Thanksgiving to Oceanside and Back

We took Mandala up to Oceanside and back this Thanksgiving weekend. Unfortunately our camera is on the blink so there are no photos. However, there is a map, below.


We started off on Thursday by going down to the boat, stowing all of the provisions, and motoring the short distance over to La Playa Cove, in the lee of Shelter Island, where we dropped anchor for the night. After having our Thanksgiving Dinner, we tried out our new dinghy for the first time, lowering her into the water, attaching the motor, and motoring around the yacht harbor as the sun set.


Being concerned about the distance to Oceanside, and wanting to be sure we got there in plenty of daylight for our first entrance, we left promptly at 6:00 a.m. on Friday morning in a moderate Fog. This time tho, I had installed 12V sockets and a GPS in the cockpit, so with the GPS at the helm and the Radar, we had no problem motoring out of San Diego bay as the sky lightened, though it remained foggy for most of the trip to Oceanside.

We passed a pod of Dolphins about 100 yards from the boat off of Encinitas. One of them jumped completely out of the water several times, as I guess they were starting to feel frisky as the fog burned off and it warmed up.

We got to Oceanside about 2:30, then we docked uneventfully at the Guest Slips and made the quick visit to the the Harbor Police Office to register for the night. We took a nice walk around the waterfront and had a Margarita at a sidewalk restaurant before having our Leftover Dinner on the boat that night.


We woke up to a nice breeze and by 9:00 a.m. were under way. We raised sails and then were able to sail a single long reach all the way to Point Loma. We were cooking at 7-8 knots almost all the way, and made the turn into the bay around 3:30 that afternoon.

Throughout the day there were 5-7' seas on the beam and it was really fun for a while. As we passed Mission Bay, the only other boat we could see turned in as we proceeded onwards. Hmmmm .... Then we heard a Small Craft Advisory on the VHF for waters off San Diego coast ! And we noticed that there were no other boats in sight from Mission Bay to Point Loma. And this was on a Saturday at 2:30 ??? Usually there are a number, if not many, boats about. Yikes!

But, like I said, we were havin' fun! So we kept on going and got to learn about 8-12 foot seas on our beam in a 18 knot apparent wind (under full sail). We must have done a bit of surfing as the knot meter read 8.5 more than once. It got pretty physical winding the boat up and down each wave trying to keep it on some kind of a course! I mis-judged our position slightly and so also found myself in the west edge of the kelp bed just to add to the fun. There were a few 'clunks' as the keel cut thru a few strands but we got thru that ok.

Then it was we finally time to round the corner into San Diego and go downwind. I thought I would first go wing-in-wing and then gybe the main, so as to do it as a two step process. Sounds good in theory but with the boat corkscrewing 30 degrees in the following seas it was unmanageable. We fouled the jib trying to bring it around, my crewmate couldn't handle the helm so I couldn't deal with the sail, and then we accidentally gybed. It was hairy for a second, but after the gybe, everything was on the right side of the boat, and we were sailing again. There was no serious harm done as the traveller took the strain, and we sailed the broad reach for 30 minutes with 6-8' following seas until we were in the lee of Point Loma and the swell went down to 2-4 feet.

No water ever got in the cockpit, and we were never really in any real danger IMO, but it was sure thrilling. All in all the trip was a success and we had fun, but we'll have to be more careful in the future.

We learned a couple of lessons on the trip. First, we'll have to listen a little more closely to the VHF Radio. I should have paid more attention to the SCA and could have turned back into Mission Bay when the seas were more like 5-7 instead of 8-12 off Point Loma. Secondly, I should have kept to my charted course, farther from the mainland. Perhaps the shallowing water (60' around the kelp) added to the height of the swell. If nothing more, my charted course would have kept me out of the kelp. Thirdly, we need to practice reefing the sails. Having a little less sail out would probably have helped. And finally, the wing-in-wing thing was a bad idea. I subsequently practiced Gybing, and I feel more confident that we could do that maneuver correctly and safely in the conditions that we encountered.

There is also a postscript to this story. The next day we went sailing with PK and Ashley in the bay. The traveller pully shackle parted on a broad reach when the holding pin fell out. It appears that the accidental gybe had sheared it's ring pin ! Fortunately for us the holding pin stayed in or not only would the Gybe have been much worse (perhaps damaging the boom or shrouds), but we would have also lost control of the main sail and would have had a much harder time of things in general. I guess this is how you learn to sail!

Final note to self:  Inspect all rigging before every voyage (every day)!