Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Out to Sea .. You and Me and the kids

I have dozens of pictures from this weekend’s sail to Catalina. I’m feeling too lazy to write much tonight, but the pictures need few words. The Island is every bit as magical as it looks. The trip in our little seaworthy sailboat took about six hours, and other than a little boredom at times, it wasn’t too bad. It was a lot like camping in a 70s family station wagon. But like any good camping/road trip adventure, whatever the trip was lacking in comfort and practicality is being rapidly replaced by nostalgic memories.

So I’ll just narrate and let the pictures talk.

Leaving Marina del Rey Friday morning around 10 a.m.

This was Kip's one birthday wish, to take the family on a sailing trip to Catalina Island.

At the onset of the journey we were worried that our son might be miserable. In the past he had been extremely anxious on the sailboat, screaming so much that we renamed the horizontal level, which measures the boat's tilt angle, the "scream-o-meter," because almost religiously, when the meter crossed 15 degrees tilt, the poor little boy would scream hysterically.

So much so that I refused to take a family trip to Catalina until he was more comfortable.

About an hour into the trip we passed the seals hanging out on the red buoy near the Chevron oil tanker off Dockweiler Beach. We have been this far several times before. We bark at the seals. They bark back. It's what we do.

BTW -- Notice the smog we are leaving behind in LA, and not the dragon from Hobbit, as our son pointed out.

This was Kip's biggest fear -- crossing the shipping lines. I had never thought about this danger, but it makes sense. Boats don't really have brakes, they just swerve out of each other's paths.

This little sailboat was not so worried. We held our breath while we watched. He made it.

Playing Authors, somewhere between the coast of Palos Verde and Catalina Island. At this point we can't see land. "Ahh ... do you have the Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?"

Yeah! Land Ho! We aim for the little indent in the middle of the island -- Twin Harbors.

Our son got frightened for a few minutes early in the trip, but was able to calm himself and actually really enjoyed the ride.

We arrived in Twin Harbors around 4 p.m., making it a solid six hour trip, not too bad for a little boat, calm seas and little wind. Our outboard motor helped quite a bit.

After arriving at the Harbor we were given a mooring spot, where we tied up and then inflated our dingy and rowed to shore. That sounds more simple than I meant for it to be. Let me translate: after sailing six hours on the sea, the only way to step onto land was to inflate another boat and climb into it (without any kind of ladder), avoid knocking any family members out of the little boat and row to shore.

The humble little sailboat watched us row away.

Once on the Island, I had to run just a little. We found a little family restaurant and had a great little dinner and then rowed back in the dark to our sailboat and climbed back on board. Nobody got wet, which was good since we then had to transform the boat into a hotel room.

I'm a little bit too big for this bed in the bow, but, oh well.

This little snuggle bug usually climbs in bed for a morning hug, but this morning he actually came with a different message: I have to pee and the potty is under your bed. So much for trying to sleep.

I have to either stick my head out the bow or walk out to the stern to stand up straight and access the morning. Our son is already singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning!" And it's hard to be unhappy with that music filling the boat.

The harbor at dawn's early light. If you look carefully you will see there is a man in a Speedo mopping the deck of his yacht. I've never woken up to that sight before. Boat camping is weird.

Breakfast aboard the ship. I think I've become immune to any rocking by this point.

I'm feeling the need to stretch after a night "sleeping" on the boat. Of course I have to balance on the bow to have enough room to stretch.

The kids decide to play in the dingy and Kip and I discuss if we should head back home now that we have successfully made it to Catalina. He is worried that foggy conditions could make Sunday's trip home dangerous. As we discuss it, a heavy white fog descends on the island. The choice has been made for us and we decide to stay another day and hope the fog clears.

I convince Kip to head back to shore for coffee at the restaurant and then a spontaneous four hour hike along the Catalina roads and trails. After about an hour of walking, my daughter said she wanted to run, so we ran ahead of the boys for a mile or two.


By the time we got back to the sailboat, the fog had settled heavily in the cove where we were moored. The neighboring sailor assured me that it was "very unusual." Of course Kip told him this was our first family sailing trip and I think he felt responsible for assuring I'd want to come back.

See the fog bow?

For dinner we were back at the same family restaurant. And then we rowed back to the saiboat, climbed aboard and found it much easier to sleep on the second night. Our trip had definetly taken on that intimate squished in a car/tent/boat feeling of communal peace and togetherness.

By morning the fog was not gone, but we decided to follow another sailor out into the open waters and hope the predictions for a clearer day were true.

By this time Kip was looking a little more salty. Give him a few years and he might look like a sailor.

Our son was feeling completely comfortable on the boat.

I just like to take pictures of her smile. And that is a cool tall ship in the back ground. We think it had been chartered for a private party. Kip and the kids saw people diving off it into the mist.

The trip back was a bit chillier, with cloudy skies and grey water. But we found several "schools" of dolphins who kept us company. Kip got this video while I was holding the tiller. And if you are still reading, here is your treat.


  1. Theresa,
    Thanks for sending this! Jeff and I both enjoyed it. I have memories of that same dolphin kind of experience in Puget Sound when I was River's age. What a great family memory!!

  2. Theresa, your dad sent me a link to your blog, and I read it all. The trip to Catalina looks delightful - I envy you the experience - and I really enjoyed the slices of family life and the thoughts you shared. Great Uncle Dave Abell

  3. Thanks for sending this and posting the Pictures and video. What a wonderful memory for everyone! I am delighted to see you all and the happy, peaceful moments together as a family....
    Again happy birthday, Kip.
    Love, MOM H.

  4. Nice post - sailboat pictures ..Keep Posting

    sailboat pictures