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. It is just a mechanical arm, that pushes the wooden tiller around. This brand is called AutoHelm. This leaves the captain free to patrol the main cabin and pour himself a drink. If you want to install a proper windvane, reach out to WindPilot, they make the proper equipment.

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!