When I was between 5 and 8 years old, we lived in the LA, California area. Pops bought a 32-foot wooden cabin cruiser and we took it to Catalina Island often. Catalina was 26 miles from LA, and it took us about three hours to get there. It took most boats an hour and a half or less, but most trips we made were with one engine acting up and Dad lying on his back and fixing it while we slowly chugged to the Island. Good times!
On our way to Alaska this past week, we first stopped off to visit my oldest son in Santa Monica. We planned to take a ferry to Catalina. I was anxious to see how much it had changed in sixty some years. I recall crystal clear water where you could see bottom and watch multiple varieties of fish as if you were at an aquarium. My Dad and oldest brother, Jim, would skin dive and we often had a catch of rock lobster and abalone for dinner.
Catalina Island was paradise and we were in high clover to be able to visit it often.
We planned this recent trip months ago. The brochure for the trip to Catalina recommended “Arrive an hour before the boat leaves to assure a seat.” We arrived an hour and a half before the boat was to cast off and were asked,
“Do you have a reservation?”
“You really need a reservation; these trips are almost always sold out!”
We were told this with a look like we had two heads for not knowing a reservation was needed.
So, we missed out on a visit to this island which held such great memories from my youth. We had months to make a reservation. It would have been nice if the brochure on this service had said,
“Trips often sellout quickly, reservations are strongly advised.”
I guarantee they would say that in NY; apparently in the friggin laid-back plastic-land known as LA, you are just supposed to know that! (Oh, was that a rant? Sorry, but it does feel good to get it out.)
We missed the boat which was disappointing, but we had a nice day at the beach instead.
Interesting story about our trips to Catalina in the 50’s…it may be a bit long; do you have time?
Well here it is anyway.
We moored our boat in a small cove far away from the only real town, on the island, Avalon. My brother, Chris, ten and I, six would often fish off the stern of the boat. You could watch the fish as they approached and took or ignored your bait.
There was one fish we always wanted to catch. These fish were about 10 pounds. They were multi-colored, red and blue as I recall with white lips. They were reportedly very good eating. We called them Geribaldi, but having Googled them I believe they were actually Sheepsheads. It has been a while, so my memory might be distorted.
Geribaldi Sheepshead would never take the bait. We
were told to use mussels, or pieces of lobster, but they would never take the
bait. We would watch them come up to the
hook, look and then turn away. It was
very frustrating. In the four years we
went to Catalina, we never caught a Geribaldi Sheepshead.
In 1955, my Dad was transferred back east, and we made one last trip to the island before the boat had to be sold. Chris took the dingy to the beach as he often did and came back with a bucket of sand crabs. He had the bright idea that maybe sand crabs would make good bait.
We each put a sand crab on a hook and dropped it in the water. No sooner did those crabs hit the bottom then the
Geribaldies Sheepsheads fought over them. We
both had immediate hook ups of the fish we had been watching ignore our bait
for four years. We found the secret
bait, and would never be able to use it again.
Only now am I giving up this fishing secret.
And yes; the fish was very tasty!