After spending the weekend with my mom, grandma and uncle, Adam and I returned to the boat to find a hungry cat and an unbelievable sunset. We walked across the street to Hollywood Beach to witness the result of a week of Santa Ana winds blowing smog, dirt and dust from the mainland off shore. If only smog was always this beautiful.
We left Oxnard for Catalina early yesterday morning, hoping to get into the anchorage by the time the sun went down. We sailed for the first few hours until the wind died and we had to crank on the engine. It was the perfect day, so clear that we could see Catalina Island 44 miles away and so calm that it was like it was like motoring through a swimming pool. It was a beautiful trip from beginning to end, with the Channel Islands right behind us, the coast to the left and Catalina straight ahead. We were one of the few boats on the water, aside from a few ships in the distance.
We approached Catalina as the sun was starting to dip and the sky turned orange. The island was so close a powerboat could have reached it within minutes, and although the GPS told us we were a mere 5 miles away, the sun had long since set by the time we approached the harbor entrance an hour later.
When you’re on a boat entering a harbor or navigating an anchorage, everything changes once it gets dark. Small fishing boats look like cruise ships and navy ships look life floating cities – and sometimes the other way around. With the naked eye (our radar is broken) it’s nearly impossible to tell how far away things are. Boats that are miles away look as thought they could be feet from your bow. With harbor entrances, lights from the city will obscure lights from other boats and channel markers, making it difficult to distinguish one from the other…and don’t get me started with stars. A common exchange Adam and I have in these situations:
Do you see that light?
Oh wait, I just saw it but it disappeared. Ok, there it is – at 10:00!
I think that’s a star – but it’s really low in the sky. It looks too bright to be a boat.
What are those little lights behind it? Is that star/boat towing something?
Don’t know, can’t tell.
Are we heading right for it?
Don’t know, can’t tell.
Last January, we were doing an overnight trip from San Diego to Catalina and during my watch I saw what could only be described as a ghost ship or perhaps a UFO, which for hours on end was hovering above the city on the mainland and then disappearing. In the morning, I realized we’d been right next to LAX airport…I wonder if anyone on those planes had seen my ghost ship.
When we finally reached Cat Harbor we cautiously motored around the anchorage, avoiding anchored boats that were well lit and shadows that might have been boats. The anchorage was relatively deserted and so we settled on a spacious spot we’d anchored at before.
When I woke up this morning, I was anxious to look outside and see where we ended up. Thankfully as planned, we were indeed in Cat Harbor and had anchored with ample space between us, the shore, and the other boats.
It’s clear, gorgeous and unseasonable warm here. Over the next few days, we’ll get the boat ready to leave on a mooring in Cat Harbor until New Years, while Adam, Dana and I move back home for the holidays. In the meantime, Adam will install a solar panel to keep the batteries topped off and I will hang cd’s from the boom to keep the birds away – both equally important tasks, I’ve been told. Sad that our fall trip is coming to a close, we’ll be cleaning out the fridge, packing up our things and enjoying the last few days of what has been an unbelievable trip and a completely addictive lifestyle.