Around to Emerald Bay for clear water

We woke up yesterday morning and took a look at the suspended sediment in the waters of Cat Harbor and decided that we’d prefer the clear waters of Emerald Bay around on the other side of the island. After a brief discussion with the cats, who thought that donning their harnesses for the run around West End would be a really bad idea, we harnessed up the cats, stowed the dinghy on deck, dropped the mooring and headed out for a 12 mile hop around to Emerald.

I spoke with the Harbor Patrol via cell phone (good coverage inside Cat Harbor) and they said no problem shifting moorings, just give a call on VHF 09 when we arrived. I had received a note from Nic, whom it turns out more or less helps manage the Harbor Patrol activities, that the mooring we wanted was R-16 right at Indian Rock and to check with Aaron as he was out on the patrol boat and he’d set us up right. There’s good diving there, and Nic mentioned a wall dive up beside Alpha mooring row that was an easy dinghy across Emerald. All looked good!

I first met Nic in La Paz, Mexico – he’s a wonderful fellow, a dive master, and works Catalina Island during the summer then heads to Mexico on his boat for the winter. He stopped by for a sundowner on Beetle and shared some of his local knowledge with us.
The west side of Catalina Island, approaching Cat Harbor. The island is mostly vertical cliffs, large rock falls, with tiny rocky beaches at the water’s edge where the swell breaks into surf. Not an easy place to make a landing.
Nibs in his harness – the cats are on harnesses and tethered into the boat such that a) we can find them by following the leash, and more importantly b) to keep them away from the quadrant steering cables. It would be a bad thing if a cat got a tail or paw caught up in the quadrant – so the harness keeps them safe. Nibs is normally found burrowed under the aft bunk bedding when the boat is moving.
This is NumNuts’ preferred spot, on top of the clutch bank starboard side under the dodger. Here he’s not wearing his harness as we’re on the mooring at Indian Rock.

Weather is remaining calm and pleasant, didn’t see much in the way of marine life en route, and it is quite deep close to the island. Catalina is a particularly rocky place, with lots of prickly pear cactus. We met up with Aaron and he said there was no lessee on R-16 so we could certainly have the mooring for several days (we wouldn’t get kicked off if the ‘owner’ of the mooring came in), and he said we now had the best seats in the house!

Turns out he’s correct, we’re nose-in to Indian Rock with the mooring ball set so close (perhaps 15 feet away) from the rocks you need to be careful not to overshoot the mooring wand pick-up and poke the bow into the rocks. The Scouts are busy in the bay, they have a fairly large facility here with lots of kids kayaking around, paddling canoes, scouting for Garibaldi fishes. Two 100 foot training/school tall ships were here, the Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson – they had lots of clothes drying on lines slung under the spars and quite a few studets learning about life on a tall ship as they operated the boats.

Difficult to get much closer to a dive site than this. The mooring is set shallow at the bow and rather deep off the stern, with a weighted polypropylene “sand line” running between the two hawsers that keep the boat in place. Nic is diving one of the bottom weights today to repair worn shackles and chain as needed – the moorings are heavily used on the island and therefore receive a lot of maintenance.

Kristen got her SUP up and about, I put together the dive gear, and a fellow dinghied over to ask if I was Rob, as he had a problem with his motor running too hot and Nic had told him (Keith, it turns out) to look over at the R16 mooring and if Tiger Beetle was there he should check with Rob about going under the boat to inspect the engine raw water intake thru-hull to see if there was a bag or seaweed sucked up inside. Keith is a very pleasant person, we went over to check the engine, and turns out he has essentially the same motor I do on his rather nicely appointed Catalina 40; he leases the mooring he’s on, keeps his fancy RIB at Isthmus as it’s too heavy to pick up onto his boat, and has known Nic for a while. In talking through the overheating problem it became clear the raw water system had to be fine so we opened up the engine compartment, pulled the belt cover off and there was the culprit – the engine belt hung off the motor in shredded loops. The bummer was the engine mechanic had just been on Keith’s boat three weeks prior to verify the motor was all set, determined the belt did not need replacement, and gave Keith the wrong spare belt; the belt would work for the stock engine alternator but not the big Balmar hi-output alternator mounted in place. We went back to Beetle to see if any of my belts would fit but none did. Keith’s wife is an actress and is “over town” (meaning on the mainland) where she’s auditioning for a part, she’s due back in Isthmus Saturday – so she might be able to grab a belt on the way back or else Keith will have one brought in, though I don’t know how that would work.. probably involves Nic in some way. Fun to meet new people out here on the water!

Sunrise from Emerald Bay. It was extra calm this morning, a most pleasant place to wake up.

Plan for today is do a couple of dives, there are lots of fishes in the water I can see from the deck, Kristen will be out on her paddle board – and the cats have already received their morning meal. The weather forecast continues to call for mellow conditions, we should have some nice days here.

– rob

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