Grinding the winch in light winds.
We left the Ventura Harbor early in the morning to make sure we had enough daylight to travel the nearly 70 miles to Santa Catalina Island before nightfall. I have sailed to Catalina many times in the past 40 years (OMG 40 years!), but this time - January - was the BEST. Brilliant blue skies, clear water, a warm breeze, and great views across the channel towards Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands. All was mellow. We were looking forward to some peace and quiet at Twin Harbors on Santa Catalina. As we approached we called the harbor patrol and were told there was a threat of a Santa Ana and it would be best for us to take cover on the west side of the island and to pick up a mooring at Cat Harbor. Santa Ana winds are powerful winds that whip up quickly in the fall and winter. They come over the desert head northeast roaring down over the Santa Ana mountains. Gusts from 25 to 60 knots can reek havoc in the Channel Islands. Both main anchorages at Catalina, Twin Harbor and especially, Avalon are at risk. Who are we to disagree with the harbor patrol - so we did a 180 and headed around to the more protected backside of the island. The change in itinerary presented us with a spectacular red sunset, but also meant we entered Catalina Harbor in the dark. We had to thread our way to the assigned mooring ball using our Chartplotter, which is great, but I always prefer eyeballing anchorages as we enter them. Only a handful of boats were there, so the job wasn't too tough. After an 11 hour passage from Ventura we were tired and hungry and glad to be out of harms way if the dreaded Santa Ana winds materialized. They did not.
Spark goes nowhere without his Lambie and Blankie.
We all slept well knowing we were in a secure harbor. Bright and early the next morning Spark was most anxious to get off the boat and run about. So were we. The island is lush GREEN, the greenest I have ever seen it. SoCal had a lot of rain in the previous weeks turning the hills emerald, the flora and fauna big and bright, and the red clay ground muddy.
Faster, Faster Dad! I gotta go!
Flora and Fauna
Firepokers & those purple thingies that butterflies love.
It's a 10 minute walk from Cat Harbor across the isthmus to Twin Harbors, and every inch of the walk is splendid. Winter here is utterly fantastic. It's quiet and peaceful, an extreme contrast to the hordes of summer-folk who flock here in their boats. In January, there are few tourists, some hikers or divers enjoying the island beauty, but mostly it's the full-time islanders that work here. What a life! A few years ago, D almost had me convinced to do this. He had his application already to be a harbor patrolman, I wanted a house. And the rest is history. And we are both content. Right now, we feel like we are cruising again, and glad to have the house sealed up, and back on board El Tib.
The only people on the pier! A winter blessing.
The poor ole lonely harbor master. Not.
Empty mooring fields that will be packed in 6 months.
All checked in and paid up - we thought $51.00 was steep for a mooring in the winter, but in reality who can complain? Not us. We were ready for a nice long stroll, being on the lookout for the local buffalo who roam the countryside. Fun to spot. We saw a big guy grazing on the hillside as we landed the dinghy onshore. But, we are also a bit leery, since a couple of years ago the oldest-biggest-baddest buffalo gored a tourist! Yikes! They are supposed to be able to run very fast! So we keep our distance and eyes peeled.
Buffalo prints. Nothing to laugh at!
Strange, but true the harbor restaurant serves Buffalo Burgers. $11.50.
Regular hamburgers are only $8.50.
No Thank You!
Buffaloes like the beach just as much as anyone else.
Now, back to our walk.
Spark, unaware of the buffalo lurking in the background,
is poised to run!
is poised to run!
Land's End. Spark loves to pose.