Sailing Catalina Island.

“Let me tell you about life, and bout the way it is… You see we live by the gun, so we die by the gun’s kids.” Snoop Dogg best describes the latest sailing trip with this quote, ‘cuz we had a gangsta party.

It’s been just over a year since my Mexico sailing trip. I should be ashamed of myself for not being remotely close to finishing the story, especially because it’s the hallmark of my life. Since then, I have gone sailing with the captain twice. The first one was a half day cruise around the Long Beach waters. The second one was a two day trip to and from Catalina Island. This experience with the crew was nothing short of exceptional.

From left to right: Justin, Kawai, Me, Arthur, Michael, Tam.

So what were the phenomenal highlights of this trip? Everything.

The Pacifico is a 50,000 pound 47-foot sailboat. Whereas powerboats are generally faster and expend more fuel, sailboats are slower in speed but provide a full hands-on experience. Therefore, the crew members were able to see what sailors do in the real world. They had all been out on sea before, but those were commercial giants in comparison to our privately owned boat.

Captain Graham, the fellow Stanford alumni, decided to pick on his fellow Berkeley comrade by giving me full control over the boat. After disembarking the harbor, he went into the lower deck and told me to “get us there.” Seeing that I was unable to distinguish north from south, I soon shifted the controls to Lieutenant Kawai. Proving she was more capable than I was, we were in the correct direction in no time. In the meantime, Mike made us sandwiches while Arthur and Tam sunbathed.

Part of the sailing experience was retaining complete control over the boat. We confronted a sea of dolphins, and what better way to respond than to chase them? Over a hundred dolphins entertained us for a half hour. While Kawai and Justin steered the boat, the rest of us were mesmerized by what we saw. To illustrate just how close the dolphins were, we could hear their singing. When they dove out of the water, they would splash us.  Videos will be uploaded real soon on my YouTube channel.

Doll fins doin’ their thang.

Catalina Island is 20 miles off the coast of Long Beach. Its main city is Avalon with a population of 3,000. The design of the harbor was nothing I had ever see before. Moorings, instead of dry docks, were used to anchor the boat. While the captain steered the boat into our designated area, Justin and I hoisted a floating line out of the water and we subsequently tied the boat down. In turn, the dinghy had to be used to get us on shore. Having been accustomed to either docking on a harbor or lowering the anchor, this was all new to me.

Captain Graham booking a docking number with the Harbor Master.

While the captain relaxed on the Pacifico, the rest of us scoured onto the city. Captain Graham was having the time of his life teasing me and gave me the discretion of carrying all the crew members onto the harbor. Having never driven the dinghy, let alone carry more than two passengers, this was another new experience for me. Six people in a 2-cylinder dinghy was literally a drag. I also accidentally bore the news of having never driven the dinghy, which wholeheartedly reassured my friends’ confidence in me. Nevertheless, we finally reached the docks!

The city of Avalon.

Three of us (including me) have never been to Catalina before. The other three who had gone before only went for an hour,  hadn’t gone since elementary school, or had gone to the other side of the island instead. Therefore, it was quite the adventure finding our way around. After walking along the coast and filling our stomachs with some snacks, we headed back to the boat. Kawai and Captain Graham made cocktails. Tam and I were buzzed before we knew it; the other crew members were obviously alcoholics, seeing that they were completely fine.

We then proceeded back into town for dinner at a burger joint. The city of Avalon looks similar to Venice Beach with a touch of Mexican architecture. After we were full, we explored the rest of the city and did some shopping. The dinghy ride back to the boat was, as Tam described, similar to an attraction in Disneyland. We then spent the rest of the evening socializing in the cockpit.

In the next morning, the captain treated us to a fine Mexican restaurant. While he walked back to the boat, the rest of us hiked a decent distance before walking back to the boat. We stopped at an ice cream shop and binged. Dieticians worldwide probably shook their head at my caloric intake for these two days: beers, cocktails, breakfast burritos, burgers, cookies, and ice cream…


We left the island just past noon. We were treated with a close view of the Carnival Paradise cruise ship. To top off this sailing experience, we were blessed with sufficiently strong winds; with the engine off, we released the head (front) sail and let the wind take us back to Long Beach. This was also a first for me, as we were against the winds throughout the Mexico trip.

The cruise ship docked outside Avalon.

The trip back consisted of a lay-low setting. Most of us napped some part during the four hour journey back, while the rest read a book or sunbathed. After we finally reached the harbor, we spent the next half hour putting the boat to sleep – cleaning her out, washing her down, the good ‘ol deeds.

As my summer nears its end, this was undoubtedly one of its highlights. Spending a couple days relaxing and adventuring with some of my close friends made the several months of planning and anticipating worth the time. I cannot wait to sail again.

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