San Diego Anchorages – Glories of Glorietta Bay

Fog greeted us most mornings.

A megayacht crew forms a receiving line for the owners.

Leight Star - without its helicopter.

The Coronado Bridge.

Star of India's sails go up.

Brave crew members of the Star of India unfurl one

of the large square sails.

Downtown San Diego.

A harbor seal naps on a bouy.

A warship cruises down the channel.

A beach on Coronado Island.

Coronado Beach Company's "Tent City."

sv Groovy in San Diego - ready for the tropics.

This could almost be a tropical isle.

s/v Groovy with sistership Bella Marina

Friends on Hunter 44DS "Marina Bella" anchored nearby.

Party time.

Woo Hoo!

A raft up.

The Coronado Boat House.

The Hotel del Coronado.

An elegant chat outside an elegant villa.

Sand drawing on the pavement.

A perfect day for the beach.

Coronado Beach is a classic California beach.

McP's, Navy Seal hangout.

Navy Frogmen raise a pint at McP's.  Painted by our

friend and anchorage neighbor, Pete the Pirate.

Quaint buildings line the streets on Coronado Island.

One dog power.

Waterfront kaleidoscope.

Glorietta Bay is surrounded

by shallow water.

San Diego Anchorages - Glorietta Bay

September, 2010 - We continued to shuffle between the various free San

Diego Anchorages, gaining new perspectives on the city with every stop.

Most mornings began with a cold damp fog that occasionally broke into

sunshine for a few hours on rare, lucky afternoons.  By my reckoning,

summer began on August 16th, and after 10 stunning days of warm

sunshine and bright blue skies it promptly ended on August 26th.  We

discovered that 2010 was the coldest summer in San Diego since 1933.


However, we thoroughly enjoyed the activity on the waterfront, regardless.

One of the joys of staying at the public Police Dock marina on Shelter

Island that is open to all boaters on a first-come, first-serve basis, was its

amazing variety of visitors.  Long term cruisers heading north or south

would stop in, their boats laden with dinghies, liferafts, bicycles, solar

panels, wind generators and everything else necessary for a safe and comfortable nomadic life afloat.  Next door to them would be

local liveaboards who were taking a break from their usual swinging spot on a mooring, using the convenience of the marina to

wash the boat, walk to the car, and luxuriate in hot, stationary showers in a space larger than a phone booth.

Right next door to the Police Dock is San Diego's ritziest megayacht

dock.  So, while your transient Cop Dock neighbor tells you what a

steal he got on his ancient 25' sailboat (he just picked it up for $300,

and not only does it sleep four, making it a fine liveaboard home,

but it still floats), a few hundred feet behind him the seven person

uniformed crew of a megayacht stands in a formal receiving line to

greet the very old owner and his very young wife onto their palatial

yacht for the weekend.  I can't think of too many land based

neighborhoods where the scruffiest scrappers and the most

supremely ultra-rich can practically reach out of their windows and

shake hands.

The megayacht Leight Star (140') made the news during our

stay because its very seasoned helicopter pilot crashed under

the Coronado bridge.  Apparently he experienced a

mechanical failure shortly after taking off from the yacht, and

he didn't quite succeed in his attempted emergency landing on

the bridge.  Fortunately, a rescue team just happened to be

nearby.  They saved the 69-year-old pilot from the wreckage

and got him to the hospital right away.

Taking our dinghy across the bay to the Maritime Museum, we watched

the goings-on aboard the Star of India, a megayacht of sorts (205') from

another era.  This beautiful ship is docked permanently along the

downtown waterfront, and it often sports a few flying sails.  Way up in the

rigging we saw four daring crew members unfurling one of the square


Sadly, the Star of India had made the news just a month earlier as

well.  A 68-year-old retired Naval officer who volunteered on the

ship fell 50' to his death while moving from a rope ladder to the

rigging on the forward mast of the ship.  In a safety reminder to us

all, it turned out that his harness wasn't clipped in at the time.

As we wandered from anchorage to

anchorage we got to enjoy the stunning

skyline of San Diego's downtown district from

many angles.

The harbor seals didn't seem as impressed

by the view, and they lolled about, sleeping

soundly on the bay's bouys.

San Diego is a busy, active harbor, and more

often than not, while transiting the bay, a

warship will make an appearance.  You can

hear these guys on the radio first, warning all

mariners that they are coming.  When they finally slip by, their sheer size and intense

purposefulness makes them very intimidating.

Coronado Island is the bulb at the end of the peninsula that

essentially forms the outer arm of all of San Diego harbor.  This

"island" is not to be confused with the four Coronado Islands that

lie offshore of San Diego just over the Mexican border.  Ringed by

beaches -- both docile ones on the bay and surf-pounded ones on

the open ocean -- San Diego's Coronado Island is extremely


We learned that back in the early 1900's the entire peninsula was

loaded with little beachside shanties.  Initially the structures were

simple canvas tents clustered together to form "Tent City."  A few

years later these little bungalows sprouted thatched roofs and

$1.50 per couple per night price

tags.  You could get a deal if you

brought your family for four

months during the summer.  It

seems that all of San Diego's

party crowd came out to Coronado Island for beach, sun and surf.

The Community Center park has a heartwarming outdoor display of photos, showing long

deceased revelers enjoying

this wonderful area when the

only roads were dirt.  The

women wore long, lace

trimmed dresses at the turn

of the century and shifted to

flapper, tube-style dresses in

the 1920's.  Every cheek-

by-jowl bungalow door

was framed by two camp

chairs.  Today the area is

dominated by high-rises.

The Glorietta Bay anchorage is

tucked into a nook on the bay

side of the island.  The sandy

beach is lined with palm trees,

making it look almost tropical.

Our friends on "Bella Marina," a

beautiful dark green Hunter

44DS anchored nearby, and the

two sisterships swung in unison for an

overnight, undoubtedly swapping stories

about their owners.

The clothing may have changed between

1900 and 2010, but the spirit of partying in the sun is just the same as it

ever was.  San Diego erupted in warm sunshine and sparkling water for

the afternoons we were at Glorietta Bay, and the party boats just kept on


Lots of beer and lots of skin brought the bay to life.

Behind us a group gathered in a seven boat raft-up.  By tying the

boats to each other, with three boats dropping their anchors to

hold the group still, everyone could scamper from boat to boat,

enjoying a party aboard one boat on one night and on another

boat another night.

Coronado is soaked in history, and two old landmarks still

stand as reminders of the past.  The Coronado Boat

House, built in 1887, perches on the edge of the bay.

Today it is home to a fine restaurant and a boat rental


More dramatic, the Hotel del Coronado anchors a classic California beach.  With red

turrets and lots of dormers, the hotel is a charming historic landmark.  Walking along its

perimeter we came across two old ladies chatting in on a villa patio.  They added to the

Hotel's "last century" air.

Offering more of a youthful

spirit, someone had created

sand swept images on the

sidewalk.  Walking delicately

across a smiling sun face, it

seemed the artist was as happy

about this brief turn in the

weather as we were.

A little further on we found ourselves behind some beach-goers.  What a

perfect day to take a beach chair, towel and book to the beach.

For me, Coronado Beach is what I always imagined a

California beach must be like, and the throng of Asian tourists

taking photos of each other with the beach and ocean in the

background confirmed that others must feel that way too.

Coronado Island has a busy main street where the boutique

shops and outdoor eateries spill out onto the sidewalk all the

way down the road.  Everyone was out for a late Sunday

brunch as we strolled along, but we were ready for an early

pint at McP's.  This is a special bar where the Navy Seals

hang out, and with a parental connection to the Navy we had

to check it out.

Also, our neighbor in

the A9 Cruisers'

Anchorage, former

Navy Seal "Pete the

Pirate" on the motor

yacht "Patriot Seal,"

painted the beer

hoisting frogs on the

wall of the bar.

Although originally

nicknamed "Tent City," Coronado was created by the

Coronado Beach Company as a master planned resort

community in the late 1880's, and the area remains very

upper crust today.  Ornate business buildings and

carefully crafted shop buildings give the area a precious,

studied charm.  We wandered through the back

neighborhoods, all very quiet, where each home is an

exquisite display of architectural flair.

Back on the boardwalk, returning to the boat, an old man

in a wheelchair gave us a huge smile.  "One dog power,"

he said, pointing to his dog who was on his leash ahead

of him.  Nearby, a trio of little girls clambered all over a

huge, colorful kaleidoscope.

When our weekend on Coronado

Island drew to a close, we motored

back to our home base at the A9

Cruisers' Anchorage off of Harbor

Island in the bay.  Glorietta Bay is

flanked by shallows, and a hapless

ketch ran aground on the way in just

as we were leaving.  The tide was still

falling as we passed them, giving them

few options until the tide came in again.

Meanwhile, on the radio, we heard the

Coast Guard simultaneously dealing with

two emergencies, a sailboat that had lost

power near the rocks of Point Loma and a

power boat that suddenly sank out from

beneath three older men.  While the sailboat

dropped anchor and awaited a tow, the three

men in the water miraculously kept their

handheld radio dry and followed detailed

instructions from the calm Coast Guard lady on

the radio.  As we went about our business

setting our anchor, we marveled that such a

tranquil morning in such a beautiful place could

yield three crises in a matter of minutes.

There is always a lot of action on the water.

Unfortunately, during the next few weeks, bad

weather and boat outfitting projects prevented us from further forays around

southern California, but on November 2nd we left San Diego permanently to sail

down Baja California's Pacific Coast .