After a week in Long Beach we were ready to head south to San Diego and, rather then drag it into two days, I talked Keith into making a long run down the coast by leaving in the middle of the night. We had planned to take off around 2am and get into San Diego Bay about 4pm in the afternoon. Keith, who finds sleep easily, dropped off to bed at 9:30 and was fast asleep while I stayed up a bit longer organizing some items and stashing things in place for our travel. I attempted to sleep around 11pm and was met with annoying fly-by's of helicopters that continued for another hour and which ultimately woke Keith up (no small feat). At that point we were debating either to try to sleep through the helicopter racket or just go for it. I voted for the "go for it" option and we decided to leave. So we headed out of Long Beach harbor under a full moon around 12:30am. Once out of the harbor area and clear of traffic Keith headed below to bed and Mason stayed up top with me to keep me company; we watched videos on his phone, watched the cruise ships show up on the AIS first then off in the distance like brilliantly lit Christmas trees floating by in the night, we listened to music and just had a nice time. It's one of those memorable moments that seem to be far and few between with my teen son these days so it was treasured.
Keith showed back up on deck around 4am which was perfect timing as Mason was starting to get a little loopy from lack of sleep and I was sure I could hear my bed calling my name like a siren's song. Mason and I handed over the helm to Keith and headed below. A few hours later I was back up top and hanging out with Keith just as dawn was breaking, I spelled Keith again and was treated to a beautiful sunrise all to myself. Soon after sunrise the little guys showed up excited to see where we were at and asking the famous question "When are we going to get there?" for which my answer was, as usual, "dinner time".
The rest of the day was spent keeping busy. Boys played Lego's, played on their tablets, read or were read to and played card games. Around 3pm we neared San Diego and started to look at how we were going to enter the bay. I was already getting a bit nervous with the amount of traffic I was seeing outside the entrance and then looking for the navigation buoys when Elliot calls out that he sees a crab pot, then another. I sent the little boys up to the bow to watch for crab pots, which could be a nasty bit of business for our prop if we hit. The boys are calling crab pots everywhere so Keith went up on the bow with the binoculars to look for the channel markers and to check out the crab pot situation. The verdict...."it's a sea of crab pots!". We start to navigate through the crab pot "sea" with Keith pointing to port or starboard to navigate around them before he finally yells "abort abort" from the bow and we decide to take a wide wide angle around the pots and then navigate our way through the edge of them. I wish we had a picture of the massive volume of them but frankly I was too nerve wracked and white knuckled to even think about photos!
So we enter the harbor, and I swear I've never seen a harbor where less people actually follow the navigation rules. We had boats under sail coming up the right hand side of the channel and boats coming up the left, we had power boats all over the place that didn't seem to care about channel markers, navigation, right-of-ways or just plain courtesy. Many times I would ask Keith (the expert) ..."uh...what do I do?"...at which Keith would list out the rule that applied in the situation and tell me to either hold my course or make a big motion to show that I was altering my course. All I know was, after the crab pot field, I found this pretty nerve wracking also. The farther we got into the harbor the less traffic we had to navigate around and soon we were under the Coronado bridge and heading towards our final destination Chula Vista. The Lyon's, who were already in Chula Vista, had warned us about the shallow waters after the bridge and we'd already checked the chart but I wasn't really prepared for what we saw. The bay at the south end is pretty wide, maybe a mile or more across, but the area where we could navigate was just a few boat lengths wide on the far left hand side of the bay and it went on and on and on. At one point I'm thinking we surely have to be close and Keith says the left turn is coming up but all I see is mud all around me. Our channel markers changed from actual red/green buoys to sticks in the mud with either a red or green triangle on top and a number which aligned with the chart. All the way through our depth was bouncing from 22ft down to 12ft with my heart rate going up and down right along with the depth gauge. Finally we see the breakwater in the distance and we head into our new home for a few weeks.
Chula Vista has turned out to be worth the crazy entrance. The staff here is helpful and welcoming. The laundry facility is fantastic and a good price. The pool and hot tub is heaven for the kids. All in all, we are looking forward to spending some quality time here and enjoying the San Diego area.
I'm the wife of the captain, a mother of three boys and a PM in the corporate world. This blog is my view of life and activities related to our boat.