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Old 02-09-2008, 13:31   #1
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First channel crossing - Newport Beach to Catalina Island

I got back from the most amazing trip a week ago and thought I'd share it here. My brother, some friends, and I do an annual guys trip and this year's trip was to Catalina Island. We had volleyed emails for months and I had arranged a Hunter 33' for the trip, which would have been tight with 5 of us aboard. My friend Scott secured a 42' Hunter from Windward Sailing Club in Lido. She was a nice boat and suited us quite well.

After jockeying to make schedules work, we decided to cross the channel at night. I watched the weather reports all week to get an idea about how foggy the channel gets in August. We had great visibility all the way across. We did encounter a large oil tanker in the shipping lane. I spotted her and kept an eye on her for more than a half hour. It was easy to determine direction of travel, but harder to assess the speed. She passed safely more than a mile behind us.

Picking up a mooring at White Cove was a little challenging at night, but we made it work. We moored there all three nights because Avalon was completely full and Hamilton Cove is not ideal for overnights because it's very rough.

We anchored just north of Hamilton Cove the first night. My friend who was the skipper had chosen a spot too close to another boat for my liking. I shared my opinion. Some skippers don't care for that. We pulled the anchor and reset it at the request of a Catalina 320 skipper who was concerned he would not be able to raise his anchor when the wind shifted. We reset the anchor further away and I was much more comfortable with the position. I read a book by Bill McNeely and in it, he said that anyone aboard his boat can veto the anchorage if they don't like it. I'll have the same policy when I skipper.

We sailed Sunday in 14 knots of wind and got the Catalina ripping along at 7.6 knots on a beam reach. The sails were pretty worn and the leech line on the jib was about done. I was surpised to see the leeward shroud come loose while we were under sail. The crew reattached it at the chainplate and we didn't have any further issues with it.

After the sail, we picked up a mooring at Hamilton Cove. It was like being moored in a washing machine. We took the dinghy to shore, ate, had a few drinks, and returned to the boat. We left the mooring and went back to the calm, sheltered moorings at White Cove.

We left White Cove reluctantly on Monday morning and sailed for a while. The wind died down and we slowed to 3.9 knots. Unfortunately, we were forced to motor sail the rest of the way back. We saw two blue whales in the shipping lane. They were amazing. We also encountered a pod of dolphin closer to Newport Harbor. They are fun!

When we got into more traffic and turned off the auto helm, I took the helm for a bit. I turned to starboard to give a commercial fishing vessel plenty of room. He was headed toward us and turned to his port side. He dragged his fishing net almost underneath us, which I wasn't too happy about. We didn't snag it. In the future, I'll get on the radio and coordinate with the other boat's captain.

We got back into Newport Harbor safely, but it was hard to accept that our trip was over. I can't wait to go back.
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Old 02-09-2008, 14:43   #2
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Old 02-09-2008, 15:21   #3
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Nice story...thanks for sharing it with us.
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Old 02-09-2008, 15:32   #4
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Thanks guys. I was bit by the bug again last year. I've been at this a year, I've learned a ton, and I learn more every time I go out. I've never had so much fun!
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Old 02-09-2008, 15:34   #5
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Old 02-09-2008, 17:36   #6
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Wow! Sounds like a great trip. It's one I hope to make soon.

Question 1 - What is the drill on anchoring, mooring. I know there are a few places but is it all first come first serve including Avalon? Do you just pitch up and if permanent moorings are full, drop anchor?

Observation - Every rental boat I have been on has had sloppy rigging. In weaker conditions not a problem but in strang conditions I am always tempted to biring some tools and tighten the rig. Any one else observed this?
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Old 02-09-2008, 18:04   #7
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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Wow! Sounds like a great trip. It's one I hope to make soon.

Question 1 - What is the drill on anchoring, mooring. I know there are a few places but is it all first come first serve including Avalon? Do you just pitch up and if permanent moorings are full, drop anchor?

Observation - Every rental boat I have been on has had sloppy rigging. In weaker conditions not a problem but in strang conditions I am always tempted to biring some tools and tighten the rig. Any one else observed this?
Hi Dan. The moorings are all first come, first-served. Avalon is said to be full from June until late September. They are more readily available during the rest of the year. Bill McNeely is an expert on Catalina and has published a book and DVD about the island. There are great tips about where to anchor, bottom conditions, and where to pick up moorings. The Cruising Catalina Island materials are relatively inexpensive and can be found on amazon.com.

The book told us mooring in Hamilton Cove would be rough and it was. It sucked. White Cove is further north from Avalon and the moorings are pretty sheltered. There were quite a few boats anchored there as well.

I've been on a few club boats with decent rigging, but there are several that are sloppy. I am planning to add my name to the wait list for a slip in Dana Point, but the wait is something like 10 years.
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Old 02-09-2008, 19:48   #8
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Thanks for the story dude...
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