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Old 02-08-2015, 09:53   #1
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Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

Hello Everyone,

I'm very new to off shore cruising. I recently purchased a 42 Sea Ray and I'm planning my first weekend to Catalina with my family (Wife and 2 small boys).

We've cruised to Mission Bay and back from San Diego Bay and I'm comfortable with cruising in the bay, but I've never taken a boat "over the horizon" before and I've never been to Catalina.

My entire life I've always learned by 'doing', but with my family with me, I felt it was best to look for some advice from this community of experts. I'm looking for any and all suggestions you have for someone new to cruising (bought the boat in April of 2015) that is taking their family on their first multi day boat trip.

Thanks everyone!
Todd
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Old 02-08-2015, 10:13   #2
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

Most importantly watch the weather. Next, be sure your boat is in good working order. Use www.passageweather.com to get an idea of wind and swell ( wave height, period and direction may all be important for your power boat).


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Old 02-08-2015, 10:24   #3
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

Thanks for the tip Tayana42. Is there a wind speed or direction that would cause you to cancel or delay the trip? The boat I have is a Sundances, not one of the 'top heavy' models.
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Old 02-08-2015, 10:28   #4
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

Catalina is a beautiful place to visit. The advice to carefully monitor the weather is important. It is not a hard passage if the weather is reasonable but high winds can form creating steep choppy waves fairly quickly. The forecasts seem pretty reliable so you should just stay on top of things. If Santa Ana's are forecasted you would not want to be moored at the Avalon harbor as it becomes a lee shore. And make sure you have plenty of water, fuel, and the right safety gear, and, especially a working VHF radio with a backup if possible. And let friends and family know your plans.

Have fun though. It can be crowded but that's because it is such a cool place to go.
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Old 02-08-2015, 10:40   #5
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

All right Catalina ! We should be there next week ( Two Harbors Isthmus ) Get a early start on things . You might want to hop up here (Long Beach) and then make the crossing . But then on the other hand you go a lot faster than we do . How long will it take you ?
Here is some fun stuff to look at .
Two Harbors Webcam | Live Views of Catalina Island | Visit Catalina Island
National Weather Service - NWS Los Angeles/Oxnard
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Old 02-08-2015, 10:53   #6
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

I assume you're going to Avalon. Moorings are hard to come by during the summer and are first come, first served - they do not accept reservations. You should not have a problem getting a mooring with a 42 foot boat if you can arrive by 2 pm (which might be a challenge coming from San Diego) otherwise it's a crapshoot. If Avalon main harbor is full there is still a strong likelihood you can get a mooring at Descanso Bay on the other side of the Casino. Both are serviced by shore boats - hailed on channel 9. The shore boat costs $4.75/person/trip. There is a large dinghy dock if you'd prefer to save the money.

If you've never picked up a mooring before, there is a schematic and how to posted on the Catalina Island web site. Generally speaking the harbor patrol is available to help if you tell them you might need some assistance when you pay them for your mooring .

When you arrive at the mouth of the harbor (between the Green Buoy and the mooring field) there is a good chance a harbor patrol boat will be in the vacinity to meet you, ask for your boat's certification #, take your payment for the mooring, and assign you a mooring. If you arrive and there is no harbor patrol in the area, hail Avalon Harbor on channel 9 and request a mooring.

Avalon Harbor is very sensitive about sewage control and there is a strong possibility the Harbor patrolman will give you a die tablet to flush in your head and if the water turns color around your boat it will not be allowed in the harbor and will be banned for a year. Make sure your head is set for holding tank and the through hulls are closed.

Two harbors is not as crowded but further from San Diego and has very limited onshore facilities compared to Avalon. (One restaurant/bar).

Have fun!
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Old 02-08-2015, 11:01   #7
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

markwesti - We are planning on leaving SD Bay early on Thursday morning (6am'ish) and coming back on Monday. I'm not sure how long it will take, but the previous boat owner told me between 4 and 5 hours depending on the weather.

OldFrog75 - Yes, we are planning on Avalon 'if' there are spots available. Thanks for the tip on the harbor patrol and the mooring ball. I've never hooked to one before, but I assumed we'd grab the line with a boat hook and attach it to the cleat.
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Old 02-08-2015, 11:18   #8
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

Hi Benrud,

We're leaving San Diego (Harbor Island West Marina) for Catalina at the same time. However we're sailing so I imagine we'll be going a lot slower than you intend to. Irrespective, if you need help we'll be coming up behind you within a few hours, and we'll be traveling with a large group of other sailboats ultimately to Two Harbors. Hail "Luna Sea" on VHF 16 if you'd like to be in touch.

Presuming your boat is in good shape, the only thing you need to worry about is wave action larger than you're crew is prepared to deal with. Check out SailFlow on a daily basis for wave heights, and reconsider if average heights are over 4 feet. Honestly your boat can handle pretty much anything the channel with throw at it, it's just a matter of crew comfort.

If you've never done a double ended mooring before, tell the port mooring boat. He will follow you to your mooring and assist you in getting the mooring set correctly. It's not hard, but a boat your size can be difficult to control with enough precision to take a lot of time. Mooring is also a "two-hand" operation, with one person on the helm and the other handling the mooring hawser, so prepare your spouse for that.

Given the usage you've described, you may not have a dinghy. You'll want a dinghy because the shoreboat is $5/person/trip which ads up quickly for a family. If you don't have one, see if someone at your marina will loan you one for the trip.
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Old 02-08-2015, 11:30   #9
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

mstrebe - Thanks! We have a dinghy and we'll be bringing it. I'll be at the helm and my wife will be the one working the boathook/mooring line. She's never done it before so I'm sure we'll ask for a little help.

Thanks for the offer to help / communicate. Hopefully we'll only call to say 'hi'. Have a great trip and maybe we'll see you when we're out there.
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Old 02-08-2015, 11:41   #10
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

Do look at the mooring illustration on the Catalina Island web site. No need for a boat hook. Grab the fiberglass wand on the mooring float and pull up the eye on the hawser, put the eye over your bow cleat, then pull up the sand line while walking to the stern. Slow the slack in the sand line to drop below your boat. Pull the sand line in until you get to the eye on the stern hawser and put it on a stern cleat.

It's best if you know what to expect but the Harbor Patrol people are very helpful if you let them know it is your first time.


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Old 02-08-2015, 11:45   #11
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

Tayana42, Many thanks!
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Old 02-08-2015, 12:04   #12
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

Quote:
Originally Posted by benrud View Post

OldFrog75 - Yes, we are planning on Avalon 'if' there are spots available. Thanks for the tip on the harbor patrol and the mooring ball. I've never hooked to one before, but I assumed we'd grab the line with a boat hook and attach it to the cleat.
Boat hook won't cut it. Review the following:

Catalina Island Mooring Info & Rules | Visit Catalina Island

Someone on the bow grabs the wand and pulls the wand and float out of the water and places it on the bow. The float is attached to the hauser which needs to be pulled up out of the water and cleated or looped around the bow deck cleat.

You then, very quickly take up the slack in the sand line as you walk sprightly down the deck toward the stern. Once at the stern, pull all of the slack out of the sand line and either cleat or loop the attached stern hauser (whichever is the tightest) to the stern deck cleat.

Depending on the current at the time, all of this needs to be done quickly or the boat will drift out of position. The sand line will be slick and whoever is running with it from the bow to the stern should be prepared for that.

It's not unusual for a novice at the helm to require 3 passes to get it right. If that happens to you, try not to be embarrassed or overwhelmed by your apparent ineptitude. Just accept that it happens to everyone and take comfort in the fact you are providing some cheap entertainment for those on other boats in the area who are getting a kick out of watching you flounder as they drink their beer.

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Old 02-08-2015, 12:07   #13
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

We've all provided the entertainment at one time or another.


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Old 02-08-2015, 12:31   #14
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

They don't take mooring reservations, but if the owner want's his mooring, you'll be kicked out. Check the Catalina webcams to see how full the harbor is.
If you have to anchor, remember everybody anchors bow-and-stern (at least they used to) so be sure you have a good stern hook.
I'm relying on 40 year old memories, when my diving buddy and I used to go over from LA every couple of weeks in boats that would scare the Hell out of a CG inspection team. A 42 footer would be like going over on the Queen Mary.
Have fun, and if you get to Avalon, stop by the grubby Marlin Club Bar (NOT the Tuna Club!) and have a Jaeger shooter with the locals.
Oops, I see you've got kids. Oh well, they've got an arcade at the other end of town.
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Old 02-08-2015, 19:45   #15
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Re: Advice for our 1st weekend trip to Catalina from San Diego

Two Harbors takes reservations . But I don't think you would need one . Being peak season , and showing up late in the week pretty much guarantees you will be assigned a mooring in Descanso it can be a little lumpy there . So if you have a flopperstopper don't forget it . And yes the Marlin club . Also there is a drink that is famous on the Island , Buffalo Milk .
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