View from hill above Isthmus Cove Catalina

April Sail to Isthmus Cove Catalina Island

This would be the first weekend sailing trip this season, but the weather wasn’t looking good. There was a week long gale warning that just wouldn’t end. This trip was originally planned for New Year’s Eve, but due to stormy winter weather we’d been forced cancel, and now it was looking bad again. Thankfully, at the last minute the forecast cleared. Catalina Island here we come!

Sailing our catamaran in sunny weather to Catalina Island.
Sailing “Even Tide” 170 degrees magnetic towards Catalina Island

Sailing Our Catamaran “Even Tide” – With Dolphins!

We chartered a catamaran from Marina Del Rey “Even Tide”, a 35′ Seawind XL2. It’s small for a cruising cat and pretty fun to sail, and we were happy to see it fitted with a brand new jib and screecher sail. The B&G Zeus chartplotter and autopilot on this cat works great as well.

While sailing to Catalina there was a south wind right on our nose, so we were forced to motor out of Santa Monica Bay. We had lots of company from hundreds of dolphins. It’s strange because some days you don’t see a single one but on this day the dolphins were everywhere! After motoring half the way the wind picked up and we sailed with one reef in the rest of the way in about 20 knots apparent. We traveled 34 nautical miles in about 7 hours 30 minutes, so our speed was just under 5 knots.

Enjoying lunch in the shade on our way to the isthmus at Two Harbors

Mooring at Isthmus Cove Catalina

Upon our arrival it was getting windy, but fortunately Isthmus Cove was almost empty and we found our mooring assignment easily. One thing about being on this catamaran is that when you’re at the wheel, it’s impossible to talk to someone on the bow who’s trying to pick up a mooring. In this case, there was a debate with the harbor patrol about whether or not to make a bridle. This cat is not very large so there’s really no need for a bridle and we should have discussed this before we got there. So I got blown away from the mooring a couple of times while we figured it all out. Next time – hand signals!

Even Tide safely tied up to our mooring

Dinner at the Harbor Reef Restaurant

Finally, we got tied up and enjoyed some appetizers while we watched the sun go down. As the sun was almost gone, I got the dinghy out and we went ashore to dinner at the Harbor Reef Restaurant. I really love the south seas vibe at this place! The decor is amazing and it has historic black and white sailing photographs on the walls. The food was good too!

Sailboats moored in Isthmus Cove Catalina Island

After dinner we went back to the boat and sat until the wee hours listening to some pretty fantastic music and enjoying a million stars in the dark sky. It was clear and not very cold at all. April can be amazing here with nice weather and the crowds don’t arrive until June.

A Morning Walk With Fantastic Views

In the morning we went ashore and took a walk across the Isthmus to Cat Harbor. We’d had so much rain the past few months the hills were bright green and the wildflowers were blooming. It’s a short walk across but I always notice how much quieter it is on the Cat Harbor side. One day I want to take the extra time to sail around the west end and spend the night there, then continue around the backside to Avalon.

Wildflowers blooming around Cat Harbor

Visiting Two Harbors

Once we got back to Two Harbors we stopped by the general store for breakfast supplies and since the weather was so nice I decided to hike up the hillside and take some photos. I can’t remember seeing the hills look so green it was absolutely gorgeous!

Time for big shopping at the Two Harbors General Store

Breakfast and Exploring the Coastline

After a walk we went back onboard and enjoyed a delicious hot cooked breakfast. When it was time to leave instead of heading straight home we motored up past Fourth of July and Cherry Cove to Howland’s landing to pick up a mooring and enjoy the view. There was a lot of kelp at Howland’s but it was deserted and a bright sunny morning.

Morning on the Beach at Two Harbors

Sailing Home from Catalina

We got to sail all the way across to Palos Verdes but once we were in Santa Monica Bay the wind totally died and we had to motor home. The dolphins were all gone unfortunately but I felt grateful for the nice weather and that we got to sail at least half the time.

Looking back I think everyone had a great time. It was a good crew. All of us had met on daysails before and it was our first time together on an overnight trip. We all got along, participated and had a fantastic weekend. By the end we had even half planned our next sailing adventure. Cheers to our crew! This trip was a smashing success!

Please do leave a comment below and share your thoughts on sailing to Catalina Island!

1 thought on “April Sail to Isthmus Cove Catalina Island”

  1. Steve,

    Thanks so much for this trip entry. I was wondering if the weather held for the trip. So glad it did. A great read! I hope to make the next one.

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