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Sailing to Catalina Island?

Oct 22, 2014
15,853
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
A 20 foot sailiboat can handle waves that are just over 6 feet. Very quickly you will loose controll and ask for help.
Joe, I wonder about this statement. The Flicka has carried sailors across oceans. Certainly a 20ft breaking wave might give a novice sailor concern, but a 20ft swell would be like riding a bike up and down a hill.

More importantly if you plan to venture beyond the marina break water you need to know how to pilot a boat over waves, even the wakes of the cargo ships doing 15-20 knots in the channel.

If you set your 20ft Flicka up to sail across open water (ie. Closed ports and companionway) so water stays outside the hull, operating engine, sails and wind to drive the boat, properly secured to the boat with tether and harness, well away from a Lee shore you should be able to survive the sea. Even if you meet a breaking 6ft wave abeam and it knocks the boat on its side, the Flicka design should right the boat and continue on to her port.
 
Jul 27, 2011
4,529
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
Congratulations on the boat! You’re getting some good, and some odd, advice here. The rhumb from MdR to Isthmus Cove offers a great opportunity for sailing in prevailing afternoon winds, even if a bit far (long sail) for a 20’ heavy-displacement sloop, albeit a very well-found one. Load up on high-tech “rescue equipment” :pray: if you wish but not having it should not deter your attempt. The Flicka itself is your safety net, so to speak. Better to learn your seamanship.

Allow six, maybe seven, hours to cross on a bearing to Emerald Cove which I guess is about 200 deg M if you can hold it. Leave at noon if you want to wait for the prevailing afternoon wind, but BEWARE arriving after dark. If it strengthens too much in mid-afternoon, bear away toward Avalon (i.e., Long Point) if past mid-channel and if you don’t mind going there. You will be taking seas, if present, on the stb beam or quarter until you fall under the lee of Catalina Island, which extends out maybe 5 n. mi. from its shore. It gets better (lower seas) as you close the island and progress further to the SE at the same time.

But. There’s nothing wrong with a shake-down cruise before crossing the channel. From MdR I’d pick Paradise Cove under Pt Dume for “adventure.” It’s a 15 n.mi. reach in prevailing southwesterly afternoon wind. That’s 10 (or more) n.mi. shorter one way for you than the run to Isthmus. Anchor the night, so have your ground tackle up to snuff. You’ll want about 150 ft, at least, of rode. It’s kelpy. If you do have to call for assistance you’ll still be in Santa Monica Bay, easy deployments for USCG and BayWatch. Also, your VHF is enough to call for assistance. The most important thing is that you can tell them your location. Just don’t say: “Well, I can see Pt Dume!!”
 
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Mar 26, 2021
7
catalina 28 marina del rey
Sent you a pm. Interested in sailing to catalina also. In marina del rey. Perhaps we can buddy boat to lesen risk.

Have sailed to catalina before.
 
Nov 23, 2018
2
Catalina 22' Los Angeles
hello I have the exact same questions as you have my boat is only 18 the prior owner sold it to the channel Islands and beyond. I did an overnight or hankering to Paradise Cove and honestly in the amount of time it took and beating up Wind it would have been better for me to just go to Catalina. I plan to do this trip also for my first trip- maybe we can do a caravan. Also curious on what people recommend for a dinghy inflatable to have on board for such a small boat? i’ve seen people throw these behind their small sailboats but seems like it would create drag and risk following the prop if the motor needed to be on etc.
 
Jul 27, 2011
4,529
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
hello I have the exact same questions as you have my boat is only 18 the prior owner sold it to the channel Islands and beyond. I did an overnight or hankering to Paradise Cove and honestly in the amount of time it took and beating up Wind it would have been better for me to just go to Catalina. I plan to do this trip also for my first trip- maybe we can do a caravan. Also curious on what people recommend for a dinghy inflatable to have on board for such a small boat? i’ve seen people throw these behind their small sailboats but seems like it would create drag and risk following the prop if the motor needed to be on etc.
Try a 6.5-ft Zodiac Cadet, slat floor. Also, you could be beating to Catalina Isl. depending on when you go , etc. A Catalina (Capri) 18 will take a long time to go anywhere far.
 
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Dec 23, 2018
3
Newport 17 Mobile
As a newbie I sailed out of Newport Beach on a 25' American Mariner to Avalon as my first over the horizon trip. I had the confidence of youth & ignorance and figured if I missed the island all I had to to was turn around sail east and I had to hit the coast somewhere. I had a wonderful 3 or 4 days there before returning. By the way this was 1978 and all we had then was a compass. Bottom line with GPS and all the other equipment you have available I would only be asking myself when not if I was leaving. Good luck, have fun and I wish you fair winds & following seas
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,990
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
I don't think a ASA 101 course is enough to do an open water cruise solo. I think you'll be happier doing some shorter cruises to gain some experience.
No one has mentioned an autopilot. You'll want one or you will be tied to the helm. Since you're looking at solo sailing you need a plan to stop the boat when on autopilot if you are MOB.
 
Jul 27, 2011
4,529
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
In conditions, even if the autohelm could be disengaged somehow and the yacht rounded up for a few seconds, it would likely still blow out of one’s swimming range rather quickly. If tethered yet half over a side:yikes:, it could make the difference if the yacht stopped sailing.
 
Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
I don't think a ASA 101 course is enough to do an open water cruise solo. I think you'll be happier doing some shorter cruises to gain some experience.
No one has mentioned an autopilot. You'll want one or you will be tied to the helm. Since you're looking at solo sailing you need a plan to stop the boat when on autopilot if you are MOB.
First off, I’ll be sailing with someone else (although I’m a bit more experienced then them). Also, I have a tiller autopilot (although it can’t turn into irons if needed or completely let out the main sheet).
 
Sep 15, 2016
614
Catalina 22 Minnesota
First off, I’ll be sailing with someone else (although I’m a bit more experienced then them). Also, I have a tiller autopilot (although it can’t turn into irons if needed or completely let out the main sheet).
Having 2 on board will help and if you choose your weather window you should be fine. A couple day sails to get used to the boat and go have fun. Its only like 20 miles or something to the Island so easily doable in a day. Be prepared to motor a bit though as winds are often not favorable.

One word of advice is to know your charts as there are a few shipping lanes in the channel. At the end of the day though sailing is about untying your lines and heading out for adventure.

Post Pictures of your trip!
 
Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
Having 2 on board will help and if you choose your weather window you should be fine. A couple day sails to get used to the boat and go have fun. Its only like 20 miles or something to the Island so easily doable in a day. Be prepared to motor a bit though as winds are often not favorable.

One word of advice is to know your charts as there are a few shipping lanes in the channel. At the end of the day though sailing is about untying your lines and heading out for adventure.

Post Pictures of your trip!
Believe me, this whole thread Will be full of pictures! I’m super pumped about it and I’ll to do a few more day sails and try to make it to Catalina this summer. When is the best days of the week/times to leave for steady wind and low waves?
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,853
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
, I have a tiller autopilot (although it can’t turn into irons if needed
Most Tiller AP's can be set to hold a course bearing. If this bearing is into the prevailing winds, you should be in Irons.

Do you have this capability?
 
Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
Most Tiller AP's can be set to hold a course bearing. If this bearing is into the prevailing winds, you should be in Irons.

Do you have this capability?
Yeah, it can. Sorry, I meant that it doesn’t know how to stop the boat (i.e. Go into irons) if someone goes overboard.
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,853
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
When is the best days of the week/times to leave for steady wind and low waves?
The conditions you seek are not "day of the week" or "clock" dependent.

You need to examine the weather to the West of the islands and see what is coming towards you. Watch how the winds in the channel develop and what weather conditions cause the winds you seek.

NOAA and Windy are both great resources for the info you seek. NOAA has an app called NOWCoast nowCOAST™: NOAA's Web Mapping Portal to Real-Time Coastal Observations, Forecasts, and Warnings. You get the local weather and if you click in the channel you get a link to a descriptive report of the weather now and expected.
NOWCoast.jpg


Windy at WINDY.COM is provides easily assessable weather data in a graphical easy to understand presentation. You can select a site, as I did here, and then zoom out to see the big picture. You can move the time scale and watch what happens over the period you plan to be gone.
Windy1.jpg


Windy2.jpg
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,853
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I meant that it doesn’t know how to stop the boat (i.e. Go into irons) if someone goes overboard.
Yes. That is a risk associated with solo sailing. You need to work on contingency options.
  1. I tether onto the boat.
  2. Some pull their raft or tender behind the boat as a last place to grab if they go overboard. I gues you could drag an inflated inner tube is you did not have a raft.
  3. I wear a dry suit. (water is cold year round up here in the PacifiNW)
  4. I wear my PFD all the time.
  5. I carry a VHF radio.
  6. I carry a knife.
  7. I carry a Personal Locator Beacon. ResQLink 425 Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon | ACR ARTEX
  8. I move about the boat with handholds. Pulling up on the life lines as I move forward. This pulls my feet down to the deck.
  9. I think about the edge of my boat as a 500 ft cliff. I plan to stay on the boat.
  10. If I go into the water, I expect the boat to continue on coarse. That is why I carry the equipment to help me rescue myself in the water.
Being a solo sailor includes risks and the reward of visiting places even if crew is not interested in joining you.
 
Jan 18, 2016
664
Catalina 387 Dana Point
A trip to KH or Pt Dume sounds great to gain confidence while keeping shore in sight. Also fun, reasonably easy daysails. OTOH, people go over on jetskis and lake boats. It's not like going around Cape Horn.

From my home port (Dana) a Catalina trip is usually started early in the AM, because usually the wind is dead on the nose and it's a tough beat to sail, so lotsa motor during the calm morning. From MDR (King and Long beach too) you've got lots better options for dealing with the prevailing wind out of the west. I would not do an overnight passage for the first trip - i.e. go in the daytime. I don't mind nighttime, but SWMBO really doesn't - and picking up the mooring/anchoring in the dark is more difficult. Also, the pictures of the trip kinda suck. :)

As KG points out, it generally gets more sporting in the afternoons.

As jssailem points out, windy.com. Pick a decent window. More sporting at the island usually than on the mainland. Do not go in strong/severe Santa Ana's. Only cat harbor (the 'back side') is safe then.

Day of week? I'd recommend a mooring for your first few trips. Moorings are tough to get sometimes on weekends, impossible on holiday weekends. Can be reserved at Two Harbors for fri/sat. If'n you go over on a Tuesday and you'll get your pick. Go to How To Pick Up A Mooring - Avalon, California to see how to pick up the two-line moorings that are used. With crew aboard it's not too hard unless you've got a wicked crosswind.

Harbormaster/patrol for Two Harbors is ch 9. If you need assistance mooring, let em know it's your first time and if they're not real busy they're happy to help.

Stay far away from the giant ships, shipping lanes are indicated on your charts.

We're headed over tomorrow for a week or so.
 
Mar 25, 2021
61
Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 Marina del Rey
My plan was to go to Isthmus Cove from Marina del Rey, but after buying a nautical chart I found that the trip is pretty much beam to the waves which is pretty uncomfortable (because I have a very slight fear of heeling/waves), almost as much as the route to King Harbor. Do you guys think I should sail a broad reach to Avalon, or just learn to sail on a beam? Also, what are people’s favorite routes (pictures would be great!)?