Archive for 'Southern Channel Islands / Catalina'

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Craig McCabe’s Big Adventure

Posted by John Callender on January 15th, 2006 at 1:04 pm

Craig McCabe

Mark Twain famously quipped that a man with one watch knows exactly what time it is; a man with two is never sure. A nice example of that is provided by Internet news sites, which make it possible to pull up different newspaper articles describing the same event.

I thought about that when reading today about Craig McCabe, a lawyer who lives aboard his powerboat Heather in Marina del Rey. McCabe was singlehanding the boat from Marina del Rey to Newport Harbor this past Thursday, when he fell overboard and ended up spending more than five hours in the water.

Meanwhile, his boat wandered off on its own and eventually plowed into Catalina Island, prompting a search for the missing boater. He was plucked from the water near a buoy that sounds like it might be the LA Harbor entrance buoy. But first he was overlooked by a passing fishing boat, almost run down by a passing freighter, clung to a balloon and some driftwood, recited the 23rd Psalm, and was threatened by a territorial sea lion.

The articles all pretty much agree on these dramatic apects of the story. But there seems to be an interesting looseness regarding more basic information like how old McCabe is (58 or 59, depending on which article you read), and how long his boat is (either 50, 55, or 65 feet).

Anyway, you can read the articles and try to figure out the details for yourself:

All the articles seem to agree that McCabe was checking over the side to see if his boat had snagged a lobster pot when he fell in, which is easy enough to believe. But I find myself wondering if it might actually be that McCabe is embarrassed to admit that the real reason he was leaning over the side was that he was peeing.

I guess I’ll never know. Anyway, I’m glad the story had a happy ending.

Photo: McCabe, along with his daughter Kelly and Dr. Jonathon Lawrence, at a press conference Friday at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. Photo by Bruce Chambers of the Orange County Register.

Controversy Continues for Avalon Repair Barge

Posted by John Callender on December 2nd, 2005 at 8:00 am

repair barge at Avalon

The Log ran a story by Marisa O’Neil a week ago (Avalon takes another look at large barge) about the new repair barge that owner Robert Sherrill has anchored off the Casino in Avalon. At issue is the height of the barge, which at three stories has prompted many in Avalon to complain that it is an eyesore.

Now the LA Times’ Nancy Wride has written an article with some additional detail: New barge roils water in Avalon. From the latter story:

Sherrill’s Marine Services has been a fixture of Catalina for decades. His father bought the barge in the late 1950s from a guy named “Smitty” — and even then it was old, Sherrill said. The Sherrill family had a Long Beach boat repair business, but also spent summers at Avalon Harbor in what was then a seasonal business. From the age of 11, Robert Sherrill worked on the barge and often slept on its spartan cots. In 1984, he bought the barge from his father.

At first, Sherrill’s family lived in an Avalon condo, but he sold it a few years ago and moved to Temecula. He decided to move back, he said, after the business became a full-time venture and a partner couldn’t run it anymore. But now his family can’t afford any property on the island, Sherrill said.

He said the workers on whom the island depends can no longer afford to live there. As for worries that a lot of people will suddenly start living in the harbor, Sherrill said they’re nonsense because of the cost of Avalon moorings, many of which sell for more than $1 million.

Sherrill said he made his plans clear from the start, telling the harbor master about the construction and about his intention to move his wife, two teenagers and dog on board, into an 800-square-foot, third-floor apartment. He said he described his plan to split the 800-square-foot second floor into three units to house visiting mechanics and boat captains who staff the business’ 24-hour vessel assistance service and help tackle ballooning demand in warmer months.

Harbor Master Bray disputes this, saying that Sherrill told him the bottom two floors would be repair and vessel rescue offices, and the top floor would be for on-call boat captains and mechanics. No one is living on the boat now, however.

In November, the City Council held a public hearing on whether to pull Sherrill’s Marine Services’ permit. It voted not to do so, instead ordering Sherrill to work with the harbor commission to improve the look of the new barge. The council barred anyone from living on the vessel until Sherrill and the commission reach an agreement.

For now, the barge’s interior remains unfinished. Sherrill and his family, according to Sherrill, are living in close quarters on a 40-foot boat they own.

Meanwhile, everywhere they go, they hear talk about the barge. Avalon is just like “Peyton Place,” Sherrill said. “People just love to have something to talk about.”

Personally, I’ve almost always steered clear of Avalon, preferring less-crowded venues for my island getaways. My main experience of Avalon is as a cluster of lights off to port while drifting around the East End during the wee hours of the Catalina Island Race. I confess to being interested in how this controversy turns out, though.

Photo by Bob Chamberlin of the LA Times.

Pier at Catalina’s Isthmus to Be Expanded

Posted by John Callender on November 8th, 2005 at 9:47 am

Catalina\'s Isthmus pier

I came across this article in San Diego’s The Log the other day: Renovation planned for Catalina’s Isthmus pier.

Isthmus Pier on Santa Catalina Island will get a facelift next year, including the addition of a new harbormaster office and a pumpout station.
Work on the 180-foot pier is scheduled to start in early 2006 and will likely take three to four months, Two Harbors Harbormaster Doug Oudin said. It should be completed in time for the summer season…

The pier will likely be completely closed, including the fuel dock, for the duration of the project, Oudin said. Details are still being worked out to provide emergency fuel and water and passenger access to and from the beach.

I remember tying up to the current pier on a busy Fourth of July weekend a number of years ago, after a long morning row from Howland’s Landing to buy ice. Dinghies were tied up three deep, and I had a tricky scramble before I could actually reach the pier.

(Photo by Becky Mucha.)

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