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Shadrak 05-14-2009 02:42 PM

Avalon, CA (Catalina Island)
Where are the Southern California sailors in this forum? I know other bodies of water are considered more "classic" in the US, but there is still much fun to be had down here! :)

I'm still a beginner, so my first ambitious destination is Catalina Island, about 8-9 hours from my port, Marina Del Rey. I've been to Catalina with the ferry once, and found the island so charming that I've made the resolution to return there on my own.

Anyone been there? What are your other favorite destinations in SoCal? I hear the Channel Islands are also nice, but I've never been...

OldColumbia 05-14-2009 03:22 PM

Please learn how to reserve and pick up a mooring before you go to Catalina, and realize that 30 knots away thru two commercial shipping lanes with car carriers or container ships the size of a four story apartment buildings can require stamina and skill, as well as luck.

The Channel Islands are best accessed from Ventura or Channel Islands harbor since Anacapa's only about 11 knots off. They are very rustic and require landing permits and very good anchoring skills since there are no moorings or dockage. The weather as you get closer to Point Conception becomes much like the Pacific Northwest offshore.

Offshore Santa Ana winds will make the east side of the islands lee shores so know how and when to anchor securely. Like any popular destination there are varying degrees of seamanship in the areas of Avalon, Cat Harbor and the coves that can provide endless excitement and entertainment.

SVAuspicious 05-14-2009 03:40 PM


Originally Posted by OldColumbia (Post 485900)
30 knots away

Using units incorrectly really winds me up. A knot is a nautical mile per hour. You can't be 30 knots away from anything; that's like saying something is 50 miles per hour away. It's nonsense.

I haven't looked at a chart, but presumably you mean 30 nautical miles. That's a real nice day sail. Have fun.

OldColumbia 05-14-2009 04:33 PM


Please flog me with volume of sight reduction tables and Chapman's.

MayI have another, Sir?

svHyLyte 05-15-2009 08:50 AM

FWIW it's about 32 miles (nautical) from the breakwater at Marina Del Rey to Bird Rock at Two Harbors. Assuming you're averaging about 5 knots, getting there should only take about 6 hours. It's the getting back that can be exciting/time consuming. It might be wise to use the search function as there have been quite a few discussions regarding visiting Catalina that can provide good information. If you have joined a Sailing Club (per some of your earlier posts), you should be able to get quite a bit of information from the management and other members as well. The trip is not especially demanding but it would be wise to develop your skills before attempting it. Most often it is pretty easy but on occassion it can be very exciting and not something for a novice.


s/v HyLyte

PS: In re: your earlier post regarding worth while books, take a look at "Sailing for Dummies" by JJ and Pete Isler. A good, informative, easy to understand, read.

nk235 05-15-2009 09:28 AM

Im from the east coast and have never been to Catalina Island but from all the articles you read and pictures it looks like an awesome place to cruise to. I would love to check it out by boat if I lived out there and the fact that it is further away and a little dicey to get out there makes the destination all that much more rewarding! To me it kind of seems like the West Coast's Block Island. Block is only 17 miles off Montauk but it seems similar in that its a cool little island only accessible by boat quite a ways offshore that people go to for vacation, relaxing, and fun.

mondofromredondo 05-18-2009 07:39 PM

Catalina island has so many beautiful little anchorages. Obviously before anyone tries to stay a night on the hook in one of these anchorages it makes sense to do it at least once with someone with experience. Dragging anchor is not pleasant at 3AM. That being said the anchorages offer a much better experience than tying up to a can along with 50 other boats surrounding you. But you can't beat those "Buffalo Milks" at the Istmus or Avalon !!

n0w0rries 05-18-2009 11:27 PM

The island drops off very fast. So be sure you have plenty of rode in case you end up anchoring (moorings fill up fast on summer weekends)

bobmcgov 05-19-2009 01:34 AM

You can't "reserve a mooring" on Catalina Island. They are privately owned but, if unoccupied, rented out on a first-come, as-available basis. If the owner or a sublet of your mooring radios in they are on their way, you will be kicked off your (their) mooring -- possibly reassigned another (bumping someone else via some arcane seniority formula), possibly told to Go Fish. During the summer, expect the major moorings at Avalon and Isthmus to be full nearly every night. Sometimes you will be sent to Emerald Cove or one of the smaller mooring fields or anchorages; these may be lumpy.

I highly recommend Cast Off for Catalina, a slightly cheesy but quite informative DVD that covers the protocols of boating to and at the Island, along with a widdershins circumnav, visiting each harbor or anchorage in turn.

It's our goal this summer, also. Hope to spend five days there, maybe even do the loop. The other (northern) Channel Islands are rather more severe: no services, strictly limited access, rugged coasts with few harbors, and much rougher weather and currents. We decided Santa Catalina will provide sufficient challenge for our first Big Water experience.:)

Shadrak 05-19-2009 04:57 PM

Thanks everybody for your reply. See, I knew you were out there, I guess we're just outnumbered by those East-Coasters and Pacific-Northwesters! ;)

Catalina is still a little far off on the horizon (literally and figuratively!), but I appreciate all the tips, it gives me stuff to start thinking about.

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