Summertime Chartering That Won't Break the Bank You may be wearing a wool hat and mittens while reading this, but the sunny days of summer will be here before you know it, so there's no time like the present to nail down your summer sailing plans. Throughout the year we dedicate a lot of ink in these pages to profiling dreamy charter destinations in faraway places. But we know that for many budgetminded sailors the airfare and travel time required to reach some of them can be a deal breaker. So this month we'll focus on a menu of excellent charter venues that are relatively close to home. The Channel Islands — The first destination on our suggestion list doesn't necessarily require any outlay for airfare. As every Southern California sailor knows, clustered close to the SoCal mainland lies the Channel Islands archipelago, one of the West Coast's unspoiled natural treasures. As a group, they form the Channel Islands National Park. The most popular, Santa Cruz and Catalina, are reachable in a day's sail from charter bases (generally sailing
LATITUDE / RICHARD
Unspoiled by modern development, the Sea of Cortez is a nature-lover's paradise. Its waters are clean and abundant with sealife.
schools or 'clubs') in Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Marina del Rey, Long Beach and elsewhere. Despite lying less than 25 miles from the coast, both offer a dramatic contrast to the buzz of suburban or big-city life, and can provide ideal practice for more ambitious chartering or cruising elsewhere. As we often note, Catalina's most popular anchorages, Two Harbors and Avalon, have wellmaintained mooring fields for public use, but the backside of the island has many less-traveled anchorages, some offering excellent diving and snorkeling. About 50 miles to the north, Santa Cruz Island — our favorite — has more than a dozen great anchorages as well as many amazing sea caves that can be explored by kayak or dinghy when surge from ground swell is mellow. Lying on the hook under clear, starry skies here, you'll feel as though you're a million miles from mainstream urban living. Sea of Cortez — With countless wellprotected anchorages carved out of rugged natural landscapes, Mexico's Sea of Cortez is another geographic marvel of the West Coast. Because there's almost no development throughout most of its island-studded expanse, the Sea is a nature-lover's paradise — but, conversely, a bad choice for vacationers who thrive on nightlife, fine dining and shopping. One of the big attractions here is the wildlife, both above and below the surface. Bird life, fish and marine mammals are all abundant. That, combined with clear, clean water, makes swimming, snorkeling and diving here a high priority for many sailors. As wonderful as we think it is, though, the Sea has always been a sleeper destination for international charterers. So these days, Dream Yacht Charters' recently opened base in La Paz is the only game in town. (Book well in advance.) Belize — This tiny Western Caribbean nation is an anomaly within Central America, as it was formerly a British — rather than Spanish — colony. The big attraction for most waterborne visitors is excellent snorkeling and diving in clear, warm, tropical waters. Navigation between the many islands and uninhabited cays is simple enough, as it's mostly done by line of sight — with one eye glued to the depth gauge, that is. It is probably
SPREAD & INSET FRED LEBLANC / MAINE WINDJAMMERS ASSOCIATION
his month we offer a roundup of ideas for summer Chartering Relatively Close to Home, plus Charter Notes.
the only charter destination we know of where you can sail in 15 feet of water for hours at a time, which explains why both The Moorings and TMM primarily offer catamarans from their bases here. The Salish Sea — If you're a regular reader you know that we profiled the Pacific Northwest's Salish Sea here last month. So we'll simply remind you that this lush mariners' playground offers a seemingly endless variety of forested islands, dreamlike fjords, and wellprotected anchorages. As we noted last month, the May-to-September season is short, and, as a consequence, charter fleets are relatively small. So it's essential to book well in advance. (Please see our January article.) Downeast Maine — Without a doubt one of the most stunningly beautiful sailing venues on the East Coast is Downeast Maine, where maritime traditions run deep. Sailing among lush green islands, coves and inlets where proud homes and cottages look out over the water may have you checking the real estate listings before you fly home. Although some modern bareboats are available here — Morris Yachts is a longtime source — to us, the most enticing
The February 2018 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.