Sailing to Catalina Island March 13, 2015

So we had been planning a trip to Catalina Island for several months, even before we found our new Morgan. After we bought the new boat, we thought it would be a great time for a shakedown cruise, and it would be great to get out of the office and away from the mainland for a while.  We set aside five days to relax and have fun. Ahhh, but the best laid plans…

Morgan 41 Out Island

Morgan 41 Out Island

After stopping at Trader Joe’s to buy a few provisions, we drove down to the marina on Friday morning, Friday the 13th, and started to get our Morgan ready for our first real sailing trip aboard her. We didn’t need to bring very many things because we had moved quite a bit from the Columbia 36 onto the Morgan. We have many cases of canned fruit, chili, tuna, salmon, and vegetables, so all we really needed were some juices, eggs and steaks. We cleaned a little, loaded the provisions that we bought, tidied up the lines, and took the mainsail cover off. I went below and opened the engine room so I could check all the fluids, belts, and give her a once over. All looked good, so I cranked up the diesel and untied the lines. Away we went.

We motored through the Los Angeles harbor on our way out to the open ocean. We are about 40 minutes away from the breakwater, and that part of our trip is interesting because we pass many cargo ships, tall ships, passenger boats, ocean liners, and other interesting sights. Always a really busy port, so we have to keep a close watch for tugs and the like. It was really uneventful, which is a good thing on a boat. In fact Friday the 13th didn’t rear its ugly head until we pulled into Cat Harbor and tried to drop anchor.

Okay, so I should have checked the anchor chain before we left. I though about pulling it all out on the dock for inspection. I had taken a look inside the anchor locker, and after pulling out all the old life vests that were in there, the chain looked rusted, but okay. What I didn’t know is that under the rusted chain on top, lurked several balls of rusted together chain, and these balls of rusted chain were not about to fit through the anchor locker pipe. We first discovered the problem when the first mate went forward to drop anchor. She let out about 10 feet of chain and yelled back that it was stuck. I went forward and gave it a pull, to no avail. While the first mate manned the helm, I went below and found the problem with the chain.

Since we were really close to a mooring ball, we decided to hook to the ball and regroup. Choosing to anchor is not an economic decision, but a pride thing. We have always preferred anchoring out, but this time we were glad to have a mooring ball at our disposal. After hailing the Harbor Master several times on the VHF, and not getting a response, I pulled the boat around to the closest mooring ball, and the first mate pulled in the line to hook the bow. She then pulled the line along to the stern, but after pulling the line for a bit, came to the bitter end. Seems the stern line was broken from its anchor at the bottom. We decided to go ashore and visit the Harbor Master to make payment and let him know about the stern line of the mooring ball. When we arrived and told the Harbor Master, he responded that they knew about the broken line, and that we would have to move to the next ball over. That was fine, and we made payment for two days.

We returned to the boat and cranked the diesel to move her. First mate dropped the bow line and after waiting a minute for the lines to settle (they are supposed to have weights on them), I shifted into reverse so we could turn into position. Within a few seconds I heard the sound of a line being wrapped in the prop and shifted into neutral. Sure enough the stern line had not dropped and was wrapped tightly around the prop. I hailed the Harbor Master and he responded telling me that he would be out before he left to assess the situation. He later came out and said that it looked like we were secure enough for the evening, and that we needed to call in the morning to have a diver cut the line free.

Wow… What a Friday the 13th that was! We were tired and ready to just relax, and so we did. The next morning we called, and after a few hours the diver came and cut us free. mean time first mate’s cousin and her boyfriend had arrived in their Catalina 36 and taken a mooring ball. They invited us over for a great breakfast and we spent the better part of the day fishing and hanging out. We went to shore later and had dinner at one of the restaurants, which we paid for in return for the wonderful breakfast, and enjoyed the evening. As usual for Cat Harbor, the night was calm and we slept like babies, with Dog Friday crawling up between us. She’s a big baby.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that on the way over I noticed a leak in the salt water pump on the engine. It was squirting a stream of water into the bilge. That will have to be rebuilt. What else could go wrong?

Next up: Videos!