Taking a Cal 21 to Catalina Island?! - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 08-13-2010
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Talking Taking a Cal 21 to Catalina Island?!

We are planing on taking our '74 Cal 21 to Catalina Island. We sail mostly from Dana Point, but I have noticed the wind most of the time is not that favorable. Would it be better to start from Newport or even higher along the cost? We have a trailer so we are flexible. What else should one consider? Thankful for any advice.
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Last edited by bonito; 08-13-2010 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 08-13-2010
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You are going to have to motor over there, and probably at least part of the way back if you leave from anywhere but Long Beach. The wind is on the nose almost all the time, and you'll be in the lee of the island when you are close to it. It is possible to sail the entire way by taking very long tacks up the coast toward LB and then going over, but it will take you over 12 hours. From DP or Newport, motor there, like everybody else does. P.S. Leave early and get there early (like before 10:00 AM) to get a mooring. With your boat you can get on a string line which usually has room.
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Old 08-13-2010
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What is a string line? Sorry somewhat a newbie to the sailing terms ;-)
I don't mind a long sailing trip, my motor is 40 years old. I rather keep it for emergencies to cross the shipping lane I have read about. I truly want to sail to Catalina not motor.
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Old 08-13-2010
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It's no fun dragging a boat thru downtown LA, but if you can live with that, Marina Del Rey is an excellent launching point. It has lots of secure, inexpensive car/trailer parking. It has good ramps. It has guest slips at the end of Burton W. Chace Park for $0.50 a night. It's not the commercial shipping hell of Long Beach. And it's almost due north of Catalina.

We arrived in early afternoon, set up and launched the boat, and found an open guest slip. Had dinner with friends, did some last-minute shopping at West Marine & a grocery store (both a stone's toss from the launching area). Then we spent the night in the slip and left at first light.

You exit MDR, gain about 3 miles offing (by motor, if needed -- wind doesn't fill until about 10 AM), and point your bow 180 degrees true. Congratulations: hold that heading on a close reach for 8-10 hours, you hit the Isthmus. You have a 1kt current at your back. It's ~32 NM to Two Harbors, which is a better place to aim for than Avalon, especially in peak season. Avalon fills up early, and its overflow is Desconso Bay -- the nastiest, rollyest moorings at Catalina. Fun place to visit -- wouldn't want to moor there.

Two Harbors has overflow moorings on all sides, and even beaches you could pull up onto. You could also aim for Cat Harbor, tho we were too nervous to try that first thing. Next time, I think we'll go straight there from MDR & anchor in the shallows. Two Harbors has a stringline, which is a series of closely-spaced small boat tie-ups right near the beach. There is always room to squeeze in another boat your size. Stringline spaces are inexpensive and you can practically wade to shore, but they are also noisy on weekends. And when the wind is from the W to SW, you may be surprised to exit the calm lee of the island to find the wind screaming at 20kts straight out the Isthmus and down the fairway. Our little motor couldn't make headway, and we were forced to ask for assistance from the Harbor Patrol (which is much mellower than Avalon's). In our defence, that same wind forced the MDR ferry to make
three attempts before catching the dock. Assistance is free if you are inside the green buoy near Ship Rock.

From 2H, you can scoot down to Avalon pretty quickly. Getting there early, preferably early in the week, will help you snag a mooring. You will need to go a couple miles offshore to catch decent winds. If all the spaces are taken, wheedle Harbor Patrol for a mooring right behind the Casino mole. There are a number of shoreboat tie-ups there they can rent if their owners are amenable. The HP felt sorry for our small boat and stuck us there, rather than Desconso. It's v.protected from the swell but catches lots of boat wakes.

The trip back to 2H from Avalon was wind right on the nose and 4-foot swells. But since it was only 10 miles and we had nowhere to be especially, it was also the best single sailing day of my life. 10-12 knots true wind and the boat was running like a greyhound. We did it in 5 tacks, laughing our heads off.

Evey sailboat we saw making the same trip, in either direction, was motoring.

The trip back to MDR is not quite the sled ride to Long Beach. You will have a current in your face and may want to get inshore sooner, then head up the coast. But the wind should be a beam to deep reach and you will simply fly home. Entering MDR in late afternoon was harrowing for us: we aren't accustomed to that level of boat traffic, and the waves are breaking as you try to tuck in behind the breakwater. Once inside, observe the traffic schemes and you will be fine. We sailed right up to the launch ramps.

IIRC, you officially need permission from the LA County Beach&Rec people to park at MDR more than 5 days. They told us, Come, park, stick the right number of vouchers on your windshield and you'll be fine. We bought one extra, just in case we wanted to spend another day or the weather was bad.

We bought the video Cast Off for Catalina, which is a little cheesy but really helped us sort out the various harbors and protocols.

My only other advice is: Go. Go now. Have fun, try to miss the big metal boats, and let us know how it went when you get back. Cheers!
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Use to sail from San Pedro on the Schooner Diosa Del Mar in the summer of 1978 on the weekends... We had no problems going both ways under sail.

You did bring back some nice memories.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonito View Post
We are planing on taking our '74 Cal 21 to Catalina Island. We sail mostly from Dana Point, but I have noticed the wind most of the time is not that favorable. Would it be better to start from Newport or even higher along the cost? We have a trailer so we are flexible. What else should one consider? Thankful for any advice.
I suggest you trailor up to San Pedro, launch the boat there and overnight, and then make your run through Angles Gate to Two Harbors. That will give you the least distence to cover and the most favorable reaching angles, at least until you hit the fan coming through the Ismus where you'll have somewhat of a beat up to Bird Rock. The return trip will be fast and easy.

FWIW...
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Old 08-13-2010
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My wife and I made the trip several times from MDR in our Mac/Venture 24. I can second just about everything Bobmcgov said. You will spend a good bit of time motoring out of the bay though. We usually made the Isthmus in about 8-9hrs.

You will want to start early due to the afternoon sundowners. One of the scariest sailing adventures we ever had was during one of these crossings. It took my wife years to get over her anxiety of high winds and big waves.

The other (maybe better) option would be to launch at Alamitos Bay and exit the breakwater at Angels Gate. It's a shorter trip to the island but more importantly you will spend less time motoring. If you do leave from there be careful through Hurricane Gulch on the return. The wind comes off of Palos Verdes at about 20kn every afternoon.
I pulled one of my biggest bonehead moves while sailing in that spot.
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Old 08-13-2010
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Originally Posted by SJ34 View Post
I pulled one of my biggest bonehead moves while sailing in that spot.
Well....? Tell us more.

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Leaving from Long Beach would be the best option
for a Catalina crossing. I do not use launch ramps,
but there is new launch ramp near the Queen Mary
that sounds like it would be ideal for your situation.
Look for info on the South Shore launch ramp.
The Davie's ramp in Alamitos Bay would be less
convenient. The San Pedro launch ramp would
require you to sail back through Huricane Gulch
on your return. But I agree that if you leave from
Long Beach and sail or motor up inside the
breakwater to Angels Gate you will set yourself
up for a good crossing.
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Old 08-14-2010
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Cal 21 to Catalina Island departure points

It depends where you are sailing to in Catalina. If you are going to Avalon, I would think that Long Beach CA would be ok, since from San Pedro/LA Light its about 175 deg and with a Westerly its sleightly down hill. It is a little more comfortable than LB.

San Pedro is by far the best/closest port to depart from as well as favoring winds to above the isthmas with a normal Summer Westerly. Check your charts for distance and courses. I have sailed out of San Pedro to Catalina island for over 40 years with over 50 trips in a Cal 20 and smallest boat was a Newport 16. Last trip two weeks ago. Hope this helps.
Mark
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