With our sights set on Ventura, we set sail in the late morning for the 22 nautical mile journey over to Port San Luis. Without enough wind to sail, we motored the whole way- luckily having a nice dolphin sighting along the way. Approaching Ventura, even with calm conditions, there was very large swell heading into the channel, with surfers on the beach immediately to our starboard side. A bit of a tricky entrance- we wouldn’t want to do it in big seas or high winds.
Ventura was a really pretty harbor and we stayed at the Ventura Yacht Club, as our club offers reciprocity with them. We were the only boat on their guest dock, with great showers, very close laundry (and cheap! $1 for wash or dry) and free WiFi. What more could you ask for? All around us were funky little shops and restaurants, with a massive stretch of beach across the street with surfable waves. There were over 50 surfers our there one day, which was really fun to watch!
Jason decided to entertain his inner-child and buy a longboard skateboard during our visit. We all gave it a go and decided we’d need to do a LOT of practicing (and maybe increase our health insurance?) A fantastic hop from Santa Barabara, Ventura was a really nice place to spend a few days.
From there, we headed to Marina Del Rey- a 50 nautical mile trek that would be an all-day event of motoring once again. Where is the wind, man? We pulled into Marina Del Rey in the early evening, before sundown. For those of you who haven’t been to this epic harbour, it is the largest harbour IN THE WORLD. It is huge and hosts over 6,000 boats. We were blown away entering this place- there were boat sailing into the harbour, jet skis whizzing past, kayaks, paddleboarders, ahhh!
We had reservations at the Pacific Mariners Yacht Club after recommendations from a fellow cruiser. They were extremely accommodating and booked us in, even though they were very full. “We’ll fit you in! No problem!”, said Tony, their dockmaster. Well, when we approached the channel and got a good look down towards our slip, Jason was quick to say “I think you’d better phone the dockmaster again and make sure this is the right spot!” As we strained our eyes to see the end of the channel where our boat was to go, we saw about 7 people all waving and smiling at us and shouting to come on down! This was a one way street. We started heading down, both of us shaking our heads and saying “I don’t know about this…”. Everyone was SO friendly though!
Turned out also that the other two guest boats that were tied up were ‘kid boats’ also (yes, this is the term given to families afloat)- sv Dakota and sv Mango. All headed south to Mexico as well. When we got the end of the channel where our slip was (intended for a 30 foot boat, but “Hey, we’ll fit you in!”) and started turning into it, someone on one side of Bloom was shouting “Kick the fenders out of the way, she won’t fit!” To receive the response “The fenders are kicked out of the way!” Uh oh. Plan A aborted. Tony, the dockmaster was shaking his head and muttering to himself “I told them this wasn’t going to work!” On to Plan B! The 30 foot sailboat closest to the shore would move into the slip we didn’t fit into, freeing up the long-tie area and allowing us to fit our nose into the 30 foot slip he came out of. So… we had to back down the one way street, wait for said 30 footer to relocate and then motor back down to the smiling faces with outstretched arms. I don’t know quite how it happened, but we managed to fit her in. We stayed for 3 wonderful days, and let me tell you- this was THE MOST welcoming yacht club. Ever. Amazingly-nice people who immediately treated you like a close friend. Wow. The world needs more of this!
We took the next few days to explore Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier (we walked an hour and a half each way to see this one!) and the entire Marina Del Rey area. We even did a little ‘Flaked’ walk and saw the various locations where this hit Netflix series was filmed.
The canals in Venice were also fantastic and well worth the walk-through. Venice is rich in history and was built to be a Pacific Coast version of Venice, Italy and was founded in 1905!
Overall, a fantastic visit and we had a really great time. Definitely worth a stop over if you are going to be going by this area. The true California experience.