On our fifth night at Catalina Island during our last sail there, we experienced a winter storm while anchored on the back side at Cat Harbor. Not a particularly bad storm, but more of a series of squalls that passed through the island. We had just installed a Mantus 65 anchor and were anxious to test it, so this would be
Understanding the wind patterns at Catalina Island is important for anchoring there. Whether it be Avalon or the Isthmus in the front side during Santa Ana winds, or the fact that when the wind funnels into Cat Harbor on the backside it can increase by 50% or so, you should know the details of how the wind affects anchorages so you can have a safe and uneventful time.
After having a good time on the front side, it was time to sail around to our favorite anchorage on the back side – Cat Harbor. The front side can be more interesting because there are a lot more boats there, but the hustle and bustle tend to wear on you when you just want to get away from it all. So, we sailed around and anchored in Cat Harbor for the night. Because someone was in our favorite spot we opted to anchor in about 60 feet of water. We were more confident that we would not drag because our new Mantus 60 was shackled to the chain at the bow.
We had initially let out a 3:1 scope because there weren’t any storms forecast that we knew of and Cat Harbor is so calm. We had a lot more feet of chain to let out, if needed, and also about 100 feet of rode. We noticed some dark clouds rolling in around 2 in the afternoon, so we checked the weather once again and found that there was in fact a storm blowing in that evening. After taking our dog Friday ashore for her last land break, we hurried back to the boat before the rain started, and made it just in time.
Within about two hours of returning to the boat it was about 6 o’clock and the winds started blowing. From our
The rain has started by this time and there was also an almost continual barrage of lightening throughout the sky. This is so unusual for Southern California that people ended up talking about it for a few days. Although the boat was whipping around a lot we did not drag at all – not even a foot. Our Mantus 65 dug deeply in and held us throughout the night. This was especially comforting considering the fact that we had anchored in deeper water than at any other time at Cat Harbor, and had out a total scope of about 3:1. I did an anchor watch until about 2 a.m. but it was really unnecessary, although in a good blow you really have to stand watch.
Cat Harbor is considered the best place to hole up during a blow even with the funneling effect of the surrounding land. One of the main reasons is that the ocean swells are almost completely broken up by the harbor. Every now and then you get a bit of roll, but anchoring there mostly feels like you are in a marina!