July 22, 2015

The funniest boat names for boaters who love word play

One of the great mysteries of the boating world, is the rampant use of word play in boat names. Often called 'old man humor', word-play or puns still hold sway in the world of funny boat names.

And this makes perfect sense to me... because who doesn't like a dingy named "Row vs. Wade"??

What's not to like?

funniest boat names
screenshot from the funny boat name page


Our friends at All Things Boat have recognized the huge number of hilarious names based on nautical word play and - they've written up this page that lists some of the funniest boat names. If you need a quick laugh or else perhaps some inspiration for a name on your next boat, then head on over and see if you find something that gets you chuckling.
 



July 14, 2015

Boating to the Farallon islands: sailing distance from San Francisco.

Sailing from the Golden Gate Bridge out to the Farallon Islands is one of the great boating adventures in Central California. It can be challenging though, so you don't want to be too cavalier about this endeavor. We wrote this page to lend insight on the day trip for the sake of both power boaters and sailors. Do your research, wait for a safe window and then get out there and have a great time.

boating to the Farallon islands
Golden Gate Bridge out to the Farallon Islands

Sailing to Farallon Islands

The distance from the Golden Gate Bridge outside of San Francisco to the Farallon Islands is approximately 29 miles (25 nautical miles). You need to take currents and tides into consideration when approximating your speed to the island chain. A 40 foot boat, moving about 6 kn/hr should be able to make the round trip in 8 hours, so a full day on the water.

There are other considerations for this boat trip, but first and foremost, you want to give the Farallon Islands a wide berth when you're rounding them. There is no reason to cut any corners on this pile of rocks. There's been many unfortunate incidents where boaters cut in too close, here is an exceptionally sad story that occurred during the Full Crew Farallones Race.

 Some boaters like to leave San Francisco on a slack tide, just as it's beginning to flood. If you leave in a max flood, make sure to stay near the North Coast for a back eddy, but watch for rough conditions in the Potato Patch, especially on an ebb tide.

You want to check marine conditions before you commit to the Farallon Islands. You want reasonable swell height and swell period. 5-8 foot swell with a short period (less then 10 seconds) can be miserable, but the same swell size with a longer swell period (more than more than 18 seconds) can be reasonable. Know your comfort level with open sea conditions. There's no reason to push it out there.

boating to farallon islands
The Farallon Island group

You can monitor VHF Channel 12 to stay informed on large boats coming IN and OUT of San Francisco. This information is transmitted at 15 and 45 min. past the hour.

Many boaters prefer rounding the islands on the south side. It's generally a better way to see the islands. Make sure to check your charts and GPS repeatedly so you're certain you're clearing the rocks with plenty of margin of error. Swells can stack up as they get closer to the islands and waves start to break, so if the ocean is already up - it will be even more chaotic as you near the rocks.

sail trip to Farallon islands
we saw some Risso dolpins while crossing the channel

If you're sailing, the route you take will be dictated by the wind. Plan out your tacks - take advantage of a stiff breeze when its there - and be ready to reef if things pick up. Most folks end up with a nice downwind sail back under the Golden Gate into San Francisco.

If you're thinking about this trip or other boating adventures in SF Bay and surrounding coastline - you want to have a good set of nautical charts on board. We like the Maptech chart book for the SF region. You get the zoomed out big charts of the Bay. Then for each specific area - you've got the zoomed in high resolution charts to help with anchoring or approaching harbors.
These charts are waterproof, and virtually indestructible. We've been neglecting and abusing our Maptech book for a decade and they still looks crisp and new..Amazon gets you a bit better price than West Marine.



Alright - fair winds!

July 12, 2015

The Catalina island fox, wildlife for boaters

As a means to get off the boat and stretch our legs, Jess and I hiked up Divide Road Trail outside of Avalon and made it up to the south island summit. This isn't much of a summit, but you can see down to the windward side of Catalina Island.

Sailing out - just north of Avalon

Once we got up on this summit we were met with an inquisitive Catalina island fox (Urocyon littoralis). This is a small, friendly fox that seems perhaps a bit too comfortable with humans. Each of the Channel Islands has their own sub-species of island fox. Each sub-species has adapted to a slightly different island niche and taken on its own characteristics. The Catalina fox has clearly evolved to show no fear of humans.

Catalina Island Fox

 

catalina island fox
sniffing around for lunch

There is no 2 ways about it. They island foxes are pretty damn adorable.

the catalina island fox
Catalina Island fox: handsome devils
The island fox has a beautiful coat of fur that blends in perfectly with the dry chaparral landscape of Catalina. This is sagebrush, manzanita and live oak country. The fox seems right at home


Goodbye island fox...until we meet again.


July 5, 2015

Boating site with a great list of dirty boat names

Boaters are simple people. They like to get off of dry land, float out in the water and possibly crack a beer. If general, they also like chips and salsa and maybe a few more beers. If there is some fishing involved or maybe a good sail, then all the better. But, if nothing else, there will be boats, there will be talk of boats and there will be beers.

Boaters also like boat names that are a little bit dirty. If they can come up with a name that is somewhat nautical and somewhat dirty, then that's a home run.

No one knows why this is a thing, but it is.

Maybe the dudes are thinking that a hot, single lady will be sitting on the shore and see a boat named 'TailChaser' pass by. Next thing, the lady jumps in the water and swims over to the boat to see what's up. This has never happened in the history of boating. But, like I said, boaters are simple people. They are hoping for the best and not too concerned if the best doesn't happen. At the end of the day they just seem to like dirty boat names.

Our friends at All Thing Boat, have put together a really funny page of boat names that are a little bit dirty and a little bit nautical, here's there list of dirty boat names. If you want to let the world know that you still got it...go ahead and pick one of these.

a few of the names - Sloop Doggy Dog is a crowd pleaser






June 30, 2015

Catalina Harbor

We have made a habit of visiting Catalina Harbor each time we sail out to Catalina Island. Sailing to Catalina Harbor is surely one of the great pleasures for any Southern California boater. You leave behind the more popular, leeward side of the island and enter into the much more wild and windswept Pacific Ocean side.

Catalina Harbor has a storied history, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo dropped the hook here on his epic journey into California. Richard Henry Dana and his trade ship would hide out in Cat Harbor to take cover from Santa Ana storms blowing from the east. Rum-runners evaded authorities here during the prohibition. And then Hollywood discovered this gem. Mutiny on the Bounty was filmed here, as were many others. If you look close you'll see that the final scene from 'Suicide Kings' with Jay Mohr and Christopher Walken was shot from a boat in Cat Harbor.

Catalina harbor
Sailing from Two Harbors around the Northwest headlands of Catalina Island

To get there, just point your vessel North from Two Harbors and wrap around the headlands.


Turning the corner around the tip of Catalina Island
There's a sea urchin harvesting operation up here, you may see these guys in action.


Catalina harbor
Sailing Southeast just outside Catalina Harbor
Then head down the windward side of the island. With luck you will have good winds as you sail down past these cliffs. Though...as you can see, the wind shut off for us here - we had to start the engine.

Approaching Catalina Harbor


Sails down, approaching the entrance to Catalina Harbor
And then tuck into Catalina Harbor, the gem of Catalina. The Harbor is about 25 nautical miles from Long Beach, LA. If you're planning to explore the west facing side of Catalina Island, or any other Channel island / coastline off of Southern or Central California, then make sure you have the boaters handbook for the area. This is Brian Fagan's classic boater's guide to the area, it's got all you need to know..

June 24, 2015

An excellent review of boat insurance companies for 2015

Our friends over at All Things Boat.com have just released their annually updated boat insurance comparison. This is an overview of the basics of boat insurance and also a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of some of the most popular boat insurance companies in the U.S.

This is good resource for anyone that is new to boating and needs to decide on a reasonable policy.
It is also a good resource for anyone that is getting a little tired of their current provider and wants to compare boat insurance options.

We began with Boat Insurance Agency in Seattle, Washington. This worked out very well for us. Since, then while moving around, I have gone through Progressive and Boat U.S. Honestly I don't have too many complaints. However, I have never filed a claim - and that is when you truly find out how good your insurance is...

It's not that enjoyable to read through all the details and policy info. for each provider, however, this review does take a lot of the pain out of it. See if the page helps you compare policies from the best boat insurance providers in the U.S.

If you're going to anchor poorly, make sure you have insurance first!

June 18, 2015

ZB Savoy introduces the Captain Curran bow tie.

Life is good over here at CaptainCurran.com.

We are blessed with warm San Diego air, a pleasant afternoon wind, the occasional Tecate with lime...and now this.

Our good friends at ZB Savoy have released a nautical themed bow tie in our honor, they call this fashionable accessory, the Captain Curran.




They say 'a gentleman never sails to windward', well I think there's some truth to that.

I've spent some time banging upwind and it never felt very gentlemanly. But, perhaps the old saying can be augmented to 'a gentleman never sails to windward, but when he does, he wears a bow tie'.

So far, the Captain Curran has been selling like hotcakes. This is excellent news. I never thought I'd have a bow tie named after me, but now that I do, I want this thing to be a huge success.

The tie is on the racks at the new ZB Savoy store on Broadway Ave in downtown San Diego (1028 Broadway Ave, San Diego, CA 92101). Or you can find the Captain Curran on the ZB savoy website.


June 13, 2015

40 foot visibility at Catalina Island

We were blessed with an unusually clear Pacific Ocean on this trip to Catalina island. The visibility was 40 feet, often 50 feet. The trip was in late May, so from my understanding this is better than average for that time of the year. Most of these photos were taken near Two Harbors. This Catalina Island visibility contributes to these gorgeous shades of blue seen here.

Visibility at Catalina Island


catalina island visibility
metamorphic tidal rocks looking out at the mooring balls
 The visibility at Catalina stayed this quality the entire week. Maybe this can be attributed to the warmer waters this El Nino year? Who knows?

great visibility at catalina island

Even here in deeper waters - 200 feet, you can see this great pastel blue color to the ocean.

40 foot visibility catalina island

Catalina island visibility

The shallow waters in the Two Harbors bay was spectacular. Jess and I snorkeled at the Blue Caves and we scuba dove at Cherry Cove. We actually had much more fun snorkeling. The caves were spectacular. Lots of abalone. It is all marine protected though, so no harvesting.

great catalina island visibility
great visibility in the water at the Two Harbors dock

prickly pear cactus at Two Harbors
We sailed out from San Diego, which is about a 73 nautical mile journey. If you are taking your boat from LA, here is a good link to estimate crossing distances for boating to Catalina Island from major LA harbors. 

If you're taking your boat from San Diego, this page has good San Diego to Catalina Island boating distances.

June 5, 2015

Mooring ball or drop the anchor in Catalina Harbor?

Every time I boat out to Catalina Island, I make sure to spend a few nights on anchor in Catalina Harbor. Cat Harbor is certainly the most strikingly beautiful anchorage in Southern California. You can grab a mooring ball or else drop anchor in the outer Catalina Harbor for free. Once your boat is secure, crack a beer, dingy to shore and hike out to the dramatic headland cliffs.

mooring balls catalina harbor
boats on anchor and mooring balls at Catalina Harbor
We sailed my Newport 30 from Two Harbors out and around the northwestern tip of the island and then approached the stunning geologic headlands of Catalina Harbor. The cliffs are a combination of sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks - with large quartz veins creating a banded pattern across the sheer face.

anchoring in Catalina harbor
approaching the Cat Harbor headlands
sailing to Catalina Harbor
sailing around the northwest tip of Catalina Island

Getting a mooring ball in Catalina Harbor

Catalina harbor has a soft sandy bottom that shallows out near the inner harbor (where the dingy dock is located). Depending on the size and draft of your boat, the harbormaster will find you an appropriate mooring ball. As of 2015, the price for one night is 41.00 for a 30 foot vessel and 49.00 for a 40 foot mooring ball location. Apparently, this price if going up a few bucks every year...

The harbor master will be cruising around the harbor in their powerboat, they will offer you rides to the dock if needed. They will also be collecting money upon your arrival.

Anchoring in Catalina Harbor

As the harbormaster will tell you, you are also welcome to drop anchor for free in Catalina Harbor. There is usually plenty of secure anchorage to be found. If you are a small boat (under 30 feet with less than 5 foot draw) then you can motor to the inner harbor and and drop anchor near the dingy dock. But - watch the tides, because at a negative tide your keel will be close to touching bottom.

For a larger boat (30 feet or more) you should look for anchorage space in the outer harbor. By outer harbor, I mean just outside of the last row of mooring balls. This will put you in 50 feet of water. And, of course, the farther out you anchor - the deeper the water.
Anchoring out is is free but you will get a bumpier night (depending on swell size).

I recommend a stern anchor, as this will keep your bow into any western swell, and minimize any beam roll.

If you anchor in outer harbor, the dingy ride is longer to the dingy dock, but you can also just paddle over to the nearest shore and then walk the rest of the way on dry land. It's a beautiful area with great trails, so this is my recommendation. You'll be drinking a Buffalo Milk at the Harbor Reef in no time at all.

If you plan to explore other anchorages or harbors around Catalina Island, its good to have a cruising guide on board. Fagan's book, the Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California is considered the gold standard for boating Central and Southern CA. Plenty of detail on your local waters and its just good piece of mind having this in the navigation table. Amazon sells cheap used copies.




how to anchor in catalina harbor
long term resident on anchor at Catalina Harbor
We dropped anchor next to this guy "Chester" in about 50 feet of water. You can see the trails on the southeast side of the headlands in the background. This anchorage is a short paddle in a dingy to a rocky beach.

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

Astoria

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