Skip to main content

Feeling Blessed

Here’s what hit me on my last trip to Catalina. It happened on the wrap-up night of a Seawind Catamaran rendezvous, and we were six cats abreast, rafted in cozy Cat Harbor across a narrow neck from Isthmus Cove. The few scattered lights ashore stole little from a starry sky. The guitars and the singing went on for a bit. A few dozen people were sated by a potluck spread (and whatever else). Tales

Here’s what hit me on my last trip to Catalina. It happened on the wrap-up night of a Seawind Catamaran rendezvous, and we were six cats abreast, rafted in cozy Cat Harbor across a narrow neck from Isthmus Cove. The few scattered lights ashore stole little from a starry sky. The guitars and the singing went on for a bit. A few dozen people were sated by a potluck spread (and whatever else). Tales were told, all of them true, and the moon was high, and the cheer and the warmth and the music reached a crescendo. That’s when it hit me: This could have been any cruising hole anywhere.

Musket Cove, Fiji. Langkawi, Malaysia. La Cruz, Mexico. These people, these boats, this atmosphere could have been there or anywhere far from home. But we were not that. As my night ended, with a row ashore and a short walk across the island, I gazed across the water and there on the horizon lay the loom of all of Los Angeles. I could imagine, easily, the roar of traffic on the 405. So near and yet so far. No wonder people love to get away to Catalina.

Call it Santa Catalina Island, if you must. “Twenty-six miles across the sea,” more or less. Easily the number-one sailing destination in California. When Bogie and Bacall took time away, where else to go? Their 54-foot S&S, Santana , could find Catalina by herself.

Wherever you live, if you’re a sailor, you have your home waters, and somewhere toward a convenient periphery of those home waters lies the favored getaway, birthplace of summer legends. When Seawind Catamarans went looking for a Southern California spot for a rendezvous, there was the bad news—only one place to go—and there was the good news. They were going to Catalina.

On a clear day (they happen; no heckling, and by the way they’re gorgeous, so eat your heart out) Catalina is visible to a large portion of the 13 million inhabitants of greater Los Angeles. The island owns the seaward horizon for a jagged 22 miles, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to Catalina without hearing someone remark on the millions who live close by without discovering it, “but that’s all right.”

Outbound from Long Beach aboard the Seawind 1160 Paradise Express , we weren’t far gone when we were joined by the first of the dolphins. A multitude. Picture buffalo on the plains of yore. They surrounded us, churning the surface from horizon to horizon, with one squad or another peeling off to ride our double bow wakes. Cameras came out. Spirits, already high, rose higher. We crowded the bow to look down at our flippery friends looking up, and Heather Heffernan said it for all of us, “No matter how many times you’ve experienced this, you feel blessed.”

I could still make out the cranes of Los Angeles Harbor astern and, away to the north, the rise of the Pacific Palisades wrapping west toward Malibu. Truly, we were not far gone at all, except that as soon as you drop your dock lines, you’re away .

Related

promo-2048x

Just Launched Mid-sized Cruisers

With so many manufacturers dreaming up bigger production boats, more and more mid-sized cruisers fall on the smaller end of their lines. However, “smaller” does not mean less, and the tricks for optimizing larger models have helped with squeezing more enjoyment into less LOA. As ...read more

05-DSC_0638

Charter: Lake Tahoe

A sail on Lake Tahoe has been on my bucket list since the day I first laid eyes on it, and come hell or high water, I decided I was going to someday charter a boat there. North America’s largest and deepest alpine lake, Tahoe sits at 6,225ft above sea level and straddles the ...read more

East-River-Rapids

Escape from New York Part 1

I was never supposed to take my boat through New York City. After getting sucked backward through the Cape Cod Canal on my way south from Maine, when the speed of the current exceeded the maximum speed of my little electric auxiliary, I wanted nothing to do with Hell Gate and ...read more

LEAD-Celeste-in-the-Tuamotu

A Watermaker Upgrade

As a classic-boat sailor, I’ve long held that simpler is the better. I still think this is true: a simpler boat is cheaper, she has less gadgets to break down and there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing you’re able to handle a bit of discomfort. Thus, for a long time, I sailed ...read more

01-LEAD-IDECsport_180919_032

Sailing Speed Records

Although the 1903 defender of the America’s Cup, Reliance, was deemed a “racing freak”—the boat pushed design rules to their limit and couldn’t be beaten, at least in very specific conditions—designer Nat Herreshoff was nonetheless onto something. A century later, purpose-built ...read more

BVIFeetup

Chartering with Non-sailors

Three tips on managing the madness First-time charterers and first-time sailors aren’t at all the same thing. One group may struggle with beginner chartering issues, like sailing a multihull, catching a mooring or dealing with base personnel. For the other group, though, ...read more

AdobeStock_455372159

A Gulf Stream Crossing at Night

Even the dome of light glowing above the city behind us had disappeared as if swallowed in a gulp by Noah’s whale. The moon was absent. Not a star twinkled overhead. The night was so dark we could have been floating in a pot of black ink. The only artificial lights to be seen ...read more

00-Lead-549215sJL2uLEa

Summer Sailing Programs

Every year, countless parents find themselves navigating the do’s and don’ts of enrolling their children in a summer learn-to-sail program for the first time. While the prospect of getting your kid on the water is exciting, as a sailing camp program director, there are a lot of ...read more