Just our opinion of the Cali Marina's we visited
21 April 2012 | Puerto Vallarta, Banderas Bay, MX
The restroom and dock facilities at marinas are very important to cruisers but are rarely discussed in the cruise guide books or glossy sailing magazines that describe the various ports. In this post, we will discuss the "undiscussed" at the marinas we have visited on the California coast. Please refer to your guide books for the well written descriptions; this isn't well written nor comprehensive. Rated 1-10, based on our use, needs and bias.
Lowrie Yacht Harbor (4 overall)
We spent our first several months here, preparing Tanga for the voyage.
•They have wooden docks, most of which had not been replaced in many years, but just prior to us leaving, they were starting to replace a couple. Cleats pulled out, one guy even had his foot go through a board. 2
•They have two single restrooms, both of which are small with a toilet and shower head in each. The cleaning consisted of a daily sweeping with a broom, and the sinks frequently would not drain. 2 (just above a dirty gas station)
•The staff was friendly and courteous (until we submitted our notice). 4
•They do not have any laundry facilities. 0
•Lowrie's is located in San Rafael, which has a fun small town feel to it, and the conveniences of SF. The harbor is located at one end of the commercial area of town so it was close to great food (Cafe Trio our favorite), shops and stores. This was the sole reason we didn't move earlier. 7
Marina Bay Yacht Harbor (6.5 overall)
We moved to this marina so we could sail without needing to chase tides down the shallow San Rafael creek which inhibited our ability to sail and learn more often.
•They have nice concrete docks, solid mounted cleats and ties that are well maintained, but the local seagull population keeps the docks covered in shells that prohibit going bare feet. Reliable electric, with good water pressure. 6
•The restrooms were cleaned daily and well maintained. They are also large with numerous stalls and showers. The sink basins can be a little busy in the morning, but it was an excuse not to shave. 7
•The laundry had 2 washers and 2 dryers which were constantly busy during the weekends but readily available at all hours during the week. 6
•The location was close to two marine chandleries and 5 restaurants including the best authentic Italian restaurant (Bottos) we ever ate at. Our only complaint about Marina Bay Yacht Harbor was the wind. Due to how the wind comes through the SF bay and around Angel Island, it rarely drops below 20kts during the day, EVERY day, ALL day.
•The staff was helpful, pleasant and courteous at all times. 7
Half Moon Bay, Pillar Point Harbor (6 overall)
This was our first "cruising" stop. We were here for only a few days. This is the town that holds the fabled mavericks surf competition but from our walking around, we didn't see much else. The harbor has more fishing vessels than pleasure craft and a smell that keeps you aware of it.
•The docks are wooden but well maintained, sturdy and clean. 6
•The bathroom is a public beach restroom kept very clean, but has the graffiti and other minor pitfalls that public restrooms have. The showers are kept under lock, for the marina guests, and they are kept clean and well maintained. While only having one shower per gender, the usage seemed minimal and there was never a wait except during the daily cleaning. 5
•We didn't see or attempt to find the laundry, but we were told they have one.
•The staff was helpful and courteous. We came in after hours but this wasn't reflected in the level of service. 6
Santa Cruz (7 overall)
We enjoyed our entire time at the Santa Cruz Harbor; they are still rebuilding the dock infrastructure that was destroyed during the 2011 Tsunami. We talked with several people who were still dealing with their insurance companies to get their boats fixed, but the harbor is making fast progress towards repairs.
•The transients seem to be cycled thru the end ties in the channel, but we felt no noticeable disturbance by the swell coming in. The fuel dock is easy to get in and out of and all the pumps had filters with clearly labeled, fresh installation dates. The docks were safe and clean, but still being repaired and had various temporary fixes in some areas. The docks that were complete were in great shape, obviously. Not rating
•The bathroom we used was clean but old. The hand dryer in the male side was broken during our two week visit as was one of the stalls. The bathroom is open to all boaters and an additional key was required for the separate single shower. Only having one shower stall per gender required some waiting, and on two occasions a line developed. 5
•There are no laundry facilities. We had to take our laundry up the stairs, by the bridge, and a half mile down the road to a laundry mat. 0
•We had fuel system issues there which meant we needed parts and to receive parts. The two maintenance shops on the water were great in letting us pick through their fittings to find what we needed, and the harbor office was great in allowing us to use them to receive our pump. They even stopped by to see if they could help any further. When we left, they saw us at the fuel dock and had our paperwork ready before we could even get to the office. They seem to run a first rate operation and were very helpful with everything. 7
Morro Bay Yacht Club (6 overall)
This harbor seemed to be a mainly transient place that lives up to its treacherous entry reputation. The entry is messy and a guaranteed surf in or bash out, in anything over 6 foot seas, 9 foot and above will have the Coast Guard suggest you not enter or leave. The local yacht club host transients at their dock, or on mooring balls. The anchorage was very crowded with room for only one more vessel when we arrived.
•The dock is wood, but very well maintained. But the dock is only long enough for 4, 40' vessels so space is limited. The winds came up to 30kts as we were docking with a 4kt ebb, but it was an easy side tie, just double the spring lines due to the vicious tide. 6
•The showers and restrooms were very clean and large. 7
•The laundry is also at the yacht club but with only 1 washer and 1 dryer, there was a line from dawn to dusk. 5
•The fuel dock was built to serve the fishing community and is a piling tie up so bring your board if you want fuel.
•Plenty of eateries of all varieties within close walking distance.
Santa Barbara Harbor (7 overall)
A nice place overall, but since the area around the harbor caters to mainly tourist, it can be a bit pricey, if you choose to eat out.
•The docks are concrete and very clean and well maintained. 7
•We did not look for a laundry so no rating can be made.
•The bathrooms were large and numerous for the number of boats. We never had to wait for a shower and they were cleaned at least twice a day. 7
•The fuel dock is at the back of the harbor, so busy times create a bit of a traffic jam, but ample turning space can be found easy enough.
Marina Del Rey, an Almar Marina (8 Overall)
We stayed here, and the next place, far longer than we intended. But finer marinas in the States would be hard to find. The harbor master at this location was a former and future cruiser so she understood why we asked the questions we did, and was even helpful with things we hadn't considered. The entire staff was very helpful and constantly reminded us that they would help anyway they could. We can't say enough positive things about the staff and their professionalism and courtesy. We think every marina that host cruisers should hire a former cruiser and/or live aboard, they "get it".
•The docks were wood docks, but so well maintained that some people we spoke to assumed they were concrete! The sea lion and bird waste was cleaned daily so they always looked great. 8
•The bathrooms were located at different areas of the property and during our entire stay we didn't need to stand in any lines for showers etc. Only one of the bathrooms was a little undersized for showering which left no place to change, but all the others were ample size. All of the facilities were immaculate and very clean. 8
•The laundry is in one location attached to the back of the building. Two washers and two dryers to service the whole marina, so lines are inevitable. 6
•The location sits in the middle of many restaurants, chandleries and hardware stores. 7
Cabrillo Isle, an Almar Marina, San Diego (8.5 Overall)
We had a tough time rating either Cabrillo Isle or Marina Del Rey ahead of the other but the single factor placing Cabrillo Isle above Marina Del Rey was the laundry. Other than that, the staff was as great here as they were in Marina Del Rey.
•The docks were concrete and scrubbed clean daily. 8
•The bathrooms were in a single location and ample in size. Very clean and kept up well. 8
•The laundry had 4 washers and 4 dryers meaning very rarely was there a wait. 9
•The location was both great and not so great. Situated on Harbor Island allowed for light traffic and a wonderful place to take walks. On both ends of the island are a restaurant, and all three hotels also had places to eat, plus a couple delis (Pappaninis was our favorite). But getting parts required either a taxi, rental car, or a very long bicycle ride to the area where the shops are. There are plenty of shops, just not near this marina.
The above picture was taken yesturday, here at the marina in Puerto Vallarta.