Fred Team’s Adventures on the Pacific

Fred Team's Adventures on the Pacific

On February 11, the Fred Sandiego Team packed up a thirty-foot sail boat in the San Diego Harbor and commenced on a journey to Catalina Islands. Our six-member crew of newbie sailors were about to take on our very first cruise to the islands located off the coast of Los Angeles. “Peace of cake,” we thought. Our captain was a seasoned seaman and had made the trip many times before. Boy, we were blissfully oblivious to what was about to take place.

Unfortunately, the ten-hour journey had to be endured running the engines, as there was hardly any wind, a common scenario sailing along the coast of Southern California.

Our first eerie encounter occurred around 1 a.m. when we spotted a passenger ship floating about 300 yards away. It continued to move ahead alongside our boat, transmitting incomprehensible light signals. We’re a fairly tough bunch, but even so we got a little weak in the knees because we knew how dangerous it is for such a large vessel to be sailing so close, and we were constantly on a collision course with the ship. If the captain of the ship had suddenly decided to alter the course to face us, an accident would’ve been imminent. On top of that, the ship was completely dark. After about an hour, we concluded that it had to be a ghost ship. Every now and then, the ship would send us a SOS signal, along with others we couldn’t decipher. Finally, we managed to leave the ship behind and the whole crew let out a sigh of relief. Ghost ship or not, the Fred crew was now ready to crash, while the captain stayed on the deck to maintain our course.

Fred Team's Adventures on the Pacific

Upon our arrival in Catalina Harbor around 3 a.m. the pilot was chuckling at the bags under our eyes that were just a little too obvious. “I can tell you’re not into sleeping,” he says. Who’s got time to sleep in San Diego, when there’s so much to do? Besides, none of us could even blink with the bizarre ghost ship hovering in our vicinity. Our savor really was the captain, who had been pushing ahead without sleep all night long. Safely anchored, hatches closed, the whole crew was asleep in seconds! After a mere few hours of rest, we got up for a quick breakfast and were off to explore the island!

We pulled out our bikes and started pedaling around Catalina. As luck would have it, we’d barely biked a mile or two when our group was stopped by a ranger to inquire about bike permits. We seemed to have forgotten all about them (permits? what permits?). The ranger also insisted that our bikes were not in accordance with the Island policies. Turns out that because of the aggressive bisons roaming free around the area, only mountain bikes are allowed on the island! The six of us must have had some bewildered looks on our faces. First a ghost ship, now mad attacking bisons? Did someone drop a little engine oil in our morning coffee?! The ranger was kind enough to enlighten us that in 1924, 14 bisons were imported to the island to film movie titled “Vanishing American.” Since then, the population has grown to include hundreds of bisons, and they are no well behaved pets. Hence the mountain-bikes-only rule – apparently you may get away with one in case you’re attacked by a herd of angry bisons!

Since our bike ride was cut short, we decided to head for some local seafood, followed by lounging on the deck, catching some rays. However, our moment of peace and quiet was short lived, not surprisingly. The harbor inspector came around to inform us that the hold-in tank onboard was overflowing (yuk!). We had accidentally let a few drops leak into the harbor, leaving us with a 500-dollar fine!

We decided it was time to lift the anchor and find a less hostile parking spot. This would have to be the last of our misfortunes, or so we thought, until we realized we had sailed straight into an underwater diving net! It had gotten severely tangled in the propeller, and only a professional diver could get it straightened out, with a small fee of 2 000 dollars! But that’s minor…

Despite the misfortunes, in the end Catalina was beautiful, we got plenty of sun, crisp cold beer and we sailed back smoothly, holding the Fred flag up high!