San Diego!

So Catalina Harbour was really nice and sooooo clear – I decided yet again to try to catch a Halibut, and had a strong hit, which turned out to be… a shovelnosed guitarfish. Yet another member of the ray family. Unbelievable. Undeterred I kept on, and after losing something huge that almost spooled me, forcing me to tighten the drag until the 20lb line snapped, I got something else. Something large and pissed off

It was a shark!! Probably around 5ft long. It was hard to ID as I let it go (sharks are cool) but I think it may have been a tope? Anyway it was a huge surprise and quite eye-opening what can be swimming around in 60ft of water. After that I gave up and went to bed, after watching Brown Pelicans eating fish that were attracted by the boat light. Pretty cool!

I set out the next day to San Diego, but with a twist – I had a crew member on board. Jessica was someone I had met earlier on the trip and she had asked if she could come sailing – she climbs mountains but had never been sailing before. I figured the Catalina Island to San Diego run would be good so she came and met me on Catalina (there is a ferry). After a brief hike we set out for San Diego in the early afternoon.

Luckily there was a bit of wind for around 6 or 7 hours so we pootled along at just under 5 knots using just the main, as the wind was directly from behind and I was too lazy to do wing on wing (plus we couldn’t be too fast as I didn’t want to arrive in SD at night). That eventually died and apart from an hour at 4am close reaching in 4 knots, the rest of the time was spent motoring. Ah well. Jess was lovely and it was great to have someone to talk to for once instead of me making random comments into thin air by myself. It was also really nice to be able to go and nap and have someone on watch – and the tasty snacks she brought were a bonus too. (hint – if you want to be invited back as crew, tasty snacks are the way to do it).

At first light we got to San Diego – sort of. The anchorage (which you have to book in advance) involved an hour and a half motor up the weird channel, dodging military vessels (I saw no less than three giant aircraft carriers) and other boats. Eventually, we got to the anchorage which is hilariously tiny and in the middle of nowhere. Jess said goodbye and hopped on a train back and I napped a bunch more.

Then I woke up and realised I had sailed to San Diego from Canada, solo (aside from the last 80 miles). Cue some frankly quite disgusting internal backslapping and bragging social medium posts. At this point I am 15 miles from Mexico so I basically sailed to Mexico woohoo!

I also chatted to the boat behind me, Emerald Steel, who are apparently pretty famous in the cruising community as I found out later.

Pretty cool boat.

After a couple of days in the weird anchorage where I went through all my fishing gear and untangled the Knot of Woe, I moved to the police dock, where there is an eclectic crowd of people drinking and arguing. It’s all very jolly. Oh and I also finally redid the sealing on the hatch above the V Berth for the 3rd time using different selant – hoping it won’t leak anymore. I’ve been tying a binbag over it which makes Gudge look very regal as it flutters in the breeze.

I’ve picked up a ton of stuff I bought online, ordered a couple of pieces of custom fabricated stuff and bought yet more fishing gear, getting a pretty outstanding deal on a pair second hand Senator 113HLW reels (the old metal USA built ones). All of which I will cover in a different post.

Tomorrow I meet my friend Elizabeth who is flying down from Victoria and who speaks Spanish, which is great as I don’t speak any and I have to somehow get over the border after filling in five different forms. She’s also bringing a book called ‘Spanish for Cruisers‘ which I am sure will get me mega fluent in a few weeks. Or at least able to ask where the bathroom is. She’ll be travelling with me for a couple of weeks, down to Cabo at the bottom of the Baja California, the entrance to the sea of Cortez.

Interestingly there is a weird crackling sound from under my boat now – apparently, it’s some kind of shrimp/fish/barnacles eating some of the stuff off my hull. Pretty weird!!!

And here is a picture of the sunset tonight.




  1. I met Emerald Steel in Garden Bay, Pender Harbour a few years back and immediately rowed over to say hi. Really interesting people and a really cool boat.

    How long are you planning to make the trip to Cabo? Leisurely or go-go-go? Isn’t it time you started to switch to relaxing mode?

    • 50/50 – I have to get liz to cabo in 2 weeks for her flight, but that should be a fairly relaxed pace? Stopping at turtle bay and probably mag bay.

  2. Haha, sharks are good at finding meat and that’ll be your biggest battle now. Even back up here in BC it is tough to work around the sharks. I was going to write in my comment on your last blog installment that you might want to change tactics to using a bait scent trail but use only artificial lures as terminal tackle on one of your rods. Sharks are less likely to grab artificial lures but halibut will still (more) readily test them. But you probably already know this. You’ll end up with some interesting catches! I’m looking forward to hearing about the battles you have with fish using those Penn reels.

    • I remember hearing that dogfish were a big problem in BC using natural bait. To be honest though, I kinda like seeing what I can pull up – super fun despite the fact that I don’t want to keep most of them! The Penn reels are very nice – solid metal and a 3.25 retrieve which is like magic compared to the mooching 1.1 reels I’ve been using.

  3. Emerald Steel! Cool folks. We anchored exactly where you did. Same day too. Did Halloween there last year. Loved SD. Police docks was rough so we bounced around as required. Take your time seeing the outside of Baja. It’s rad. Find the local surfers in Turtle Bay and hitch azure ride out to some swell. Great people.

    Sv Tuwamish

  4. That’s awesome you ran into Emerald Steel. I’m behind on their videos and had no idea they had left the PNW. We’re learning Spanish now too. Fyi velero = sailboat.

    • I wish I’d learnt before I sent off as well – instead I was improving my (still terrible) French for whatever reason. I was also saying ‘barco de vela’ instead of velero for a while – thanks google translate.

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