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Cat Harbor for Winter Anchoring

Discussion in 'Destinations' started by Kings Gambit, Dec 7, 2016. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    1,774 posts, 139 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Ventura Harbor
    The best cruising destination near here for late December is, in my opinion, Cat Harbor at Santa Catalina Island. It's a south-facing, all weather, harbor where you can either anchor or take a mooring; so you don't have to fret (too much) about being chased out due to impending inclement weather, including the dreaded Santa Ana (northeasterly) winds of southern California's winter through spring months. It's only 35 n.mi. from Long Beach around Catalina Island's west end; and about 70 n.mi. southeasterly from Ventura Harbor. A little far, but worth the trip. A great place to inaugurate the new year especially if trekking across the isthmus to the village of Two Harbors for the traditional merriment there on New Year's eve.:yeah:
     

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    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
  2. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    1,209 posts, 171 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Pretty sight. I'd drop a hook there.
    Don't the winter storms come up from the southwest? Remember that some of the best waves on Coronado happened up near the Naval Base with the southerly facing beach.
     


  3. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    1,774 posts, 139 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Ventura Harbor
    More like the southeast/northwest, as it does up your way. If it's too lumpy out by the entrance one can move in behind the sand spit on the left (above picture).
     

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    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
  4. Alan Gomes

    Alan Gomes

    Joined Nov 22, 2011
    452 posts, 34 likes
    Ericson 26-2
    US San Pedro, CA
    Cat Harbor can and has gotten some extremely nasty storms from the south. In those situations the conditions in there have gotten quite ugly. Fortunately, such occurrences are not common. The cove does offer protection from the SW. And it's a great place to be in a strong Santa Ana. It is easily the most protected harbor on the Island.
     


  5. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    1,774 posts, 139 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Ventura Harbor
    From Two Years before the Mast
    Thursday, November 12. "...Towards noon, the clouds hung heavy over the mountains, coming half way down the hills that encircle the town of Santa Barbara, and a heavy swell rolled in from the south-east." After casting off their anchor and clearing out fast, Dana writes... "During all this day, and the greater part of the night, we had the usual south-easter entertainment, a gale of wind, variegated and finally topped off with a drenching rain of three or four hours."
     


    jssailem likes this.
  6. Alan Gomes

    Alan Gomes

    Joined Nov 22, 2011
    452 posts, 34 likes
    Ericson 26-2
    US San Pedro, CA
    Yup. Very typical. And then it commonly clocks around to the NW.
     


    jssailem likes this.
  7. Rick D

    Rick D

    Joined Jun 14, 2008
    6,020 posts, 43 likes
    Hunter Legend 40.5
    US Long Beach, Shoreline Marina, CA
    I think you have a photo of our boat in that photo. The sailboat in back of the (former) Cal YC facility docks. That's our mooring.
     


    Kings Gambit likes this.
  8. Joe

    Joe

    Joined Jun 1, 2004
    5,847 posts, 104 likes
    Catalina 27
    US Mission Bay, San Diego
    South swells are a summer phenomenon... waves generated from tropical storms off mexico and central america. Winter all our weather comes from the Pacific Northwest, i.e gulf of alaska... although they will be preceeded by southerly winds from the approaching low pressure systems. (counter clockwise rotation)

    As KG notes, however, Catalina Harbor is all weather... Many consider it the best natural harbor on west coast. Not as popular or crowded because it's on the opposite side of the island... 95% of Catalina's anchorages are on the north side, facing the mainland.
     


  9. Skipper

    Skipper

    Joined Oct 9, 2008
    1,040 posts, 67 likes
    Bristol 29.9
    US Dana Point
    It's also hidden.
    Without charts or GPS, a first time visitor might sail past it. The entrance, even as close as a half mile off, looks like part of the mountain. It enters at an angle, obscuring the path.
    I like the quiet. So don't tell anyone else about it :-D
    It's so laid back, that you might see the harbor patrol cruising in his patrol boat wearing nothing but a towel --- pics
     

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  10. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    1,209 posts, 171 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Thanks for the pics, but the last one looked a little scary... One of those chances for way too much information.
     


  11. Rick D

    Rick D

    Joined Jun 14, 2008
    6,020 posts, 43 likes
    Hunter Legend 40.5
    US Long Beach, Shoreline Marina, CA
    Yup, that's Harbor John. Great guy and not too bashful :yikes::clap:
     


  12. walt

    walt

    Joined Jun 1, 2007
    2,695 posts, 121 likes
    Macgregor 26S Hobie TI, Capri Coronado 15
    US Denver, Colorado
    A few more of that spot from July this year hiking over from Ismuth side. The last picture is looking at the coast just to the south east. This time of year and that spot are a little too intimidating to me.. but its good to at least read about it here and what a great place on the planet....
    cat_harbor1.JPG cat_harbor2.JPG cat_harbor3.JPG
     


    Rick D likes this.
  13. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    1,774 posts, 139 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Ventura Harbor
    Yeah, as Skipper was saying, sailing SE along the coast you do not even know there's an opening until passing Cat Head there, then looking back north into the harbor. Nice pics. Can't wait to go again!!:yeah:
     


  14. Skipper

    Skipper

    Joined Oct 9, 2008
    1,040 posts, 67 likes
    Bristol 29.9
    US Dana Point
    About anchoring:
    There are 2 anchorages, both fantastic unless there are other boats there :-|
    The anchorages are small. Also, the one in front of the spit is a little deep, about 30 feet min to 60+ as you get farther out. Correct me, this is from memory when sounding for a spot.
    So you'll have to let out some rode, which means even less room for additional boats.
    The other anchorage is to the west behind the mountain. Very safe nook in almost all conditions. But small. And I think most anchor bow and stern there.
    I read in a guide once that there is anchorage for something like 200 boats, which is utter nonsense in my view. More like 25, if they're all experts at anchoring, including some who have a lot of chain.
    In front of the sand spit, you can fit maybe six comfortably if you're swinging. Positioned like a 6 dice.
    You can see 2 boats anchored there in my previous picture post, in front of the old building. To the left of the sailboat is the island. To the right of the powerboat is the channel. You might squeeze one more boat in the middle there. And 3 more in front that have chain.
    The wind pipes through there from the westerlies at 20+ knots frequently. Not a problem in that usual wind, for it's not accompanied by wave action. Still flat and nice. But you'll need a good anchoring for the wind. I just get a mooring behind the sand spit anywhere between there and the dinghy dock a few hundred yards to the north. Walt's picture shows that safe area.
    The whole harbor is pretty much flat and pleasant all the time, except certain times of year, when you need to be behind the spit.

    These are my views. I'd like to hear others.
     


  15. jeepbluetj

    jeepbluetj

    Joined Jan 18, 2016
    158 posts, 27 likes
    Catalina 30
    US Dana Point Dana Point
    Quit telling everybody.. I hope to make it out there sometime after xmas. (No plans, just watch weather and go)
    Pretty long trip from Dana Point - but if there's no santa anas forceast I'll stop on the front side.
     


  16. Skipper

    Skipper

    Joined Oct 9, 2008
    1,040 posts, 67 likes
    Bristol 29.9
    US Dana Point
    Us So Cal-ers should make a fleet of it. Maybe Gambit and the others too. Like you said some time after Christmas.
    From Dana Point, it's shorter, and better wind angle, to sail around the southeast side of the island about 5+ miles past, and then tack straight into Cat Harbor. Even if it gets late on these short winter days, you can always just motor 10 miles into the wind along the backside shoreline, instead of the tack.
     


  17. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    1,774 posts, 139 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Ventura Harbor
    Skipper,
    This is the way I see anchoring in Cat Harbor. The area inside the oval where the red stars are is best IMHO. You might need bow-stern out if others are there, but also to keep your distance from the white sea bass pen there in the midst of the area. Toward the middle it is deep, as you say. Plus, you have to leave a path for the transiting boats. If you get all the way across to the east where that boat is, it's shallower. You're much more in the wind there with whatever wind chop or spray that might come with it. Whether or not 200 boats can fit within or near the rhomboid is another question. Perhaps, if someone is "directing traffic." I was once in a 4-boat raft there near the southern-most star for two nights. Very stable; quite nice.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016
    Skipper likes this.
  18. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    1,774 posts, 139 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Ventura Harbor
    The cold front blowing through on Saturday promises winds to 35 kt into Cat Harbor arriving from the south followed by lots of rain, daytime temp to 55 deg on Sunday under strong NW wind. I suppose for a northern Californian or Canadian that's no big deal, but we turn on the Espar at 60 dego_O! I think we're passing on this part of the experience:banghead:. Might not make my 47 nights; perhaps after Christmas it'll look a bit better:pray:.
     


    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
    Rick D likes this.
  19. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    1,774 posts, 139 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Ventura Harbor
    Arrived in Cat Harbor on Christmas day 2016. Three nice days were followed by cold, wet, and overcast ones thru this morning. :mad: Anchored out by the entrance for 5 nights, then took a mooring next to friends. Cold wind at times; rained fairly long and hard on Thursday night, I believe. Not many folks there! Too brrr! Do not try this at home w/o heat!!:yikes:
     


    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
    Rick D likes this.

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