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Old 24-08-2011, 20:43   #1
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Dana Point to Newport - Good for Beginner ?

Hey everyone,

I might as well introduce myself. My name is Cody and I'm new to both sailing and this forum.

I've been out for a few front yard sales around the harbor, taken a few sailing courses, and I'm getting ready for my first overnight charter with my wife. Being new to sailing, and not knowing much about navigation except how to read a (land) map, I was wondering if Dana Point to New Port is a feasible option?

I've got a newer Catalina 30 for 23 hours, and was hoping to cruise up to Newport, find a mooring or anchor, and either spend the night there and come down in the morning, or come back to Dana Point before nightfall and sleep in the harbor.

Any input would be great. I know I sound like a complete newcomer here, but... I am, haha.

Thank you,
Cody

P.S. About how long would that sail be?
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Old 25-08-2011, 02:22   #2
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Re: Dana Point to Newport - Good for Beginner ?

That's about 13 (thirteen) nautical miles (15 landlubber miles); sounds like a nice trip. But you really ought to carry a nautical chart and know the rudiments of figuring your position so as to not be totally dependent upon a GPS. And it adds fun and confidence to know a little bit about traditional methods of keeping track of where you are. And knowing how to read the harbor charts and know where the shallow places are might save a bit of embarrassment or trouble.

It's usually an upwind sail from Dana to Newport, and sometimes it takes a while for the wind to come up, so if you start in the morning you might well be motoring. Newport Harbor has lots of boats tied to mooring balls to watch out for, and in the summer sometimes there are lots of little kids in little boats learning to sail in the harbor. They're terribly cute but can be a wee bit clueless.

Buying a cruising guide to southern California would tell you a whole lot about what to expect in different harbors. If your boat has an inflatable dinghy or kayak or some such, that will be a big help if you get put on a mooring instead of in a slip (some harbors do have shore boats that you can call on the radio).
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Old 25-08-2011, 04:11   #3
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Re: Dana Point to Newport - Good for Beginner ?

You can anchor in the turning basin for free. And a few years back you could tie up at one of the restaurants for the night if you spent enough money there. Woodies Wharf was always my favorite...
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Old 25-08-2011, 04:13   #4
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Re: Dana Point to Newport - Good for Beginner ?

Oh, and it would be a good idea to get a marine chart - there are some shallow rocky bits between DP and NB that could cause you some grief.
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Old 25-08-2011, 12:01   #5
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Thank you for the replies. I was hoping to get a chart, but where would I find them? Also, what type of navigation should I be using? Dead reckoning?
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Old 25-08-2011, 16:31   #6
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Re: Dana Point to Newport - Good for Beginner ?

You can get charts at West Marine on PCH and in the little marine shop (if it is still there) right in the marina near Dana Harbour Drive and Golden Lantern.

Mate, i am all for you having a go, and i recognise that everybody has to start somewhere, but i suggest that you consider going with someone who has a bit of experience the first time. And I also suggest learning the basics of navigation before you go alone. A boat is not like driving a car. There are a lot of ways to make little mistakes, and little mistakes can have expensive and dangerous consequences. (trust me on this one, I’ve been in the marine salvage business...)

With a little knowledge, you and your crew will feel much more confident and will have a better time. And the likelihood of getting her to go along again will be much higher. Check out the sailing programme at OCC in Newport. One of the best sailing schools anywhere. Practically free, and they have good boats.
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Old 25-08-2011, 17:35   #7
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Re: Dana Point to Newport - Good for Beginner ?

For the price of a GPS reciever ($35) you can use a freeware program called OpenCPN on your laptop as a chartplotter. Here is a link to the place where yo can download it. Download OpenCPN | Official OpenCPN Homepage From there you will need charts which are also free for the US. One of my favorite books for learning coastal navigation is Nigel Caulder's "Cruising Handbook" It is way more then you need for an easy trip like Dana Point to Newport but a good book. You can buy papercharts at West Marine. I like paper charts. Some people don't. A good guide book to the area is "Cruising guide to central and Southern California Amazon.com: The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California: Golden Gate to Ensenada, Mexico, Including the Offshore Islands (0639785801825): Brian Fagan: Books It only costs about $20 and you might be able to get it at West Marine along with the paper chart. I am planning on doing this trip in October but we will start from San Diego. send me a PM if you want to discuss this a little more.
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Old 25-08-2011, 20:55   #8
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Dana Point to Newport - Great for Beginner!

Cody, this is a nice day-hop, and there is nothing to worry about, so don't let the nay-sayers discourage you.

You won't need to learn any navigation for a trip like this: what you will be doing is piloting, since you'll have the coast in sight your entire trip, and will be using landmarks to guide your progress. All you'll need is a paper chart (West Marine will print one out for you while you wait for $20+ change) a hand-bearing compass, about $40, and a parallel ruler at the chandlery.

An inexpensive hand-bearing compass is small wet compass stuck on top of a joystick that you hold in your hand (there are "hockey puck"-style h-b compasses that are more expensive and really easy to use): you look across the top of it at some object in the distance, and can determine what your bearing (the straight-line direction) is to that object: whether its bearing is 34 or 60, for example. As your boat moves along the coast, the bearing to that object will change.

By identifying prominent objects on the chart, either on shore (storage tanks, towers, prominent buildings) or at/in the wet stuff (channel mouths, piers, drilling platforms, sea walls, buoys, etc.) and taking bearings on two such objects, say one you haven't arrived at yet and one you passed 15 minutes ago, you can determine your position by drawing pencil lines on your chart of the reciprocals (opposites) of those bearings that extend out into the "water" on the chart. Where the lines cross on your chart is just about where you are at that moment.

The compass rose (the medallion printed on the chart in at least one place that looks like a 360 compass oriented counter-clockwise a bit to give you magnetic degrees) is used to determine the angle of the ruler. If you take a bearing to an object on shore and get a reading of 30, you lay the ruler across the center of the compass rose so that it aligns with a 30/210 course (30 on one side of the rose is the exact reciprocal of 210, which is on the other side of the rose). Then simply walk or roll the ruler down the chart, without letting it slip on the paper, until the edge touches the object on the chart that you "shot" with the hand-bearing compass, and draw a pencil line from that object that extends out into the water.

Here are some simple charting tools from West Marine.. The rolling ruler does the same job as the parallel ruler, except that it has little wheels that let you slide the ruler over the surface of the chart. You'll quickly learn how not to let it slip.

Here is the West Marine page that lists their print-on-demand charts. I believe the one you want is #18754, Newport Bay, but you should confirm it covers your intended sailing grounds.

A cruising guide gives great information about procedures, anchoring areas, fees, telephone numbers to the Harbor Patrol, check-in procedures, local shopping, etc. from someone who has been there before, and is worth its weight in gold. Like Charlie, I like Brian Fagan's The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California. West should have it: if not, Amazon will have it.

Here is a selection of hand-bearing compasses from West Marine.

Here's an article by Don Casey explaining the rudiments of taking bearings to shore.

Buying these simple tools and the cruising guide just burned a $100 bill, but West Marine's cheapest handheld GPS is $150, and you don't build any skills to speak of using it. (Still get the cruising guide, no matter what. Think of it as a AAA Travel Guide for boaters).

Of course, piloting on paper requires that someone else is at the helm keeping course while you're playing Lord High Admiral looking through your peep-sight and doodling on the chart down below (don't risk having the chart blow out of your hand and go by the boards while you're trying to use it in the cockpit. You can take it into the cockpit, but when you're actually determining the bearing, you don't have enough hands for everything.

I'm less concerned about you finding your way than I am about you successfully deploying and setting the anchor or picking up a mooring: did get any practice in your classes, or will you be going into this blind for the first time? It can be tricky, and can strain relationships when trying to communicate from the bow to the cockpit of the boat giving directions about steering, speed, shifting out of gear, etc, esp. if you have to pick up a mooring. I mean really, really strain relationships, like "she's calling her mother to come and pick her up" kind of strain. Anchoring is much, much simpler, esp. in a sheltered harbor.

Fair Winds and Good Luck,
Jeff
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Old 26-08-2011, 00:07   #9
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Re: Dana Point to Newport - Good for Beginner ?

Thank you all so much for the advice. I'm definitely in the sponge state right now, and I'm trying my best to soak up any and all the information I can get my hands on.

In response to Panaseaya, I understand your caution, and I share it, but at this point I've taken all the basic sailing classes my Charter Club has to offer, and I've been on 4 or 5 sails within sight of the harbor. Since Newport is the closest anchorage I've been able to find, I feel like this is the next logical step. Also, while I havn't yet, I'm about to start a Navigation course that I will have almost finished before I set sail.

Starbuck, thank you so much for the information on piloting. I will definitely be taking a trip to WestMarine soon. And Charlie, that guide and Chartplotter look great, I'll be sure to check them both out.

As for anchoring, we did go over it in class, and we did it once in the harbor, but unfortunately I was at the helm for the practical application portion so I've never actually dropped anchor myself. I would almost prefer a mooring, because under the charter rules I am not allowed to leave the boat at anchor but we can if we have a mooring. Also, I'm sure my wife would appreciate not having anchor watch (do you do that with a mooring?) Do you happen to know if the moorings at Newport are like the ones at Catalina? We went over those kind (the ones with the floaters and a line to hook to your bow and stern) in class, and I assumed they were the only ones, but I've been hearing about all different types (backing into and tying your stern to a dock?)

Thanks again for all the help, this is an awesome community.
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Old 26-08-2011, 00:29   #10
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Cody that seems like a reasonable first trip. Make sure you review your course BEFORE leaving the dock and have an alternate plan should the weather and/or seas get ugly. I downloaded charts from NOAA for free and printed them. This let us scribble without too much heartburn. I just finished a several hundred mile journey last week and it was my first long distance cruise. I do have some experience navigating and general cruising locally. I marked any hazards in red to make sure we gave them plenty of room. Just remember the minute you depend on something it will crap itself! =)

Good luck and enjoy!
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Old 26-08-2011, 00:34   #11
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Re: Dana Point to Newport - Good for Beginner ?

By all means go for it man! I didn't mean to sound discouraging.

I myself rejected plenty of pessimism and went ahead and did it anyway.

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me I needed a bigger boat, or more money, or better this that 'r th'other.

Sounds like you have some good advice re navigation and piloting. Go have fun - it is the very best way to learn!
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Old 26-08-2011, 16:10   #12
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Re: Dana Point to Newport - Good for Beginner ?

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I have been to Newport twice. If your boat is under 40' you can stay at the docks next to the harbor masters office. They were in bad shape when I was there but looking at Google Earth it looks like they have been replaced. The docks are a pretty long walk from anywhere though. The Moorings are similar to the ones on Catalina and will be assigned from the harbormasters office. You will need to have a dinghy to get to shore. I don't think that they have dinghy service for the general public but I am not sure on that one. I like to look at harbors on Googleearth before I go to get a sense of what to expect. The pictures of Newport are very clear. Have a great trip it is lots of fun.
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Old 26-08-2011, 17:10   #13
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Re: Dana Point to Newport - Good for Beginner ?

Do it!

Will be an uphill run to get to Newport... Downhill on the way back...

The moorings out of Newport are two different types... Depends on where the harbormaster puts you, one style is a single can and closer to the harbormaster/harbor opening. The other is a two can system where you hook bow and stern to one of the cans. Most available moorings are held by the harbormaster and not well maintained (Expect growth/debris on rope)...

Anchorage is usually open enough for several boats and is a little larger than the Dana Point anchorage. Be prepared for some real silty/dirty mud from the bottom... The anchorage is approx. 1.5 miles inside the harbor opening, just keep towards the port side of the harbor (Not towards the USCG/harbormaster dock) pass the ferries and the fun zone and you will find the large yellow boueys that mark the anchorage

Normally, not much deeper than 20', so should be a piece of cake for you. Prevailing winds will be out of west and towards the 250 degree mark on a magnetically adjusted compass...

Hope it helps... Let us know how it goes...
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