March 28, 2015

Mooring on a ball or anchoring at Two Harbors, Catalina Island

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 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.

Anchoring at Catalina Island

You can drop the anchor at lots of little bays and bights between Avalon and Two Harbors. All of these spots receive protection from the northwestern swells. However, that doesn't mean its flat water.
Even in calm seas, you should get a little 1-2 foot rolling action in there. If you want to be close to Avalon or Two Harbors but not spend the money on a mooring ball, you do have the option of dropping anchor just outside of the mooring fields. This is normal practice. It saves you about 40$/night. The downside is - its a longer dingy ride to town and the water won't be quite as flat.

Fagan's cruising guide is loaded with info. on anchoring in and around Catalina.

Two Harbors mooring reservation

The popular summer weekends can be crowded, so its best to secure a two harbors mooring reservation.

anchoring at catalina island
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!


Anonymous said...

we're heading over for memorial weekend - hoping to get a mooring ball near northwest corner of the bay - nice and calm

Captain Curran said...

we will see you there - we're doing one night in avalon - one night in cat harbor - then sunday in two harbors

Unknown said...

Kevin, Looking for some advise here. I'm trying to plan a July 4th trip and the last piece is a mooring in Two Harbors (I have a boat and crew). I've sailed to and moored in Two Harbors and Avalon but not on a busy summer weekend so we basically had our pick of mooring balls. It looks like mooring reservations for the July 4th weekend open the night before (on Thursday). Do you have experience making such reservations? Should I be waiting at 10PM to jump on a reservations and if I am, is there a likely chance I'll find one? Any advise you have on securing a place to moor (I'd rather not anchor on a busy weekend) would be appreciated!

Captain Curran said...

Hello Garret Raney -
As fate would have it, I am in 2 Harbors right now. I just went down to chat with the harbormaster about your query. She said - the best you can do it to go online on July 2 at 10 pm and hope for the best. So, yes jump on in then. But you also want to get out here as early as possible, earlier in the day is better, earlier in the week is even better. It seems like they can fit boats in between moorings - and then when that is full - you are asked to anchor outside the mooring balls. Honestly that is not a bad option, as long as there is a modest swell.

So, in conclusion - if you want a mooring ball Jul 4 weekend - go online at exactly 10 pm and then regardless of whether you get a confirmation, show up as early as possible with your boat because they may be able to sneak you in - but be prepared to anchor.

A lot of uncertainly - but its the price you pay for being in the best boat spot in town on the 4th - good luck and let us know how you fare.

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