Monday, September 8, 2014
Catalina Adventure: Kiss of the Sea Monster
Beautiful Long Point on Catalina Island
Chris and I sailed to Catalina Island over Labor Day with his brother
Scott, down from the Bay Area for our annual Catalina sailing adventure.
Long Point is about halfway between Avalon and Two Harbors.
A gorgeous orange starfish crept around the dock to say "Ahoy" to us as
we threw off the dock lines in San Pedro for our Catalina Island sail
A large pod of dolphins swam off of our bow wake during our sail to Catalina...
...and then they moved on. See ya later, boys!
We scored a mooring at Hen Rock beach, and after a light
dinner, the brothers did some stargazing and catching up
under the crystal clear sky
The next morning, Chris bravely (or crazily?) decided to climb Hen Rock
Master of his domain. To my relief (and with a wifely eye roll)
he quickly jumped in the water after conquering the great
peak (LOL). Boys will, apparently, always be boys!
After the great white hunter returned from his grand adventure (really,
we're too old to be doing such crazy things...aren't we? Wait...don't
answer that), the 3 of us jumped in the dinghy to do some exploring.
After all, it was a gorgeous sunny day!
The giant waves and swells of Hurricane Marie destroyed this
dock at a nearby Girl Scout camp merely days before. Wow...
We took Scott on a dingy tour of the area.
The sun was so bright, and the sea was so crystalline blue...
Can you believe this is only 30 miles away from Los Angeles?
We had heard of a cave at Long Point that goes all the way through
and comes out at the waters edge on the other side, but we had never
explored it. If you look in this photo, you can see the tiny sliver of blue
sky at the other end of the cave. Victorious after his Hen Rock climb,
Chris said: "Come on! Let's explore it!" Scott took the helm of our
dinghy, dropped off Chris and I at the entrance of the cave, and motored
around to the cave exit to retrieve us.
We climbed through the dark cave and emerged on the other side,
with Scott waiting in the dinghy.
The cave exit on the other side. You can see the light of the entrance
side at the top of the cave. Unfortunately the exit was not as easy as
the entrance. As this photo shows, it had a very surgy slot tunnel
about 10 feet deep and 20 feet long that we had to traverse in order to
enter the open sea. Waves were surging in and out of it, over and
around the sharp, craggy boulders that lined it on all sides.
Chris traversed the slot easily, with the waves only coming up to
his waist. He entered the ocean safely. And now it was my turn.
I had a decision to make. I considered signaling to the boys that
I would turn back, and they would pick me up at the original cave
entrance. Bright red warning flags were firing off in my brain all
over the place. But Chris made it through easily...
and I am the brave first mate...
So I decided to go for it, and began easing myself down into the slot.
Almost immediately, larger waves started surging through.
I took a deep breath, grabbed crags of rock to stabilize
myself and tried to move through the slot. Another much
larger wave barreled through and tossed me back deeper into
the cave, then sucked me back to my starting point, as if to taunt:
"Ha, ha...not so easy, is it? Wanna try again?"
By the way, we later named this cave the Sea Monster.
I sensed I was losing control, but there was little I could
do at that point. I quickly tried again to exit, but the Sea Monster
was having too much fun to let me go so easily. Another wave,
the largest one yet, crashed into the cave, enveloping it and me,
tossing me into the depths of the slot like a dirty kitchen towel.
Now completely powerless, she began sucking me out and I knew
I was going for the ride of my life. There was nothing to do but hope
for the best. The thundering waves were now over my head, and I
was sucked completely under. I could see nothing.
I was at the complete mercy of the sea and the rocks.
The Sea Monster
Suddenly, I was in the open ocean. My hip wracked with pain.
Chris and Scott were about 50 feet in front of me,
encouraging me to swim.
But the Sea Monster wasn't through with me yet.
Smirking (I'm sure she was smirking...), she began sucking
me back into the cave for another go.
I swam and I swam and I swam like I've never swam before.
I think I broke the free-style speed record for my age group,
because after about 10 frenetic pumps of my arms (during
which time I basically stayed stationary against the sucking
power of The Sea Monster) she finally let me go.
For real this time.
My legs were covered with cuts and bruises,
but that wasn't the worst of it...
I received this lovely parting gift from my adventure.
I call it the "Kiss of the Sea Monster."
We returned to Espiritu and I nursed my wounds while the
boys went for a swim. It's not smart to be in the same water as
great white sharks when one has weeping, bloody wounds.
One encounter with a Sea Monster was enough for one day. :-)
Scott plays on the flopper stopper
After the swim, the boys went off for more exploring of the island
We spent the rest of the weekend relaxing aboard playing cards,
music and just laughing about old times
Well, all things considered, I was very, VERY grateful to have made
it through the weekend with only cuts, bumps and bruises and no
fractures or paraplegia. My encounter with
the Sea Monster could have really been catastrophic.
Maybe we'll take it easy and act our age during next year's annual Catalina Adventure.
Maybe...or maybe not. :-)
"Live your life and forget your age." -- Anonymous