Catalina Island Time

We’re reading all these posts from cruising boats that are checking into Ensenada at this point. The Baja HaHa took off from San Diego on October 28, so they are all gone. But we are still here anchored off Catalina Island because, well, why not? We’re having fun and what’s the hurry? Compared to where we come from, this weather is downright balmy. Today the clouds have lifted and we’ve got sunny skies with puffy clouds and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. So we’re happy to hang out here for awhile in what feels like endless summer.

Yes! It’s a Bald Eagle! Eagle-eye Mike spotted this guy from the deck of the boat in Catalina Harbor. Bald Eagles were re-introduced to the Channel Islands. Due to human interference, they had been eliminated by the 1950’s. This is eagle number 82, as noted by the tag on its wing. We miss all the big eagles up in the Pacific Northwest so we were thrilled to see this guy.

The first time I visited Catalina Island was about 15 years ago when our son, Andrew, was about 10 or so years old. It’s too long ago to actually remember the year. Mike was in Newport Beach on business and we had come along with him to see the area. We took the foot ferry over from Newport and visited Avalon. The highlight of that trip was renting snorkeling gear on the side of the road and jumping in the water to see the fish and take photos with our cheap little disposable underwater cameras. It was great fun and I hope Andrew remembers it as fondly as I do. If you’d told me then that in the future I would visit on my own boat, I would have scoffed at you and thought you insane. But here we are.

I thought ‘Mourning Dove’ at first. But looking at the photo I think maybe ‘Eurasian Collared Dove’? Pretty anyhow.

We started our island tour at Catalina Harbor, on the ‘outside’ of the island. This place turned out to be just terrific. (But it was a seriously good call to enter this harbor during the light of day.)  It’s really well protected and we were able to anchor close to the hill just inside in about 20 feet of water with plenty of swing room. We could see the bottom in the clear, green water. But best of all is that this cove sports a real dinghy dock, the kind you can actually pull up to and tie off your dinghy. From there it’s a short walk across the isthmus to the little ‘village’ of Two Harbors, which is  more like a resort, really, than a town. The whole area has a ‘company store’ kind of feel since every building has to do with the tourist industry. There’s a laundromat and a general store with a few fresh items of food, as well as a restaurant/bar that has Happy Hour specials, even when there are hardly any tourists around like now.  We highly recommend their Chicken Taquitos with your beer.

The place is practically deserted. In fact, we had the use of these lovely Palapas which generally rent for 150$/day. Our price: 0$. After a challenging hike up to the peak of the mountain (the word ‘grueling’ actually comes to mind as you gain 1400 feet in altitude in 1.8 miles), we had our picnic lunch in one of these little units and then Mike stretched out for an afternoon nap on the divan while I hunted for rocks on the beach. It was lovely.

Just making ourselves right at home here.

All of these are empty. So fun!

I’m sure things will pick up a bit over the weekend, but during the week we really have been almost the only boat here.  We like that just fine. It means we don’t have trouble finding an anchorage, when there is almost no area for anchoring that is free of mooring balls. Seriously, can they fit any more mooring balls in this place? Is there any single area that is not fraught with these moorings but is still a desirable place to be? Of course, precious few of them have any boats on them right now. After a couple of days exploring the hiking trails at Two Harbors we are at Emerald Cove with its hundreds of moorings, all empty. If we wanted to tie up to one it would be about 50$ a night.  I’m not quite at the point in my life yet where it’s worth it to pay that amount for a mooring ball. Luckily, we have good anchoring gear on board so here we are.

A nice rewarding view after a tough climb. Can you find Galapagos down there in Catalina Harbor? This harbor has a number of boats on moorings but they look like they are permanently attached.

And the view in the other direction. The Trans-Catalina Trail goes along the topmost ridges of the mountains.

We’ve had two great days of snorkeling the rocky reefs here and we look forward to more snorkeling and hiking as we move along the coast of this beautiful island. We do want to visit Avalon, especially to snorkel there where Andrew and I had so much fun years ago. Sure hope we can find an anchoring spot close by. And I have to go to Moonstone Beach to find some moonstones. I found what I believe to be moonstone on the beach at Twin Harbors and it’s whet my appetite to go rock hunting again. I’ve been very good about not bringing rocks on board so far on this trip. But those days may be numbered.

Pretty Garibaldi, the California state fish.

It’s great to not have a schedule. I highly recommend it. Some day we’ll make it to Newport Beach and San Diego, then another day we’ll make it to Mexico. Meanwhile here are a few more photos. To get up-to-the-day photos, follow our Little Cunning Plan page on Facebook.

Our trail continues on. But we don’t.

The isthmus connects the two harbors: Catalina Harbor on the left, Isthmus Cove on the right. Note the trail up the ridge.

The magnificent Ribbon Rock, on the outside of the island close to Catalina Harbor. Incredible.



12 thoughts on “Catalina Island Time

  1. This post brings back a lot of fond memories — we spent a week or two anchored in Cat Harbor on our way north. So glad to hear you and Mike are enjoying yourselves and taking the time to see the coast. Sixty-eight and sunny sounds ideal, especially since we saw the first snow of the year yesterday (no accumulation at sea-level, but it’s really cold right now).

    • Cat Harbor was delightful. And MUCH better weather than Washington. Ugh, we’ve been watching the weather up your way and thinking we made the right decision to get out of there this winter. Stay warm and dry up there!

    • It’s really so lovely! We are sorry to leave Catalina Island behind. You should definitely plan a trip down, and I recommend the ‘shoulder’ season to avoid all the crowds during the summer months.

  2. We’ve been following you for quite a while. About a month ago we decided to head out instead of waiting another year, so Darrin sailed the boat from Seattle to Ensenada with a crew and I will follow in January. I know he would love to meet up with you there when you do head that way, he’s at Marina Coral.

    Love your blog!
    Darrin and Linda
    S/V Eione

    • Hi Linda! That’s wonderful that you decided to head out sooner rather than later. So far, we’re having a great time and we bet you do, too. We will be in Ensenada, all things being equal, by the first part of December. We’d love to meet Darrin!

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