sailing homepage : trip reports : 1: sf to sd : redondo to two harbours

Oct 20: Passage from Redondo Beach to Two Harbours on Santa Catalina Island

It was a slow start on Wanderlust without Sean. We were both up with the sun and spent the morning chilling out, reading our books, having a nice slow breakfast, and we didn't get going until 10AM. Awesome! Sean's great, we're all getting along as a crew, but it's nice for Sara and me to have some time alone sometimes.

Bleary eyed in the morning


Sean and Duncan back at the boat

We pulled Purpeat up onto the deck, hauled up the stern and bow anchors, motored over to the dock, and were taking on fuel when Sean arrived. He had stopped at a grocery store and had some well-needed supplies. Welcome back, buddy! We're eating well, and it's always hard to keep the larder (and fridge) full.

Leaving Redondo Beach


Yummy lunch

Sara whipped up some deviled eggs (mmmm) as we motored out of the harbour, and we had perfect wind for a great sail alongside Beverly Hills - aptly described by Duncan as an "island floating inside LA". The hillside was lightly peppered with million-dollar mansions, totally different from the teeming mass of LA-proper.

LA is crazy. I've had the pleasure (misfortune?) of spending some time there on business, and I've noticed that the SoCal scene is very different from NorCal. The few natives we met confirmed our suspicions: they're looking out for themselves first, they won't let you get a word in edgewise, and they're awfully plastic looking! It's cool to see how the other side lives, but I didn't get the "man I want to live here" feeling at all.

Grinding the jib sheet


Perfect sail trim

From Redondo Beach, Santa Catalina island is something like a 6-hour sail. We had great wind, first 30-degrees off the nose that had us on a gentle close reach, then moving back to the beam for some nice speed. The swell and wind waves weren't significant, and we ripped along!

The pics below show what the helmsman on Wanderlust sees: an instrument panel just behind the wheel that displays our position, our speed, the depth, and all sorts of other information (water temperature, waypoint details, etc). This display is wonderful for navigating unknown waters - as almost all waters are to us now! - and it's also good for showing off how fast we're going with just 15 knots of wind!

Our instrument panel


Approaching two harbours: 6.4 knots!

Santa Catalina island is a SoCal mecca: it's more than two hours from the mainland, it's rugged and beautiful, and best of all: it's not over-developed. Two Harbours is the northerly port, and Avalon is the more exciting southerly port, but the whole island consists of coves and little places that would be perfect for anchoring.

But ... there's really no room to anchor. None. The conservation group that manages the island has put hundreds of mooring balls in all of the coves and protected harbours! In Two Harbours, for example, there are 400-500 balls in the three or four different anchor spots. It's crazy! Beautiful harbour, uninhabited island, hundreds and hundreds of little white balls (usually with mega-yachts attached) in neat little rows.

We were nervous about getting a slip so we had called them every half hour on the way over. I guess they only use low-power handheld VHFs - it makes sense, they run a first-come, first-served operation. Still, that doesn't help nervous out-of-towners. We were all stressed that we wouldn't be able to get a ball!

Bird Rock on the way in to Istmus Cove


Istmus Cove (Two Harbours)

No worries, it was less than half-full!

We weren't sure how to do anything, how to grab a ball, what to do, but the harbour masters took care of us. They met us at the entrance to Istmus Cove, directed us to the mooring ball, took our cash, wrote us a receipt, and even helped us correctly pick up the ball! It's a cool system with a float, both a bow and stern loop, and two concrete anchors. It puts all the boats in neat rows, all pointing the same direction.

Harbour Master boat coming over


4th of July Cove

We parked it, immediately put Purpeat in the water and went exploring. Our cove, the 4th of July Cove, was smaller and a little out of the way. Perfect! We checked out the mega-yachts, made our way over to the main harbour, and dinghyed around drinking a beer or two.

Will and Sara in Purpeat


Sean leaning back and enjoying

There was an Island Packet meeting going on, and those boats are just beautiful. We tooled around and totally enjoyed checking everybody out. There were a few wooden boats in cherry condition, outshining even the newest, cleanest, shiny-est all-plastic jobby.

We got a little crazy.

Crazy Sean


Crazy Will

After an hour of zipping around we were back to our beautiful wonderful Wanderlust. Some huge 70-ft yacht had parked in front of us - later we found out they were full of girls on a charter - but we weren't outshone, not even close. Our beauty boat stands her own and looks great. The more I look at her from afar, the more I appreciate her. Yep, I'm in love.

Upturned nose, lower beam, nice ass


Excuse the diesel dirt on the transom