This sailing adventure is not for the faint of heart. The four-day trip to Catalina and Santa Barbara Islands were nothing short of incredible and exhausting.
If you are looking for a relaxing, low-key vacation–this trip is NOT for you. I repeat–this trip is NOT for you. Only the determined, adventurous-spirited, up-for-a-challenge, curious, and explorer dare apply for this physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging trip.
The challenges however are matched with the thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime rewards of sailing in the company of hundreds of dolphins, spotting an occasional whale, kayaking with baby seals and stingrays, exploring the caves around the islands, and learning to sail an authentic tall ship.
Guests are encouraged to become part of the crew, standing watch for four-hour increments (even at midnight), hauling lines, steering the ship, raising the anchor (which will get your heart pounding so fast you want to mutiny), eating together in the galley, and cleaning the ship. Standing watch and raising the anchor are the least enjoyable portions of the trip, but they make sleep come easily and community grow strong.
The feel of the wind in your hair, nothing but ocean in sight for as far as the eye can see, thousands of stars illuminating the dark sky once the moon sets, and the constant slap of rope against sail create a serenity and meditative-like state that is a much needed change of pace from fast-paced city living.
Marge, our ship cook, provides delicious and well-earned meals three times a day along with snacks, tea, and coffee at all hours. You definitely will not go hungry on this expedition and will be pleasantly surprised with treats each night. You are welcome to bring aboard some of your favorite snacks as well.
The first day is spent learning ship basics, performing emergency tests, sailing out of San Diego Bay, and sailing to Catalina. Rough seas equal drippy decks, so make sure to pack waterproof clothing and be prepared to hang your sheets out to dry in the morning. The ship anchors off of Two Harbors early on the second day.
Day two involves kayaking and exploring around the island, sea lions, birds, the occasional dolphin, garibaldi, and caves. I highly recommend bringing a GoPro or an underwater camera to film all of the beautiful wildlife. Visibility along the shoreline is incredible and makes for some amazing pictures. After lunch guests and crew are welcome to go ashore for a cold beer and a shower. Make sure to bring quarters for the showers! There are some paths to walk along the shore or over to the other side of the island to explore a bit on land as well.
Day three we set sail for Santa Barbara Island, a remote island about a half-day sail from Catalina. Bring snorkel gear and a wetsuit! The snorkeling and kayaking along Santa Barbara is like nothing I have ever seen before! Visibility is at least 50 feet deep, with perfect clarity. I could see sea stars on the ocean floor as if I were right in front of them. Baby sea lions playfully followed the kayaks as we paddled around the caves, and a stingray passed right under my kayak. Snorkeling was a bit scary being so far out in the ocean, but the vivid colors and bright fish made me overcome my fear. After kayaking the ship sets sail for home and sails through the night back toward San Diego.
Day four is spent leisurely sailing back into San Diego. By the end of the trip you are completely exhausted but have a huge smile on your face. A hot shower upon arriving at home never felt better!
In addition to the packing list the museum provides, make sure you bring: a waterproof camera, lanyards to attach your camera/important items to your clothing, water shoes in addition to flip flops for the showers, snorkel gear if you’d like to snorkel, a wetsuit if you will be getting in the water in October, every waterproof article of clothing you own, and lots of warm under layers.
If you’re interested in joining us on one of our three Catalina Kayak & Adventure Sails next summer check out our website: http://www.sdmaritime.org/catalina-adventure-sailing/ or give Robyn a call at: 619-234-9153 ext 123.
Hope you can make it!