I live in sunny Southern California, and often sail out of San Diego. The following are some resources I suggest for Southern California sailors.
Master and Commander is the first book in a 21-book series naval historical fiction from Patrick O’Brian. Set in the late 1700s, it involves Captain Aubrey, a British naval officer, and his career. One of the best naval fiction series ever written.
Here are some books I use for sailing knowledge. I highly recommend them:
The American Practical Navigator (“Bowditch”):
The first two have complete information on “everything” you need to know about sailing. The Chapman book focuses more on casual and beginning sailing, while the Annapolis book is for the advanced sailor (I used that book for studying for my ASA106 course).
The third book is an invaluable book on how to maintain a sailboat. Most useful when you are on a multi-day charter and something goes wrong. How do you fix a seawater engine cooling filter? How do you replace a fuel pump? How do you repair a short in the electric panel? There’s nobody to call, you’ve got to do it yourself or do without. This book becomes your best friend.
The Bowditch book is the classic: this is what professional mariners have been using for over 200 years. Everything, and I mean everything, is there. If you want to know how to navigate and sail an aircraft carrier or supertanker, this is the book for you. Celestial navigation? There it is. Dead reckoning and tidal drift corrections? yup. GPS and Loran? No problem. Calibrating a magnetic compass on an all-steel ship? You got it. Literally everything.
The Bowditch book is great, and I have it myself, but it is far more than any coastal sailor would need. It is really more of an encyclopedia of sailing knowledge.
NWS MARINE WEATHER FORECAST
I always check this before sailing: it is a forecast, so you get the information up to a week out:
Same information is broadcast on the national weather radio channel by a computer generated voice.
A Cruising Guide is useful for the small-boat (yacht) sailor providing local knowledge. Think of a Cruising Guide as a book from a regular sailor who has “been there” and is giving you some advice. Lots of invaluable local knowledge that may not be in the official U.S. government publications, such as how to get a mooring in Avalon, or where the best places to anchor are, or how to hail a water taxi.
But be careful: these are updated VERY INFREQUENTLY, especially the ones for California. The most recent one was written in 2001, almost 20 years ago! As you can imagine, things have changed a bit since then, but it is still useful.
Maptech makes a series of commercial waterproof maps. These are not official US Govt issue, but they are based on the official charts, and are a much more manageable size for yachts. I highly recommend them:
I also recommend the vinyl cover to protect your maps and documents:
US GOVERNMENT NAUTICAL PUBLICATIONS
This U.S. Government site has all of the official NOAA charts and publications in electronic form. Nautical Charts Online has them in paper form.
- 18765 (Approaches to San Diego Bay and Mission Bay)
- 18774 (Gulf of Catalina; Dana Point; Oceanside; La Jolla)
- 18773 (San Diego Bay)
For free printable charts, try the electronic form (above), but select the “BC” (BookletChart). These are split up so they can be printed 8-1/2″ x 11″. The same official charts, but in a smaller form for easy printing.
These are updated each year, with daily tidal levels and currents, but you may be better off just printing out the ones you need from the NOAA site. If you want the books in printed form they’re here:
Get the one for the “Pacific Coast of North America and Asia”.
A “Coast Pilot” is an invaluable aid giving local information on various parts of the coast and harbors, including phone numbers and things to watch out for. Again, these are updated each year, and you may want to consider getting the PDF from the NOAA and printing the sections you want. But if you want the whole book, get it from the following site:
Get “Coast Pilot 7”.
The “Light List” (poorly named) contains all of the bouys and markers (including foghorns and nautical navigation lights) along the coast. Every bouy marked on a map is in the Light List. The Light List is useful to get the exact Lat/Long of each nav aid, as well as all of the characteristics (light color and characteristics, noisemakers (bell or horn), etc.). It has saved my bacon a few times. Again, the book contains the whole U.S. pacific coast, so you might want to just download the PDF and print out the pages you need. Here is the paper version:
Get “Light List VI: Pacific Coast and Pacific Islands”.
LOCAL NOTICE TO MARINERS
This is provided by the Coast Guard. This contains all of the up-to-the-minute corrections to all U.S. navigation documents: Charts, Light List, Coast Pilot, etc. It is published weekly. You can sign up and they will email you each time a new one is published. Or, you can just go here to get it: