Originally Posted by SF Bay Dude
Agreed on San Simeon. Nice anchorage. I've spent time at Avila and wouldn't want to hang around in the winter. Most systems throw up a south wind
, and Avila's completely open to the south. Not a very comfortable anchorage even when things are good. Pretty rolly. And oh what fun it is tying to the pier with your dink and timing the jump up to the platform between swells. Just don't misjudge that first step or you're going to need a new groin.
If you have the time, definitely head
out to the Channel Islands. They are lovely.
Avila--um, is that the town along Port San Luis? I've never been ashore there, just used the anchorage as a good get-in-at-night spot. San Simeon is also unprotected from the south. Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel is well protected from the southerlies but I've had a couple friends stuck there for a week because the bad weather raging around outside.
Other thought--when you hear those "just go straight to San Diego
outside the Channel Islands" advice, I suggest the OP ignore them unless winds are very light. It is a good summertime strategy when the winds are light and seas are calm. In the calms of summer, there is often little wind in the Santa Barbara channel or even in the Channel Islands.. because the land (from Point Conception and to the east) shadow just blocks it I suppose.
This "go straight" is bad, bad advice to heed for anytime there is any real wind or seas. If you take a look at an online tool like Sailflow, Passage
Weather, or the surfers' Magic Seaweed, you'll see how, in any kind of weather, winds and waves are much bigger in a zone that starts south of Point Conception (just outside the channel islands up by San Miguel) and then stays big down past San Nicolas island. If summertime, by all means, this is better wind to work with and since the waves are smaller in summer (typically) there's less to worry about on the waves at that time. At stormy times of the year, it's just not a good strategy though.
Then, after you've gotten yourself down through the "outside the channel islands route" that some folks advocate w/o the qualifiers of "in calm, settled weather" you have to come back across the shallows that start at San Nicolas island and end in the fishing
banks of Tanner and Cortes Banks to get to San Diego. It's not the fishermen to worry about though--it's the very long period waves as they steepen up as the ocean goes from thousands of feet deep to low hundreds. In some places one can see some good size breaking waves. If you haven't seen the movie
Billabong Odyssey (surfing), check it out sometimes since they surf the Cortes Bank. Every reason to stay INSIDE the Channel Islands unless it's summertime-flat and summertime calm.