San Diego to Avalon and back

10 Days in Sept - Oct 2012

How far is it? long does it take?

Late September - hmm, this is the latest that we've taken the boat on a Catalina Island vacation but San Diego has been having temperatures in the 80's, pretty unusual! I'd just changed the fuel filters, the diesel's been running great (oh yeah, we'll be doing a LOT of motoring), and we haven't had an extended boat trip since last year. OK let's go! Besides, this year Reality Check has a new exhaust riser, hump hose, and engine alignment plus new engine mounts and we haven't gone any significant distance since all the new parts.

leaving San Diego
Leaving before dawn
san diego to avalon
It's a 12 hour trip on Reality Check, and with barely 12 hours between sunrise and sunset it's a pre-dawn start at 6:00 a.m. out of the slip and out of San Diego harbor with the sun rising behind us. Motoring all the way out to Buoy #3 to avoid the kelp beds off of Point Loma - finally we can set a course rhumb line to Avalon. If there was any kind of wind it was on the nose - resigned to another no-sail day to pick up a mooring before dark.
So... happily motoring at 2600 RPM with the engine temp 165+ degrees. Popped down below after an hour or so and...sniff sniff, what? Smells like something burning? No smoke but the top of the back berth shelf is REALLY HOT. (This is the shelf enclosing the exhaust riser). Reduced boat speed to 2400 and after an hour the shelf cooled down a bit and no more smell. Decided to increase speed to 2500 RPMs and settled on that speed for the duration of this trip. Temp gauge maintained at 168 degrees as we pressed on with an average speed of 6.4 knots.

Surprise! 3 nights in Descanso

6:00 p.m. we're queued up behind another boat waiting for the Avalon Harbor Patrol boat to assign us a mooring, and surprise! It was W23 in Descanso! We came over on Thursday and this weekend was to be the 1st Annual Air Show over the water in Avalon. Rockin' and rollin' out in Descanso did have an advantage this time - we had great seats for Saturday's air show, and it sure could have been worse - boats arriving later on Friday ended up all the way out on the Hamilton moorings. Tip: You can pay by credit card right there in the harbor, the Avalon Harbor boats are now all equiped with credit card processing.

Air Show
Air Show
1st Annual Catalina Air Show

The Air Show was fun! Great aerobatics acts, sky diving and all streaming live on the local radio station KISL 88.7 FM. Speakers all over town if you were there so you wouldn't miss a beat.

  • Rob Harrison - Tumbling Bear
  • John Collver
  • Dr. D's Old Time Aerobatics
  • Super Dave Mathieson with the MX2
  • Just In Time Sky Diving Team
  • Clay Lacy with his fabulous United aircraft
Super Dave Mathieson in the MX2 and Clay Lacy in United
Super Dave Mathieson's MX2 and Clay Lacy's United
Airport in the Sky

Sunday we moved into Avalon Harbor on #64 "Match Point", close to the dinghy dock near the Yacht Club. That chore done, we hopped on a round trip shuttle ($20 each) to the Airport in the Sky to see the planes and pilots.

Ahhh, Avalon

Tip: If the harbor isn't busy you may be able to get just the mooring you want - I like being off of Armstrongs or Antonio's so... asked for 48 or 51 and YES - #48 Sequestrian was open for the rest of our days in Avalon.

Casino theater organist at the 1929 pipe organ
John Tusak, Organist at the four keyboards of the 1929 pipe organ
The Casino Theater
If you're in Avalon Friday, Saturday or Sunday, go see a movie at the Casino Theater - but make sure you go EARLY! John Tusak plays that wonderful Casino Theater Pipe Organ starting at 6:30 p.m. on weekends and ending just before the movie starts at 7:30.

Sunrise, leaving Catalina Island

Moon, stars, planets and sunrise leaving Catalina Island
Leaving in the dark at 0530 was worth it for the sight of the waning gibbous moon and brilliant Venus in the east before dawn, and later the sunrise reflecting in the clouds over the mainland. That aside, it was another 12 hours without any wind, motoring back to San Diego. A couple of gray whales and a pod of dolphins the only interesting thing along the way.
Quick stop to fill up the fuel tank with 19.4 gallons of diesel ($104.94!), then empty the head and back in the slip at 6.

How about that engine noise and vibration?

The diesel is still noisy, vibration IS less than before the hump hose and engine alignment. A much more comfortable trip, but I'll never know how much or even IF the engine alignment helped ease the vibration because the hump hose had to be done at the same time - more on that debacle in Drive System Alignment and Replacing the engine mounts.

Exhaust riser clearance
the riser doesn't touch the shelf and the wood looks perfect. No clue what the burning smell was.

What about the heat off that new exhaust riser?

We should be able to cruise at 2600 RPM and kept it at 2500 to keep the heat down. Maybe more insulation will do the trick.

2013 update

A check on the exhaust riser and the back berth shelf reveals... nothing unusual. The riser doesn't touch the shelf and the wood looks perfect. No clue what the burning smell was. Does it need more insulation? It has 2 wraps of fiberglass tape, which is all that is supposed to be required.

2012 Photo Gallery

How far is it? How long did it take?
12.00 hours from Harbor Island to Avalon - 75.9 nautical miles, average speed 6.3 knots
12.00 hours from Avalon to the slip on Harbor Island, 2500 RPM's - engine hours starting in Avalon 1260.7, ending 1272.7.