Field Notes: Exploring Catalina Part III

On the short motor sail out to Little Harbor from where they picked Dave and I up, we had a chance to cool our jets and enshrined the arduous two-hour paddle as “Just Four Miles”. Food also calms the savage beast and smartly I was given a hot sausage sandwich with chips while Dave decompressed with his homemade spirulina hemp balls. Which he better give me the recipe to.

As we babbled on about how good it was to see the boat we quickly approached Little Harbor and could see some small waves breaking on the Shark Cove side of the harbor. The set up looked impossible for getting the sailboat in according to the charts our boat captain, Oakie, had laid out. So we sat outside and dropped the standup boards in to evaluate. The natural cove totally opens up and stays deep. Almost everywhere, the water gets deep fast right off the beach. We were met halfway in by Capt John from the Catalina Fire Department who SUP’d out with warm greetings and confirmed it was duck soup for anchoring.

The tide was running out and the surf was resting, so Capt John offered to set me up with a spear gun to poke around the kelp beds in the harbor that were teeming with life. Bat Rays ruled the joint but we did catch a glimpse of what was assumed to be a Fin Soup Shark? Never heard of em’. But at 8 feet long, the fish had my full attention. It wasn’t much more to our guide than an unusual out of season sighting but my strength was waning, sun getting low and there was still all the camping gear to take ashore and set up.

Little Harbor campground has this Jurassic feeling about it even before you discover the giant dung droppings left behind by the Bison herd occupying the island. Over the campfire burgers and garden burgers sizzled as the hungry crew and paddlers fueled up after the long sunny day. I felt my systems forcing shutdown, a fair reaction to the day’s events. Some local chatter was opening our eyes to the possibility of less than favorable conditions in the morning. You would be a fool not to listen. And it made me even more tired.

The morning was heavy with clouds and a breeze that wanted to talk you out of getting on the water. From the beach the cove was mellow but surging heavier than yesterday. Outside the point the ocean was churning and the sailboat left us behind and pushed out through the narrow passage. Now I’ ve known and paddled with Dave enough to know this was a twist he was going to enjoy as much as me. The question was how was Whitney going to tackle her first experience of water not acting very lake-like. –Ron Ayres

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Photos: Fuze Group