Last Saturday, March 14, 2015, Southern California’s newest PWC club, West Coast Club rode from beautiful Long Beach, California (start of the LB2CAT PWC Offshore race) to and around Catalina Island. West Coast Club President, Lewis Lipstone surprised some at the breakwater opening when he suggested that, though advertised on our Meet Up group as a ride to Avalon, Catalina Island; current conditions favored an around the island ride. Some feared committing this early, as offshore blue water conditions can and do change, but not today. Great call, Lewis!
They say that skillful pilots gain their reputations from storms and tempest. Fourteen riders today, did so with total immunity. Eight PWC chose to go around the island and then enjoy lunch at Two Harbors, the more laid back, less commercialized part of the island. Troy on the Sea-Doo “Bumblebee,” and Jay and Fadi on the chase boat headed to Two Harbors while Tony, Santiago, and Caccius raced back on lake like conditions to the launch ramp at Long Beach.
Today, there was no piper to pay for a perfect run to, around, and back to the launch ramp. The ride to Avalon on PWC surprises most Catalina Island boaters, as most will never see the backside of the island for fear of the unknown. Don’t expect to find the same conditions on the back side of the island as you do the front side. Several years ago my front hood exploded as I came off a huge swell, early on in the ride.
Since then, I refer to the backside of Catalina as Jurassic park, due to eerie clouds and sudden fog, jagged protruding rocks, and irregular coastline encountered. Today, once rounding the east end it felt like Bahamas weather as we start seeing a clear, coastal white sandy bottom. The nearby islands of San Clemente and rarely visible San Nicholas, though inaccessible by PWC looked invitingly visible and close.
Recent Mojave Desert winds calmed any wave and swell action today creating near perfect conditions for riding offshore. Extremely dry 70’s air temperature and 64 to 68 degree water temperatures led most everyone to forgo full body suits and opt for shorties. Tony was even sporting a new Jettribe vest.
Our offshore run to Avalon was pretty uneventful, except in mid-channel when we all stopped to look at a USCG helicopter that dropped down on the group for a closer inspection. Several of us filled up at Avalon at $6.10 per gallon for 89 octane. All made it around the island and back home with a blaring low fuel alarm. One club rider, who today showed up with a home-built version 2.0 PWC fuel rack became our first casualty several miles into the ride. The rack will need another upgrade and further testing. Stay tuned for Version 3.0. Surprisingly, his version 1.0 PWC homemade fuel rack made it on the clubs recent ride from Long Beach to San Diego and back ride.
Our second casualty, Troy on an early-era Sea-Doo started sinking at the dinghy dock at Two Harbor. When the bumblebee was beached a hairline crack above the waterline was found to be the culprit. Fortunately for Troy the souvenir, ice cream, liquor, and boat marine parts store at Two Harbors also carries quick bonding epoxy. Ironman Troy was able to fix his ski, ride over with the chase boat to Two Harbors and return safely back to the launch ramp at Long Beach.
Today’s island ride reminds me of a book I once read about time. As children every second counts; because we want to do something exciting that counts, similar to our around Catalina Island ride. As we continue to grow our time becomes altered, because now we are calling our own shots, on a day-to-day basis. Suddenly adulthood and a job, sometimes a job we don’t enjoy. Time now is altered once again between the things we enjoy, like PWC riding on weekends.
Our years are no longer 365 days they are now 52 weekends a year. Weekends just fly by. Six riders today were recently at the 2015 Mark Hahn 300 mile race at Lake Havasu, Arizona; with three racing. Three riders including yours truly also recently rode from Long Beach to San Diego and back, on the same day. Before long spring has sprung, and you are in the middle of the San Pedro Channel, riding with whales and dolphins. Almost half a weekend is now gone and most like me, will likely spend Sunday recuperating. Several in our group see new PWC’s in our future. Clubs like West Coast PWC club are manufacturer’s new best friend.
How does one go about getting ready to ride offshore? For some, living less complicated lives, it goes similar to this. Back up the truck to the trailer, unlock things, and plug things in. Haul your tote box of PWC riding gear to the truck’s cab, take inventory. Now check that you also have the electronics, camera, iPhone, wallet, and money. Next go fill up with fuel and then show up at the appointed launch ramp with a crisp $ bill for the automatic gate or gate-keeper. Sounds simple, you say.
For some. Others have shown up forgetting their life vest, or two left-handed gloves or forgot to fuel up. Could we do this day in and day out, and then work on the weekends? Why yes, you might say. Then we could come up with a business jargon sort of approach to riding like adding action items and task lists. Next you would see deliverables and new vocabulary terms like in sailing. Further thought says no. Let’s keep this PWC riding as the freedom machine that it now is.
Our weather may not be the same next weekend, so when we ride on days like today, rest assured that we rode an ultimate ride. If you joined us, then you too would know or as Louis Armstrong once said, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”