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Old 21-04-2009, 21:27   #1
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Dana Point To Avalon ( Catalina Island ), California

We are fairly new sailors and would love some insite to getting to Avalon from Dana Point. Can we sail all the way and if so how? if it is a combo of sailing and motoring what is the best way to do this?
Thanks for your help!
Al
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Old 21-04-2009, 23:31   #2
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This is an easy sail, generally, with lots of traffic between the SoCal mainland and Catalina. That said, things don't always go as planned - I sailed with a pretty good sailor once who confessed that when he bought his first boat (a Catalina 27), he thought he had gotten pretty good at sailing her out into the Bay from his Marina del Rey slip, and back again, so he decided to take his wife (a non-sailor) to Catalina for the weekend. They did just as he had planned: Sailed to Catalina on a Saturday morning, spent Saturday night there, and headed back to his MdR slip on Sunday morning . . . and Monday . . . and Tuesday . . . and finally had her back in her slip by late Wednesday.

His only option other than sailing was his small kicker - that either wouldn't start, or had run out of gas (sorry, I don't remember.) This was before cell phones were ubiquitous, so he couldn't call anyone to let them know he'd be late for work Monday morning . . . and Tuesday . . . etc.

He refused to radio for a tow (he's German, and a mite stubborn). Perhaps not surprisingly, his wife has never set foot on a boat since. She wasn't really angry so much as just disgusted.

Anyway, as we all know, **it happens. And here's something you might find interesting, as well:

A sailor from Long Beach set out for Catalina one day in 2002. Four months later, he was found drifting off Costa Rica. Here are links to a couple of stories about it:

First, from BBC News:

~ ~ ~

"Man adrift recounts four month ordeal

Van Pham: "If you travel at sea, you take what you find"


"A 62-year-old man in the United States has been telling the story of how he managed to survive nearly four months adrift at sea. . ."

~ ~ ~

For entire story, go to:

BBC NEWS | Americas | Man adrift recounts four month ordeal

And from 'Lectronic Latitude:

~ ~ ~

"Something Fishy About the Van Pham Survival Story

"September 27 - San Diego

"Yesterday, the L.A. Times ran a long story about Richard Van Pham, the Vietnamese fellow whose 26-ft sailboat Sea Breeze was reportedly dismasted on the way from Long Beach to Catalina - and who then drifted helplessly for 3.5 months until he was picked up by the U.S. Navy well offshore of Costa Rica. To our thinking, some parts of the story just don't add up."

~ ~ ~

For the whole 'LecLat take, go to:

September 27, 2002

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Old 22-04-2009, 01:52   #3
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Good Grief. Let's find the worst story out there and scare the guy off.

Nice start-"This is an easy sail, generally,".... from there it went downhill pretty fast.

For every Vietnamese fellow lost for 3.5 month sailor out there, there are countless numbers who make the treck all the time.

I sailed out of LA Harbor before I set sail for Mexico. For me Catalina was a 4-6 hour sail. It'll take a bit more from Dana Point. Talk to your dockmates and ask the right questions, then question the answers. Sailing is soooooo much about opinion.

I would most certainly try to buddy boat the first time just to give yourself some peace of mind. Valuable stuff. You should see the passenger ferrys passing you going both ways. Also something to give you a little pece of mind. You should come out with, "what was I so worried about?" after your time on the island. Give yourself at least 2 or 3 nights in Avalon. Hardly worth it for less than that. A week-10 days would be better. The learning curve is steep at first.

If you don't have a dink, plan to get one. Makes your whole investment in the big boat a lot more worthwhile. If you don't get one for the first trip you'll know what I'm talking about when you do have one,

Have fun.
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Old 22-04-2009, 07:12   #4
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Al--

Dana Point to Avalon is a reasonably easy sail. It's about 32 miles (nautical) at about 244* Mag. There is a southerly set through the channel that runs at about 2 knots, on average so, on your boat, averaging 5 knots (which a Lancer should be able to do on a close reach) you'll want to steer about 250 which should put you outside the harbor in about 7 hours.

Note, however, that going to Avalon is akin to driving a hard road only to pull into a second rate trailer park. Yachts are typically jambed cheak-by-jowel with, frequently, less than 10 feet between boats. Given the size of your boat, you'll also be moored in the first row or two of moorings near the shore so you'll be able to appreciate the "music" until the wee hours. We did Avalon a few times on our boat but after a few trips went up to Two Harbors (the Ismus) which proved to be much nicer. In either case, note that moorings are on a first-come, first-served basis so if you're going on a Saturday, you must be prepared to anchor out and, frankly, there's no good anchorage at Avalon and what there is is very deep (we were forced to anchor there once in 90' of water!). The anchorages at Two Harbors are much better, albeit deep as well.

Wind conditions on the trip over can be "brisk" especially in the afternoon when the mainland gets hot. If you're going on a Saturday, leave very early in the morning--like at 0dark30 early--unless there's a heavy fog, which can make crossing the shipping lanes exciting. Unless we had good wind, we usually motor sailed across the shipping lanes, just to get them behind us. (Nothing is as disconcerting as hearing, but not being able to see, throbbing engines in the fog and knowing there was a ship out there somewhere plowing along at speed.) Note that as you approach the Island the wind will go northerly due to the "Fan" effect across the Ismus which will give you somewhat more of a reach to Avalon, or a beat to Two Harbors.

The return trip is easy--a real sleigh ride 99% of the time--and to Dana a great spinnaker run (once you've earned your spurs). We used to be able to surf our Cal 29 up to a good 10 knots and once made the trip from Two Harbors to the mainland in just over 5 hours.

Once you've fone the trip a time or two you'll find that the anchorage at Cat Harbor on the west side of the Ismus is actually one of the nicest places to stay.

For more information drop by the Dana Point Yacht Club during one of the evenings when their having beer-can races. The members are very friendly and I'm sure will be happy to offer advice and share information.

Cheers,

s/v HyLyte
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Old 22-04-2009, 07:31   #5
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Shortchange Avalon

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Al--



Note, however, that going to Avalon is akin to driving a hard road only to pull into a second rate trailer park. Yachts are typically jambed cheak-by-jowel with, frequently, less than 10 feet between boats.

s/v HyLyte

A lot of people will disagree with this. And 10' is really shortchanging the actual distance.

One of the guys I grew up with used to be deputy sheriff in Avalon. I've got a lot of great memories from there.

Two Harbors is nice if you want to geat away from the non boating tourist. But Avalon has more choices of places to eat and there's shopping. I like both. They each have someting to offer.
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Old 22-04-2009, 08:04   #6
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One Man's Ceiling...






Is another Man's Floor...







FWIW...
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Old 22-04-2009, 08:20   #7
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Can you navigate? WITHOUT a GPS???? IF not, take at least a few spares..or better yet learn to DR navigate. Take paper charts and a good pair of binocs and a handbearing compass...I don't know how high the island is, but being able to spot it from sea could be an issue... Or you could just follow the crowd and hope for the best...
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Old 22-04-2009, 09:49   #8
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What is this?

The guy asked about going to Avalon.

I've been at Two Harbors when it was crowed too. Shots from different angles, perspectives...

There is a reason why some people go to one over the other. Like I said I enjoy both.
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Old 22-04-2009, 10:20   #9
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Good Grief. Let's find the worst story out there and scare the guy off.

Nice start-"This is an easy sail, generally,".... from there it went downhill pretty fast. <snip>
I doubt my post will dissuade the OP from sailing to Catalina, mingat, but I do hope it will cause him/them to exercise some caution. I've always preferred to hope for the best while preparing for the worst, myself, and the OP surely understands that soliciting advice in a public forum like this carries with it the ability to accept or reject any, or all, such advice.

FWIW, though Scott (svHyLyte) and I agree on almost nothing politically, we are of one mind when it comes to visiting Catalina. Avalon will quickly become tiresome and boring, it's over-priced and over-run with day-trippers on most weekends and holidays, the number of boats jammed into the mooring field is just as he said (your "Just Beautiful" image is, indeed, lovely, but was probably shot mid-week; it would be interesting to compare an image from the same POV taken, say, Fourth of July weekend), the isthmus has a completely different vibe and the other boaters there help create an atmosphere similar to the Caribbean or Australia.

For me, the difference between Two Harbors and Avalon is like that between an out-of-the-way anchorage in the Bahamas and Nassau.

YMMV

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Old 22-04-2009, 11:42   #10
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Again, original post was in regards to Avalon.

I've been to Two Harbors on July 4th weekend. That weekend was way too long for me.

Yes, I probably did take "Just Beautiful" mid week. And your point is...? And the shot Cat Harbor was shot when?

I have buddy boated to Catalina with first timers and it was because they asked me to and they arranged their schedules for it. It was a priority for them to not go alone and I enjoyed being there for them.

"I doubt", "Avalon will quickly become tiresome and boring, it's over-priced and over-run", "has a completely different vibe", "For me",

Some of the opinions I refered to earlier.

Avalon is a tourist destination. Summer weekends... you betcha. Most all of them coming over on the ferrys. As a boater, I can enjoy the people watching from my cockpit, undisturbed by my neighbors who reportedly are only 10 feet away.

The shots of Avalon seemed intent on depicting it as an unattractive destination. Again, there are reasons why people choose one over the other. I LIKE BOTH, for different reasons. If bigalcalisque finds that Avalon is indeed a big disssapointment to him, I'm OK with that.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. In my opinion, when your post was the only response, it contained a lot more discouragment than a response to the original question. Of course, we all hope for the best and like to think we plan for the worst. Does that mean we all carry a satphone, eprib, AIS, life raft ect with redundancy? I'm out here too, and I can tell you that nobody has it all onboard.

Personally, I would like to see more boaters be prepared to just enjoy themselves, much less get caught in a bad situation.

I hate when these threads degrade into "back & forth" opinions being thrown around. I realize I responded to your post in a strong tone. I felt your approach to encouraging bigalcalisque "to exercise some caution" was a bit strong in the discouragment department. Please accept my apology for my lack of diplomacy. And if the way I expressed my opinion of Avalon is offensive, then I would again beg your pardon. My opinion on both issues remains the same.

Thanx,
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Old 22-04-2009, 12:04   #11
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<snip>
I hate when these threads degrade into "back & forth" opinions being thrown around. I realize I responded to your post in a strong tone. I felt your approach to encouraging bigalcalisque "to exercise some caution" was a bit strong in the discouragment department. Please accept my apology for my lack of diplomacy. And if the way I expressed my opinion of Avalon is offensive, then I would again beg your pardon. My opinion on both issues remains the same.

Thanx,
No offense taken, and no apology necessary, Minggat. Your posts contain valid observations that will undoubtedly contribute to the OP enjoying Catalina, perhaps Avalon especially, more than might have been the case had you not posted your views.

I probably read between the lines of the thread-opening post and thought I got a whiff of a potential accident waiting to happen. For that reason, I wanted bigalcalbisque to be aware that any seemingly easy voyage carries with it the potential for disaster.

Hey, it could have been worse . . . I didn't mention the windsurfer who tried to sail to Catalina, mised the island entirely and was lost at sea (alegedly - I have no direct knowledge of the supposed incident.)

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Old 22-04-2009, 14:29   #12
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I didn't mention the windsurfer who tried to sail to Catalina, mised the island entirely and was lost at sea

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Yeah, that was close. Man, not saying a word about that.... I mean not even a peep. Nope, not one word.
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Old 22-04-2009, 14:53   #13
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Hi Al:

Did a similar trip just a couple of weeks ago. Newport to Avalon. Nice trip. Good to have a motor though. Wind died in the middle and picked up on either side. It is a long trip for a weekend. We left Newport at aound 1130 and arrived in Avalon at around 1700. We ca sail and motor at 7 knots (36' lwl). It will be a real tiring trip to do in two days at 5 knots. f possible take a long weekend to do th trip but not a holiday weekend b/c it will be really crowded. Good luck.
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Old 22-04-2009, 14:57   #14
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Yeah, that was close. Man, not saying a word about that.... I mean not even a peep. Nope, not one word.
Heh!

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Old 23-04-2009, 20:53   #15
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I've done this trip dozens of times so here's my take. Avalon is directly into the prevailing wind so the fastest way to get to avalon if you want to sail is to make one big tack by heading on a close reach towards San Clemente Island, then tack up to Avalon. It's a long way and not an easy way to go. You should start before done if possible and get there during daylight. Many times there's not enough wind. I like sailing one day up the coast to Newport Beach, spending the night there, then leaving early to sail to Avalon.

I prefer Two Harbors to Avalon because it's a little slower pace and there's some great hiking, fishing and swimming. I prefer the front side of Two Harbors to Cat Harbor (back side of Catalina). The approach to Cat Harbor is beautiful with bluffs on both sides, but the water is not as clear and the trash gets blown into the harbor with now escape. There are also derelict boats in Cat Harbor. Two Harbors is considerably farther than Avalon however.

You will need a dinghy or use the shore boats at ~$6 per person per way. That adds up.

The seasons are changing in CA and the wind is generally stronger now than in the summer. The crowds in Catalina are much less now too. I've been to both Avalon and Two Harbors several times this year already, and the number of boats in the harbors is in the low dozens, not the hundreds as you would find in the summer. So now is a perfect time to go.

I have done the trip many times without radar, but you may have to turn back if visibility is low due to fog. I would not make the crossing in fog due to the amount of large ship traffic in the channel. Probably about 10% of the time it's been foggy and I'm glad I have radar now to keep an eye on.

I've seen a lot of cool things going to Catalina like whales, thousands of dolphins, some that play in the bow wake. You see an occasional mola mola (Pacific sunfish), and it's always refreshing to take a break for a mid channel swim along the way. Have fun, but respect the Pacific. Always check weather before you go.
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