Sailing in Coronado
Hark, now hear the sailors cry,
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly, into the mystic…”
A short trip over the bridge from San Diego is Coronado, California, originally settled by the Spanish in 1769 for fear of Russian encroachment on North American soil. Spanish for “the Crowned One”, Coronado is a geographic combination of an island and a tombolo connected to the mainland by a man-made strip called the Silver Strand.
As with most coastal cities in California, activities centred around the ocean are the norm, and our mini adventure in Coronado involves a sunset sail around the bay. As an experienced diver, I have spent a great deal of time on ships of all sizes, from rubber Zodiacs to Great Lakes tugboats to large sailboats. And every time I set foot on the deck of sail-powered boat, my mind can’t help but drift back in history to when the cutting edge of exploration was all done by sail. Months and years were spent aboard wooden ships, mapping the globe and discovering new lands. Our vessel for the evening, a 27-foot Catalina, is slightly more advanced than those ships, but hundreds of years of sailing lessons learned have left us in good hands.
Motoring out of the harbour under diesel power, a few things are evident: the beauty of the surrounding Laguna Mountains stretching south to Mexico and the Sierra de Juárez range is undeniable. The difference between the luxurious oceanside condos of Coronado and the visible barrios of Tijuana dotting the hills is ridiculous. And there is almost no wind… making for, shall we say, “relaxed” sailing conditions.
Sailing (brisk drifting) parallel to shore, heading towards the bridge and San Diego, the deep local connection to the Navy jumps out at us: home to the elite Navy Seals, the Seal training school called BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition Seals), the Pacific fleet (the largest naval fleet on Earth), which was relocated to Coronado after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 (it’s hard not to notice). Rows of massive grey ships, Navy Seals practising water casting and recovery from a Navy helicopter on a Saturday evening—no rest for the wicked, as they say.
The smell of the sea air, the sound of water lapping against the hull, the gentle rolling of the boat and the warm, golden sun make for a perfect end to this California adventure. Maybe relaxed sailing isn’t so bad.