You must be as excited as I was planning my first trip across the channel.
The first decision is between Avalon
(all kinds of diversions/shopping, and touristy) or Two Harbors (showers, laundry
, store, bar, one nice restaurant, hiking trails, lots of seclusion). I'm a Two Harbors guy.
Any day that visibility is decent, you hardly need to use your chart, but a rhumb line can be drawn from San Pedro to Avalon
@ 174°/354° and to Two Harbors @ 203°/023°, magnetic. A slight correction to allow for a 1kt. south current
, and you can hardly miss your destination
. If you have the prevailing NNW wind
, it's one long starboard tack.
The link that sded
posted provides all the rest of what you need to know: to pick up a mooring, start your engine
on your approach (if it's not already running) so that you can begin to douse/secure all sail well before you get about 100 yds. from the fairway mouth, and when once there, hail Avalon or Two Harbors on their respective channel. Say that you're requesting a mooring for a 27' sailboat. The Harbor motor
launch will meet you there (often they will come to greet you before you can hail the harbor master; if there are boats waiting ahead of you, just be patient, and the motor
launch will come to you).
A technique I've found convenient at this point is (with all sail down, of course) to shift into neutral and let the yacht come to a stop, shift into reverse, and let the bow blow down directly downwind. Depending on the strength of the breeze, you'll pretty much be keeping station in one spot while interacting with the harbor launch.
I'd recommend having at least one crewman with you
, only because picking up the mooring can be tricky for the uninitiated. You will be assigned your mooring by the launch; it will be numbered like a stadium seat: a row letter followed by a number. A is the row closest to the beach. Tell the launch operator you're a first-timer and ask him to point it out for you.
Print out the mooring diagram & directions on the visitcatalinaisland site, and make sure you study/discuss the mooring procedure ahead of time as you cross the channel.
After you move down the row and spot your mooring, take note of the wind direction and how much room you have . After you swing around for your second approach, close on the buoy from directly downwind, aiming for the pole. Come in slower than your instinct tells you: unless there's a breeze up, the slower the better, because the tendency is to over-shoot.
The diagram and directions given on the site are good, so I'll just give a couple of tips about securing your boat to the mooring:
- Make sure your crewman passes the bow hawser under your rail, to attach directly to the bow cleat.
- The best way to walk the sand line to the stern is to remember to haul the line and to walk to the stern at the same time. Your line-handler has no leverage to keep the stern of the boat from blowing down if he's still standing at the front of the cabin house. Get to the stern quickly.
- You may find that simply throwing the stern hawser over the cleat isn't adequate, and that it's better to haul up some of the hawser and cleat it off to give yourself a more snug berth.
Getting to shore can be accomplished either by your own small craft or by hailing the shore boat to come to you (a couple of bucks each way per person). There is a whole etiquette involving dinghy
tie-up at the dinghy
pier that you will get to know, but the basic rule
is that you tie off with plenty of slack to allow others to push you aside so they can nose in and tie up. If the pier is packed, walking through others' dinghies while arriving or leaving is customary.
Just about everything else you need to know is on the visitcatalinaisland.com site.
Again, bring a crewman.
Have a great trip.