Load the airplane with your favorite co-pilot, the family dog, a well-used set of golf clubs and an overnight bag and head for the perfect west coast summer getaway. Follow the Pacific coastline to Shelter Cove on the California Lost Coast. Shelter Cove and the Shelter Cove Airport (0Q5) are located 350 miles south of Portland and 200 miles north of San Francisco. The Lost Coast refers to the approximate 80 miles of relatively secluded California coastline that is bypassed by State Route 1 and U.S. Highway 101.
Most of the Northern California coast, including Shelter Cove, is frequently shrouded in coastal fog. V494 lies adjacent to the airport but be advised that 0Q5 has no instrument procedures and no aviation services. Even in the best weather, both instrument rated and VFR pilots need to plan for an alternate and have plenty of fuel reserves. Rohnerville Airport (KFOT), Murray Field Airport (KEKA), Ells Field-Willits Municipal Airport (O28) and Arcata Airport (KACV) are within 60 nm of Shelter Cove. All have a variety of instrument approach procedures and offer 100LL.
Those on IFR flight plans and VFR flight following will say goodbye to Center approximately 15 nm from the runway. On those infrequent clear days, the remote peninsula will appear in the windshield allowing for an almost perfect visual approach. This non-towered, unlit, unmanned airstrip looks as if the gods formed a jetty with the sole purpose of landing an airplane. The traffic pattern takes you over the Pacific Ocean. Short final for the 3,400-foot x 75-foot runway can be challenging. The Shelter Cove Public Golf Course surrounds the airstrip. More importantly, the gorgeous ocean views, black-sand beaches and crashing waves lapping up around the approach end of the runway will take any aviator’s attention away from the ever-present shifting winds. If that wasn’t enough to worry about, be vigilant of possible waterfowl, golf carts or the odd doe grazing near the threshold of runway.
Arrive early enough to have a snack and cappuccino at the Fish Tank Espresso Gallery before hitting the links and checking in at one of the many inns around town. The Fish Tank Café is the cove’s only coffee shop and was recently purchased by Jack and Autumn Hargrave. It’s an open, airy breakfast and lunch place located near the north end of the runway next to the Inn of The Lost Coast. Its large selection of coffee and espresso drinks are the perfect accompaniment to a moist quick bread, toasted bagel, decadent quiche or flaky breakfast pastry ($3 to $8).
At lunch, The Fish Tank branches out with a daily selection of handmade sandwiches, salads and snacks ($8.50). This place isn’t the Carnegie Deli in New York, Salumi in Seattle or Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles. The Fish Tank’s creations are simple, tasty and filling, however. The welcoming, relaxing atmosphere and Jack’s gregarious personality will instantly put you at ease. Hang out at the narrow butcher-block eat-in bar and catch-up on all the small town gossip. Better yet, walk out onto the private deck and soak up the salty sea air and relish in the unobstructed mountain views.
When refueled and rested, walk back to the nine-hole, Shelter Cove Golf Course. This par 33, $10-a-day (cash only), Northern California Golf Association course isn’t the most challenging but it does present its own set of obstacles and rewards. Those gorgeous Pacific views distract from the 110-slope rated, narrow fairways. The rough will eat wayward shots for breakfast and the cooling coastal fog will test even the most experienced golfer.