SUBJECT: 1st Annual Catalina PWC Camping Trip – 08.23.2009

You smell that? Do you smell that? Sage, son. Nothing in the else in the world smells like that. Why I love the sweet smell of “sage” in the morning better than any other island smell. And to top it all off - this entire weekend camping trip smelled like nothing but victory to me.

There is nothing like that sweet smell of sage in the morning; while riding out to Two Harbors, for a great cup of Sumatra and breakfast. Victory at how lucky we are to really enjoy and appreciate life; and how lucky we are to live so close to Catalina Island. This morning while on the ride over to Two Harbors from our Italian Gardens boat-in only camp site I slowed way way down to deeply inhale that only you can describe aroma of possibly all the sage plants native to California in one big whiff.

About eighteen (1 sages are native on the island and along the coastal areas extending into the upper desert. These drought resistant plants can live up to 30 or more years but, don’t wait that long to get to the island for your own smell.

The announcement went out: If you’ve ever had the urge to rough it for a weekend on your PWC then save Saturday/Sunday August 29/30, 2009 as a ride and camp weekend out to Catalina Island. No WIMPS please. The location is known as Italian Gardens (Waypoint N33.24.58 W118.22.55) as I’m sure you’ll see and the pictures will tell; we ate well; had fantastic weather and amazingly calm seas. Why outside of the boat made waves the ocean was totally lake like the entire weekend. The 0700 departure turned into the 0800 departure while we struggled to load it all on board four PWC’s and a Hydro Trailer.

It took everyone else about the same amount of time when we got there to figure out their own anchoring set up that we all should know. That is part of what this weekend was really about. Our opportunity to get out, learn and practice the basic fundamental skills of seamanship that every offshore PWC rider should know. To say that the ability to anchor correctly opens up a number of options for you is truly an understatement. Anchor gear (ground tackle) varied with this group. A boat without an anchor may have only two options if they encounter a mechanical. The boat can wash ashore (see picture) of the sailboat that did wash ashore. Or option two is the boat can just slowly drift out to sea. Neither choice is a good choice.

Take a look at what (West Marine) has available for you as there are various anchors that include a Danforth, plow, Bruce, Grapenl, Claw and more. Once anchored it was time for a quick ride over to Avalon to pick up I’ll call him Doctor Nick; from the Avalon ferry. Chase and I enjoyed a drink or two at the Divers Bar while waiting for Doc Nick to show up. It’s very easy to be confused with divers in this outdoor bar – toss the vest and you too can be a diver. Lunch was a combination of brats smothered with onions and peppers over a coal fire served on flour tortilla shells and mustard. We could’ve fed 30.

Next trip was over for a visit to Two Harbors. I’ll call him Jeremy Racer – another friend of Chase that had never made it to the island before. My candidate as a future LB2CAT racer as he quickly mastered the Yamaho SHO and moved on to Ultra Ken’s 250X. We hauled over 20 extra gallons of fuel which the Seadoo and Yamaha’s sipped; can’t say the same for the Kawasaki. The Ultra required another eighteen gallons of fuel at Two Harbors for just a short bit of riding to Avalon and beyond.

If you look at the scenic aerial pictures we took it’s because we (Chase/Nick and yours truly) did one awesome climb up an intermittent stream bed. Elevation gain was about several thousand feet and possibly a two mile climb. We looked like quite the hikers mismatched in our water boots and camo boonie hats.

No one showed up to catch fish for our dinner but we enjoyed the Cornish game hens just the same – or better. Dinner included the game hens smothered in olive oil doused with some great Pusser’s Island spices. Jasmine rice cooked with peppers and onions and potato salad. No need to make it over to Avalon for dinner as we were all stuffed.

Thanks Chase for setting up the reservations and getting people worked up about this little trip that so few showed up to enjoy. Besides the seamanship skills learned it sure took a bit of organizational skills to pack it in/out, set it up and enjoy. This group is ready for a redo in the not too distant future.

Do you smell that? Sage SoCal. Nothing else in the world smells like that. You too will love the sweet smell of “sage” in the morning better than any other island smell – but first you have to pay your dues and get there. Victory I tell you. This entire weekends camping trip smelled like nothing but victory to me.

See you on the water!


SIDE NOTES: Ryan Levinson – a challenged athlete. While waiting for our other riders to refuel at Avalon a guy in a wheel chair started a conversation. He told me he followed all our riding stories on the internet. Seems Ryan has made quite an impact. This guy I spoke to is a surfer who became mostly paralyzed below the waist during a surfing accident. Google Ryan and 2009 LB2CAT for more information.

Another thing I heard everywhere we went is what I refer to as the how fast/how far questions. Any of you riding over to the island – STOP – you are embarrassing many of my yacht club boaters and their friends. In the past they had way too many excuses before heading over to the island and back. Now that they see more and more PWCoffshore riders getting to the island and back they are getting bolder in their custom offshore bluewater yachts with fewer excuses.
Upcoming Island Events Microbrew Fest; September 19th – visit the island to celebrate the 7th Annual Microbrew Fest in the delight of hand crafted microbrews, while being entertained by live music. Located on the main beach at Two Harbors. If you love beer this is for you. However, not cool to boat and drive!

October 2009 - Buccaneer's Day; October 3rd

Argh Mateys!! Only two of us made it over to the island last year for Bucaneer Days. If you are a true offshore rider and come near to ever flying the flag or calling yourself Pirate then this 20 year old event is for you. Find the write up I did for last years Pirate Day event and you can get an idea of how crazy this place turns out.
Next Dana Point to Oceanside and back race. 55 mile round trip race.

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