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Old 12-29-2014, 11:54 AM   #1
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Impression of Southern California marinas

Well, here's my impression of the Southern California Marinas we've visited so far.

I am writing this while having a nice cup of coffee sitting on my patio at the Kona Kai resort in San Diego.

Dana Point

We both loved Dana Point harbor. Great places to eat near by, and the boaters we met were very nice and down to earth. Not so great for the dogs, but very nice indeed.


This is a very nice little harbor area. Very touristy, with the little shops etc... Not pet friendly, but a very scenic little harbor.

Kona Kai San Diego

This is a yacht club style marina. Hotel, nice bar, very upscale. Maybe too upscale or "yacht clubbish" for us. We'll see more today.

Its funny, the very first night we went to the bar for happy hour and there were two middle aged "yacht club" types there with dyed, highlighted hair, trying to look younger than they were, sparring over who has the bigger, badder yacht. I told my wife they were phalus measuring. I was not impressed with this to say the least.

Met another very nice guy that keeps his boat here and loves it. He seemed much more down to earth. We're going to explore this marina more today.

Chula Vista

We connected at Chula Vista. Had a nice conversation with a couple that keep their boat there, and some nice "ordinary" people at the restaurant. The whole atmosphere was much more our style than the Yacht Club experience. Great for dogs thhere as well. Shopping near by without being "downtown".

As far as snowbird escape in general, the wife and I are mixed about this. The weather is nice, but having just come back from Hawaii a couple weeks ago, this is not Hawaii weather. I'm in a hoodie right now. Thats part of this trip as well. The marina looking is a smalll part of a overall play trip too evaluate wether we would like to come spend a winter here.

Thanks very much to everyone and especially to the TF'ers that offered to show us around. We're off to the zoo today after a nice marina walk. We might look at a couple of other marinas before we head out, but we've got a great favorable impression of the area and are confident that if we decide to park our boat in this area we could find a great marina that fits Kevin annd Lisas style.

Here's a photo from our patio at the Kona Kai (I'm off to buy lottery tickets )
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Old 12-29-2014, 12:46 PM   #2
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Kevin, think warm clear waters. When you get her to San Diego-put her on a truck to Florida and just get it over with. You know the Caribbean is calling. Throw your hoodie away. Hell, go naked if you want! Once you've seen the naked lady sign painter buck ass naked on the docks behind Miami City Hall- you've arrived.

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Old 12-29-2014, 01:13 PM   #3
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How far south are you going? I would be interested to hear your impressions of Coral marina (Ensenada) -- I like it there. As for weather, you won't get Hawaii conditions until you get another 800 miles south. Puerto Vallarta should be nice.
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Old 12-29-2014, 01:58 PM   #4
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Hate to sound like a politician Kevin but I agree with both Traveler and Blake. If you want to ditch the hoodie head for Mexico or Florida because you can't fight sea water temps. Next trip you and Lisa should check out the Sea of Cortez, 2 acquaintances have retired and moved boats down there. Only thing either have said is they wonder why they didn't move 20 years sooner. Learning the language and assimilating with the culture is a huge part of that.

It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they've been fooled - Mark Twain
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:32 PM   #5
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Kevin - take it from a long time San Diego resident, the weather is fantastic all year around but usually cool and breezy at the waterfront. Don't look for many hop in the water days winter or summer. Water usually gets to 65 or 70 mid summer, still cool for swimming in my opinion.

Ensenada waters are no warmer, Marina Coral is a beautiful marina and half the price of San Diego (long term). However, the surge at the coral is formidable, we took a few cleats off the dock as well as pulled out a hause cleat on our boat. Cruiseport is good.

La Paz is a great place but expensive, we paid as much as or more than our slip in San Diego. Great water in the spring, summer and fall but cools under 70 in the winter plus lots of wind.
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Old 12-29-2014, 10:31 PM   #6
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Kevin, for what it is worth here is our take on San Diego after growing up in the northeast, spent time in the southeast and 30 years on the west coast including trips to Mexico. There are few places on the west coast better than San Diego. While temperatures average 68 degrees (cool for some, perfect for others) you can always plan your days without worrying about the weather. There are few cities more "boater Friendly' than SD. It is a boaters paradise with 99% down to earth people. Everything you could ask for is usually within walking distance of a marina or a short car ride. Always something to do and very friendly people ready to help out. A good mix of sailors and power boaters. Of every major port and city on the west coast (I think we have been to them all) we always thought SD was the best. This is one reason we decided to purchase our second home in Point Loma which is walking distance to the Kona Kia.

We lived aboard (part time) for many years at Sunroad Marina on Harbor Island. I suggest you give them a try before you leave for Mexico.

We spent three months at both Hotel Coral (great resort life style) and Cruiseport Marina in the center of town. You cannot go wrong with either location (watch the surge at the Coral in winter).

How long will you be in SD? It would be great to meet up for lunch one day and talk about boats.

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Old 12-29-2014, 11:09 PM   #7
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Where's California!
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Old 12-29-2014, 11:16 PM   #8
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Thumbs up In Support of San Diego...

Thought I’d weigh in a little. Maybe help a bit before someone talks you into Florida! San Diego has been our go-to recreation location for many many years. Not only for water activities on the bay and coastal waters, but also because of all the other attractions and activities.

The weather is a few degrees below normal right now, with a significant cold spell headed our way. However, I can't tell you the countless days we spend wherein the weather is in the mid-70's... year round! A hoodie or a wind breaker is about as extreme as it gets. Yes... cool and breezy is expected - especially in the evening. Mostly very mild, comfortable weather is what you get. Year ‘round. Having spent many years in the south... I'll take that year-round temperate environment over the humidity, bugs and those occasional pesky named weather events. Personal choice that works for us for now.

The water is cold as others have advised. It’s not the gulf stream. But it isn't Washington or Alaska either. I've pulled on a shortie wetsuit and enjoyed many dives. Most surfers in the summer are without wetsuits.

San Diego has many good marina's. Shelter Island and Harbor Island have the advantage of being closer to the ocean... and have slightly higher rents. But are closer to the airport. I believe you’ll find the East bay a little cheaper. And a bit quieter. Good marinas there too - but for us commuting in from out of town... the added distance and somewhat less desirable neighborhood of Chula Vista makes the savings not worth it. Again... personal choice.

What is important to recognize is that unless you spend all your time on the boat… it is about the community and its attractions. San Diego excels at this. There are many great restaurants – close enough to the waterfront for a short taxi… or bicycle ride. The waterfront has two great museums in the Midway Aircraft Carrier and the Maritime museum. The fantail Café on the Midway is a great place for a bowl of soup and a sandwich… or just to relax with a beer.

Balboa park is our version of Central Park… or Stanley Island for you PNW folks. Great museums and different visiting attractions. The Aerospace Museum is a family favorite. The Zoo there in the park is world renown. Memberships to your favorites make them economical… and most come with some free passes so you can share with visiting family or friends. Not going to get into the black fish argument… but Sea World is enjoyed by many. Head out to Cabrillo monument and the light house. Views for miles! Those are just the most obvious attractions. There are many other things to visit and do around the City or a short drive away.

A good gym was mentioned in the other thread. The best gym for working out is the water front between the Convention Center and Harbor Island - including Seaport Village. It is great for joggers and bicyclists or even leisurely strolls. And if you are less inclined to exercise, the view of those that do is always worthwhile. San Diego has some HEALTHY women! (OK… and probably men so I don’t get in trouble with anyone! I just don't notice)

Yes. You are in a major city. That comes with all the benefits of any city… as well as the downsides. If you want a quiet marina away from it all… I’d go up the coast. But you lose out on so much the City and its big bay offers… And that includes the helo’s and jets. I don’t know. It doesn’t bother me. In a City I expect some noise. And frankly… I give a friendly wave or salute to our naval men and women or Coasties flying overhead. Sound of freedom thank you. I enjoy the view.

Sorry for sounding like a Chamber of Commerce employee. Love the City. Like to share.

So... Visit some marinas. Choose one that fits your style. Enjoy!
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Old 12-30-2014, 01:18 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by windmill29130 View Post
Where's California!
Just past the hills of Tennessee. On a clear day, you can almost see it from a Memphis skyscraper.
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:05 AM   #10
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San Diego has probably the best weather in the world. I guess my question would be what are your intentions to do with your boat once your there. There is no question that Southern California has great weather and lots of activities on land. You could put a thousand Anchorage Alaska's in the greater LA area and have change. I just don't think cruising in that area has a lot to offer. Especially in comparison to what you have now. Unless you want to use San Diego as a staging point for trips into Mexico with your boat, you might be better off renting a condo or leaving an RV and land touring the South West. North of LA the Santa Barbara area has cruising in the Channel Islands , which are pretty cool. Ventura , Channel Islands Harbor, and Santa Barbara have nice harbors and great weather as well. You would still have easy access to the Southern scene and the best cruising area in the Southern California at the same time.
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:24 AM   #11
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Check out Sunroad Marina. As others have said San Diego is having a cold spell right now. Believe me that in a few days it could be 80 degrees with bright sunshine and glassy ocean conditions. I have lived in Florida, the Caribbean, New England and San Diego county. The weather there is the BEST if you like to wear shorts, a t-shirt during the day and sleep under a blanket at night. It rains, just not enough! You can be assured of excellent boating weather 90% of the time! Granted the water is not as good for swimming as the Florida Keys. But you wont have a downpour daily with assorted thunder and lightening while you try to get from your car to the boat with the groceries! And running an airconditioner to make sleep possible 9 months of the year is not my idea of paradise. There are too many folks in San Diego already so I don't know why I tell people how wonderful it is.
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Old 12-30-2014, 12:12 PM   #12
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Thanks allot guys!

We have had a great time in San Diego!

I'm not sure what our plans are at this moment, but again, we''ve had a great time exploring!

I generally get initial feelings about places. For example every time We go to Maui I think about moving there. While San Diego is very nice, I honestly have not had a "gotta stay here" feeling. Its nice, and we'll be back, but I didn't fall in love.

In two weeks I'll be taking the wife to a place that I initially fell in love with. I know its colder, but we're going to explore the Anacortes area, and Whidby Island. This is not a snowbird destination, its a place where we might decide to just move to outright. We don't know.

Anyway, Thanks!!!
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Old 12-30-2014, 12:18 PM   #13
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San Diego would be heaven on earth if only it weren't for the crowds, crime, high taxes, border issues, bad government, no rain, high real estate prices, high gas and fuel prices, traffic jams and proximity to LA.

That said, can't wait to get back.
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Old 12-30-2014, 12:38 PM   #14
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You left out the absence of mosquitos, due to our semi arid climate. No standing water, no mosquitos. As one born and raised in NYC, I really appreciate being outside on my sundeck in the evening and not worrying about "skeeters."
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Old 12-30-2014, 03:58 PM   #15
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Don't forget the endless stream of "zonies" who attack us each summer! ;-)
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Old 12-30-2014, 04:33 PM   #16
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Our yacht club "Zonas" show up in July and leave in October. After ponderin' a while, I'm thinkin' the Zonas are still better than havin' skeeters.
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Old 12-30-2014, 06:51 PM   #17
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...we're going to explore the Anacortes area, and Whidby Island...
Whidbey Island is very unique. Several of the guys I worked with in commercial television in Hawaii years ago have recently bought property, built houses, and moved there. So we get over there quite a bit these days, particularly as it's on the way to or from Bellingham where we keep out boat.

Whidbey has two fairly distinct "halves," north and south. The south half, where our friends live, is more heavily forested and seems to be more eclectic. Little wineries, artists, musicians, etc. Only one marina down there, the tiny one in the small town of Langley. All in all, the southern half is more remote feeling. Things like shopping somewhere other than the local stores are tied to the ferry schedule; the alternative is a two-hour drive up the length of the island and south on the mainland to get to Everett or farther south to Seattle. Amazon Prime is very popular among the south Whidbey residents.

The north half is dominated by Oak Harbor and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. To us, the north half is a little more open and has a more "settled" feel, more like the mainland than the southern half. That's not to say it's not as nice. It's just different. The northern half has the interesting town of Coupeville and some nice bays and parks. And of course it has Deception Pass, one of the more scenic spots in the area.

And the north half of the island has ready access to Anacortes or over to the commercial I-5 corridor through Mt. Vernon and Burlington on the mainland.

BTW, be very careful if you drive at night on Whidbey, particularly in the southern half. There are a ton of deer down there and deer-car collisions are an almost nightly occurrence with bad consequences to both.
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Old 01-07-2015, 11:35 PM   #18
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I'm arriving late to the party here. I'm now based in Shoreline Marina, Long Beach, LA area. It's not my ultimate destination marina but it does offer plenty of activities which include tons of nearby restaurants, shopping, entertainment, a great base for LA sightseeing, I can walk to the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Long Beach Grand Prix and tons more! The weather is damn fine! The last three days have been over 80* and the whale watching is awesome! We don't have the emerald green, warm Hawaiian or Fla waters but how often do you really go swimming?

I purchased my boat in Anacortes and kept it there for a year. It's a wonderfully beautiful area but dang the winters are downright cold, cold, cold. And don't forget about all the rain, rain, rain!!! Once, when shopping at Safeway there in February everyone was all a buzz because the sun was shining, the sky blue and it was almost 50*! Of course the very next day it was back to cold, clouds, wind and rain. All winter like thank you for this guy.

Kevin, I hope you find your Valhalla! I would never try to persuade anyone that there is one perfect place, there isn't. A winter/summer arrangement is the optimal idea for many, and summers in Anacortes are downright enjoyable!

If you find yourself scoping out the LA area give me a shout out. I can show you around having almost 60 years of local knowledge.
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Old 01-08-2015, 01:23 AM   #19
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Thanks very much Jim!

Time will tell what we do. The wife and I both agree that we do not want to spend any more winters in Alaska.

We both recognize, now that we're home that the weather we experienced was abnormally cold.

I still face the challenge, no matter what the climate, that many men seem to face. My lovely wife is a great boater. She will fish, and even do some longer term cruising. I am sincerely doubtful that I'll get her to spend a winter on the boat, unless the boat is in paradise.

We are going to look at Whidby island, Anacortes, and Sequim next week. To many this isn't escaping the cold, but to an Alaskan anything that is not frozen solid in the winter is warm. If she falls in love we'll probably buy a home there. That would open up the option for me of exploring a new area by boat, and make other places like the cal coast and mexico easier.

The good thing is I have a pretty understanding wife who understands my need to explore, and even though she doesn't want to spend half the year aboard, actually looks forward to boating season.
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Old 01-08-2015, 01:50 AM   #20
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Well, you should have gone from Alaska, not from Hawaii....

Sunny California. Bikini weather. I'm afraid we'd listened too much to the Chamber of Commerce too. We expected warmer in Los Angeles and San Diego. I guess South Florida had changed our perspective of nice weather.

That said, we've loved what we've seen And like San Diego best. Great for boaters. Marina Del Rey was very nice in the Los Angeles area but just a bit too crowded. Our one criticism of San Diego from a boating perspective is lack of other places to go. Again, unfair, but comparing to the east coast.

I think you're going about it all the right way, by exploring and evaluating. Yes, wearing a hoodie just isn't vacation or snowbirding to me, although Thursday in Fort Lauderdale isn't going to be so great either. Only 69 degrees but to be corrected by Friday with 77.

I think the evaluation requires all your senses and how it feels, both figuratively and literally is important. I loved seeing Alaska, but with the climate, there is no way I'd live there. We each have to match things to ourselves.

On the whole though I do get a very nice feeling from the people and the environment of San Diego. And the zoo definitely wins me over.
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