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BajaDriver

Catalina Trip Planning

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We are planning a trip with our friends who have a 24ft Monterrey and out boat to trailer to LA and boat over to Catalina Islands for a weekend. 

Do any of you have any words of wisdom when it come to planning?

I am set up with VHF and GPS, I noticed many use inflatables to get to docs after anchoring. 

 

Your input is greatly appreciated

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Sounds like a great trip!  I've never done Catalina , but a few of us have done the Bimini run out of Ft. Lauderdale (just over 40 miles).  I'd say you're on the right path.  Many will also say get a personal distress beacon (EPIRB).  I'd think it depends if you're going alone or with a group (I know you said there was one boat going with you, but unless there are also more larger more capable boats, I would get one for the two of you).  We also took a life raft.  As a perk of being in aviation, we borrowed one otherwise I probably wouldn't have bothered since we were in a group of 10 boats, but it gave us some added comfort.

Read up on how to take the swells (beam sea, following sea, use of trim tabs, etc.)  Lot of good reading material out there.  

Use Navionics web app to completely familiarize yourself with the trip (https://webapp.navionics.com)

Make sure your chartplotter is updated and have a spare (navionics on tablet or phone is great)

There will be many more seasoned respondents to your post, but these are the basic ones I followed planning the Bimini trip.

Oh, and take lots of pics!!

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We used to do this trip quite a few times a year. We've since moved to the Pacific Northwest and Catalina trips are ALWAYS missed. Here's a few words of advice:

1) Check weather ahead of time. Sometimes, Catalina looks like a stones throw away because it's so clear. Sometimes, the fog rolls in and things get scary. We've made the crossing in extremely dense fog (200 foot visibility) and I will never do it again (we do NOT have radar). It CAN be done if you go slow, but it doesn't make for a fun crossing.

2) Check for Santa Ana winds. If the Santa Ana's are blowing, DON'T GOT. Just do some Google searches of Avalon Harbor and Santa Ana winds. The winds blow directly into the harbor and after blowing for 25 miles across the open ocean, the harbor gets nasty. 

3) The easiest way to get to/from the shore is on a dingy, but they DO offer a shore boat service. I believe it's $4-5 each person, each way, so it adds up quickly. If you're regularly going to go to the island, I'd invest in a dingy. You can call the shore boat on Channel 9 and they will pick you up within 5 minutes.

4) Not sure if you're staying overnight on your boat, but if so, they do offer on shore shower/bathroom facilities.

5) Memorial Day to Labor Day is the hardest time to get a mooring in Avalon Harbor. Two Harbors (for a 24' boat) usually has vacancy year-round.

6) Try the Buffalo Milk drinks! They were created on the island and worth a taste. 

There is a TON of shopping, eating and drinking that can be done in Avalon. It's a very lively city and although it's less that 30 miles from Los Angeles, you feel like you're in another world. Two Harbors (opposite end of the island) is much more quiet, with only one restaurant/bar and a small shop. There's lots of hiking trails and the water is crystal clear.

Let me know if you have any more questions!

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