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Monday, September 13, 2010

9/12 Marina Del Ray to Catalina Island

Today we arrived at Two Harbors, Catalina Island. On our way here we saw our first Blue whales as we passed over Redondo canyon where the depths dropped right out from under us and completely off of our sounder. They make our resident San Juan Orcas look like harbor porpoises. Huge, beamy and the exact color of the sea. In the same area we also noticed some strange schools of fish there. Not sure what they were but they were in small schools right on the surface, their dorsals fining the surface as they seemed to stay in place. They looked like a school of fining fish heads.

Catalina is beautiful but it is very different from anywhere we have ever cruised before. This island like Santa Cruz is covered with desert plants, cactus like prickly pear and huge palm trees. Unlike Santa Cruz island though Catalina has lots of people. Twin Harbors is the smaller of the two towns on Catalina. Twin Harbors has two restaurants and a general store, a main dock that gets regular boats from the mainland, a dive shop, kayak and mountain bike rentals, cabins for rent, and lots and lots of people. There are miles of roads and trails to walk and evidently –buffalo.

When we got here we called the Harbor Patrol as suggested in the book and they came out and walked us through the mooring technique. The buoy you are assigned to has a pendant attached which looks like a crab pot flag without the flag. So with Bill driving I grabbed the pendant and quickly grabbed for the attached line. This line is attached by a heavy line to the buoy which is attached to a block of concrete on the cove floor. That line is then cleated down as you throw the pendant back into the water. From the cleated line another line runs aft- the sand line. You grab hold of the sand line and then walk aft until you reach another loop which again you attach to an aft cleat. We are now securely positioned between two hunks of concrete and one floating buoy in a neat little row in the middle of a mooring field that holds over 270 other mooring buoys all their own neat little rows. It’s a bit like being in a trailer park. We made immediate contact with our closest neighbors then later met a couple from the UK and then on our evening walk we ran into Pat and Rick who we met at Ventura Yacht Club.

We spent the last day and a half as the only guest on the guest dock at Marina Del Rey. It was warm and sunny as we sailed in but the sun soon set and the next day we woke to find that we’d brought the gray cloudy skies right along with us from Ventura and Santa Cruz.

As soon as we’d shut everything off and began to settled in for the evening I began to hear an odd noise through the hull. At first I thought it was a ticking and clicking coming from the cooling engine but it soon became apparent that it was a noise coming thru the hull. We have heard stories from other cruisers about shrimp making noises that you can hear but we had never experienced it. I tried looking in the water, even laid down on the dock to peer as deep as I could but could not see anything at all in the water. The noise was a very distinct snap, crackle and pop sound that continued the whole time we were there. Going to sleep at night it sounded like we were curled up in a bowl of Rice Crispies cereal.

On our first morning we grabbed out bikes and headed out early for Venice Beach, the Fremont of Southern California. We arrived pretty early and the beach front was still mostly asleep. People were slowly beginning to set up booths and display their goodies along the walkway but mostly it was filled with the throngs of So Cal out for their daily fix of the good life. Lots of walkers, joggers, beach bikes, surfers and roller bladders’ filled the paths and all the Venice rec courts were full of handball players and hoopsters. We were so early and it was so gray and cool that most of the families and even the beach bums were still asleep. It was a great ride though and I bet we put on a good ten miles.

Southern California is a haven to bums. It must be the mostly benign weather. They seem to fill every park in every beach town and most are pretty up front about their agenda. We have seen lots of signs asking for money to get drunk or buy dope and even heard a fellow at Venice singing a lively tune of “Jingle bells, jingle bells help me get drunk!” Way off key but honest and forward.

Bill had memories of Venice beach from the 70’s as a rather wild and crazy place that was infamous for their “freaks” on parade along the beach front. Sort of an anything goes and let’s show it off kind of place. They still play to their legend with a beach walk “freak show” for the price of a ticket but it felt petty much like every other large beach front town. I suspect if it had been a hot summer day things would have been a bit livelier. There were a larger number of people obviously living on the edge of society (mostly still sleeping or sitting in small quiet groups) but mostly it was just shops selling t-shirts and bikinis with a few food stands sprinkled along. Even the wafting smell of pot wasn’t any more prevalent at Venice Beach than any other stop we have made in Ca.

Some how we have managed to make it all the way from Neah Bay to Catalina without buying a single t-shirt. Maybe I am not doing my part in holding up our countries economy.

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