Catalina Island Nor’easter and Hike

Four of us and Lucy the chocolate dog made an overnight passage on the Western Flyer to Two Harbors; just in time to catch our west coast version of an early morning nor’easter.  A nor’easter is a type of storm that mainly affects the northeastern part of the U.S. along the east coast.  As warm air from over the Atlantic clashes with cold arctic air to the north and west you have a nor’easter.  The storm gets its name, mainly from the northeasterly winds that blow in from the ocean, ahead of the storm.  Perhaps by coincidence our 10 knots of wind came in sometime in the wee hours of the night producing only a light chop that pettered out in about an hour or two.

Just as we motored into two harbors I switched the VHF from channel 16 to channel 12 to secure an overnight mooring; catching a conversation that went something like this.  “Do you think it’s safe to spend the night at Cherry Cove with that 10 knot nor’easter, due in later in the evening?  I’m a 32′ Nordic tug.

I smiled a little not thinking much further than knowing that 10 knots of wind is not really more than a gentle breeze whereby leaves and small twigs move, light weight flags become extended and large wavelets, crests start to break, perhaps causing some whitecaps.  Also keep in mind that yours truly just last Saturday jet skiied from Long Beach, California to San Diego and back on the same day.  Follow the link below for the full story.

wpid-wp-1411957009200.jpeg A flag blowing in a gentle breeze!

Though the seas were particularly calm with some 1 to 2 with mid channel 3 to 4 foot swells on our water crossing to Two Harbors my entire crew succumbed to mal de mer.  What may sound to you like a Cuban food dish that we later cooked, it is not.  Joe the Hiker kept his mal de mer in check by staying on the lower deck bow area.  Dramamine and a steady dose of wind on the face was his saviour.  The two boys kept their mal de mer in check by slowly making their way to their overnight bunks and crashing out till we hit landfall.  Lucy the chocolate lab fared great compared to the prickly pear spines she encountered on our hike.

The picture below of prickly pears and somewhere in their midst is a chocolate lab waiting to get pricked.  The recent rains caused the entire area to sprout of prickly pears.  Here they are seen growing rather proud, armed with their two kinds of spines.  Large man hunters and smooth fixed spines for low furry creatures.  If those don’t get you then the small, hairlike prickles called glochids, that easily penetrate skin and detach from the plant – will!

Prickly pears are native to the Americas, and found in abundance in Mexico.  Thankfully, Lucy will not be making that cruise.

Isthmus & Cat harbor Hike

Isthmus & Cat harbor Hike

When we arrived at Two Harbors by dinghy there was only one other sailboat in the mooring field and one dinghy on the dock.  What started out as a let’s just touch land and see how we feel before lunch turned out to be a fantastic (cool 60 degrees) hike.

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When we finally made it back to the boat it was time for linner (lunch plus dinner).  No holds were barred, almost everything brought over was cooked including tostones.  Tostones are fried plantain slices, a popular side dish to many Latin American countries.  The rest of the menu included, white rice, lentils, hot dogs, asada meat, salad with avocado and tomato.  Our desert was supposed to be mango paletas.  A paleta is a Latin American ice pop made from fresh fruit.  Basically a little flat stick onto which is frozen an ice cream type substance – mostly fruit.  Somehow the freezer that froze everything else refused to freeze these guys, so we broke out the Oreos instead.  In the rare instance that someone reading this does not know what an Oreo is here goes:  An Oreo is a sandwich type cookie that consists of two chocolate wafers with a sweet white cream filling.  They come in pairs, triplets or quadruplets so as to keep you from only eating one.

After dinner fishing was completed in twenty minutes:  Two sea lions, a pelican and several seagulls made sure that our fishing time was kept to a minimum.

As the crew of the Western Flyer left Two harbors we willingly the USCG to a requisite boarding.  Joe the Hiker and the two boys enjoyed filming this particular event.  Sorry to say I had better things to do with the boarding party than take pictures or video.

Poor guys must’ve scoured the island for boats to board.  Unfortunately, no one told them about the nor’easter that scared everyone from an extended Martin Luther King holiday at the island.

From the USCG web page:  Once aboard the vessel, the boarding party will check for
compliance with federal laws. If, during the inspection, a reasonable suspicion develops that the vessel has been engaged in criminal activity, the boarding officer may
investigate further. Coast Guard boarding officers are trained to be courteous to the public.

The Coast Guard strives for a proper balance between avoiding intrusions into the activities of law-abiding individuals and conducting effective law enforcement.
Occasionally, however, the Coast Guard will receive a complaint that a boarding was conducted improperly.  These complaints involve a very small fraction of all
boardings. Nevertheless, any complaints of boardings contrary to Coast Guard policy will be investigated.

These guys were great, and are welcome aboard the Western Flyer, anytime.  Did you know that on an average day, the Coast Guard saves an average of 10 U.S. lives and assists almost U.S. 200 boaters in distress.