Catalina Harbor is on the western side of Catalina Island facing the ocean. Directly across from Catalina Harbor on the west side is Isthmus cove. Between the two harbors is Two Harbors, a spot with a bar, hotel, and some shops. There are about 75 moorings in Catalina Harbor as well as an anchorage, it isn't small. It was nearly empty when we came in though. The Anchorage was near the entrance, quite a long way from the dock where we would land the dingy. The mooring field was nearly empty, with only 2 or 3 other boats. We opted to take a mooring very near the dock to avoid the long trip in the dingy. We learned the next morning when the park ranger came to collect payment that the mooring was for 60' boats, and even though Eliana was only 38' I was required to pay the higher price. Again, I think that it was worth it because it was so much closer to the dock.
After mooring, we deployed the dingy. Travis had brought an inflatable dingy, and Eliana had a 5hp outboard. This was my maiden voyage on Eliana and I had not yet tested the outboard. I was mostly expecting that it wouldn't run, as the previous owner told me that it hadn't been started in about 10 years. Amazingly, it started on the first pull. However, there was a crack in the fuel tank, so anything more than about 1/4 tank would leak out. For our purposes of getting to and from the shore, that would work for us. After grilling some burgers, we headed to shore in the early evening.
It was about a 10-minute walk to Two Harbors. Although, there was no activity or other people at Catalina Harbor, Two Harbors was full of activity. It was Halloween, so people (not us) were in costumes. We could see Isthmus Cove was full, it was much nicer where we had moored in Catalina Harbor. We browsed the shops and I bought a shot glass, before we ended up at the bar. There was about a dozen people and a pool table, so we drank, socialized and shot pool for a couple hours.
It was well after dark when we left. We walked with a group of people from the bar to an old historic lodge at the top of a hill. I must admit that we were drunk and this is all pretty hazy. The group of us were trying to get to the top of the hill to watch some holiday event but I don't remember what it was. I do remember that there were probably 50 of us sitting and socializing outside waiting for the start. Afterwards, we did a self-guided tour of the lodge. It was a log cabin sort of place, very nice and expensive looking to stay at.
I was the first person up the next morning. I organized and cleaned up around the boat, and cooked eggs and bacon for everyone. This is one of my favorite times cruising. Before anyone else is up and everything is quite and calm. The park ranger came around and collected payment for our stay for the night and by late morning we were on our way out of the harbor. Just outside the harbor we encountered a pod of dolphins. 6 or 8 of them. After a very short discussion, Travis and Michelle jumped in the water with them. Perhaps, it isn't safe or smart to swim with wild dolphins, but how often do you get the chance? After a bit, Travis took over the helm, and I jumped in with my Garmin camera to try and get underwater video of the dolphins. I failed, but it was a great experience.
We headed south along the west shore of the island, to Little Harbor. Little Harbor is a small protected cove, with nice beaches, and no moorings. It also has a rocky bottom with some large boulders. After setting the main anchor off the bow, we set a smaller anchor off the stern to prevent Eliana from swinging into the boulders. For safety, I noted some bearings of some landmarks so I could tell if Eliana dragged anchor and moved.
There is no road access to the harbor from shore. There are some hiking trails and one group was camping, but we must have scared them off as by the time we got to shore they had packed up and left the whole cove to us. This was a really nice place, and we all got some hilarious video on the dinghy ride to shore. We each took selfie video, with each of us in the background, holding a phone taking video. Once we were ashore, Michele and I hiked around while Travis surfed the cove. We attached my Garmin camera to his surfboard for some great shots of his surfing.
I did not sleep well that night. This was my first-time anchoring Eliana, and it was fairly close to some rocks. I woke several times and checked our position. As the tide came in, the stern anchor started dragging, and Eliana started to drift toward the rocks. I pulled in about 30' on the anchor rode to try and reset the anchor, and it dragged with little effort. I woke Travis, and he took the dinghy to retrieve and reset the anchor. While he did that, I started Eliana's motor and backed down against the bow anchor. Thankfully the bow anchor held, and I could swing the boat to port, away from the rocks. When Travis retrieved the anchor, he found a rock had wedged between the anchor spikes, preventing it from digging in. After pulling the anchor back to its original location, he dropped it and is set quickly. The anchor held, but I didn't sleep the rest of the night.
As we left the next morning and headed out of Little Harbor, we tried our hand at fishing. We had a very simple rig. About 75' of dacron line, with a short bungee cord at the boat end tied off to a cleat. We snagged a couple smallish but big enough to eat fish. By snagged, I mean that the hook went through the side of the fish, as if they swam too close and the hook snagged them. In any case, we made an amateurish attempt at cleaning them. We didn’t have a good place on board to clean them, so we just used the stern of the boat as a cleaning table. Blood went everywhere, and by the end it looked like a murder had taken place. It was fitting for the day after Halloween.
As we continued south along the west coast, I thought that maybe we could tow someone on Travis’ surfboard. I can waterski and kneeboard, but have never surfed before. I thought that at least I could use the surfboard as a kneeboard, even if I couldn’t stand on it. Travis made up a tow rope, and I jumped in the water. I was easily able to knee board, and tried several times to stand up, but was unable. Travis and Michelle, both surfers, could stand and surf behind the boat. I also learned that Eliana’s full throttle top speed while towing a surfer was 8.5 kts.
Our destination was Avalon, the main harbor at Catalina Island. We were only stopping there for fuel, before crossing the channel back to Marina Del Rey. The fuel gauge was reading a full tank, but we didn’t trust it. In our haste, we forgot to check fuel before we left Marina Del Rey, and had been motoring for a few days, so a full tank did not seem likely. We stopped a few times to rest and take pictures on our way to Avalon.
Avalon Harbor is a large harbor with hundreds of moorings. It was full this weekend. It was a challenge just to maneuver though the mooring field to get to the fuel dock. Aside from the moored boats, there were dozens of boats improperly stopped in the channel, and boats like us struggling to maneuver through it. When we finally made it to the fuel dock, we took 40 gallons. Eliana was empty, it was good we stopped when we did. Oddly, the fuel gauge slowly moved from full to empty as we filled up. The fuel gauge was working backwards!
From Avalon we headed back to Marina Del Rey. The trip seemed to take much longer on the way back. We relaxed, grilled some burgers, and enjoyed some beverages for most of the trip. At nightfall, Travis and Michelle took a nap and I stayed on the helm. I watched a meteor shower, and spent some time with the GPS, learning all of the menus. It was well after dark when we made it to port and began the drive home.