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Author Topic:   Doheny State Beach/Dana Point California
MontanaWhaler posted 07-26-2008 09:57 AM ET (US)   Profile for MontanaWhaler   Send Email to MontanaWhaler  
Hi All:

We will be staying for a week at Doheny State Beach in CA in mid-September. Our 180 Dauntless is going too. I'm not familiar with the area or the waters so any help is appreciated.

It appears from Google Earth that Dana Point, next door, has plenty of Marina services, maybe even a slip rental or is the cost usually so high that its better to launch and retrieve each day?

Are special precautions needed to protect the boat or its contents from theft? This is not something we usually need to worry about here in Montana.

For a little fishing action, what species are typically good to target up to 10 miles offshore in that area?

While I have lots of boating experience including the Atlantic coast, this will be my first time splashing a boat in the Pacific so any tips regarding things to look out for in that regard are appreciated too!

Thanks in advance for any helpful comments or resources you point me too!


MontanaWhaler posted 07-27-2008 10:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for MontanaWhaler  Send Email to MontanaWhaler     
Oops, looks like I might have posted in the wrong place as this section seems to be more about setting up group get togethers.BD
OIA posted 07-31-2008 06:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for OIA  Send Email to OIA     

Welcome to Southern California. You certainly picked the right time of year to visit. The weather is still very much summer-like, the water's still a warm high 60s low 70s and the crowds have diminished considerbly.

I'm out of Redondo Beach King Harbor, about 50 miles north of Dana Point. I've been to the harbor a number of times but don't know enough to answer the "theft" question. I can asked some friends and find out.

Regarding seas: A typical Southern California day of boating, as long as your in a marina by noon - 1:00p you'll be fine. Most of the time you can usually stay out longer, but when the prevailing northwesterlies kick up it can get sloppy. You'll have no problem in your Dauntless but you might get wet and have a good kidney punch or two. That being said, it's not uncommon in September to have flat seas in the morning and calm seas all afternoon. Also, we can get some waves in September, which just means large swells out to sea. No problem when it's smooth, but a big swell and a strong wind is not any fun.

Regarding fishing: Calico bass from 2 - 5 pounds can be found in the kelp beds near shore. Also, you may have some luck with 10 - 20 pound Yellowtail. Maybe even Yellowfin, but unlikely. We had a wild Dorado bight a couple years back. Best bet is to get here and ask the locals.

Also, when you're fishing or cruising, make sure to keep an eye out for Dolphin, there are some huge pods around these days. Blue Whales are also a good possibility.

If you have the time, a great run is to Catalina Island. It's probably 30 - 35 miles from Dana Point. You can also fish on the way over and while you're there. Although a 90 -120 minute (straight shot) open ocean run it's a fairly easy crossing in the mornings. I'm taking off tomorrow with my five year old in my Montauk 17 for the 30 mile run from King Harbor to Avalon. A good compass, a GPS and a marine radio is all you really need. Recommend having these items also if you plan on heading out 10 miles.

If you're thinking of the Catalina run let me know and I'll provide the skinny on picking up a mooring, where to stay etc.

Please don't hesitate to shoot me an e-mail personally or call if you have additional quesitons.

John Mirassou
Redondo Beach, CA

MontanaWhaler posted 08-01-2008 11:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for MontanaWhaler  Send Email to MontanaWhaler     
Thank you John,

That's exactly the kind of info I was hoping to learn!

I was wondering about that Catalina run but assumed it wasn't doable in an 18 foot boat unless conditions were perfect, glad to hear otherwise.

I'm going to check with the admiral for her thoughts on the run to Avalon before bugging you for more info on it.


WT posted 08-02-2008 10:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
Look at these links;

Good luck,


Sheila posted 08-05-2008 10:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sheila  Send Email to Sheila     
Hi Bratton,

We slip our 25' Revenge at Dana Point Harbor. It's a nice little harbor with a double breakwater. I think a guest slip runs about $28/night. Check on them here:
Bear in mind you'll pay $10 (I think) each time you use the launch ramp, so a slip isn't that much more.

I'm going to point my husband to this thread. It's been his harbor longer than it's been my harbor.

RichL posted 08-05-2008 10:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for RichL  Send Email to RichL     
Hi there Bratton and welcome to our harbor.

Theft isn’t much of a problem in Dana Point compared to some of the other local harbors, but you should still exercise reasonable care, particularly with your fishing gear. Access to the guest slips is through a “generally” locked gate – by that I mean, unless someone closes it ever so gently, which they often do, it locks automatically.

You’ll LOVE DP harbor – quick in and out, though not a lot of options for marine services, and two tall ships have permanent berths here. One fuel dock (get your gas on shore and save yourself a buck a gallon). Like Oceanside, it leans towards the small and quaint side as you will see from the link my lovely bride posted.

I would definitely get a slip – Mid September is a busy busy time at the launch ramp, particularly with the Tall Ships coming 9/5 through 9/6.

More info on the harbor here: and a nice aerial shot and historic info here:

When running inshore either north or south you want to stand out about a mile from shore to avoid hidden reefs that are frequently only visible at low tide. This is particularly true if you head south towards San Clemente and points beyond. A lot of folks fish off of the San Onofre power plant. The kelp beds off of San Mateo Point (the former location of President Nixon’s western Whitehouse) are also a popular spot with the locals and the cattle boats. These are both about a 15-30 minute run south from the harbor. You’ll generally see quite a few boats fishing down there.

Another nice sightseeing run is up to Newport Harbor about 30-40 minutes north. Again, be sure to stand well out to avoid rocks and reefs that lie within about a half mile of shore. A trip through Newport is about a two-hour putt but you will see some absolutely fabulous yachts up there.

Another 30-60 minutes north will put you in Long Beach.

I’ve done the Catalina run a zillion times in an 18’ Bayliner Cuddy, so making that passage in a 17’ Whaler is certainly very doable. Head over there in early daylight and you’ll generally have a good ride. You’ll just want to be sure you head back to the mainland in the EARLY afternoon or morning if you overnight there. It tends to slop up in the afternoon and you will be running with the swell and chop, significantly increasing the chance of stuffing the bow and getting yourself and crew nice and wet.

RichL posted 08-05-2008 12:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for RichL  Send Email to RichL     
One other note: If there is any mention of "Santa Ana Winds" forecast for the day you intend to go out and you decide to go out, stay close to the harbor and definitely don't try to make the run to Catalina.

Santa Ana winds are notorious for their high velocity and power, and over the 30-mile fetch between Dana Point and Catalina can whip up a mighty brew that you want no part of. A couple of years back those winds thrashed Avalon harbor, ripping boats from moorings and tossing them onto the beach. You can imagine what conditions at sea must have been like that day.

MontanaWhaler posted 08-06-2008 03:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for MontanaWhaler  Send Email to MontanaWhaler     
Wow, thanks for all the responses. Very helpful!


MontanaWhaler posted 08-06-2008 06:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for MontanaWhaler  Send Email to MontanaWhaler     
Well we moved our timetable up as our schedule for September was filling in. We'll be there in mid-August now. I was pleasantly surprised that there was slip availability at Dana Point Marina for that time and reasonable too so we jumped on that.

Regarding the theft topic, do you think I'll be ok leaving the fishing and electronic gear aboard if I put the mooring cover on or are the thieves that persistent?


RichL posted 08-06-2008 09:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for RichL  Send Email to RichL     
Mid-August should do you well. The only trouble day would be Saturday the 16th. There's a major outrigger race that day and the launch ramp is always a total nightmare.

If your schedule is such that you need to launch on that day, do it early, say 0500 or so to have a parking spot and be able to launch with relatively little interference.

On the other side of that coin, the races are fun to watch. Until recently I was a race official for them.

You can learn more about that here:

Whatever you do, don't volunteer to support the race if asked. If you're not familiar with local waters you're likely to be taken into some dangerous spots as some teams like to run close inshore.

If you're using a mooring cover your stuff should be fine. No guarantees of course, anything is always possible. But under a mooring cover should be no problem at all.

You will still get stuck with the launch fee. If you leave the trailer there you will pay for each day's parking, and of course the day you recover as well.

There's a good washdown at the ramp too, and unlike some local ramps the water use is not metered nor charged extra for.

There's also a bait barge in the east basin (it will seem like south but it's actually east) near the fuel dock.

August is a pretty busy month for us (I'm starting to wonder which month ISN'T a busy one for us, but that's another story), but shoot either Sheila or myself a note once you get your plans finalized and we'll see if we can hook up for some buddy boating or just take you on a tour on the Revenge.

RichL posted 08-06-2008 10:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for RichL  Send Email to RichL     
I forgot to mention:

If you click on the aerial shot of the harbor at the photo will enlarge and you'll see labels for the major points of interest (bait barge, guest slips, ramp, shops and restaurants etc.).

MontanaWhaler posted 08-07-2008 01:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for MontanaWhaler  Send Email to MontanaWhaler     
Are downriggers generally useful for fishing down there or can I leave them at home?


RichL posted 08-07-2008 02:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for RichL  Send Email to RichL     
I don't fish so I can't really say one way or the other, but it seems like a lot of the fisherfolk do use them and I don't know of any reason why they would not be useful.

Others on this site can answer better than I but I think everyone on the boat has to have a license here, even if there aren't enough poles to go around. There might be an exception for the under 16 crowd.

DFG does like to check folks coming in from time to time. Not sure how much of that they do out on the water or at the slips, but I do see them often enough at the ramp.

You can find the local regs here: [url][/url}

RichL posted 08-07-2008 02:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for RichL  Send Email to RichL     
Bad typing. I meant here:

MontanaWhaler posted 08-08-2008 02:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for MontanaWhaler  Send Email to MontanaWhaler     
I love that shot of the harbor Rich, now I know where everything is!

We are going to try that run to Avalon if there's a good weather window (I assume that's where you go when you go to Catalina). We don't want to spend the night on the island so would it be asking too much for good afternoon weather to make it back?
John, you mention fishing on the way, do you do this with high speed tuna lures or something? Any advice on picking up a mooring would be great too. I tried sending you an email but it bounced back at me.

Thanks guys!


RichL posted 08-08-2008 06:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for RichL  Send Email to RichL     
No, it's not asking too much. Like most things to do with weather, it just depends. Generally though, the earlier you head back the better. The wind generally starts to come up around 1400-1500 and that's when you're likely to start getting wet.

The main thing though is that if you run a course straight from Avalon to Dana Point, you will usually be running right with the swell, so it can take a lot of throttle work to keep from stuffing your bow and dunking the whole crew in the process.

It's always hard to say. I've been over in the dead of winter and it was lake calm, even on the windward side of the island which is very unusual. And other days getting home without pitch-poling has been a challenge.

Avalon is definitely the place to take the family. The only other spot where there is something resembling civilization is Isthmus Cove, aka Two Harbors. There's really nothing there but a nice mooring, a restaurant, campground, and an old hotel. It's not all that bad a place to be, but not exactly a good tight schedule family entertainment spot.

One nice little side trip for the kids at the island though is to head around the southeast end. Close in and just as you start around to the windward side there's a beautiful beach area, generally loaded with seals, and crystal blue water. It's actually a quite lovely spot and about a 10-15 minute run from Avalon.

Thanks for the kudo on the photo. I was the original webmaster on that site and spent hours trying to get those labels just right while learning to use Dreamweaver Fireworks at the same time. Yours is the first feedback I ever got, and was exactly what I put it there for.

OIA posted 08-14-2008 12:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for OIA  Send Email to OIA     

Sorry for the lack of response(s), life got really busy, but looks like RichL has a great handle on the local knowledge.

RE: picking up a mooring in Avalon

If you go mid-week you should be okay, weekends can fill up quickly, especially mid-August, which is right now which means you may already be here.

Arriving in Avalon approach the red harbor patrol boat idling at the mouth of the harbor and ask for a mooring. If none are available, continue down the main channel (somewhat of a misnomer) and keep the green pier to starboard. There are two temp loading docks next to the pier. You can't tie up but crewmembers can hold on unless it gets busy then they might have to idle about.

Once on the pier head down to Joe's Rent A Boat, it will be on your left as you're heading to the base of the pier. Wait for a time when there are no customers at the counter and ask for (the owner) Jay or his son Jay Jay. Really great people, especially if you give a warm introduction, like you came all the way from Montana and crossed the channel in a 17-foot Whaler to come to Avalon.

They have free shoreboat service (which ends at 6:30p). I usually tip the guys a buck per passenger or two bucks if it's just me.

Good luck and have fun,

Frank O posted 08-28-2008 07:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
How did your visit go?

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