The latest Local Notice to Mariners for the 11th Coast Guard District contains some important navigational updates for San Diego sailors in particular.
- The Point Loma Light’s sound signal is currently inoperative.
- Chart 18772, ‘Approaches to San Diego Bay’, has a new edition out, “due to numerous Notice to Mariners changes.”
On the new chart, more information (including the downloadable raster version) should be available soon from NOAA’s nautical charts web site. As of the time of this posting, though (0854 PST, 8 January 2006), they’re still offering the previous edition (from 2003) for download.
I actually have really fond memories of working on that chart. I talked about one time in particular in a book I wrote most of, but never (yet) got published, called A Distant Sea. At some point I might post some of that book on this site, since it would be nice to let that material see the light of day.
The story regarding that chart involved the finish of the San Clemente Island race one year. That race started off Dana Point, left San Clemente Island to port, and finished in San Diego. This would have been in the mid-1970s, and I was racing on my dad’s Columbia 52 Victoria. The approach to San Diego was made in the morning, after racing all night from the southern tip of San Clemente with no navigational aids to speak of. (This was pre-GPS, and we didn’t have anything fancy like a radar or LORAN.) It was pretty hazy that morning, so the approaching shoreline wasn’t visible, and it was a tricky navigational problem to know just where to aim to hit the #3 buoy (the last turning mark before the finish off Point Loma). We were doing pretty well in the race, with lots of competitors close to us, so there was a lot of pressure to make the right call; coming in in the wrong place and having to make a big course correction at the last minute would surely have cost us positions.
I’ll leave it until later to post the whole story. But the (supremely satisfying, for me) result ended up involving some careful dead reckoning, a running fix on the Point Loma radio beacon, and (especially) my dad’s uncanny ability to accurately estimate the distance of a visible landmark.