Why the Sea of Cortez?

Uncrowded Beauty

Imagine yourself leading family and friends on a week-long charter on a new Lagoon 450 catamaran.  You can do this because you’ve achieved your Bareboat Charter Master Certification and Catamaran Endorsement, having gotten your training in these same waters with Santana Sailing.  Now, this boat is yours for the week.

The air is warm as you depart the marina, and your guests share a bit of excitement with you as a Manta Ray leaps out of the water with great flapping wings.  Your guests don’t know the area but have heard about it, and you feel confident in the training you’ve received.

Photo: Wes Smith

Good Sailing

It’s the Sea of Cortez.  You could sail anywhere in the world, but you’ve come to this place.  With warm water, uncrowded anchorages and abundant sea life, The Sea has attracted luminaries like Scuba Pioneer Jacques Cousteau, author John Steinbeck, and legendary cruisers Lin and Larry Pardey, all of whom spent significant time in and on these waters.

The Sea of Cortez is one of the most stunning cruising grounds in North America

Photo: Wes Smith

Different and Fresh

The Sea of Cortez is a completely different and fresh experience from the Caribbean or Mediterranean.    No crowds, no boat boys, few tourists, no race to the next mooring field – just stunning scenery, a good sailing breeze, and a chance for solitude. 

Photo: Wes Smith

World Class Instruction

You can also get your International Sailing License (SLC) and/or Bareboat Charter Master training and assessment completed during the week with Santana Sailing.  And, it is very easy to get there – a 2h 30m  flight will bring you from LAX to Cabo. 

Read this blog I wrote, published by NauticEd for additional details:  Cruise The Sea of Cortez

Jaw Dropping Sunsets and Sunrises

Frequently the sunsets are so amazing that the conversation just stops. And when you wake up to the sound of bare feet pattering on deck with hushed oohs and ahhhs, get out of bed and grab your camera.

Contact us to learn more about Instructional Cruises and Slow Cruises on The Sea. Scroll down for a gallery of un-retouched sunsets and sunrises.

Sail the Amalfi Coast of Italy? Certo!

Okay, I am going to tell you right off the bat, I lived in Italy for 12 years so I am totally prejudiced. I LOVE ITALY!  I love the food, the people, the scenery and yet, this past July was my very first time sailing there!

On this Sailing Adventure we charted a Jeanneau 519, brand new, with 5 cabins and 2 heads.  (Yes, there were a few of us aboard!)   We were part of a flotilla with NauticEd that was well organized by Grant and Lauren!  We had a fun dinner together and the next morning all 60 sailors (not all on our boat obviously) departed Salerno, free to follow their own itinerary or the flotilla’s suggested stops.

Positano

Positano

Around lunch time we anchored for a bit at the green grotto, jumped in for a dip and a swim into the cave! Rolly, rolly, rolly! My best friend who had come from Bari, Italy to cook for us succumbed immediately to nausea and dripping sweat.  How my heart broke for her.  

So, we sailed on to Positano.  Lovely Positano!  And it is! From the land!  We’d reserved a mooring ball and you won’t believe it! Rolly, rolly, rolly!!!  In addition, you’ve probably heard of the Italians’ reputation for driving!  Well, they drive their boats the same!  What? A 5 mph no wake zone?  NO WAY!  Doesn’t exist!  So, between the ferries coming in from the islands of Capri, Procida and Ischia and the skiffs zooming along…. Did I mention that it was rolly? I think it was the most miserable time I’ve ever spent at anchor but this is the life of the sailor. Some good nights at anchor and some rough nights.  Ahhh, but then the sun set, the temperature cooled off and the lights of Positano began to glow and wow, what a sight!

Procida

Procida

Of course, we were none too soon to get underway the next morning along with the rest of the flotilla.

We ventured on to Ischia, a beautiful, beautiful island, lovely marina.  After spending the night in Ischia (at Marina Aragonese in Casamicciola) we sailed on to nearby Procida (Marina Procida) checking out some of the fabulous picturesque towns and medieval castles from the water. From there, on to Capri.  Sailing was lovely.  Good breezes and good company!

Procida

Procida

If you plan to sail the Phlegraean Islands of Italy there are a couple of things to be aware of.  The marina prices are high.  Reservations for slips or moorings are very important and to be made well in advance!  On average, we paid $130 USD per night for a slip and should one decide to go Marina Grande on the north side of Capri to hang out with the rich and famous, get ready to knock out up to $2,700 per NIGHT! (Okay, monohulls are only charged about $300 USD)  So, not wanting to take up any slip space from Beyonce and Jay Z, we decided to sacrifice and anchor at Marina Piccola on the south side of Capri.  And you’ll never guess!   Rolly!  

Another concern when anchoring out is that you may not be able to take your own dinghy to shore!  There often are no dinghy docks, nor permission to leave your dinghy.  If you are moored, there are shore rides available but we had trouble discerning what we were able to do at Capri.  So, our crew pretty much decided to hit the road (hit the sea?) and head back to Amalfi where we got a slip in the marina.  It was a good choice as it gave us extra time to explore the historic town of Amalfi, eat lots of gelato, drink Rucolino and Limoncello, and of course, eat PIZZA!!!!  Lots of pizza!

Ischia

Ischia

I think cruising this area of Italy is much more about getting to your destination, shorter sailing from place to place, exploring on land and eating wonderful dinners ashore!  You can expect rolly anchorages as much of them are very open and offer little protection. Once the skiffs and ferries stop, things do tend to calm down quite a bit.  Sailing the Amalfi Coast is a COMPLETELY different experience than spending a week on the Sea of Cortez where you are surrounded by nature, no restaurants, very few people, cooking aboard, swimming and snorkeling!

Exploring the Amalfi Coast is a great way to see many towns, gorgeous and dramatic cliffs and mountains and yet, at the end of the evening, be able to retreat from the tourists and constant thumping from the local discotheques (Yes, they still believe in disco in Italy!)

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On my wish list is to visit the islands around Sicily!  Perhaps in 2019.  Would you like to hone your sailing skills, see the fantastic Aeolian islands, and eat wonderful Italian food?  Get in touch with Captain Marc and let him know you’re interested.  And finally, do you need to speak Italian?  No… most folks speak enough English in the tourist areas, but it always helps to speak a little, and especially to joke.  Italians have a great sense of humor and if you’re willing to go with the flow and understand that things don’t always function the way we are used to here in the USA, you’ll have a blast!!! 

Chrissie - First Mate

Scroll Down for the Gallery

Fall Cruising Perfection: Santa Catalina Island

I’ve finally decided that October IS my favorite month of the year for sailing.  The days are shorter, but the sunsets are gorgeous in the warm dry air.  This is the perfect time of year for cruising Catalina.  The anchorages are deserted, and mild Santana wind conditions mean calm, warm, and peaceful anchorages.

It was about 11:00 PM on Sunday evening October 22nd when Chrissie and I departed Dana Point Harbor, bound for the West End and Big Geiger cove.  We motor-sailed our Catalina 34, La Terza Vita, until about 1 AM when a mild north-westerly filled in.  We unrolled the big genoa and sailed close-hauled for several hours, making 4-5 knots on a course that brought us in toward Ship Rock at the Isthmus.  We arrived with the sun at Big Geiger, and had the whole cove to ourselves.

Sunrise en route to Big Geiger cove

Big Geiger
We anchored bow and stern as the sun rose a bit higher, and then laid down for a few hours of perfect rest.  And later that day we swam, snorkeled, and took a dinghy ride to explore Little Geiger, Emerald Bay, and Doctors’ cove.  The only boat in Emerald Bay was the Beneteau 48 Cabernet Sky, on a mooring at Indian Rock.  I thought of stopping in to say hello, but we were enjoying our own solitude so much, I thought we’d let them enjoy theirs.  And that night at anchor the sky was so clear, you could see Long Beach in sharp detail with its orange glow behind.  And we were still the only boat in the cove.

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Big Geiger from the road above.

 

It's nice to be the only boat in the cove.

Cabrillo Beach
It was Tuesday afternoon that we finally weighed anchor and headed for my favorite anchorage on the North Side of Catalina, Cabrillo Beach.  Tucked in behind Little Gibraltar, Cabrillo Beach is a lovely anchorage with a rock islet that has a piece of re-bar cemented into it – you can tie your stern rode directly to it.  Here’s what we did:  we dropped the bow anchor part way out near the point, and then backed in about 90 feet from the rock islet.  I took the stern rode in my hand, having first disconnected the chain, and while Chrissie kept the boat in reverse to hold our position, I swam it in to the rock with my Teva sandals on.   I tied off on the re-bar with a rolling hitch, and after backing down to set the bow anchor, there we were – super secure, and the only boat in the anchorage.

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Tucked in behind Little Gibraltar

 

Our stern rode is tied off on the rock islet

This is the coolest anchorage on the north side of the island

Avalon
The next day after snorkeling at Cabrillo and exploring ashore at neighboring Goat Harbor, we headed out for Avalon, only about 6.4 NM away.  The moorings were plentiful and for a while, we had no other boats nearby.  And on that Wednesday evening, there was plenty of space at the dinghy dock, and there was no wait for an outside table at the Blue Water Grill.  We had a beautiful view of the Casino, and our boat, in the second row of moorings off the beach.  This was a perfect finish.

It’s November now, but there’s still time to enjoy fall cruising at Catalina.  Keep a sharp weather eye out for strong Santana winds, and make sure you have your copy of Anchoring At Catalina, so you can enjoy a quiet cove and a beautiful clear night at anchor.  And if you miss it this year, remember for next time that Fall cruising can be complete perfection at Catalina.