August 13, 2012

Sail journey from San Diego to Catalina Island

In the blink of an eye, 2 years have passed since the last entry in the Captain's log.

After returning from the Alaskan adventure, the boat and myself have since relocated to Southern California. We've traded in the Puget Sound of Seattle for the Mission Bay of San Diego, California. The Puget Sound was very British, while the Mission Bay is very Spanish. 

There aren't too many decent anchorages down here, but we do have Catalina Island. 

The Alize' steering herself up the Eastern coastline of Catalina Island. Most of the island is run by the Catalina Island Conservancy, which has done an admirable job of keeping the place wild and largely undeveloped.

Here you can see my rudimentary auto-helm at work. My auto tiller tacks past the iconic Catalina Casino. If you are considering installing a proper windvane steering system on your boat, consider WindPilot. Here are a few articles that share the story of WindPilot windvanes.

Mariana and her dog, Lou, perched above Avalon Harbor on the Southern tip of Catalina Island. The Alize' is moored just to the right of Mariana's head.

What should have been a relatively easy 15 hour crossing from San Diego to Avalon (63 nautical miles), turned into a challenging 3 day approach. While waiting for a 6-8 foot groundswell to subside, we crept slowly North via overnight stays at Oceanside Harbor and then Dana Point. When the winds subsided and the Sea finally laid down flat, we punched over from Dana to Avalon (33 nautical miles) in the dark of night.

Lou proved himself very Sea-worthy. When the conditions get too rough for him, he quietly vomits in a corner. He doesn't make a big deal about it either. He just takes care of his business and moves on.
Very stoic.

The dog is real, but the cat is a fake.

I hand speared this California halibut at 15 feet of depth inside Toyon Bay. Toyon is about 4 or 5 bays North of Avalon on the leeward side of Catalina. There's not much protection from ocean swell, but in settled weather, you can drop the anchor here and get a decent night's sleep.

Photo credit: Matt Healy

        Looking East back to the mainland. Los Angeles sits just out of sight on the horizon line, 40 miles away. 

    If you're planning a similar boating trip to Catalina, make sure you have at least one cruising guide on board. Fagan's book is the standard, authoritative guide for boating throughout Central and Southern CA. They have a nice section on Catalina Island. It will keep your boat off the rocks and in safe harbor.

For boaters that are thinking about making this journey in their boat...I've posted some good distance and travel time info. for San Diego to Catalina

Sailing from San Diego to Catalina Island: distance and time for a sailboat trip (Mission Bay, Oceanside, Dana Point, Avalon, Two Harbors)

and also boating info for making the LA to Catalina journey...

Sailing to Catalina Island: distance and time from Los Angeles


Anonymous said...

Excellent blog, I'm pretty sure it a no no to spear flattys, I'm just saying :)

Captain Curran said...


Spearing halibut is definitely legal. But if you see something contrary in the regs please let me know

Claire said...

I'd be trampled if all sites gave articles like these awesome articles.monthly loan