Long Beach to Catalina Watercraft Ride

The weather at Long Beach, California, Saturday, 21 May 2022 is now calm, the sky is pale, light to dark brown and rainy looking with visibility stretching for ten miles. The shipping forecasts is usually such, that if you wait for a good one you might never leave the safety of the land or the interior waters of the breakwater. Von just pulled up towing his, new to him Kawasaki Ultra 310 jet ski.

We launch from the Davies Harbor Launch ramp. It’s a perpetually long no wake zone out to the ocean on Marina Drive in Long Beach. Along the way we see all kinds of activities taking place both on Alamitos Bay and near the waters edge. Waiting for a seat for breakfast seems to be a popular Saturday morning pastime for many people. We spot fishermen, kayakers, sailors, about two dozen people training on separate Hawaiian outrigger canoes and paddle boarders.

The other launch ramp in Long Beach by the Queen Mary let’s you exit the calmer interior of the longest breakwaters in the world out of the Queen’s Gate lighthouse, which is a Robot Light house, that turned 70 years old this year. The“Robot Light” or “Long Beach Light,” is nothing like a traditional lighthouse you seen along the California coastlines, or on calendars.

This is my first ocean ride on a watercraft in five years and the second time my 2022 Yamaha FXHO has even seen water. On this ride I started out with the intentions of describing to you what I see, hear, taste , touch, and even smell but, as you can already tell, my mind has already wandered off into the abyss.

In motorcycle riding, which is a living-in-the-moment type experience, there is never a shortage of stimuli. On a watercraft you get to multiply that effect twice fold.

Perhaps today it’s the oceans scenery which to me resembled “jello”. There are no ocean waves to ride over, they hadn’t fully formed or developed yet, as there was no wind action. The sea creatures are only the pelicans and the human topography of six large cattle type fishing boats, are all floating in one area with people casting their lines for anything that bites at it. A few container ships are also waiting to dislodge their various cargo from baby formula to beach balls.

A rider on a watercraft does not require the presence of others, to fully enjoy the experience of boating. The main reason you want someone around you on a watercraft is primarily for the safety part of the equation.

Another couple on two separate Seadoo watercraft showed up to ride but, didn’t like the forecast and opted to ride coastal down to Malibu. Generally, Malibu is known for it’s posh beaches, luxurious homes, and upscale beachside living.

To be in motion while not having to engage in any type of conversation or listen to anyone else jabbering about this or that is about as blissfully free as one can get riding. Anyone currently living an existence where they feel their lives are stressed out should try boating.

Bird and I have never met before this ride; I recently met him on-line on the West Coast Ski Riders Club. On the club’s meetup group page is a description of their mission: “We are a lifestyle PWC group associated with the nonprofit West Coast Ski Riders, Inc. and Florida Ski Riders. Our purpose is to bring new people into the sport, create memories, facilitate lasting friendships, foster development at all skill levels, and encourage responsible safe PWC riding in a fun and inclusive family environment.”

Originally four people signed up to ride but, as any well laid plan goes, people often over commit both their time and resources and shit still happens. And so, here we are.

Along with finding one’s niche in watercraft riding some find that ocean riding is not for everyone or the feint of heart. Since there’s only two of us we tell tales of our motorcycle and watercraft riding passion that provides some entertaining stories at times, of riders we know, past and present, with stories, a little embellished at times.

Everyone that one rides with usually has distinctive characters and idiosyncrasies that only show up after a little time spent riding together.

Von and I find that we get along riding just fine, with either one taking the lead at times, even though Von is sporting a supercharged jet ski model and wearing a race helmet.

And on shore at Avalon, Catalina Island we both also enjoyed the simple pleasures of a ride to the island that includes an obligatory short walk in watercraft wearing apparel, a cocktail, a beer, some appetizers, soup, salad, and a comforting lunch at a fine outdoor seating restaurant; while your watercraft gracefully floats from a 15’ tethered painter, at one of only two dinghy docks.

Old Ride Pictures as I only took videos on our ride

I shared with Von my story of a guy I believe has the record for more watercraft runs to the island than possibly me – John Belton. If someone else that you know has the current record please let me know, and I will stand corrected.

If one runs to the island every Sunday for a solid year that would mean that they made 52 runs. Now let’s say that we only rode out to the island half the time or a total of 25 times on every Sunday. We did that run Catalina for about five years of riding. That’s about 125 runs to and from the island of Catalina.

We ride watercraft not necessarily meant to cross oceans or even a channel like the Catalina Channel. The channel, also known as the San Pedro channel, is a 20.2-mile (32.5 km) waterway capable of whipping up some serious waters. Generally it’s easy to ride out to the island, just pick a morning departure day that NOAA says, “Wind west variable less than 10 knots, becoming west 10 knots in the afternoon” is common.

Swimmers have done this Catalina Island crossing and so have guys and gals water skiing behind power boats. You’ll also be glad to learn that marathon swimmers that complete this crossing only need do three more locations to qualify for the successful completion of the Chorizo Four. That’s exactly what they named it; not making this up. There’s actually such a thing.

The other three swim locations chosen are a 22.3 km Catalonia, Spain crossing, swimming the 21 mile English Channel between England and France and the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco.

This really got me thinking! If a mere swimming sport, which I know little of, can have the Chorizo Four as their swimming Mecca; then so should PWC’s aka watercraft riders.

Maybe we should call it the ultimate Taco Challenge.

1. The first qualifying event is to cross a channel to an island like Catalina. Check!

2. The second event should be to ride a river like the Columbia or the Colorado. Check!

3. The third and final event should be to ride the Sea of Cortez from San Felipe to Cabo. TODO

The award for the riders to do so on a watercraft is a coveted molcajete lava rock.

Thank you Von for a great day out on the water and thank you West Coast Ski Riders Club; a no drama, just ride club.

Trawlercat 5/22/2022