May 28, 2015

For better or worse: Avalon harbor on Catalina Island is about to become 'Whatever, USA'

Jessica and I just arrived in Avalon Harbor on the beautiful Catalina Island. We're lucky enough to come out here on the tail end of Memorial Weekend. This way we get a heavy dose of people watching and then we can lean back in the cockpit and watch as the town empties out.

We had a smooth crossing: bright skies and warm air. I was hoping the wind would pick up and we could sail in the second half. But, as wind is a fickle creature and cares not for my concerns, when the wind did arrive - it arrived square on the nose. This did nothing for our speed over ground, knocking us down under 3 knots/hr.

But on the positive note, my tiller pilot performed like a champ. This contraption is now 10 years old and can still hold a heading. This leaves the captain free to patrol the main cabin and pour himself a drink.

the tiller pilot is working while the captain is free to delegate and pontificate

I asked the friendly harbormaster at Avalon to get us nice and close to the shore. The water is calmer up there and the people watching is high quality. He did abide. He brought us in to 9 feet of depth, which is about as shallow as I would ever want to be moored with my 6 foot draw. But,as expected the people watching was super entertaining. First off, there was a rocking concert Sunday evening as we motored in. But, more importantly, we noticed the town buzzing with tons of workers in blue jackets on the following Monday morning.

our mooring, close enough to catch all the Avalon action

Bud Light and Catalina Island collide...should be interesting.

What were all these workers bees doing? Why they were erecting a giant Bud Light statue on the main drag?

Well, because Avalon has been chosen to be the next American town re-branded and taken over by Anheuser Busch for their new 'Down for whatever' campaign.

This means on the following weekend - Avalon will be converted into a fictional place called, 'Whatever, USA'.

bud light statue in avalon for whatever, usa
The giant Bud Light statue is erected in Avalon.

Town of Avalon on Catalina Island is about to become Whatever, USA.

Apparently, this happened last year in Crested Butte and it raised a half million in cash for the town (and pissed off the locals). A local in Avalon mentioned to me that this year Avalon is planning to have their town sports field refitted with AstroTurf for about half a million -with Bud cutting the check. This is actually a very good way to use the money, since the town is on 25% water reduction and watering the field is a massive drain of the town reservoir.

All the bars have to only serve Bud Light and the town will probably be painted Bud Light blue. Also, about 1000 Bud Light party people will be dropped into the town - in order to create the perfect Bud party. Another rumor is that Snoop Dog will be there to serve hot dogs. Either way, there will be dancing, electronic music and #millennial madness.

Even though I know we should just leave it alone and keep to our sailboat, there is a very good chance we will be stopping by Avalon on the way home. I don't imagine we are invited to this party, but that probably won't stop us from trying to get in. Whatever, USA is sure to be a debacle, but I am quite sure it will be an entertaining debacle. That said, I do anticipate all the salty locals will be shaking their heads and cursing from the barstools at the Marlin Club. Of course, that will also be part of the entertainment.

May 17, 2015

Astoria by Peter Stark: a book review


by Peter Stark

John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire

A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival

Have you ever been caught in a riff, sailing in shallow, uncharted water? Waves stacking up around you, wind pushing you to port, sub-surface current pushing to starboard. You try to get your bearings while you search for a passage up the mouth of a sand-bar laden river.

Then proceed with caution mate.

Peter Stark walks us through the harrowing tales of mariners who have navigated the turbulence where the Columbia River collides with the Pacific Ocean. 

This river mouth has claimed more than 200 ships since 1792. 

a review of Astoria
trading ship arriving from Hawaii attempting to enter the Columbia River

Astoria book review

If this sort of adventures gets you going, you’ll love Astoria: Astor and Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Tale of Ambition and Survival on the Early American Frontier.This is Peter Stark’s new best-selling historical novel. Astor sent out two advance parties to settle the wild, unclaimed western coast of North America. More than half of his men died violent deaths.

May 11, 2015

Clever boat name for white-collar criminals

Lately, as I sail around the Bay in San Diego, I can't help but notice a theme to lots of boats out on the water. There is a certain type of mariner who fancies himself an ex-con who has made bail and is back on the water. I keep seeing clever boat names for these quasi-criminal types. They are flying the proverbial skull and crossbones and taking no prisoners.

To all those who have made a few mistakes but are now free and clear and have their compass set to La Paz, I salute you and I hope you make it south before the parole officer catches on. I have begun to collect photos of these boats. I put together a list of  these clever boat names and some photos as well. Enjoy!

Clever boat names for white collar criminals

clever boat names
we hope this guy makes it to the border

clever boat names
clear skies ahead

May 5, 2015

Scuttlebutt - local San Diego company keeps sailors up to speed.

San Diego is blessed with a vibrant sailing scene. Just go walk around Shelter Island or better yet, get out in the bay once the wind picks up and you'll realize just how many sailors are in our city.

It makes sense that some local boaters put together an online news source to keep our community up to speed on Southern California sailing news. Scuttlebut was launched in 1997 as an e-newsletter with a focus on local sailing news. But that was a long time ago, since then Scuttlebutt has grown into a premier news source for national and international sailing events.

a comprehensive sailing news site

If you're like the rest of us, you've been keeping up with the Volvo Ocean Race. The boats are on the 6th leg now, between Brazil and Newport, US. Here's the latest Scuttlebutt post on the Volvo race, (video) discussing the strategy for the completion of the 6th leg.

May 4, 2015

Do you need a boating license in California?

Did you know the every state in the US has different requirements for boating licenses and for boater education. Some states are very lax about these things, other states are more strict. Fortunately, for boaters in the golden state, you do not need a boating license in California. There are also no boater education requirements in California. However, you may receive a discount on your insurance if you take a boat safety class. These rules may very well change in the upcoming years. To stay up to date, you can visit the California Division of Boating and Waterways website.

Do you need a boating license in california?
You do NOT need a boating license in California

Do I need a boating license in my state?

Most states are not this relaxed, especially with jet-ski type boats. We have recently created a new site that provides the latest information on boating license and boater education requirements for each state. This page makes it easy for you to look up the latest boating regulations for your state.

Hope this helps!

April 27, 2015

Dave Koller, your friendly San Diego boat broker

If you're curious about the boats for sale in San Diego, I recommend you reach out to my friend, Dave Koller. Dave is a local San Diego boat broker. He's well-respected and just an all around friendly guy who loves boats. We were out on the high seas this weekend, I took the photo of him sailing at the bottom of this page.

If you want to sell your old boat, he's happy to list the boat. If you want something new, he's just as happy to walk you up and down the docks and help you find your next sea going vessel.

boats for sale in san diego
Dave, nice guy who loves boats.

Dave was born here in San Diego and is a true boat addict. He’s sailed all over the Pacific Northwest, Southern California and the Hawaiian Islands. Dave now spends his free time bending sails on his Caribbean designed, Endeavor 38, off the coast of Point Loma.

Boats for sale in San Diego

Dave works out of the Hallmark Yachts office at Sunroad Marina on Harbor Island. If you've never been to this part of San Diego, it is boat central. It's worth checking out. There are many boats for sale in San Diego within walking distance of Dave's office.

This past year, 2015, Dave has sold a range of sailboats and powerboats. Here's the list of boats he has bought and sold recently:

38 Bayliner Motor Yacht
30' Catalina/Capri
32' Uniflite
52' PT Overseas Motor Yacht
28' Bertram Sportfisher
36' Catalina Sailboat
38' Mediterranean Cruiser
38' Endeavour Sailboat
23' Ericson Sailboat
25' Bayliner Cruiser
34' Catalina Sailboat
37' Lien Hwa Trawler

San Diego boat broker

So, if you want to sell your boat, Dave has the resources to get it sold. And, if you're thinking about boat ownership, he can help find the boat that's right for you.

Reach Dave on his cell phone
(619) 977-5040

or send him an email:

And let him know you found him through this boating site or the associated Facebook page. 
(he might buy me a beer!)

Kevin Curran

I took this photo of Dave sailing his Endeavor 38

April 26, 2015

Newport 30 MkII out in the small craft advisory

As Saturday afternoon rolled around, I was slowly prepping my Newport 30 sailboat and hoping that the wind models were correct. A high pressure system was supposed to punch through the Channel Islands - move past Catalina and San Clemente Island and blanket the coastline of Southern California with 15-20 knot winds.

There was not much air movement until about 2 pm. Then the halyards in the marina started rattling. This is always a good sign. We pushed out from the Mission Bay jetty and immediately started ripping. The white caps came in around 4 pm. All in all, this was an exhilarating sail. Banging into the building swell and wind chop with plenty of power. This is why we have boats. 

This photo was taken by my friend, Dave Koller on his Endeavor 38

sailing a newport 30 in strong winds
My Newport 30 MkII loving the strong winds

April 20, 2015

Drought in California getting worse..

We are currently living through the worst drought in recorded history in California. Why are there no water restrictions in LA or San Diego? At my marina in San Diego, we still have boaters leaving their freshwater hoses on 24/7 to keep their boat jackets topped off, so as to fend off saltwater creatures and keep growth on their hulls to a minimum.

Yes, that's right - the municipal hoses on the dock left at full blast constantly so that the boat owners don't have to pay to have their hulls scraped. And this is happening in the middle of the worst drought in recorded history.

It may be time for water restrictions to be imposed...

Here is the state of California's drought page.

If people are still feeling entitled to leave a hose on all day and all night, then clearly the message of water conservation is not enough. 

House boats in Northern Cal. starting to scrape the bottom of the lake.

April 12, 2015

Reynolds 21 catamaran

Chris - a regular character down in Mission Bay is often found kicking around on his Reynolds 21 catamaran. This is a beat up old boat but she sails very nice in moderate winds.

This team of salty sailors pulled the Reynolds close enough up to my boat and we got these photos.

Ocean Beach and Point Loma are off in the background.

Chris, Corey and Dave out cruising the Reynolds 21

making the most of the winds
Dave maintains a neurology website, which provides an academic resource for training neurologists.

April 6, 2015

great Easter sail conditions

We were blessed with a steady 12 knots of wind all Easter Sunday. This was much needed as the air has been a bit light and a bit inconsistent lately.

My lady friend and I were moving at about 6 knots in most directions, which felt great.

I had just scraped the bottom of the hull last week - so there wasn't too much drag in the water.

Here we are about 2 miles outside the Mission Bay jetty.

my Newport 30 mkII loving the steady breeze

March 28, 2015

Two Harbors mooring

When the work schedule clears and I can sneak out of town, my thoughts usually gravitate to a Two Harbors mooring ball. In my opinion, here in Southern California, Two Harbors is the the coolest possible cruising destination for boaters living in San Diego or Los Angeles. If you want a spot with more more people action and a range of bars and restaurants, then Avalon is always there for you. But if you want tranquility and empty rolling hills, then Two Harbors is your spot.

Two Harbors mooring reservation

The popular summer weekends can be crowded, so its best to secure a two harbors mooring reservation. Here's a link to get info on two harbors mooring reservations.

two harbors mooring reservations
floating on a mooring ball in Two Harbors
A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I shook off our mooring lines in San Diego and headed out for Catalina Island. We have had an unseasonably warm winter here in Southern California. Unfortunately, we have not had the nice stiff breezes that usually arrive with the Santa Ana winds or with the low pressure systems from the Northwest. So, the air has been light. This means we motored for most of the passage. However, the benefit to a calm sea, is that you also get a calm mooring. We tied up in Two Harbors and got a few nights of very restful sleep.

Two Harbors mooring

When we take my boat out from Mission Bay and make the 76 nautical mile journey to Two Harbors, it usually takes a very full day. So, we leave very early, usually around 4 am.
A few years ago, I wrote up this blog post on all the information you need as you boat from San Diego to Two Harbors or Avalon. 

Then, because I have quite a few friends moored in Los Angeles, I also wrote up this post, which gives all the travel information for boating from the most popular Los Angeles marinas over to Catalina Island. One nice things about living in LA is you can boat over to a Two Harbors mooring in an afternoon..

san diego to catalina on a chart
plotting out the journey to Two Harbors

Well - if you can get out there, do it! Catalina is the gem of Southern California.

Fair winds!

March 24, 2015

It looks like sea lions do occasionally bite...

Sea lions will occasionally bite humans. Don't get too close!

SAN DIEGO – A five-year-old was bitten on his face by a sea lion Sunday around 1:30 p.m. at La Jolla Cove.

According to witnesses, the boy tried to pet the sea lion, and the sea lion snapped back its neck and lunged at him. People who saw it happen said the boy approached the sea lion from behind. The boy was taken to the hospital with minor injuries

Lifeguards it is rare for sea lions to bite people, but they may be more easily provoked during pupping season. At least 2 sea lion attacks have been reported in the last 3 months, possibly because there have been more sea lions on the beach, lifeguard Lt. John Sandmeyer said. People should stay 20 meters away from seals and sea lions, he added.

See full article here