Saturday, March 2, 2013

A tale of two beautiful bays: icons, ships, landmarks

Paradise Point on Mission Bay, and San Diego Bay offer treats galore, memorable sailing and a chance to learn the lingo

Cap'n Keller sails the much loved vintage boat, Interlude,
a classic gaff rigged cat ketch, at Mission Bay Aquatic Center.
                                                                             --Photo by Christene Meyers
 "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So cast off the dock lines and set sails from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain


I CAN'T BELIEVE that I got this old without understanding the meaning of Mark Twain's pseudonym.
    Good old Samuel L. Clemens was no fool when he took his better known handle.
     And good old Keller, who is by his own admission half amphibian, just explained it to me. Oh, joy. For a day without learning is a lost day and this reporter has never had one yet and doesn't plan to. It has to do with fathoms and the amount of depth needed in the water for a boat to pass safely over.
The popular Paradise Point Boat Rentals on Mission Bay.
    The riverboatman's cry was "mark twain" or, more fully, "by the mark twain......"  If the depth were around 12 feet -- approximately two fathoms -- it was safe to pass over.
Sunset after a sail out of Paradise Point, on Mission Bay. 
   Our favorite way to enjoy Mission Bay is from Paradise Point Resort, where we charter a boat, throw in a picnic lunch and leave our worries behind. We sail as often as time and money allow.  Sometimes it's just the two of us; other times, we treat friends and family.   Sailing is a time-honored cure for the blues, an antidote for almost anything that ails you! You can sail into the past, be in the now and contemplate the future all at the same time.  Last weekend, we took my sister Misha and her husband David out of Paradise Point. If you're lucky enough to have a sailor in the family as I do, you're on your own.  Lessons and skippers are available for the less experienced, along with motorboats, jetskiis, paddleboats and kayaks. (
    IT WAS GLORIOUS.  On this peaceful saltwater lagoon, I've been introduced to Keller's past.  He lived in several places on Mission Bay as a college kid and employee of the beloved Aquatic Center where he is now involved in a cause to preserve and restore Interlude, a boat with a place in the hearts of several generations -- Baby Boomers and "Befores and Beyonds."

      To our astonishment -- by complete kismet -- we recently found ourselves seated on a plane next to a woman (our contemporary in age and inclination) who grew up sailing on Interlude.  She got misty-eyed recalling her childhood -- eating tuna sandwiches and sailing with her family.  Kristen's 90-plus father remembers the boat well and that might be another story........
  LISTENING TO Keller and Kristen reminisce prompted my wondering about the two bays.  Here's an excerpt from Cap'n Keller's explanation, transcribed by first-mate Cookie:
Mission Bay Park as seen from Fanuel Street Park in Pacific Beach.
   "Mission Bay and San Diego Bay are formed by several meandering rivers which deliver rain and snow melt from the coastal mountains forming the Baja Pennisula. Water is delivered via the San Diego River which runs through Mission Valley.  While Mission Bay is fed by San Diego River and Rose Creek, several other rivers feed San Diego Bay.
     WHILE SAN Diego Bay is much larger than Mission Bay, both are treasures. Mission Bay is unusual, as one of the largest waterparks of its kind in the world. It is 4,200 acres of land and water, surrounded by 27 miles of shoreline of sandy beaches, attractive people and abundant bird life.
      Interconnected by a network of waterways, inlets and islets, the bay is best explored by boat...." (with Keller as cap'n) or by the progressively developed bike paths.
    FROM MISSION Bay and Paradise Point, we've watched families barbecuing right next to the water, sharing a picnic, strolling, kayaking, jogging and taking in the internationally known spectacle of SeaWorld.
San Diego Bay from C-Level, our favorite restaurant in that area.
    San Diego Bay, also known as "the big bay" offers many options of entertainment and adventure, from whale watching to sport fishing. We've sampled it all.
   On the water, we've sailed off Shelter and Harbor Islands, along the Embarcadero, across the Bay to Coronado, and south to the shores of National City, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach.
   I had no idea San Diego Bay offered so many spectacular places to view the sky and the city lights.  Many are  attracted to the beautiful shops and first-rate dining. We're C-Level regulars.  Our favorite "big bay" restaurant offers gorgeous views,  fabulous appetizers, attentive service and a terrific wine list.
Cookie and her sister Misha board Hornblower
on San Diego Bay.  We're regulars on the Hornblower fleet
with array of cruises featuring narration and fine food.
  ANOTHER OPTION is a trip and meal on Hornblower Cruises which offers great value and a place to celebrate being alive and on the sea.  We are Hornblower devotees and have cruised the Hornblower fleet all year round, morning to evening, on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and birthdays. Hornblower has it all -- robust coffee, tasty champagne and the delights of sea lions, whales, dolphins, sunshine, moonlight and a romantic dance as we pass under Coronado Bridge.  (                                                                                        
     If I could afford it, I'd be boarding Hornblower once a week for the baked spinach and artichoke appetizer, shrimp and crab, tenderloin and a stellar sea view of most of the city's 50-plus landmarks:  Point Loma and its beautiful light house, the fabled Star of India ship, the Midway Aircraft Carrier and Museum, the Naval Air Station, Cabrillo National Monument and other nautical accomplishments.  Hornblower's varied and many cruises offer a relaxing way to see and hear the history of our gorgeous city, set against the Bay's spectacular views.
The Maritime Museum on San Diego Bay features many historic ships.
                                                                              --Photos by Bruce Keller
   NATIVE PEOPLE have long settled here but Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to arrive in 1542.  He named it San Miguel.

   I'm going to find out more about the green sea turtles who live here -- perhaps the only place on the West Coast. I've been introduced to a wonderful, myriad world in these two bays, both loved by Keller, my cap'n of the waterways.
   I know how lucky I am.
"If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things." - Henry Miller

    Next up: Come with Cookie and Keller to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Oregon, with theater treasures, the Yorkie-friendly Ashland Springs Hotel and a chocolate festival! And sign up for our blog at


  1. Beautiful images and writings of life on the water. And, as for of my favorite places. I love to "travel" on your blog. Keep up the good work. Off to Haiti again in two weeks. You need to do that trip with us one time.

  2. Ah, wish I was there experiencing the Bays in real time. Until then, just love your musings and pictures - thank you Cookie and Keller! Lana