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So many ways to get out on Santa Barbara harbor.

Ocean breezes fill the catamaran's sail and propel it swiftly on a 90-minute tour along Santa Barbara's coastline. A few miles offshore, hopeful fishermen cast for deep-sea fish on an all-day outing. On the city waterfront, a palm-lined path brings bikers, skaters, and strollers to beaches where they can watch boardsailors streak across the sparkling water.

This is the scene as early summer comes to Santa Barbara. Days are sunny and warm, with highs in the 70s. Winds are brisk, the air fresh and usually clear, and the water has warmed to about 65 deg.

Skirted by wide beaches and bordered by 113-year-old Stearns Wharf and a long, curving breakwater, the city harbor invites a day or weekend visit.

Harbor walk. For an overview, take a 1-mile stroll, starting at the 1,200-foot stone-and-concrete breakwater. Built in 1927--funded in part by a $200,000 donation by yeast-company heir Max Fleischmann--it now houses seafood restaurants, a seafood market, chandleries, a sailmaker's shop, even a dive shop that rents underwater gear.

Along the way you'll pass hundreds of elegant pleasure craft and the sturdy boats of commercial fishermen, who harvest the abundant sea life in deep waters nearby. You'll likely see some fixing their nets and adjusting rigging, others arriving with cathces of shark, halibut, sole, and shrimp. Occasionally, you can buy seafood right at the boats.

Colorful flags representing community groups fly from 10 to dusk Wednesdays through Sundays. Harbor seals often bob in the waves. And on clear days, the closest Channel islands dot the horizon. Heading back along the harborfront to Stearns Wharf, you'll pass boat rentals, a fishing and dive trip firm, and sailboard concessions on West Beach.

Tourist shops line the nail-studded wood planks on Stearns Wharf. Seafood restaurants and a vintner's tastin room have good views of waterside activity. The new Nature Conservancy visitor center has video and photographic exhibits of its Santa Cruz Island Project (11 to 2 daily). At the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, you can purchase fresh lobster, crab, and abalone, or buy steamed lobster or crab to eat as you watch anglers cast their lines from the wharf. Perch and mackerel are common catches this month. No license is required for wharf fishing.

Waterfront path. For those who prefer land activity, a 3-mile-long waterfront bike path and wide sidewalk reach from Leadbetter Beach (best swimming and sunning) just west of the breakwater, past West Beach near Stearns Wharf, to East Beach near Andree Clark Bird Refuge.

A mile east of Stearns Wharf on East Beach, Cabrillo Bathhouse Pavilion has beach volleyball; it rents boogie boards, beach chairs, umbrellas ($3 to $5 day). Sundays and holidays from 10 to 5 all year, there's an arts and crafts fair along Cabrillo Boulevard, east of the wharf. You can park at Stearns Wharf ($1 per hour; free if validated with $3 purchase). Or park at the foot of Stearns Wharf or in the harbor parking lot for 50 cents per hour, $2 maximum. On cabrillo, there's free 90-minute and all-parking.

The Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, 1330 State Street, has a free list of lodging. Wire to Box 299, Santa Barbara 93102, or call (805) 965-3021.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Jun 1, 1985
Words:531
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