Pacific Sail Season Is Kicking Off

Hello my fellow sailing enthusiasts, Darci here.

Captain Darci Here!

The harbor mouth is now open and steadily improving every day thanks to the hardworking dredge crew of the Santa Cruz Harbor.

© Brian Neel

Yes, there is scattered rain here and there due to it being early spring but there are no fair weather sailors here at Pacific Sail. Our love for sailing and teaching people how to sail trumps all discomforts, plus the winds have been pretty perfect. Luckily here in Santa Cruz beautiful sunny weather is not far behind its crisp spring forerunner.

Basic Sailing Class on the SC27 La Paz

Our instructors and skippers are amped to get out there and taste that fresh salty air. We have a few new captains joining our company this year and we are so happy to welcome them into our sailing family. For a list of our instructors please feel free to visit our instructor page on our website

We offer a variety of classes such as Basic Sailing for the new adventurer all the way through Bareboat Chartering so that you can one day take a luxurious trip to warmer waters such as the BVI’s. My students this past weekend, Brian and Po, were preparing to do just that. Here they are practicing their docking skills while keeping a close eye on on-coming traffic.

My student Brian keeping a lookout before backing out.

Po also keeping his eyes peeled for other vessels.

Captain Justin’s Students were also getting bareboat certified and passed with flying colors and smiling faces.
Here is John and Trevor all checked out and ready to go.

New Skipper Ahoy
That’s a mighty fine cleat hitch.

The sailing season has opened up just in time to experience the amazing migration of the Grey Whales. These majestic creatures migrate between its summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific and The Bering Sea and its winter breeding grounds in the lagoons of Baja California passing right by us. Come sign up for classes or charters and while your out on the water you might catch a glimpse of the whales swimming by.

© Brian Neel

Not only are there Grey Whales, you can also catch glimpses of Humpbacks, Sea lions, Sea otters, Harbor Porpoise, Sunfish, Dolphins, an array of native seabirds and maybe even a Shark.

Please visit our website for more information about signing up for classes and skipper charters.
We love what we do and we can’t wait to share our little slice of heaven with you.

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Baja, Mexico

I wanted to thank you for helping us get everything set up for our trip to Baja, Mexico. The trip was excellent, it had a really nice blend of adventure and relaxation. The sailing was pretty good, the wind tended to blow in the morning and then drop off around 1 or 2 pretty quickly and then somewhat unfortunately pick back up again around 9or so at night and could blow with some enthusiasm throughout the rest of the night. The anchorages were all pretty good, even though none of them were sheltered from the typical evening breeze, most were relatively well protected from any swell. We only had one bad night and it was unfortunately the first one out. Not knowing any better,our first thought was that our orientation guide was full of crap, but we later learned that everyone had a bad night that night and we might have fared better than others. Supposedly there were two competing low pressure systems creating all kinds of problems. We were well anchored and seemed to have stayed put though. Fortunately the next day took us to a beautiful and serene anchorage on Isla San Francisco where we stayed the next two nights and recovered.

While sailing and exploring the islands we saw lots of wildlife. There was good snorkeling, whales in the distance, dolphins passing by and we even swam with sea lions. The sea lions were probably the highlight of the trip for me. The water was still a little on the cool side. I was fine swimming without a wetsuit when it was hot outside, but did put one on for longer snorkeling excursions. The weather was really nice, it was typically cool at night, usually comfortable (shorts and t-shirt) when the wind was blowing during the day and hot when it wasn’t.

The scenery was very beautiful and we took a bunch of pictures, I’ve put a bunch of them up online if you’re interested.

Thanks again and we hope to make it back down to Santa Cruz sometime soon. Ideally before all of the whales make there way through Monterey bay, but we’ll have to see.
Cheers, Jay

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Chartering October 2012 -Orcas & Risso Dolphins

We chartered the Catalina 35 yesterday and I thought I would give you a little feedback about the trip. We encountered one Orca on the way out to the Monterey trench to do some whale watching. He only stayed for a brief showing. About 8 miles out we encountered a pod of several hundred Risso’s dolphins. We had never seen them before and thought they were very amazing. We knew nothing about them except for what we saw on the trip and then looked up later after the trip. We were able to heave-to and stay with them for 30-45 minutes. Although we do have pictures and video, they don’t show up great except for the dorsal fins and a few leaping in the distance. We also saw more jelly-fish than I had seen before. We had one 2 mile section with 20-30 seen for every boatlength traveled.

The weather was a little stronger out at the trench with winds 25 gusting to 35 and seas up to 10 feet. The boat did fine in those conditions including the reefing of the furling main, heaving-to, and sailing to windward.

Thanks for the nice day of sailing.
Best Regards,
Mark Bowers

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Basic Sailing & Seamanship

If you are interested in picking up a new sport, refreshing your basic sailing skills or just wanting to have a great time, I highly suggest taking basic sailing and seamanship.

I had my apprehensions as to what basic sailing and seamanship was going to be like.

Crew Sam Woods

The thought of being put on a boat all day for 2 days with people I had never met before could be a toss up, but fortunately Marc Kraft runs a great program and I spent the 2 days in basic sailing with an amazing teacher Captain Jo and three very wonderful individuals.

Jo has the patience of a saint; thank the sailing gods! He also has a way with teaching the basic fundamentals of sailing so that they stick. I walked away from this past weekend not just with a love for sailing and knowledge, but I learned about the people I was learning with and about myself. What other type of class can you say that about in less then two days?

Captain Jo

The class will cover and touch on important topics; sailing theory, safety gear, points of sailing, knots, tacking and jibing, crew responsibilities, halmanship and commands, getting underway and making sail, sail trimming, securing the boat, nautical terminology, finding and reading the wind, mechanics of rig and sail, reefing and navigation rules. One of the most important things to always remember is to smile and have fun. Oh, and one hand for yourself and one hand for the boat can also go a long ways.

Crew Lesley Moussette

Skipper Brooks Bell

What do we plant when we plant the tree?

We plant the ship that will cross the sea,

We plant the mast to carry the sails,

We plant the planks to withstand the gales-

The keel, the keelson, and beam and knee-

We plant the ship when we plant the tree.

Abbey, Henry; 1842-1911

out on the Monterey Bay

Special thanks to Steve Allen for being an important part of our crew and taking some great photos. Also, thanks to Lesley Moussette and Brooks Bell, I’ll sail with you all any day. A very special thank you to Captain Jo and Pacific Sail. It couldn’t have been done without you.

By: Samantha Woods

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If you haven't heard by now…

If you haven’t heard by now, we are proud to announce that the oldest and grandest event in the sport of sailing, the ‘Americas Cup Sailing’ will be held in San Francisco 2013. After eighteen years abroad this prestigious yacht race has returned to American soil and lucky us in our very own bay area.
But don’t worry if you can’t plan that far in advanced, because starting now a global first, the new weekly magazine program America’s Cup Uncovered is designed to connect viewers with the people, places and stories that are the backbone of the America’s Cup. Featuring behind-the-scenes sneak-peeks, athlete profiles and up-close action on and off the water, America’s Cup Uncovered will take an in-depth look at the 34th edition over the next two years, offering an exclusive window into one of the most prestigious events in sport.

Americas Cup 2013 San Francisco

For more information on the Americas Cup 2013 in San Francisco and to watch the first episode of Americas Cup Uncovered check out:

By: Samantha Woods

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Thank-you to everyone concerned about the Pacificsail fleet and Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor after the Tsunami caused mass devastation and chaos this past Friday, March 11th, 2011. Fortunately, with the help of many of our captains & boating neighbors, we continued to replace breaking dock lines and fend off floating boats as much as possible during the event (over 6 hours). Often, it was far too dangerous to actually be on the docks, making it terribly frustrating.

The scene was jaw dropping, intense, treacherous, and gut wrenching. To watch the strong possibility of our entire fleet almost get washed out to sea and have no control of what was happening was quite trying. The currents were similar to watching white water rapids, charging through the harbor with the strength of 10 locomotive trains. Fortunately for us, the upper harbor (behind the bridge from us) received the most of the damage.
A few of our boats on the end tie received minor damage from a loose powerboat and debris that rubbed against them. We’ll be fully open for business by March 21st, 2011 after the Coast Guard cleans up the damage of sunken boats and debris. Below are some videos people captured of the day. We truly appreciate your concerns and look forward to having a great sailing season ahead.

For now, our hearts and prayers go out to the people in Japan and wish them a rapid recovery.


Marc D. Kraft

Marc Kraft running for his life after the people on the bridge saw another wave heading down the channel-

Below are some more utube clips-

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Update September 2011

Humpback Whale Hanging Out in Santa Cruz

An adult Humpback Whale has been seen in about 40 feet of water near the Main Beach in Santa Cruz. Apparently, this beautiful mammal has been feeding on anchovies & sardines which are plentiful this time of year. He has been putting on a show, breaching close to our sail boats.
Humpback Whale

It’s always better to just go on a sailing excursion with no expectations of seeing whales. We’ve found it’s best to just let the whales find you rewarding you with an amazing treat.

Fall Specials

Our friends and family specials have done so well, we will be continuing it through the winter and early spring. Please pass this special to your friends if you want more crewmembers to help you sail on the Monterey Bay.

Day one (only) of Basic Sailing & Seamanship – Cost $325. For 2-3 participants. You can add a 4th participant if they are 18 years or younger. Your group can pick any day. 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m. with a ½ hr. lunch break.

Basic Sailing & Seamanship (day 1&2) – Cost $650. For 2-3 participants. You can add a 4th participant if they are 18 years or younger. Group can pick any two-day period. 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m. with a ½ hr. lunch break.

Eight Day Bareboat Certification Course (day 1 to 8). Cost $2,950. For 2-3 participants. You can add a 4th participant if they are 18 years or younger. Participants can split this up into any segments, weekdays or weekends that would work best for your group.

Sail to Capitola’s Art & Wine festival.

On September 10th-11th
there’s the Capitola Art & Wine festival. This is a terrific event with talented local artists displaying & selling their art. The streets of Capitola are closed off and filled with 200 artists, 16 wineries, gourmet food, entertainment and children’s art area. It’s great to see some of Santa Cruz’s local talent.

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What's it like on the Monterey Bay from November through March?

Typically, the winds settle down between storms and we can get the most amazing, sparkling clear days with tranquil sea conditions. It’s actually quite enjoyable, sailing along in light winds, checking out the fall and winter sea life, especially when the California Grey Whales start migrating to Mexico in December.

Our first pre-winter storm system moved into Santa Cruz recently. Although we embrace this precipitation as it replenishes our reservoirs and parched landscape, it’s not going to stop us from going sailing. For those enthusiastic sailors that want to get out and enjoy mild winds and Grey Whales migrating to Mexico, it’s a good time to evaluate our winter sailing conditions.

Pacific Sailing highly recommends studying the weather conditions emphatically during storm season. Don’t worry; we wouldn’t let a bareboat charter or class happen unless the conditions are quite suitable for safe and comfortable sailing.

There’s no cancellation fee in the winter. Typically, our winter storms come from the South, which is the direction our Harbor Entrance is facing. The result of the storm waves crashing into the entrance brings in tons of sand, which needs to be continually dredged throughout the winter. Usually our dredge can keep up, but there are times where the swell at the entrance makes it too risky to leave the Harbor, even on a beautiful day.

At the top right section of our new home page (, if you click resources, there is a live web cam on top of the Crows Nest restaurant pointed at the Harbor Entrance. You also have the links to all of the NOAA weather sites, satellites, tides, swell, and wind predictions.

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Sailing Quotes

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” —Mark Twain

Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them. —John Updike (b. 1932), U.S. author, critic. Self-Consciousness

“What is liberty? We say of a boat skimming the water with light foot, ‘How free she runs,’ when we mean, how perfectly she is adjusted to the force of the wind, how perfectly she obeys the great breath out of the heavens that fills her sails. Throw her head into the wind and see how she will halt and stagger, how every sheet will shiver and her whole frame be shaken, how instantly she is “in irons, ” in the expressive phrase of the sea. She is free only you have let her fall off again and have recovered once more her nice adjustment to the forces she must obey and cannot defy.” —
Woodrow Wilson, Twenty-eighth President of the United States
(Excerpts from First You Have to Row a Little Boat, by Richard Bode) Continue reading

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Moorings Charters

Pacific Yachting is a charter broker with the Moorings Charter Company. They charter yachts around the world in some of the most ideal sailing locations. We use the Moorings because they have an excellent reputation. Their prices may be a slightly higher than some of the other foreign charter companies but we figure that if you are going that far you don’t want to deal with any major problems.

If you want Pacific Yachting to book your next sailing vacation, we can save you money. Just go to the Moorings web site at, pick a location and give us a call or e-mail.

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