South County Saturday

Days like this make you wonder how you can make lots more money, so you can stay in this place, maybe buy a house with an ocean view. I spent the afternoon sailing off the coast of Dana Point in a 34 ft racer called Pendragon. This was my first time on this boat and as the only female crew member, I was pleasantly surprised by the genial atmosphere and good natured kidding. With winds maxing out at 14 knots, sea pretty mellow and lots of fellow boaters enjoying the sea and sun, it was a sweet day for those who love the wind in their hair.

The question arose, where is there a better place than Orange County? Others may have less traffic, more open space (although if you have access to the ocean, space is not a problem!) or cheaper housing. However, where else can you sail safely 350 days a year? More to the point for the majority of land lubbers, where else can you avoid nasty hurricanes in the summer or mosquitoes the size of sea gulls, long grey days in the winter or worse yet, blizzards that eat garages for lunch, and find the triumvirat of pluses…sea, mountains and desert…all in one place?

Next question…where in Orange Country is there a more mellow, laid back harbor than Dana Pt? Dress is definitely not Newport Beach, but mostly tanks and shorts or T’s and jeans, most looking like they just got off the fishing boat…the occasional Saturday night dressup groups looked decidedly out of place. And when was the last time you spent an hour in O.C. without having to wonder whether those cell phones are detachable? Well, here at the marina, I was the only one I saw checking messages, and no ghastly multi-tasking while hanging with friends was observed.

After the cobwebs were cleared from my brain by 3 hours of sailing, I took a little tour of some of my favorite spots and decided to indulge in some Fish & Chips at Jon’s Fish Market. I know, I know…I’m supposed to be the nutrition guru (or “nurtition nazi”, depending on your perspective) but once a month or so, I deserve a treat. If you like halibut with that crispy, shiny fried shell, you’ll love this place…or if you want to be a saint, then go for the grilled fresh halibut…but eventually, you’ll have to try the fish & chips…substitute the cole slaw for fries to get some cruciferous veggies and feel more smug. Oh, and unless you’re gargantuan or aspire to get that way, go for the Fish Boat (only $6.50) for normal portions, for normal folks…otherwise, find a friend ‘cuz your gonna wanna share.

More good news…people say hello and even talk to you in Dana Pt. I observed a man in a charcoal 3-piece suit, with at least 3 dozen roses, looking for someone…blind date? I hope not, she’ll be overwhelmed, although he was quite an attractive man so I doubt he was that desparate. Anyway, my patio neighbors who were also knoshing F&Chips, noticed him too and we smiled and started chatting about dating, partying and Catalina getaways. Eating alone is not always cool unless there is a great sunset, interesting people to watch and a little chat with your patio neighbors. Then, it’s a satisfying end to another South County day!

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