The advice given on this site is based upon individual or quoted experience, yours may differ.
The Officers, Staff and members of this site only provide information based upon the concept that anyone utilizing this information does so at their own risk and holds harmless all contributors to this site.
After several months of preparation my wife and I made our Catalina Island trip this weekend as guests of the Hurricane Gulch Yacht Club. The destination was Emerald Bay which is about three miles north of Two Harbors - its on google maps for you to see the aerial of the region.
The San Pedro Channel is a lot of water when you don't have a lot of boat. The distance from the Los Angeles Harbor to Emerald is about 22-nautical miles. The NOAA calls the area "Inner Waters" as they are somewhat sheltered by the long westerly coastline bending past Santa Barbara to Point Conception - about 100-miles north... the Outer Waters are not sheltered and typically have twice the seas as the inner waters.
Conditions were about as benign as I could have asked for... forecast was for two to three foot swell from the northwest and one to two foot wind waves... wind was forecast 10 to 15 on both travel days. The buoy reported between three and four feet swell on both legs of the trip. Wind waves were as predicted routinely adding two feet on top of the three foot swell - "just under my limit" of six foot waves.
We had to motor the entire trip outbound as the wind was basically on the nose and when we could maintain course with the sails working the sailing speed was down in the three knot range - not enough by itself - the Honda did fine and did not consume much fuel over the course of a five hour crossing - perhaps a bit under two gallons. Even with the engine on we had to slow for a bit because of pounding the hull into the wind waves... hence a five hour crossing.
The return trip was mixed bliss and more difficult moments... we left at 10 AM from the island anticipating higher winds in the afternoon. The bulk of the downwind return trip was sailing at five knots in easy three to five foot swell. The last few miles became more difficult. In the afternoon at the end of the trip the wind had picked up to over 20-knts and the wind waves dominated the swell - it was a real wash bucket. We reduced sail mid channel as the wind started to pick up and by the time we were racing in the 20-knot wind to the LA Harbor Gate, we were down to no jib and a double reef main. Could have used a triple reef if I had one!
A moment on that return trip at the gate was telling - one of the big boys in town to race in the Transpac was out playing in the chop - he had full main and full jib and just gliding along while we were down to a scrap of sail and bending the tiller to hold course to the gate. Amazing what an additional 40-feet of hull and an additional 50,000 lbs of weight will do a lot for a sailboat... and a number on your wallet too.
Accommodations proved to be adequate for the wife and I... building in a few additions like a better place to keep shoes and clothing would be beneficial. I'll be looking for a way to use one of the Engle coolers and the power supply to back it up in the future. The boat as delivered needs dozens of additional spaces to store stuff to avoid that cluttered look while on the moor. We are also installing a grab-handle to help moving about in the head. We appreciated the open stern design of the 250 as it made climbing into and out of the dinghy almost easy.
Sometimes you just have to prove to yourself what you already know - a small boat is not generally a likely candidate to be a good ocean boat. Even when 80% of a sail is bliss it's the difficult 20% that screws up the rest - the pounding when motoring upwind and the cork-screwing in the 20-knt chop obscured the gloss of easy sliding up and over the swells under sail with less wind... but you can't count on less wind.
The little lady 250 held her own in what would have been benign conditions for a more suitable ocean vessel which is a testament to the quality build that Catalina (the company) has provided. No creaking or groaning - just riding along following what was given by the sea state.
It is said that if you can sail the San Pedro Channel you can sail anywhere - don't know if that holds true for small vessels such as our 250's - but I'm glad I went and learned more about the boundary conditions for the vessel.
I find that towing a dingy in rough conditions makes the boat even more tender to sail as it slows the speed a lot. You want these boats to get moving as the puffs hit so they heel less. We put ours on the front bow while doing passages or rough water. My boat will gain a knot or more when not towing.
1998 250 WK/TR #355 "Trail Break" Lake Tahoe California
Notice: The advice given on this site is based upon individual or quoted experience, yours may differ. The Officers, Staff and members of this site only provide information based upon the concept that anyone utilizing this information does so at their own risk and holds harmless all contributors to this site.