60 cents/foot, plus $7 non-refundable for a key card. The second 14 days are $1.20/foot. Santa Barbara YC also has a long end-tie. It's also possible to anchor off Stearns Wharf or Leadbetter Beach at no charge. There is a good dinghy tie-up at the head of the harbor. Santa Barbara is a lovely city, so you don't want to miss it if you can help it. If coming from the northwest, the entrance requires a nearly 180 degree turn, and there is always shoaling. Enter slow and carefully. At night the background lights make seeing the navigation lights very difficiult, so go even slower or call Harbor Patrol for assistance.
Santa Cruz Island - There are great places to anchor all over the island. If you can anchor here, you'll have no trouble in Mexico. If the weather is not so good on one side of the island, it's usually good on the other - although it's often good on both sides. If it's dry and extremely clear, be on the watch for a Santa Ana wind. There are no services or supplies on the island, but there is great hiking and beauty. And it's free.
Ventura - The Commercial Marina is packed because of the squid season about to begin, so check out Ventura West and Ventura Isle marinas. Historically, the Ventura YC has been very accommodating. In the old days, shifting sands and big surf combined to make the entrance a killer in bad weather. Now there is 30 feet of water in the center of the channel, so it's safe except in extreme high surf. But be very careful at night. If you have a problem, the Harbor Patrol can help - except when closed from 0200-0600.
Channel Islands (Oxnard) Harbor - Channel Islands has transient slips in two spots, and it's first come, first served. The charge 55 cents/foot, with a 10-day limit. Last time we were there, the heads were pretty bad, so we hope they've been fixed up. In addition, there are seven or so private marinas and a couple of restaurants with docks that might have short term space. The T-shaped harbor entrance is safe, but be careful at night.
Paradise Park - This anchorage is around the corner from Pt. Dume inside of Santa Monica Bay. There's not really anything there but some protection from northwesterlies.
Marina del Rey - The L.A. Department of Beaches and Harbors has 38 transient slips at Burton Chase Park. You can stay for 7 days out of a one month period for 50 cents/foot. It's first come, first served. Usually there is plenty of room from Sunday afternoon through Thursday night. There are also several yacht clubs and privately-run marinas that might have space. MDR is close to LAX.
King Harbor (Redondo Beach) - There is a well-protected anchorage behind the breakwater, but you must - by regulation - set a bow and stern anchor, and with good reason. The maximum stay is 72 hours, but it's free. You do, however, need to get a permit from the nearby harbormaster's office. The folks at the King Harbor YC have quite a bit of transient dock space and they've always been very hospitable. It's a $17 cab ride to LAX.
Catalina - There are tons of places to anchor for free at Catalina, and some guys live on the hook year 'round. Moorings are dear on a cruiser budget, at least until October 15. After that, you can get a 40-ft mooring for $144/week at Two Harbors, or even better, at Avalon for a mere $42/week. However, you cannot leave your boat and fly home, as the harbor patrol might need you to move your boat to another mooring. But if you're buddyboating with some other folks who can take this responsibility, you're in there. If you're starting your cruise and have plenty of time, Catalina is worth a long visit. And, if it keeps you from stores and chandleries, it can be very inexpensive.
Long Beach Shoreline Marina - Usually these folks have tons of transient slips. Unfortunately, they are starting a two-year project to replace the wooden docks with cement docks, so you're out of luck this year.
Long Beach Alamitos Bay - This is one of the rare places that takes reservations. Unfortunately, they say they are pretty tight right now. If you can get a slip, it's60 cents/foot/night and you can stay for 10 days. You can also try the Long Beach YC.
Newport Beach - Traditionally this has been a great pre-Ha-Ha place to keep a boat on a mooring, as they have plenty of vacant ones and they go for just $5/night - which is a bargain! The problem is that last year you could stay for 20 days in a calendar month, which meant you could leave your boat and go home and work for almost three weeks. But a new county rule was passed that says you can only stay for five days at a time, although you can renew twice. But . . . you have to do it in person. That's not much help if you don't know anybody in Newport who can renew for you. We spoke to the Captain in charge, who was very pleasant, and explained what a bind this could mean for folks who need to fly back to the Bay Area or Seattle to wrap up affairs. This is off the record and not for general consumption, but he said they'll try to do all they can within the regulations to allow Ha-Ha folks to renew once without being there to do it. If you can take a hint, this means you should show up with your boat looking nice, you looking nice, and be on your best behavior. Nobody would admit it, but the renew in person business was instituted specifically to keep derelict boats - and derelict people - out of Newport. Derelict boats are the bane of harbormasters up and down the coast. Newport already has a dozen in storage and can't handle any more.
Newport also has a 72-hour anchorage and several yacht clubs with transient slips. Newport is a great place - dinghy and ride your bike around - with nice people, but officials are a little more formal than at Catalina. So when in Rome . . . It's a $17 taxi ride to John Wayne and only about 75 miles to San Diego.
Dana Point - Dana Point does have a number of transient slips, first come, first served. Like all the places we've mentioned, you have a much better chance getting in on a Monday than a Friday or Saturday, when they always fill up. Dana Point charges $25 for a 42-ft boat. The maximum stay is 15 days, but like Newport, you have to renew after five days. Also like Newport - and many of the other places - you have to come to the harbormaster's dock and walk up to the office with boat identification and photo I.D. before you'll be given a berth.
It's also possible to anchor for 72 hours protected by the breakwaters in the west or east basin, single anchor. You're only supposed to leave your boat for provisions and other shopping, not for a weekend at Disneyland. It's also possible to anchor with some protection outside the of breakwater altogether, as it's often quite calm along this part of the coast.
Oceanside - This harbor often has open transient slips, but they mostly cater to smaller boats. They do take reservations, but you must pay in advance with cash or check. The maximum stay is 30 days, and the charge is 75 cents/foot. The Oceanside YC also has a long dock.
Mission Bay - We haven't been there in a long time, but last time we were there you could anchor for free for 72 hours in Mariners' Basin, which is in the outer part of Mission Bay.
San Diego - For all the Ha-Ha folks and everyone else headed south, here's the deal, starting with San Diego. Prior to the Ha-Ha, San Diego will have few if any vacant slips. We suggest you call Chris Frost of Downwind Marine at (619) 224-2733, who will email or fax you a list of all the marinas and their telephone numbers. We'll have more details on San Diego next week.
Ensenada - You can almost certainly get a slip in Ensenada at Marina Coral or Cruiseport Marina for the dates you want - but you'll probably be shocked at the prices. The Web site for the new Cruiseport Marina advises that they charge $125/night or $900/month for a 39-footer! And that's before the 12% tax. Some Ha-Ha boats have already asked permission - and been granted it - to start the Ha-Ha from Ensenada.
The bottom line is that if you are starting your cruise and don't have to commute back to the Bay Area or Seattle, there are plenty of places to stay in Southern California prior to the start of the Ha-Ha, and lots of them are free. If you do want a slip or mooring, always look for it on a Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. Even in October transient slips tend to fill up.
For those who have to move the boat south early and leave it for a period of time, you may want to try to leave a crewmember on board and leave the boat in Catalina or in Newport. Both of these places have close to unlimited openings, and are only about 75 miles from San Diego, so you could leave your boat there until the Saturday morning before the start of the Ha-Ha, and be in San Diego in time for the Kick-Off party on Sunday.
Photo of the Day
September 29 - Qatar
Today's Photo of the Day is one of the most hilarious we've ever seen, and would seem to demonstrate what strange bedfellows there can be in the the pursuit of adventure - or is it money?
Photo Rick Tomlinson
The fellows in the white robes in back are Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani and Sheikh Jassim Bin Thamer Al Tham, who represent the country of Qatar, a Persian Gulf nation which is going to be the start and finish line for a couple of proposed maxi multihull around the world races - the first of which everyone in the photo would like you to believe will be the Oryx Quest starting in February of 2005. Their interest is developing a favorable tourism and business climate for their country. Right off the top, there's a certain irony in an Arab state hosting what they hope will be a major yacht race at a time when much of the 'Arab street' hates the West.
The gentleman on the far left is Kevin Smorthwaite of HSBC Middle East Bank, which along with Qatar, is apparently putting up the astonishing sum of $50 million U.S. to get the events off the ground.
The woman in the middle with what looks like a forced smile is Tracy Edwards, who at one time was a major pioneer for women in offshore racing, and who apparently put together the pieces for the Oryx Quest and Qatar's entry into the hosting of yacht racing. For the last year or so, however, Edwards has been dragged through the headlines of the mainstream press for not paying her bills, the biggest of which was a more than $750,000 loan to buy the maxi-cat Club Med, which she renamed Maiden 2. The loan was to be for two weeks, was from one of the biggest supporters of women's sailing in Britain, but hasn't been paid in two years. Edwards also hasn't paid her crews. Furthermore, she is being sued for $20 million by Bruno Peyron of the maxi-cat Orange, who claims that her doings with the Oryx Cup has made his The Race - the original around the world multihull race - fiscally more difficult if not impossible. Naturally, she's countersuing.
When Edwards says it's been the worst year of her life, it's easy to believe her - but to suspect that she perhaps is the primary source of all her misery. She claims the loan and other bad debts will be paid off any day because she's sold her cat. Typically, she can't say who bought the boat or when she'll get the money, and to top it off, she claims to have had her pick of buyers. The problem with Edwards is that it's becoming ever more difficult to believe a word she says.
You can't, of course, have a yacht race without participants, which explains the other individuals in the photo. How Edwards and the Qatar folks got this odd group together is a mystery - unless there was a lot of money dished out for personal appearances. Starting from the front row left, we have Loïck Peyron, a fine sailor who just happens to be the brother of Bruno, the blood enemy of race organizer Edwards. Loïck has access to the maxi cat Innovations Explorer - unfortunately it has no mast or rigging - and virtually no chance of getting them by February 5.
Second from the right is Cam Lewis of Maine, who controls the maxi cat sistership Team Adventure, which is still battling with a Polish insurance company over being paid for her port bow breaking off during an attempt at the transatlantic record. So while it would be impossible for Team Adventure to make the February 5 start, perhaps Cam could bring his mast to Loïck Peyron's maxi cat and together they'd have one entire boat. It's not at all impossible, as Lewis and the Peyrons have sailed together and seemed to be on the same page. All they'd need, however, is the money to do it.
Next to Lewis is Tony Bullimore, who did The Race with the mini maxi cat Legato (ex-ENZA) that many incarnations ago broke the around the world record. His experience in The Race was of total chaos. But he has a long history of making the starting line, so while his boat may be way off the pace, she might well be there.
Just to the left of the trophy itself is Olivier de Kersauson, an aristocratic Frenchman who has been around the world nine times already and who owns the maxi trimaran Geronimo. He and his tri are the most ready of any entries and he says he wants to do it. But it has to be remembered that de Kersauson can be prickly, and carries a huge reputation for being difficult.
The second most likely boat to be entered is Edward's Maiden 2, presumably to be raced by a new owner or the new owner's crew - which might very well include Brian Thompson, who kicked around Sausalito for some time, as the skipper. Maiden 2 is in Qatar, but Edwards admits that she's in dire need of a major refit, so she's not a sure thing either.
The wild card is Steve Fossett's PlayStation/Cheyenne. Fossett has said he's retired, having set the around the world record. Maybe someone will buy and race the cat. But this would have to happen almost instantly.
The winner of the Qatar Quest will get $1 million in prize money - as long as there are three starters. Will there be three? Edwards feels certain there will be, but we're not so sure. It seems to us that unless they set this event back at least a year, it will be half-baked at best.
Bad News Out of Puerto Escondido, Baja
September 29 - Puerto Escondido, BCS
No, it's not a hurricane, but a rate sheet that Fonatur had made available about the prices they intend to charge for the use of their moorings - or even to anchor - at Puerto Escondido. It should be understood that for decades Puerto Escondido has been a favorite for cruisers, some of whom have spent many years in this well-protected harbor about 200 miles north of La Paz. It's also long been a favorite for folks to leave their boats on the hook over the hot summer months while they return home. And it's always been free.
Despite the fact that Puerto Escondido has virtually no facilities, it's been announced that starting October 1, 40-ft boats will have to pay $7/foot per month to be there, no matter if on a mooring or their own hook. Furthermore, boats won't be allowed to stay for more than three months.
What's the reaction of cruisers? Connie McWilliams of the Hidden Port YC reports that "Boats are going to the 'Waiting Room' (a good anchorage just outside P.E.) or to the islands, some of which are only about a mile away. Many owners are not here and don't know about the charges. But most of us are taking a 'wait and see' attitude, as this is Mexico, and with something new, you never really know. But of course the rates are way too high."
We agree with McWilliams that the rates are way to high, both for a mooring, and particularly so for the right to anchor one's boat. Bless Fonatur's heart, but once again the Mexico tourist development agency has proven they are totally out of touch with reality. But we agree with McWilliams, it's best to wait and see what happens before getting too upset.
Foxy to Play in Bay Area
September 29 - Mill Valley
The legendary Foxy Callwood of Jost Van Dyke wants you to attend one or both of his Bay Area benefits for the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society, a non-profit organization formed to save the island (it's only 4 miles long) from further development. World renowned as one of the Caribbean's most colorful characters, the West Indian singer/songwriter has been entertaining sailors and travelers at his famous beachfront bar in the BVI for decades.
He'll be at the Sweetwater in downtown Mill Valley Thursday night, Sept. 30, at 9pm. The Sweetwater's at 153 Throckmorton Ave. See www.sweetwatersaloon.com. Foxy's second show will be Friday, Oct. 1, 7:30 pm, at Richmond Yacht Club. Both shows also feature the Caribbean R&B band Cow Bay Cruz Boys, and cost $10.