Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Catalina Island

What can I say about Catalina Island? We LOVE Catalina Island! Catalina Island is a wildlife reserve, and boy do they have wildlife. We didn't see any animals on the island, but the sea mammals were everywhere. Lots of dolphin, whales, sea lions, etc...

Catalina Island is basically a big barren rock. There are some buildings here and there and a few tourist type spots, but it is mostly undeveloped. One thing about California - they know how to make money. There are very few anchorages because they have all been filled up with mooring buoys. We were lucky to find a place that still had a small anchorage on the southwest side of the island. It was full of buoys but still had some space right near the entrance where you could anchor. The harbormaster came by the morning after we arrived and offered to get us on a mooring buoy... for $45/night! BUT, if you buy 7 nights you only pay for 6. Sheesh, yeah right, I am going to pay $45 to tie up to a mooring buoy - NOT!

We found the blue water that we have been looking for at Catalina Island. It was an exciting day. Jan took a picture on our phone and sent it to her friends at the senior center.

This is one of those places where GPS and a chart plotter really come in handy. Here is a picture of the entrance as we were approaching. Where do you go in again (tip - it is just to the right of the dark rocks)?

Entrance to Catalina Harbor
Just before we left Seattle I bought a hookah. It is a dive compressor with a long air hose and a dive regulator attached. I bought it so I could dive under the boat and do maintenance. My initial thought was to just hold my breath and zip in and out. But our trip to Pleasant Harbor on the Hood Canal showed me that this was not a good plan. First (and in no particular order) without a weight belt there was no way I could get down and stay down long enough to get under the boat. Second, I am getting a little too old to hold my breath for more than a few seconds. Clearly, not a good plan. So I bought the hookah.

I had been waiting for an opportunity to try this thing out ever since I got it. We literally got it the day before we left Seattle (Ray from the Port of Kingston brought it out to us in Port Ludlow - thanks again Ray - you are the best!!!). I took it out of the box, threw the box in the trash, and stowed the hookah for travel.

Now was my chance - clear, blue, 75 degree water - yeah! So I got my goggles out and in the water I went. Then I started playing with the dive weights - you want just enough that you can stay under water but not so much that you sink like a rock - a fine balance. So Jan worked with me adding and removing weights until I thought it was just right. I have to say it is a little scary clipping a weight belt to your waist while you are swimming.

Then I fired up the hookah and tested the air - yup, it's working. I have never had any dive training but I did my research and found out that the most important thing is to keep breathing - don't hold your breath! Your lungs could explode apparently. So I put the regulator in my mouth and started breathing - so far, so good. Now, just put your face in the water and keep breathing - NOT! It caused an immediate panic attack. It is just not natural to put your face in water and breath. So I relaxed on the ladder for a few minutes and then tried again. It took several tries before I was finally able to put my face in the water and breath. What I soon realized is that the first breath or two were by far the hardest. If I just let myself sink and forced myself to take a couple of good breaths I started feeling better. Of course Jan was out with the camera...

Mike getting the hang of diving
Look how blue and clear the water is! After a few dunks under the water I got brave and tried swimming under the boat. Everything looked great except the zinc on the end of the prop shaft was almost gone. Cool! I have an actual project. So I got a wrench and went down to remove the old zinc. All is well. Then I went to try to install the new zinc and could not get the bolts in. I could get one bolt to go in no problem. But the second bolt jammed every time after just a few threads. I worked at it for 2 hours! Finally I felt I was getting too cold and tired to be safe so I gave up for the day. As I thought about the problem I realized that I needed to ream the holes out a bit on the new zinc. So I will give it another try tomorrow.

I was sitting out in the cockpit reading and trying to warm up after my swim and saw this boat sail in. The picture doesn't do it justice - it was HUGE! I think it is a training boat for teens. After they were anchored they all started jumping over the side into the water yelling and screaming.

We had planned to spend 2 more days at Catalina. But the next day I did my 9:00AM weather check and found that a big change was coming - 15 to 25 knots with gusts to 35 tomorrow. That doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me so I rang Brad up and gave him the news. We both agreed that we needed to get out of there, and now! The problem was that I had my zinc just hanging on the end of my prop - not a good situation. Fortunately I had reamed a zinc out the night before and it was hopefully ready. So I quickly got back in the water and in 15 minutes had a fresh zinc installed. We are heading for Newport Beach which is a full day sail away. So getting a late start was not a good thing.

We left the harbor and found 15 to 20 knots of wind on our port bow with big waves to go with it. Brad was braver than I and just powered into the weather. I throttled back so I wouldn't pound the boat and crew. By the time we got to the end of the island so we could turn east and put the weather off our stern quarter Abby Normal was well over a mile out in front of us. After we got safely away from the island and in open water we decided to try our new whisker pole and poled our genoa out. Wow! We took off! We were making 7.5 to 8 knots over ground. It was a great ride!! And we were very thankful because it was going to be very close to dark by the time we reached Newport with our engine. And cracking off on a broad reach was also not feasible because we really needed to make a straight line to our destination to get in before dark. We ultimately caught Abby Normal  just as we reached Newport. We love our whisker pole!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Catalina is awesome! I went to YMCA camp there when I was 15.