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Old 29-03-2018, 14:23   #1
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Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

I have searched for prior post regarding this subject. I did not find anything recent, I believe the last post was 2011. However, I did read those post. What I took from those was, if there is fog turn back, the wind and current are on the nose (bow) heading out, picking up the mooring ball require a special skill that needs to be learned, if anchoring its deep and the differences between Avalon and Two Harbors. Also, the tankers in the channel are to be feared and given a wide berth.
If any of the above is wrong, outdated or has changed, an update would be great. Or any other information I need to know or consider.
Last year about this time I asked the same question regarding the Gulf of Mexico and received not only great information, but the confidence to take the trip. I am hoping again for some honest advice.
Me and the crew (wife and kids)….. ASA 101, weekend trips at the lake and in July 2017 few of days in the Gulf of Mexico (off of Mississippi) island hoping (Cat and Horn).
The boat, 24’ (maybe 23 ½?) American Mariner. Pretty good shape I believe, I did everything I could think of to make her sea worthy (as sea worthy as she can be), besides enlarging the cockpit drain. Most of this work was done prior the 2017 trip to the Gulf. I do have GPS, but no radar, I will buy paper charts if I decide to take the trip. The motor is a 9.9 high thrust. Also, carry Spot3 for emergency.
So, questions…. Is 24’ to small to make the trip? Safely?
I believe, the hull speed of my boat is like 6kt. However, while out in the Gulf I was holding 4kts, sometimes 5kt, with the motor, but never reached 6kts. Is the 9.9 enough to push through the wind and current?
I would watch the weather and if it was bad delay the trip, but how fast does it change?
The advantage of the 24’ boat, is that she sets on a trailer, I will be hauling her from AZ, so I guess departure port can change without issue, if there is a “best” place to launch.
To go or not to go? While we are not complete newbie beginners (took ASA 101 in 2014 and begun sailing the same time), our open water experience is limited to about 3 days, so yes just newbie beginners. The smaller boat will take longer to get there, but going out and getting there with the 9.9 is more of a concern than travel time. Also, the fact that she is 24’ with a shoal keel vs some 30’ with a fixed keel gives some concern.
Any input would be greatly appreciated.

I am thinking July again for timing. If I have not completely lost my mind and this is a doable trip, is anyone heading out there in July that would be willing to buddy boat?
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Old 29-03-2018, 15:02   #2
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

You didn't say or I missed where you will launch from. You don't want to go from San Diego or even Newport Beach due to distance and swell and wind direction. The best sail is from Long Beach, whether you are going to Two Harbors or Avalon. The former has more serenity but lacks the action of Avalon. it's got one or two restaurants and a general store, more like camping and hiking. Avalon is full of restaurants, bars, hotels and tourists.
There is no way your boat is too small. I've crossed in a 14' inflatable, others in jet skis, rowing skulls, or even dragon Boats. Some mornings can be foggy, but usually less so in July. The summer winds blow 12 to 18 kts almost every afternoon. Yes, you are crossing major shipping lanes, but you almost never hear about collisions, certainly not on clear days. Moorings are not that big of a deal, just go slow and practice on an empty open one. If going to Avalon, you'll want to arrive mid week to get moored inside the harbor. Less important at Twin Harbors, aka the Isthmus.

This is really no big deal with just a bit of common sense. Have a GPS and VHF radio, full fuel tanks (you'll likely be motoring in the am). West marine sells the Chart Guide book that covers both the Mainland and islands. Check in with someone back home upon departure and arrival. If you want, buddy boat with another boat. Most days you are never out of site of land, either behind or in front of you, or both.
Like I said, It's really no big deal. I've done it hundreds of times.
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Old 29-03-2018, 16:15   #3
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

port of lost angeles angels gate is 26.1 miles to avalon harbor, shortest run.
cabrillo marina in san pedro is right there and has a launch ramp.
have fun.

ps..make sure weather is your friend...
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Old 29-03-2018, 16:34   #4
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

LLizzard, thank you for the help. I will be traveling from Arizona with the boat, so I can pretty much pick the area to launch from. I have two VHF (one handheld and one mounted in cabin). 12g internal fuel tank and a 5g backup. Enough? As well as 14g freshwater tank. It will be vacation time, so I can pick the days, I am looking at 5 to 6 day window in July, so I am sure it will be a weekday.

zeehag, thank you, I had not thought about launch ramps or a secure place for the truck and trailer for a number of days.

Still a lot of planning I guess. But, no one has told me I was going to die for sure....yet.
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Old 29-03-2018, 17:14   #5
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

die?
ih oh. you called the trolls.
of course you are gonna die.
but you will have a ball.
and once you recover you will want to do it again.
just watch your weather. pacific rollers can become hell on no time witb approaching issues.
otherwise it is great sailing. different than gom.
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Old 29-03-2018, 17:56   #6
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

We are going in a Cal20 at the end of July using a 4.5hp so you should do just fine. We’ll have 12g fuel total.

We are in MN right now and I don’t have access to dates.

We will be going from San Diego to Oceanside first day, Catalina the 2nd. The direct route is really to far for one day. Coming back will be direct.
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Old 29-03-2018, 20:26   #7
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

It's not necessarily too small. I have a good friend who used to have a Signet 20 and we sailed it down from SF and then he sailed it all around the Channel Islands and then sailed it back up. I had a 24 footer I sailed out many times to the islands in conditions considerably worse than what is typical off Catalina. The 9.9 is a big engine for that boat so it will have all the power you'll need. (I have an 8 hp on my boat and it does ok and it weighs 4 tons.) Still I'd plan for an average speed of 5 knots. The 17 gallons is PLENTY to get you across and if you are buying fuel there, that is not a problem. I carry 16 and I can't buy any where I go, so that gets me there and back (usually.) And, yes, be sure to cross the shipping lane at a right angle in clear weather as fast as you can. Don't sail across at 3 or 4 knots, fire up the engine if only for the shipping lane. This is less of an issue though if leaving from San Pedro since the shipping lanes converge there. The weather doesn't necessarily change quickly but the low clouds and fog can be spread in drifting patches in the channel at times in the morning. If you find yourself approaching the shipping lane with visibility dropping then stop and wait for it to clear. My main concern is you say wife and kids. How old are the kids? And how prone is everyone to seasickness? If you get halfway across and your crew mutinies, it's no fun. The best way is to sleep on the boat the night before and then you and your wife wake up early and you all head out before daybreak (as long as there is no fog) so the kids can sleep for the first couple hours (or more hopefully!) You'll probably motor the whole way or most of it. Keep the main up while motoring it keeps the boat stabilized. You should arrive at about brunch time and maybe everyone will have an appetite after they have had a chance to walk around. On the way back plan on leaving around 1 pm so you have plenty of time to make it in daylight. If the wind is the typical 10-15 knots you should have a nice reach back. By then everyone should have their sea legs too.
Keep us posted, I may go down to Catalina in July.
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Old 29-03-2018, 23:44   #8
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

Not a local, but we did the trip from San Diego last September. Green horn sailors, bought a 96 IP40 18 months ago, sailed to Mission bay a couple times and to the Los Coranados, only 11 miles south. Decided it was time to try Catalina. I have to admit it that I was a bit nervous, however with some good weather we made the 70 mile trip, overnight in 11 hours. Have Never picked up a morning ball, however it was not difficult, just insure you look at other boats and attach the mooring line on the same side as they have. The moorings felt a bit close together when looking for our assigned ball, our vessel is 40’, full keel, but managed smoothly. Have read about Avalon being touristy , but after the tourist boats leave, the evenings were quite pleasant. Attempted to sail to Two Harbors, but were shut down by 25-30 winds, still green horn sailors I suppose, much to learn. As mentioned in an earlier reply, we observed people crossing on wave runners. Good weather and an early start would be my limited advice.
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Old 30-03-2018, 06:55   #9
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
port of lost angeles angels gate is 26.1 miles to avalon harbor, shortest run.
cabrillo marina in san pedro is right there and has a launch ramp.
have fun.

ps..make sure weather is your friend...
Zee is correct. Cabrillo Marina Boat Ram is a good launching spot and Angles Gate gives you the best angle to Two Harbors/Bird Rock and the shortest distance. I suggest you leave early in the AM but keep to the north side of the channel as you breast the Gate and then get out of it entirely once clear of the breakwater as that entry has a lot of commercial traffic out of San Pedro and they don't slow down for small boats. Try to cross the traffic lanes in Catalina Channel at right angles to minimize your exposure to traffic and be sure to mount a radar reflector as high up in your rigging as possible. Two Harbors is a good spot with quite a few moorings close in for smaller boats, all available on a first come/first served basis. Be sure to carry a pair of heavy gloves to wear when picking up the mooring lines as the "slime line" that runs between the forward and stern mooring anchors is invariably loaded with "junk" and barnacles that will cut up an unprotected hand. When entering the harbor, stay wide of Bird Rock and the reef that runs north-west from it and then once past, the larger Harbor Reef between the Rock and the inner harbor. If you don't score a mooring in Isthmus cove, you may in either Fourth of July Cove or Cherry Cove just to the northwest of Isthmus Cove where you can anchor somewhat further out as well. Somewhat further to the northwest is Emerald Bay although that is sometimes subject to a fair amount of wind.

On your return, you fastest point of sail will be reaching to the Down Town Long Beach breakwater entrance although it will be a bit of a hike back up to San Pedro from there. Inside the breakwater tho', that's not too bad. You can check out the charts on Active Captain.
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Old 30-03-2018, 08:52   #10
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

Always fun to do Trip Planning, isn't it?

30 nm at 5 knots or 40 nm at 4 knots. Those are your time windows. The days are LONG in July. What is your engine's fuel consumption? You need to know that, if you don't already.

I lived in SF from 1978 to 2016, and worked in the LA area for the end part of that period for 25 years. The "fog" is rarely below 700 feet. Except for winter it is not down-on-the-deck stuff. In LA and SD they call it "June Gloom" because it sticks around for most of the day and then burns off. It is less regular in July.

Ship traffic: find MarineTraffic: Global Ship Tracking Intelligence | AIS Marine Traffic and get it on your phone. Either check it out before you cast off or use your data plan or an app to see the big guys.

If you are motoring, raise you main, but put a single reef in it. Better to raise it later if the wind comes up than have to reef if the wind comes up strong. I sailed from SF to BC motoring all the way and always had a single reef in the main when not sailing.

Bring lots of water, juices and munchies for the kids, and you guys!

Have a great time.
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Old 30-03-2018, 09:23   #11
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

My acquaintance, Potato Head Pete was invited by an older gentleman to sail to Cabo San Lucas in about 1967. Turned out they went in a 14 foot day sailor, and returned with one offshore tack he remembered as being a bit over 300 miles offshore. A couple years before this, my dad and his two brothers bought an Owens 36 foot cabin cruiser with twin hemis. They had zero experience, but for several years we went to Catalina from Newport Beach 10 to 15 times a year. Back then, during the Viet Nam War, there were destroyers and cruisers racing up and down the coast searching for sampans. They would leave a wake that was like a tsunami, particularly exciting in fog. In 1974 I bought my first sailboat, a converted 1928 Navy whaleboat and crossed those same shipping lanes sometimes in the fog, always with no engine. The worst thing out there is the many years of reports of flying saucers under the sea in the Catalina Channel. In the 90's we sailed our Santana 525 many times to the Channel Islands, in the fog in June and 1/2 of July. Everything is doable and while I fear freighters I think that towing a boat across Los Angeles is riskier than crossing to Catalina. And at Two Harbors the harbor patrol will assist you in picking up your mooring if you need help.
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Old 30-03-2018, 09:25   #12
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

Very good launch ramp at end of Edinger ave. North end of Huntington Beach. Fenced parking area. Public launch ramp in Long Beach off of E. 2nd St. at Marina Drive, also has parking but not as well secured.
Google Catalina island for information on moorings and mooring balls. Expensive fuel available at Two harbors and Avalon. Both harbors have shore boat service.
All good advice in previous responses. There are several iPhone apps available which provide AIS information. Ship Finder is inexpensive.
It is a beautiful destination. Be vigilant about the weather and large shipping activity when you cross the shipping lanes.
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Old 30-03-2018, 09:28   #13
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

Love this site, best people ever.

Adelie and Don, as it gets closer, maybe we can see if the dates line up.

I do not know what my fuel consumption is. I know, I should. I always fill it up (no fuel gage) before each trip. I know I made 12 miles one day and topped it off with just over 2gal. I will need to figure this out, any tips for doing this? Is there fuel (gas) at Two Harbors or Avalon?

Trip planning is one of my favorite parts. I will spend months looking at charts and buying new stuff etc... I will check out the MarineTraffic program.

I said "wife and kids", the wife will be going. The kids may or may not be going. My oldest son is 22 yo and is doing his own thing. I hope he makes it with us, he is better than I am at somethings and has really taken to sailing. I have a 16 yo son, that has not developed a real interest in sailing, but he has the skill to be useful (but he will be in Germany in July). Then there is my 11 yo daughter, she loves the boat but hates the water. It is really hard to explain, but she does get seasick pretty easy. We have a plan that we put in place for her that seems to work, 1/2 pill before we leave and she wears sea bans. Yet, for this one she may stay with family while we are out.

DosAmantes... same side as in port / starboard?

svHylyte.... is Cabrillo Marina a place I could park the truck and trailer for a number of days, without to much concern?

I will print this post before I leave today, so I can go back over all the information and see if I can find some charts so I can start visualizing the route.
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Old 30-03-2018, 09:32   #14
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

Suggest buy & hang a Davis radar reflector so ships can see you.
https://www.davisnet.com/product/del...dar-reflector/
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Old 30-03-2018, 09:56   #15
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Re: Advice from Locals on Catalina Island to go or not to go

Be sure to bring a good little inflatable raft or kayak for your daughter (and the big kids), she will LOVE it once you are there, to poke around the rocks, the beach and in the kelp beds, and maybe she'd be up for a surf suit and a mask and snorkel. If not you could get one of these:https://www.thechandleryonline.com/p...oducts_id=9183
My son (7) and daughter who is 12 are always ready and anxious to get back out there! It's me and/or the weather that aren't usually. July is a great time to go!
My heavier boat with an 8hp and going about 5 knots can get a little over 3 miles to the gallon in calm conditions when I checked very unscientifically last time out. Your mileage may vary... it will be better!
Oh the radar reflector is a good tip, I got the tubular kind.
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