S1E4 BUYING A CATAMARAN: Our Mast Comes Off!


We were so happy to be out of the boatyard and found our way from Shelter Island over to mooring ball J4 at the Downtown Mooring field.  San Diego Mooring Company manages all of the mooring fields in San Diego Bay and there are several to choose from.  The America’s Cup is the most popular, being very protected, close to long term parking, as well as shops and restaurants. That one is always full with a waiting list. It has a downside…the fishing charter boats come and go early morning and late at night, typically blaring out their greetings and instructions by loudspeaker as they pass by. A small inconvenience.  Our 2nd choice was the Downtown mooring field.

There are 3 dinghy docks with short term metered parking available. You are close to downtown San Diego, which is really fun to visit. Little Italy is an easy walk with many, many, many amazing restaurants and shops. You are also very close to the Maritime Museum and waking up in sight of the Star of India is exceptional.  You are also right there by the USS Midway, which is brightly lit at night.
We often had fireworks somewhere near the Midway, for no apparent reason!

USS Midway San Diego, CA

The downside to Downtown is you are literally right across the road from the airport. The airport, where the first flight takes off at 6:30 am sharp, and the last flight lands at 11:30 pm.  Between those hours, planes take off and land approximately every 2 minutes…yes, that’s TWO minutes. You do get used to it, and it is fun to watch the planes, especially if you download an app, such as the one we have called Flight Radar 24 (no affiliation).  And although the airport is noisy, it can’t hold a candle to the occasional hovering of the US Coast Guard helicopters. Take offs and landings of the helicopters didn’t seem too annoying, but when they hover for what feels like forever, our teeth would start to grind! So, yeah, Downtown mooring field is a little noisy!  

The remaining mooring fields in San Diego we didn’t even consider, simply because they are very exposed to the heavy boat traffic through the harbor, creating non-stop wakes to roll through 24 hours a day.

But you cannot beat the price… $200 a month! Nice! And the moorings are very secure. Downtown was a small community that looked out for each other. A couple of derelict looking boats, but not awful. We never met the owners of those boats, but heard from others that they weren’t scary people. We left Bonzai! on our mooring while we travelled back to Arizona and the ranch for a month, and had no issues.

So…safe and cheap!


Well, there’s A LOT, actually! From Downtown, you are walking distance to the Museums I talked about above and tons of restaurants.  The bay itself is large enough that there are boats that spend most of their life sailing the bay, seldom leaving!  The Navy ships that come and go are fascinating…warships of every kind, submarines, hospital ships, troop and cargo. And then you have the commercial freighters to watch come and go. Somehow there is always room for everyone! The jetski and SUP traffic is not nearly as thick as places like Dana Point and Newport, which makes sailing and getting around much easier.  We sailed over to Glorietta Bay quite a few times to anchor and dinghy in for lunch at the Bluewater Grill and just to enjoy a different view.

We stumbled across the San Diego Symphony’s final outdoor concert of the season and just anchored out with a dozen or so other boats for a truly fun evening! I’ve googled and can’t find a schedule for the Viejas Concerts at Bayside (the venue), but you can find the San Diego Symphony’s schedule here.

We also enjoyed the Extreme Sailing races. Just down the bay  (between America’s Cup and Downtown). Take a dinghy or your whole boat over to watch the fun.


This is the part where we lost our mast. We returned to Shelter Island Boatyard to have our mast removed, and left in the boatyard for a long list of replacements:

  • New standing rigging
  • Rebuilding the jib furler
  • Installing our new radar
  • Replaced our masthead nav lights
  • Installed a new VHF antenna
  • Installed our new B&G Wind Instrument as well as a “wind chicken”
  • Installed a new “disco” deck light (we love that thing!)
  • We also had a new heavy duty head sail block attachment fabricated and installed on the recommendation of our rigger.

Who was our rigger you ask? Why the incomparable Chris Catterton of CC Rigging!  Besides being a hilarious, fun guy, that is easy to hang out with, he is such an expert, doling out free advice on practically anything sailboat. Chris is honest, fair, blunt and doesn’t try to upsell you, but will tell you honestly if you’re cheaping out where you shouldn’t. He tried diligently to convince us to replace our Pro-furl jib furler, but we had some issues at home that led us to choose to put off replacement. We are so sorry. Chris was so right. Our jib furler simply doesn’t furl, requiring “help” 9 times out of 10. Ah well.

I’d love to give you the link to our disco deck light, but that was something Chris found, and I have no idea where!  Just give Chris a call and tell him you want the disco light he found for Bonzai!

The rigging work took about 10 days, so we had almost 2 weeks of being mastless. If you want to get some strange stares…just cruise around without a mast for a few days, LOL! No one can figure out just exactly what you are.

We were super excited when all of the work was completed and we got our mast back though, so we headed out for a little test sail…it was so nice to have sails up and full again!

Up Next…Prepping for the Baja HaHa!


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