Catalina Part 2: Little Harbor

An osprey perched on top of our mizzen mast

“Ahoy Monsoon! You might want to have a look at this!”, the captain of our neighboring boat; Pearl called out to us in a measured way one afternoon. We were still anchored in Catalina Harbor, procrastinating on sailing off to our next destination since we had been enjoying this comfortable anchorage so much. Travis popped his head out to see what the matter was, and in turn called down to me in a voice of forced calmness, “Yeen, get the camera.”
“What’s going on out there?”
“Get the camera.”
It turned out that Cat Harbor still had a few surprises in store for us. At the top our mizzen mast perched an osprey, huge and nonchalant. We stood staring at the bird in awe, not quite sure what the protocol should be in this situation. “Let’s get Rowan back inside shall we?”, said Travis. We have recently been allowing Rowan to climb about the cockpit while tethered in, something he enjoys immensely, but we were suddenly aware of how very small and succulent he looked.

Travis trying his hand out at filleting a fish
Fresh, tasty ceviche

A few days after 4th of July, we were invited over to the Isthmus Bay Yacht Club by the harbormaster; Joey, for a ‘clean out the fridge’ dinner party. At first, we were hesitant to go, but decided that we should try to be more sociable and make it a habit of saying yes to every opportunity that falls into our laps. We might have fun or we might not, but it would certainly be more interesting that sitting at home and watching Netflix. The dinner party turned out to be a cozy affair, just a few harbormasters and yacht club staff and their significant others, with the best leftovers we’ve ever had, a small fire, friendly company and even some great live music courtesy of our harbormasters jamming on a guitar and cooler box late into the night. The next morning, our new friends Bill and Daphne; avid fishers eager to introduce us to the sport, stopped by our boat to give us some delicious smoked tuna from the Sea of Cortez, fresh ceviche, a starter kit of line and lures, and to show us how to fillet a fish. “It’s a kelp bass, alive just 20 minutes ago. You’re going to Mexico, you need to learn how to fish”. Right then, we decided that we need to find a way to pay forward all this generosity that we have been receiving.

Little Harbor
A bald eagle at the eagle sanctuary. She was rescued after being hit by a car, and cannot sustain flight
A golden eagle, also a rescue, and used to lure other invasive golden eagles off the island
A log of the eagle repopulation program on the Channel Islands
My arms are almost as long as an eagle’s wings!

Little Harbor is indeed little, with enough space for only 4 boats to anchor in the protection of a line of rocks. There are no facilities here, except for a campground amid an oasis of palm trees. Here, we were hopeful of seeing some legendary Catalina Island buffaloes, as the Catalina Island Conservancy has sequestered them to the middle of the island, so they cannot be found in either Two Harbors nor Avalon; the two main towns here. This led us on a hiking trip that turned out to be more than we bargained for. We started out early in the morning, planning for a 10 hour hike to the eagle sanctuary and back. This turned into a 14 hour hike when we took a wrong turn on the trail, following unmarked roads on a badly printed map as they slowly petered out into a dead end. It was fun for awhile, walking on paths that have not seen visitors in a long time, until the point where we found ourselves scrabbling around among cacti, getting burrs stuck to our legs, and poking poor Rowan in the face with low lying branches. Next, anxious to get back to the boat before dark, we ran into two buffaloes sitting right in the middle of the trail we needed to take. Really not wanting to choose another trail and add 2 hours to our already long hike, we tried herding them along by waving our hiking sticks and yelling. This is definitely not what a park ranger would advise you to do, and all it produced from said buffaloes were some ball licking and a lazy saunter a mere few feet up the trail. We returned home that night exhausted, legs prickled and feet blistered, but with fun bovine memories.

A buffalo enjoying some breakfast and the morning breeze
Travis tries his hand at buffalo herding
The buffalo’s reaction to being herded

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