Berthing in San Diego
The Baja Ha-Ha Rally Committee DOES NOT arrange berthing at San Diego.
This page last was updated on 7/7/16.
These days there seem to be plenty of slips available in San Diego. However, if the entire Baja Ha-Ha fleet cannot be accommodated in marinas, the overflow can anchor in a specially designated anchorage (explained below).
As nice as it can be to spend time in San Diego Bay, though, we’d suggest that you also take advantage of the many berthing opportunities while you’re on your way south. (See notes below.) Once you arrive at San Diego Bay, our advice is as follows:
San Diego Slip Availability — Before you arrive in San Diego Harbor, we suggest you check out this informational website: http://reservations.portofsandiego.org/boating/
There, you can make reservations for the convenient slips at the Shelter Island Police Dock, apply for an anchoring permit for several local anchorages, and access a wealth of info about local boater services, including a list of dock-and-dine locations.
Repeat Ha-Ha’ers, please note: There is no longer a Mooring Office at the Shelter Island Police Dock, as all reservations are completed online. However, you can still access the Mooring Office staff by phone: (619) 686-6227; from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon - Fri. They are always very helpful to our fleet members. The Downwind Marine Cruising Guide also includes contact info for all San Diego marinas and yacht clubs. People can read our guide online or download it at www.downwindmarine.com.
Harbor Police Docks — If you’re lucky, you may have a chance to berth right at the San Diego Harbor Police Docks, located on the northwest side of Shelter Island. They have 26 guest slips available on a first-come-first-served basis. Their fee structure is $1.00/foot/day, with a 15-day maximum stay. Reservations are now accepted online up to 14 days in advance. Each slip has potable water, 30-amp power, and access to restrooms and showers.
Cabrillo Isle Marina, located on Harbor Island, directly across a land bridge from the airport and adjacent to the Sheraton Hotel, has always been a friend to the Ha-Ha, and its parent company, Almar, is a founding sponsor. The company offers up to 50% off normal rates at all their West Coast facilities. The Cabrillo Isle Marina can be reached at (619) 297-6222. They will accept reservations and maintain a waiting list.
Anchoring in San Diego — The San Diego Harbor Police have always been very supportive of the Baja Ha-Ha rally. They’ve once again set aside a free ‘special event’ anchorage for exclusive use by the Ha-Ha fleet. (Non-San Diego-based boats only please.) For a permit, you must call the Mooring Office with your Ha-Ha registration number from the fleet list on our website. The anchorage is located near Glorietta Bay, close to the Coronado (Island) Golf Course, and will be open to officially registered Ha-Ha entries October 1 through November 1.
The A9 “Cruiser” anchorage is also available for longer stays, info available online but permits must be obtained in person. For two decades, the Harbor Police have bent over backward to accommodate the Ha-Ha’s special needs, so please treat them with the respect they deserve.
Berthing at Cabo — All skippers should be prepared to anchor at Cabo in the public anchorage. A limited number of slips will be available at Cabo Marina, and will be assigned by the Rally Committee via radio during Leg Three based on the chronological order that each boat entered the event. The marina WILL NOT accept fleet reservations during our dates in Cabo, so please do not try to circumvent our process, which is meant to be as equitable as possible.
There is no way to know in advance how many slips will be available, but the Cabo Marina staff always does their best to accommodate as many boats as possible. As of Sunday, Nov. 13 (the day after the Awards Ceremony) there should be no problem getting a slip, as most of the fleet will be moving on to La Paz, Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta.
Berthing Along the Way to San Diego
Even though many slips are expected to be available this year in San Diego this year, we encourage you to take your time while heading south and enjoy some of Southern California’s other harbors and anchorages. The following are some berthing suggestions.
Cojo Anchorage — Just around Pt. Conception. It’s beautiful, it’s unspoiled, it’s free and there’s often some good surf.
Santa Barbara Harbor —They often have space at this time of year on a first-come-first-served basis. The first 14 days are $1.00/foot/night, plus $7 (non-refundable) for a key card. The second 14 days are $2.00/foot/night. You can call from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for availability: (805) 564-5531 or (805) 564-5530.
In addition, the Santa Barbara YC has a long end-tie. It’s also possible, before October 31, to anchor off Stearns Wharf at no charge. Check with the Harbor Master for dinghy tie-up instructions. Santa Barbara is a lovely city, so you don’t want to miss it. If you’re coming from the northwest, the entrance requires a nearly 180-degree turn, and there is frequently shoaling. Enter slowly and carefully. At night the background lights make seeing the navigation lights very difficult, so go even slower or call the Harbor Patrol (VHF 16 or 12) 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 lookout for a Santa Ana wind. There are no services or supplies, but there’s great hiking and beauty. And it’s free.
Ventura — The Commercial Marina will probably be packed because of squid season, so check out Ventura West Marina (805-644-8266; fly your Ha-Ha burgee and get a discounted rate of $1.00/foot/night) and Ventura Isle Marina (805-644-5858; $1.50/foot/night, slips from 25 to 85 feet). Historically, the Ventura YC has been very accommodating. The channel entrance is currently dredged to about 23 feet in the center of the channel, so it’s safe except in extremely high surf. But be very careful at night. If you have a problem, the Harbor Patrol can help (805-642-8618 or via VHF 12 or 16).
Channel Islands (Oxnard) Harbor — Channel Islands Harbor has guest slips in two spots, allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. For availability, go to the harbor masters dock at the mouth of the harbor or call the Harbor Patrol 24/7 (805-382-3007 or VHF 12 or 16). The charge is $1.30/foot/night, with a 10-day limit. Longer stays require an application and listing of Ventura County on your insurance. Heads, showers, potable water and shorepower are available. In addition, there are a half-dozen 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. The south entrance is favored.
Paradise Park — This anchorage is around the corner from Pt. Dume, inside 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 over 50 guest slips at Burton Chase Park. You can stay for seven days out of a 30 day period for $1.15/foot/night. It’s first-come-first-served, but if you have questions, call (310) 305-9595. 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. Marina del Rey 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 Harbor Patrol (310-318-0632). They have recently added 25 moorings, rates vary by boat length, reservations available at the above phone number. The folks at the King Harbor YC have quite a bit of transient dock space and they’ve always been very hospitable. It’s about a $45 cab ride to LAX.
Catalina — There are tons of places to anchor for free at Catalina, and some folks live on the hook year ‘round. Moorings are dear on a cruiser budget, at least until Nov. 1. After that, you can get a 39-ft mooring for about $84-90/week at Two Harbors (310-510-4253 or VHF 9). At Avalon (310-510-0535 VHF 12 & 16, www.cityofavalon.com) after Oct. 15, 39-ft moorings are $70 a week; 49-ft moorings are $84/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 a stay there can be quite inexpensive compared to many coastal options.
Long Beach Shoreline Marina — This marina may have some transient slips available. For reservations and info call: (562) 570-4950.
Long Beach Alamitos Bay — This marina is in the middle of its rebuild, so no moorings or slips are available.
Newport Beach — Traditionally this has been a great pre-Ha-Ha place to keep a boat on a mooring. New rates since the City and Harbor have joined forces are: May 1 — October 31, $27 a night, and November 1 — April 30, $16 a night. There is no maximum stay limit, though payment is accepted for only up to 15 days at a time. They also have a few slips next to the Harbor Patrol office, (949) 723-1002, at $40/night, with 15 day stay limit.
Newport also has a 5-day anchorage and several yacht clubs with guest slips. Newport is a great place — a fun place to dinghy and ride your bike around — with nice people, but officials are a little more formal than at Catalina. It’s a 30 minute taxi ride to John Wayne airport and only 75 miles to San Diego.
Dana Point —Dana Point does have a number of transient slips and they will take reservations at (949) 496-6137. As with all the places we’ve mentioned, you’ll have a much better chance of getting in on a Monday than on a Friday or Saturday, when they always fill up. Dana Point charges $1/foot/night based on the length of the slip. During “high season” — between Memorial Day and Labor Day — you can stay for 30 days, renewable for 30 more. After Labor Day you can stay up to 90 days. As in many 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. Reservations are taken up to six months in advance.
It’s also possible to anchor for 5 days protected by the breakwaters in the west or east basin, on a single anchor, though they recommend bow and stern anchors if it’s crowded. This is managed by the Dana Point Harbor Patrol (949-248-2222). You’re only supposed to leave your boat for provisioning, not for a weekend at Disneyland. It’s also possible to anchor with some protection outside the breakwater altogether, as it’s often quite calm along this part of the coast.
Oceanside — This harbor frequently has open guest slips, but they mostly cater to smaller boats. They do take reservations in advance (by mail or in person only) with cash or check, credit cards in person only. You must show a copy of current registration or documentation. Call (760) 435-4000 for information. The maximum stay is 30 days, and the charge is $1.20/foot/night. The Oceanside YC also has a long dock.
Mission Bay — We haven’t been to San Diego’s Mission Bay in a long time, but the 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.
Ensenada — You can almost certainly get a slip in Ensenada at Marina Coral or Cruiseport Marina for the dates you want. Check their websites for current rates, just remember prices are before the 11-14% 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 crew member on board and leave the boat in Catalina or 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 Ha-Ha Halloween Costume Party and BBQ on Sunday, October 30.
— Baja Ha-Ha Rally Committee