I woke up at sunrise Halloween morning after only a few hours of sleep. It didn’t matter, as this was the first time sailing on my new sailboat, Eliana II, and I was too excited to sleep. I had the first watch (my turn at the helm) when we left harbor, from 1am until 4am. Travis took over at 4am when I went to sleep. At that time, there was no wind, so I was motoring out from Marina del Rey towards Catalina Island. Now we were under sail, Eliana was healed to port, and sailing smooth and fast. I climbed up into the cockpit, and Travis was at the helm, with a huge grin, “Warren, your boat sails GREAT!.” We had about 25 knots of wind and 6 foot swells. Eliana cut through the chop and made the waves feel much smaller. The only sound was the noise of water against the hull of the boat. The sunrise was behind us and open ocean in front of us. Michelle, Travis’ girlfriend, was taking pictures.
Catalina Island was only a few miles ahead. Since it was still early, we decided to keep sailing and head for Santa Barbara Island, about 38 miles from the mainland. The hope was to anchor somewhere that didn’t see tourists the first night, and stop at Catalina Island the next day on the way back. Everyone goes to Catalina Island, far fewer venture to Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is much smaller, and has no improvements. It’s an untouched rock in the ocean. Because of the current weather there was no safe place to anchor. So, we circled the island and headed back to Catalina.
Travis went below to get some rest, and Michelle started to get seasick and napped in the cockpit. Michelle is an experienced sailor so that wasn’t expected. Anyone can get seasick, even the most seasoned sailors. So, while both of my guests rested, I had a few hours of sailing by myself.
As we reached Catalina, Michelle was feeling better, and Travis asked “Hey, did you say you have a spinnaker on board?” I replied, “Yes, but I’m not sure I have everything I need to fly it.” So, we pulled out the spinnaker, and searched the boat for some tackle to fly it. I had flown a type of spinnaker, an asymmetrical spinnaker, while racing in San Francisco bay. But this spinnaker, a symmetrical spinnaker, requires the use of a pole to support it, which my boat has, and a whole mess of lines to support the pole, which needed to be figured out.
It took about an hour to get the spinnaker flying. It was like a yellow, black, and purple parachute out in front of the boat. When sailing downwind it provides a significant power increase, but requires more skill and attention than sailing with just a main and jib. Most importantly, it looks really cool. Unfortunately, once we had it up, we very quickly reached Catalina Island, and went right past our destination for the night, Cat Harbor. So we had to take it down and motor into the harbor.
Cat Harbor is on the far side of Catalina from the mainland. It is much less used than the popular tourist destination, Avalon. Still, it is nice improved harbor, with mooring balls to make it easy to stop and stay. There is a road from the harbor to Twin Harbors, a small town like spot on the island with some shops and a bar. That was our destination for the evening entertainment. After all, it was Halloween, and what better place to be than a bar?