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Sailing to Catalina Island?

Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
I'm a newbie sailor who just finished the ASA 101, but I would like to make my first voyage. I own a 1985 Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 which, I have heard, would be fine for sailing far even across oceans. My top priority is safety, so if it is very dangerous, I can wait until I get more experience. My boat is docked in Marina del Rey. I want some adventure, so should I sail to the island, or should I just sail to an easier place, maybe King Harbor. My boat has a Garmin chartplotter, VHF with a 2' antenna (17 nautical mile range), and the other safety stuff. I've heard it's about an 8-hour sail there and about the same back.

Am I ready? What's the best season to go? Will a storm come out of nowhere? Any tips?
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes: jon hansen
May 25, 2012
3,806
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
nice boat. what fun. definitely go. leave at dusk, arrive the island in the morning. weather? i'm a great lakes sailor.

we want pictures. we like pictures ;)
 
Jan 19, 2010
9,950
Hunter 26 Charleston
Weather windows are much easier to research than they were in the past. Here is one great site


There are many more and if you start a thread on sites and/or apps to have, you will get a lot of good advice. I have the NOAA radar app on my phone and at least for the first 5 miles, you will have cell reception. I also have Navonics. It gives me really good chart data and since you really only need to see the botom contours when you are near shore, the phone seems to be a workable solution for me.

On the topic of safety: If I were planning this trip in a new-2-me boat, I'd want to do a few things first
  1. Practice your reefing techniques and get all of the bugs worked out.
  2. Have two sets of reef points in the main and if you don't have a roller furled headsail, then get a smaller headsail for heavy weather sailing. A sailboat that can keep moving forward in a blow is MUCH more comfortable than a boat bobbing about in rough seas.
  3. Practice hove-to manuevers in various sea and wind conditions. If you get caught in a blow that exceeds your comfort levels reefed, you may need to park your boat and wait it out.
  4. If you are not going to have a EPRIB then at the very least get one of these... you can find them cheap on ebay.

 
Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
Thank you so much! I totally forgot about EPIRB's, I'll get one of those. I'll keep practicing my reefing because, surprisingly, I have never tried reefing at sea (only in the slip)!
 

Dave Groshong

SBO Staff
Staff member
Jan 25, 2007
1,787
Catalina 22 Seattle
I would go for King's Harbor for your 1st trip, only 21 miles downhill, and the sight of land might be comforting. The wind is notoriously light at night, and lots of fishing boats, so daytime is best. Just plan on using a little bit of engine on the return uphill leg. Catalina Island is a good trip too, and usually a nice beam reach both ways, 41 miles each way, so 8 hours is doable, but I would plan for and count on 10-12, just so you don't get stuck out at night.
 
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Likes: LloydB
Jan 19, 2010
9,950
Hunter 26 Charleston
Thank you so much! I totally forgot about EPIRB's, I'll get one of those. I'll keep practicing my reefing because, surprisingly, I have never tried reefing at sea (only in the slip)!
EPIRB is the gold standard. I own two Gen 3 Spot devices and my family has used them with great success on some deep woods back packing trips. The newer spots allow you to text but the Gen 3 does not. The spot I have sends a micro-burst to a satallite which triggers a webpage to send a prerecorded message. You have to pay for the service and it is not very expensive because it uses such a small amount of satallite bandwidth. The Gen 3 has three buttons. One you use to signal that everything is okay. It sends up to 10 people this message along with a GPS mark on a map showing your location. The second button is the help button. You use it for NON life-threatening events. Lets say your rip your sails and the motor wont start. You are not in imediate danger so you send for "help". The third button is 911 and will send the med-vac chopper. Spot sells an insurance policy as an option so that if you do use the 911 you won't have to sell your house after they save your life. :yikes:
 
  • Like
Likes: SailorElliot
Jan 19, 2010
9,950
Hunter 26 Charleston
Even if you get the EPRIB. The spot is a nice way to put loved-ones at ease. You can click the "i'm okay" button as often as you want and so people know you are okay. They will also have a nice map showing your treck over time with exact GPS coordinates.

 
Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
I think that the Spot seems like a great option! Do you recommend getting the third or fourth generation?
Even if you get the EPRIB. The spot is a nice way to put loved-ones at ease. You can click the "i'm okay" button as often as you want and so people know you are okay. They will also have a nice map showing your treck over time with exact GPS coordinates.

 
Jan 19, 2010
9,950
Hunter 26 Charleston
The newer ones sound cool but I've never played with them. The Gen 2 and Gen 3 have about the same functionality. Here is a Gen 2 on eBay


so I have been on both ends with this device. There was a time when my son was doing some very remote field work in an area known to have cayote, bear and rattle snakes. He would be out for weeks at a time. I was glad he had my spot device with him. On one occasion out in the woods, my son let the battery on his truck run down. He used the "send help" button and someone went out and gave him a jump. I think they are cheap insurance.
 
Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
Great, thanks!
The newer ones sound cool but I've never played with them. The Gen 2 and Gen 3 have about the same functionality. Here is a Gen 2 on eBay


so I have been on both ends with this device. There was a time when my son was doing some very remote field work in an area known to have cayote, bear and rattle snakes. He would be out for weeks at a time. I was glad he had my spot device with him. On one occasion out in the woods, my son let the battery on his truck run down. He used the "send help" button and someone went out and gave him a jump. I think they are cheap insurance.
 
Jun 11, 2004
1,199
Oday 31 Redondo Beach
I'm a newbie sailor who just finished the ASA 101, but I would like to make my first voyage. I own a 1985 Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 which, I have heard, would be fine for sailing far even across oceans. My top priority is safety, so if it is very dangerous, I can wait until I get more experience. My boat is docked in Marina del Rey. I want some adventure, so should I sail to the island, or should I just sail to an easier place, maybe King Harbor. My boat has a Garmin, VHF with a 2' antenna (not sure about the range), and the other safety stuff. I've heard it's about an 8-hour sail there and about the same back.

Am I ready? What's the best season to go? Will a storm come out of nowhere? Any tips?
Assuming it is in decent shape that's a very safe and sound boat.

"Am I ready?" That's up to you. How many hours do you have sailing the boat? Do you feel comfortable on it? If you are prepared and pay attention I think it is less dangerous than driving to the marina.

What's a 2' antenna? Is that a handheld? For going to Catalina I would recommend you have a fixed mount VHF with DSC and make sure you have your MMSI programmed to it and the GPS hooked up to it (if not integral to the VHF).

FWIW I sail from King Harbor and have cell coverage the full way to the Isthmus at Catalina (T-Mobile). But I think you still want the fixed mount VHF.... EPIRB, PLB or SPOT would be gravy but I think the odds of needing it don't result in it being on the "must have" list.

By Garman I assume you mean a GPS? That's good. I assume you have a compass too.

If you refer to a couple of the widely available weather resources for planning you probably won't need to reef but as said above being able to reef at sea is probably something you should know how to do regardless of where you go.

MDR to King Harbor is only about 8 or 9 miles each way so can be done round trip in a day sail. If you want to spend the night you can hook up to a mooring. Might be a good first overnighter. Not much "adventure" there in my opinion but there are several good restaurants and you can walk to the Hermosa pier area for some nightlife if that's your thing. You would need a dingy or kayak to get to shore but there are very few places to land. You can drive there from MDR in 20 minutes.

The Isthmus / Two Harbors would be your best bet at Catalina. About 30 miles from MDR so should be reachable in 6-7 hours or so. I would motor sail if necessary to keep the speed up to 4.5 - 5 KTS. The friendly harbor folks (VHF 9) could help you pick up a string line "mooring" and you could almost walk to the beach from there. Shore boat service is available. Not a lot of facilities there but everything you really need. A restaurant, bar, small store, good hiking and snorkeling.

You want to avoid fog so don't forget to check the weather reports for that.

When in doubt go behind the tankers and container ships.

If you internet search first time sailing to Isthnus Catalina there is lots of information, tips advice.

Have fun.
 
Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
Thanks! The boat is in great shape. I bought my boat very recently, so I don't have much experience with it. Here is the link to another post I made about my antenna. I meant a Garmin chart plotter instead of "Garmin." Again, thanks so much everyone for all of your great advice!

Assuming it is in decent shape that's a very safe and sound boat.

"Am I ready?" That's up to you. How many hours do you have sailing the boat? Do you feel comfortable on it? If you are prepared and pay attention I think it is less dangerous than driving to the marina.

What's a 2' antenna? Is that a handheld? For going to Catalina I would recommend you have a fixed mount VHF with DSC and make sure you have your MMSI programmed to it and the GPS hooked up to it (if not integral to the VHF).

FWIW I sail from King Harbor and have cell coverage the full way to the Isthmus at Catalina (T-Mobile). But I think you still want the fixed mount VHF. EPIRB, PLB or SPOT would be gravy but I think the odds of needing it don't result in it being on the "must have" list.

By Garman I assume you mean a GPS? That's good. I assume you have a compass too.

If you refer to a couple of the widely available weather resources for planning you probably won't need to reef but as said above being able to reef at sea is probably something you should know how to do regardless of where you go.

MDR to King Harbor is only about 8 or 9 miles each way so can be done round trip in a day sail. If you want to spend the night you can hook up to a mooring. Might be a good first overnighter. Not much "adventure" there in my opinion but there are several good restaurants and you can walk to the Hermosa pier area for some nightlife if that's your thing. You would need a dingy or kayak to get to shore but there are very few places to land. You can drive there from MDR in 20 minutes.

The Isthmus / Two Harbors would be your best bet at Catalina. About 30 miles from MDR so should be reachable in 6-7 hours or so. I would motor sail if necessary to keep the speed up to 4.5 - 5 KTS. The friendly harbor folks (VHF 9) could help you pick up a string line "mooring" and you could almost walk to the beach from there. Shore boat service is available. Not a lot of facilities there but everything you really need. A restaurant, bar, small store, good hiking and snorkeling.

You want to avoid fog so don't forget to check the weather reports for that.

When in doubt go behind the tankers and container ships.

If you internet search first time sailing to Isthnus Catalina there is lots of information, tips advice.

Have fun.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,078
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
May I suggest your first adventure be to Dana Point, and not Catalina. Eventually you will get there, but until you get a little more seasoned, stay close to land.
 
Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
That seems like a good idea, it could also maybe be to King Harbor.
May I suggest your first adventure be to Dana Point, and not Catalina. Eventually you will get there, but until you get a little more seasoned, stay close to land.
 
Sep 15, 2016
612
Catalina 22 Minnesota
So just a random question for you. Why such an advanced micro cruiser for a first sailboat if your still new? A flicka is the rolls royce of the small sailboats and capable of more miles at sea than most of us internet sailors will ever have. Not to mention they tend to be a bit spendy to match thir build quality and petagree. So without a great knowledge of sailing why did you choose such an advanced boat? Just curious that all and no disrespect intended they are a fantastic yacht.

In regard to your question about Catalina. The Boat will survive the trip for sure. Your confidence as the captain is what should be your focus. When you feel ready, Go you will never regret it and next time you'll be headed for the other channel islands.
 
Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
Honestly, I mainly cared about two things: the looks of the boat and safety. First of all, the looks of the Flicka are just amazing. And the safety of the Flicka is also great, I mean, it can go basically anywhere! I actually didn't expect to buy this boat, it just happened that the buyer before me couldn't buy it, so the seller gave me one chance to buy the boat before he posted it online, so I did.
So just a random question for you. Why such an advanced micro cruiser for a first sailboat if your still new? A flicka is the rolls royce of the small sailboats and capable of more miles at sea than most of us internet sailors will ever have. Not to mention they tend to be a bit spendy to match thir build quality and petagree. So without a great knowledge of sailing why did you choose such an advanced boat? Just curious that all and no disrespect intended they are a fantastic yacht.

In regard to your question about Catalina. The Boat will survive the trip for sure. Your confidence as the captain is what should be your focus. When you feel ready, Go you will never regret it and next time you'll be headed for the other channel islands.
 
Mar 6, 2008
680
Catalina 1999 C36 MKII #1787 Coyote Point Marina, CA.
Judging from the level of sailing instructions I received from my sailing school for 101 and boosted confidence they sold me on, I would not try such a trip at this point. I recommend postponing it until you have 104 bareboat level.
If you like to get on the ocean, ask an experienced sailor neighbour to make the trip with you
A 20 foot sailiboat can handle waves that are just over 6 feet. Very quickly you will loose controll and ask for help.
Let us know what you decided.
Have fun.
Haro.
 
Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
Thanks for the advice! That makes a lot of sense, I just feel the urge! I would probably go in the summer, so we'll see if I will go closer to then.
Judging from the level of sailing instructions I received from my sailing school for 101 and boosted confidence they sold me on, I would not try such a trip at this point. I recommend postponing it until you have 104 bareboat level.
If you like to get on the ocean, ask an experienced sailor neighbour to make the trip with you
A 20 foot sailiboat can handle waves that are just over 6 feet. Very quickly you will loose controll and ask for help.
Let us know what you decided.
Have fun.
Haro.