I believe that the backside of Catalina is home to five things: sharks, terrified sea lions, big schools of bait fish (and, presumably, the yellowtail and white sea bass that eat them), fisherman, and Sleestacks (look it up, millennials).  I personally didn’t see any sharks on our 16-mile paddle from Catalina Harbor to Two Harbors, but I saw plenty of seals that had a look of utter fear written across their faces.  They didn’t even want to be in the water.  I also didn’t see any Sleestacks, but what else could live on that barren side of the island except for Chaka and cave-dwelling, aliens?  Huh?

With just two of us, on an outrigger and a paddleboard, the trip was a little hairy – big, open water, currents that flowed backward against 20-knot winds, clouds and fog, and lots and lots of bumpy wind-swells.  But, after we rounded the West End, the sun came out, as did our smiles, and we laughed and paddled on a downwind run that will surely be one to remember.  Five hours total run-time means we weren’t exactly tearing it up, but it was well worth the distraction of switching vehicles, swimming, and stopping to check out coves and awe-inspiring geology that one usually misses being in a boat.


The return to Two Harbors put us smack dab into the middle of some kind of wine festival, in which wine ‘tasting’ was replaced with full on gluttony and ‘dignity’ was a ship that sailed quietly away in the afternoon, leaving 200 of the drunkest folks I’ve seen in a long time.  It was a total horror show; a Russian dash-cam; a front seat to every bad reality program one can imagine.  I can’t even explain it, so I’m just going to post a few photos — maybe the captions will help.

For every girl that ran into a glass sliding window, for every mullet, Viking and buffalo-horn hat, for every rich tool who ordered drinks and walked away from the bar without paying…there are the patient people and beautiful charms of The Island.

Rock to Rock 2014 is up this next Saturday, so we get to do it all over again soon.