Catalina Dreaming

A boat trip prompts memories of other sea travels and thoughts on the mysteries of this charming island.

by sandy steele • More.com Member { View Profile }
For more "Susie says" barks go here to: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com.

Well, this is my first trip on a boat that actually leaves the harbor. My big mommy told me that when they moved to California over 20 years ago, their first sailing experience was really funny. They were visiting friends in Newport Beach at “The Balboa Yacht Club.” They met a couple of “free spirits” at the Club who invited mommy and daddy to go sailing with them on their 46-foot yacht. It was moored at John Wayne's home on the water a few miles away. So they decided to take a chance and go with these two strangers for a day of sailing and sunbathing. Thank goodness they had packed bathing suits in their car's trunk.

Mommy had never been sailing before, but Daddy had sailed a few times with his neighbor in Atlanta, Ted Turner. But that's another story for another day. Anyway, after arriving at the boat, their two hosts, who were in their early thirties, invited them to partake of wine and cheese. The two sailors were smoking something that obviously made them laugh a lot. After an hour or so of getting to know each other, while inhaling the second-hand smoke, mommy and daddy were in really good spirits. The “captain” finally said that it was time to leave to go to Catalina Island, which would take a few hours. As they started the boat's engine to begin cruising out of the harbor, the captain and his friend who were completely stoned by now, started laughing uproariously and slapping each other’s backs.

Daddy asked what was so funny and the captain said, “Geez, I forgot that we took the sails down last week to be cleaned. and we forgot to pick them up. We'll just have to motor around the Newport harbor for a few hours and drink more wine!” Mommy and daddy thanked the captain and his mate for the unique “sailing” experience, but said it was time for them to return home to L.A. Thus ended mommy's first sailing trip. I hope this one is more fun especially with me on board for entertainment.

The next morning we arrived in Marina Del Rey harbor, and immediately left on a beautiful sailboat owned by an old friend of mommy's named Beryl. She also has a great pooch named “Buster,” a black lab, living on the boat full time. Lucky dog! Also, the trip over to Catalina is only 22 miles — not 26 like the song says. Other interesting facts discovered after we arrived: the island is about the same size as Manhattan (22miles long by 8 miles wide). But only 4,000 people reside here instead of the 8 million living in New York City. Different races of people had settled on the island for over 9,000 years, including the native Indian tribe Turai, Russians, Chinese, and pirates. I also noticed that there aren't many trees on Catalina. The reason for the lack of trees is pretty crazy, but when y'all understand that Catalina is legally, geographically part of L.A., well.

It seems that hundreds of years ago the Chief of the Turai tribe on his deathbed told a white hunter named Samuel Prentiss about a hidden golden treasure located on the island. He said that it was buried under a tree. So, Mr. Prentiss, who had hunted every living animal on Catalina or it's surrounding waters, spent the next 30 years literally cutting down and digging up every tree on the island looking for the vast lost treasure. He never found anything. Maybe it was really just a joke on the white man?

Buster and I thought about digging around a few trees to look for the gold, but decided to chase the big hairy cattle that we saw running all over the hills. Mommy called them Buffalo, and as we got closer, they were way too big for us to try and round up. Also on a much smaller critter scale, there are rattlesnakes roaming everywhere. Mommy learned that Catalina was acquired in 1919 by a chewing-gum magnate named William Wrigley from Chicago. Another treasure seeker, Marilyn Monroe, lived here years before she became a star. And Natalie Wood, who was a star, mysteriously died here a few decades ago. Seems like a lot of history for such a tiny island.

Catch you later,

Susie & Sandy

P.S. Famous actor and heavy drinker Humphrey Bogart was a frequent sailor to Catalina Island. On his deathbed his last words were, “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis!”

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