Thursday, August 23, 2012

Catalina Island - Circumnavigation


the three of us had never been to catalina before (that includes Piña). we both got 4 days off of work and decided it was time to sail to catalina...i mean circumnavigate the whole island of catalina. here's a little info on the island for you. it is rocky island just under 40 miles from dana point harbor. the island is 22 miles long and 8 miles at its greatest width. with an extensive history of island natives, gold rushes, gambling, government officials, pirates, millionaires including the Wrigleys, buffalos, hollywood filming, snorkeling, shipwrecks, camping, world class sailing, wild flowers, out of this world marine life, the list is endless. this place is out of control cool. you can't get bored here. we had to go check it out for ourselves. and here is our sojourn.

yellow entries are from the log book: (a mess of notes)

first sail voyage to catalina island! hit snooze on 3AM alarm. awoke to daybreak at 5:54AM left harbor at 7AM.

dana point behind us

entering the fog

8:40 Motor sailing at 4 kts. no land in site. 5 mile radius vision under a fog dome.
9AM hoisted jib gained 1 kt.
light NW wind picking up. hopefully wind picks up enough to turn off motor.

check out those tell-tales ;)

poor thing

breakfast! we love our stove.

first tack

12:30 22 miles from DP harbor. sailed NW ~290* 3.5-5 kts. 
just tacked off long beach near the cargo freighters and oil barges. now heading 210*. the wind is coming straight from our destination very light. long efficient tacks is ourplan to keep closer to 5 kts. sails trimmed very close towards the wind.
1PM dropped the jib. changed course for direct route. wind is coming straight off the bow and increased. Not effecient. turned up the motor. 5.5 kts. oh ya...LAND HO!

first sight of catalina!

i was trolling for you dad.

lunch time!

supplies on hand. 
sunglasses, tissues for the early morning sniffles, handheld VHF, log book, cruising guide, binoculars, tea.

Piña chillin in her 1/4 berth

heading towards Long Point

There goes the Catalina Cruiser!

Heading towards Long Point

2pm wind picked up. 7 miles from coast. plan is to hit center of island and site see up to Two Harbors. better wind placement. 6.5 kts. with motor and sails. turned off motor finally. 4.5 kts.
2:30 6 kts. sail only heading for Long Point to turn north and site see to Two Harbors.

Long Point. (at the center of the east facing side) where we came into and decided to head south to Avalon versus upwind north to Two Harbors. 

site seeing south towards avalon.

3:30 change of plans. tried beating it north of Long Point to Twin harbors. 3ft. swell 20mph. only 3.5 kts. 7.5 miles against wind. So we decided to go back downwind to Avalon at 4kts. sunny and calmer. We will go back north in the morning calm. our original plan anyway.

Long Point behind us. headin down wind to Avalon. check out the length of mainsail out!

Avalon 12 o'clock

the casino entrance!

harbor patrol (he hit us!) we were assigned a mooring and handed him a credit card (yes over the water) and he swiped it and handed it back with a receipt to sign and then hand back. crazy...

coming into the mooring field. 

our first mooring location. this is where the old man chillin on a powerboat told us which pendant to grab and how to tie up our stern and bow. 

a different harbor patrol guy came over and told us the first guy was a rookie (why he hit us) and that where we first moored there was a huge rock below and at low tide we would have hit it. thank you. he also asked us to flush a neon yellow tablet down our head to make sure we're not pumping out into the ocean. 

on mooring looking into town

fish swimming below us in crystal clear water. maybe 20 foot deep, sandy bottom.

there were many different kinds. solo and in schools.

Moored at Avalon for the night. Old man coached us on the pendant. (for the mooring) Ate dinner on the waterfront. walked around. Margaritas! Claire dinghied drunk back perfectly.

leaving the boat, heading into town

cool houses built up

this is where we ate dinner. local sea bass and fried oysters!

the dinghy docks are out of control. this isn't even a crowded one.

all the rental boats on the other side of the pier.

claire moseying into town.

everyone drives souped up golf carts. the houses are funky and cool.

oh ya

our parents must be proud we take so many pictures of us infront of stuff.

look sister they use the trident forks over there. it was extremely difficult to eat my rice. (inside joke, we used to give each other the lone trident fork at home when we set the table. the joke was that after getting comfortable and piling your plate with food, you'd look down and realize you couldn't dig in because you had to freaking get up and exchange it for a quad-fork to actually enjoy your meal)

margaritas oh ya. can you see our boat?

enjoying our first night on catalina

Slept ok. sunburn. had to get new prop lock pin ours must have fallen out yesterday. hardware store.
Motoring upwind 5 kts. Calm day. heading 9 miles to Two Harbors.

coffee and dinghy ride to the hardware store.

view of the strip

there was a cruise ship anchored out!

Piña hangin out in avalon

raking in $ on the rentals

leaving avalon. heading up the coast to two harbors.

the girls chillin. the robot doin all the work for us.

this ones for gary

sight seeing

Piña sight sees too

so excited to start our day off in a new place again!

Moored in Two Harbors. front row to the beach and little cottages. Totally different vibe from the touristy Avalon. Here is rolling grass hills with scattered palms. Strong breeze blowing through the isthmus. took dinghy a couple miles to a small beach. rippers cove. snorkeled and saw stingrays.

coming into two harbors we radioed the harbor patrol to request a mooring. he assigned us "romeo seven" we pulled into the slip and waited for him to meet us for payment. no one arrived so we just took it as a stroke of luck and continued our day out. one night free mooring.

we got a front row spot again.

we really liked the vibe of this place.

claire laid out after we moored, while i tidied up. princess.

supposedly this is where you can see the buffalo. we didn't.

more of a camp town than a touristy strip with rentals. claire says it looks like africa, even though she's actually never been.

calm and warm crystal clear water a little more shallow than our spot in avalon.

we decided to pack up the dinghy with a lunch and our snorkel gear. we explored our way back down to the coves we had passed on the sailboat on our way up.

it took us a while to find a beach without any other boats. some beaches even had 'keep off' 'private beach' signs which was unexpected.

all set up on the beach. finally found our private beach!

so set for the whole day. beached the dinghy in the surf.

im gunna go right on shore so the sharks don't get me.

heading back to Two Harbors in the late afternoon from our beach adventure

best friends. 
Piña missed us. she wanted to come snorkeling too.

playground and BBQ/music stadium

checkin out the isthmus:
[a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas usually with water on either side]

making our way to Cat harbor on the pacific side. taking care not to break the speed limit.

boy catches 2 ft. shark. shark bites boy. boy beats shark. boy throws shark back into the water after spinning a full 360. 5 minutes passes. shark washes back up on the beach. dead. 
our version of reality tv.
that's the open pacific out there.

we came home to Piña chasing bugs in the cockpit.

Piña on the night shift.

grilled up some cheeseburgers for dinner.

woke up to a garibaldi 

yummy breakfast before our departure

Left Two Harbors this morning. emptied head tank. Had breakfast on land. motored with main up into the wind basically. 5 kts. rounded the NW end. jib up. 3 kts. came around to slight downwind. had trouble figuring out the asymmentrical spinnaker for a while. Got it right side up after a few tries and tangles. picked up to 4.5 kts. came into Little Harbor anchorage. Dropped the hook looked around realized we could get closer in. moved in from the surge. let more line out. dinghied to shore. probably going to throw a stern line out to stable us from the lowering tide waves rolling us a bit. turn our stern a bit to bring the bow into the waves more. going to dinghy out for a true Pacific Ocean sunset west of Catalina. Put out stern anchor. worked great!

leaving two harbors

pretty ketch


rounding the very north tip

looking down the backside of the island

sunbathing sea lion

our asymmetrical spinnaker

passing Cat harbor. the other harboring mirroring Two harbors at the isthmus.

it matches our boat!

we found Little Harbor and read that it was the greatest anchorage on catalina. we thought we'd give it a try for our 3rd nights stay.

our path so far

here we are anchored in little harbor. 
when i was talking about putting the stern anchor out to keep us from rocking so much, i took it out on the dinghy and dropped it close to that rock so our stern moved down in the photo and our bow was cutting threw the little waves coming straight into the cove.

only one family camping out on shore

jealous yet?

still looks like africa

we took the dinghy out for our first sunset beyond catalina

hoisted the lantern up to the spreaders as our anchor light. 
we haven't installed our LED ones up top yet.

slept in well. fished and swam in the morning. departed by 1pm. old man on a beautiful wooden sloop 32'? anchored next to us and did the same set up. we're smart! he had a dog.

there was a dead seal floating in the cove and one of the campers took the initiative to drag it out into the ocean to keep everything pleasant.

here's the old man that came in and anchored just like we did. stern anchor out to turn the boat from the swell. we felt really smart when we saw him do it too.

the water was colder and a little more cloudy on this side of the island.

afternoon swim before our final departure. 
finish the circumnavigation and sail back to dana point.

sailed downwind to Jewfish. Quite a bit of wind 5.5-7kts. main only. scary jibes. dolphins swam with us around the point. no wind. motored out a few miles and put jib up. been motor sailing to keep stable speed in the 3-5ft. swell 5.5-7kts with jib up too. Piñas antsy to get home.

it was very hard for us to leave Little Harbor.

get to work. it's time to sail.

we got lucky again with really nice afternoon wind.

flying downwind

after this video the swell picked up and so did the wind. we had a couple close to nasty jibes. rounding the southern point was a funnel of wind from it flowing down both sides of the island. a pod of dolphins swam with us as we flew at almost 8 kts around the bottom. we shot out just south of avalon and the wind died.

no wind didn't last long. we phoned our families to let them know how our trip was going and that we were about to start our crossing back. 

as the sun was setting the wind and swell picked up big time. 3-5 ft. rolling swells with 20-25+ mph winds. we dropped the main sail and hoisted the jib. this made the boat lean less and almost get pulled by the wind. the swell and wind was hitting our port quarter. we turned on the motor to help speed things up and it also smoothed things out some. it was pretty nerve racking though. at one point i was looking forward and a wave fully crashed onto the front hatch and splashed all the way up to the tell tale window on the jib! we both faced our fears that evening as we sailed 12 hours straight from little harbor to dana point harbor.

about 2/3 the way home the weather backed off a little bit but we were still rockin and a rollin. but we had slowed down big time and didn't realize until we looked behind us that the dinghy was completely submerged! we were dragging a huge ball and chain of weight. every big wave would crash into the dinghy and sink it, then it would pop back up again. one of it's lines snapped and i pulled it up to us on the winch, secured it with 2 more lines and lashed it to the side of the boat, it's bow way up. we thought since our ride all the way around dragging the dinghy wasn't too bad that we should just skimp on hoisting it back onto the deck. we learned a good lesson and from now on we will be making our long distance travels with the dinghy on board.


Got back at 12:30AM dinghy was almost lost diving under the swell completely submerged and popping back up. Luckily i had it tied twice because one line broke. brought it up right on the side and lashed it with 3 lines the rest of the way. finally got back and went straight to Harbor House for hot chocolate and french fries.

we hope you enjoyed this super long entry. on this trip we learned a whole lot about our ship. what we need and don't need to change.