Back when I started diving… 50+ years ago, my primary interest other than exploring the undersea world was hunting. Spearfishing, lobster, abalone and scallop hunting were my main focus. As years went by I had visions of becoming a great underwater photographer. I’ve won a few awards for underwater photography over the years but back then it was a very difficult skill to master, which I never really did. I started with a Kodak Instamatic camera in a plastic box before moving up to a Nikonos camera and then 35 mm SLR cameras with large bulky housings. Strobe lights attached to the cameras made using them difficult to do sometimes and a complete underwater camera setup was an expensive investment.Continue reading Underwater Photography
As the name suggests, the Catalina Goby (Lythrypnus dalli) lives around Santa Catalina Island. It’s about 1/2 – 3/4-inch-long and can be found among the crevasses of rocks down to about 75 meters. It’s considered a nano fish and lives in the west coast waters from California to Peru. They remain gender neutral until they establish dominance within the harem. The most dominant will then become male and grow a longer dorsal fin.
These sharks lay on the bottom and mind their own business… until someone like me comes along. They have two very sharp needle-like spines at the dorsal fins and they will hurt! Trust me, I know. They also have several rows of teeth and a crushing bite.
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!Continue reading How to wrangle a Horn Shark
This is another Catalina favorite… think of it as a milkshake for adults! There are several bars on the island that make this drink and the recipe can vary a little. As you can see, there is no buffalo milk in the drink… I don’t think I would even try to milk a buffalo! I understand they get pissed off easily!
- 1/2 shot Crème de Cacao dark
- 1/2 shot Crème de Cacao white
- 1/2 shot Kahlua
- 1 shot vodka
- 1/2 shot cream
- 1/2 piece of a fresh banana
- 1 sprinkle of nutmeg
- 1 whipped cream topping
Add everything except the last two items in a blender half full of ice. Blend until smooth and pour into a glass. Add a dab of whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg on top.
When Your Home Golf Course Is Catalina Island
Golf is often referred to as the game you love to hate. No matter how good you think you are, the “Golf Gods” are always ready and able to knock you down and return you back to earth. You might be able to string together a couple of good holes. You get a couple of pars, then you get that birdie and start feeling really good about your game… then that double or triple boogie comes along; the horrible sand trap; the deadly water hazard, and you quickly become mortal again. It’s the great equalizer in life and even happens to the great ones. How many of us smile just a little when you watch golf on TV and see a great pro player have that horrible hole just like the rest of us. Since I play for fun and don’t have to depend on my game to support myself (thank God!), I try not to take the game too seriously.
I have been fortunate to have played some of the most beautiful courses in the world, the Olympic Club, the Old Del Monte Course, The Presidio S.F., Cabo del Sol, just to name a few, but there is nothing like playing island golf. “Mainland” courses are pretty, but when you add golf to an island, the courses become truly beautiful.
I have played the Tryall Club Course in Jamaica, the Waikoloa King’s Course and Wailea Golf Club Hawaii, the Pearl in Morea, the Coronado and yes, I have even played at St. Andrews in Scotland. What they all have in common is that they are located on islands! What I consider to be my “home island course” is here on Catalina.
All the courses I have listed above have their own unique histories. Many have hosted major tournaments and as we all know, St. Andrews is the legendary home of golf. We here in Catalina have a great deal to be proud of with our course history as well. Our course was built by the Banning Brothers in 1892 and is the oldest operating course west of the Rock Mountains. Not only has the Catalina course been played by numerous movie stars, athletes and celebrities over the years but is was the home to the Bobby Jones Invitational from 1931-1955. The Catalina Island Junior Golf Tournament started in 1967. Future pro golfers, Corey Pavin, Craig Stadler and Tiger Woods played in the tournament.
If you visit Catalina, take a little time to enjoy golf here. And for those of us who play here on a regular basis, next time you play a round, take a moment to remember the history, enjoy the beauty and realize how fortunate we are to be in such a special place.
Reprinted from the Catalina Islander February 10, 2017
Reprinted from the Catalina Islander October 14, 2016
It was many years ago when I first met Artelle. She was an elderly lady who ran the Credit Union where I had an account. She was over eighty years old at that time and I wondered why she was still working at her age. As I got to know her, I found that her husband had died and she had an adult son, still at home, who had some problems. The money she earned helped but it seemed equally important for her to be connected and involved in the world around her. She always took the time to converse with the customers and showed an interest in their lives.
One day prior to a holiday period she asked if I had vacation plans. I mentioned I was going to spend the holidays at my home on Catalina. It was as if a light went on in her eyes. “Catalina! I grew up in Southern California and used to go to Catalina all the time,” she proclaimed. She then asked me to come into her office and she told me about her remembrances of the island.
When she was in her late teens/ early twenties, Artelle and her girlfriends used to catch the ferryboat, the S.S. Catalina, in Wilmington and go to Catalina for the weekend. It was the late 1930’s and the main attraction was the big bands playing at the casino ballroom. There was no TV at that time but the music was broadcast on the radio all over the country. The boats also featured bands, dancing and entertainment on the passage over. Back then, the boats weren’t as fast as the express boats of today and the trip took about two and a half hours. She and her friends got “all dolled up” as she put it. “The ladies all wore fancy dresses and the men wore suits and ties and we danced on the boat all the way to the island,” Artelle stated. Then she mentioned with a sly grin that she and the girls sometimes had a few cocktails on the boat ride over.
When they arrived at the island there was always great excitement. It was like you arrived in a foreign country. Today we are used to a boat arriving almost hourly but back then it was just a couple of times a day and it was a big deal. Speedboats would jump over the boat wake as it approached, people came to the dock to sing and kids would dive for the coins passengers would throw overboard as the “Great White Steamer” docked.
Then it was off to the Casino to dance all weekend long. She could still remember all the big bands she saw. It was clear to me that sharing these memories allowed her to step back to a time and place she remembered with great fondness. I felt privileged to have heard a bit of Catalina history from someone who lived it. Artelle passed away a few years ago but I can’t help to think of her every time I go to the New Year’s Eve event at the Casino… it always seems like I just stepped back into the 1930’s.
Mark Marchetti-Author and Catalina resident
Reprinted from the Catalina Islander March 25, 2016
In 1983 Jimmy Buffett wrote a song called One Particular Harbor which almost perfectly describes my relationship with Catalina Island. I was raised in Northern California and always had a fascination with the ocean and beach but neither of my parents were ‘beach people’. Never the less, it seemed I was destined to find my one particular harbor. My mother never learned to swim, but insisted that her sons would become swimmers, so as a youngster I got swimming lessons. It was fine with me because I loved to be in the water and it was the first step towards finding Catalina.
There have been many turning points in my life that have made an impact… even at a young age. In the 1950’s there was a TV show called Sea Hunt (1958-61) starring Lloyd Bridges as Mike Nelson, a retired Navy Diver who had all sorts of exciting adventures. By our modern standards, the SCUBA diving sequences and special effects would be seen as amateur but to a boy of eight with an imagination it was magic. Many of my diving friends reference Sea Hunt as their first introduction to SCUBA and credit the show for sparking their interest in diving. After seeing Sea Hunt, I had only two goals in life… to become a SCUBA diver and to own a boat (he had a cool cabin cruiser named Argonaut on the show). I was too young to learn SCUBA but quickly learned to snorkel and when I turned seventeen I took a SCUBA class and got certified. I did my check out dives in the cold, dark water of Monterey Bay and at that point in my life I had no idea a place like Catalina existed… but I was getting closer!
When my local dive shop sponsored a boat dive trip I signed up. We boarded an old rusty boat called the Emerald and headed out to sea. I don’t recall where we dove but I remember the Captain saying we would get a mooring in Avalon for the night. It was a hot, sunny summer afternoon when the boat pulled in and I’ll never forget my first impression of Catalina. The harbor was full of beautiful boats, many had music playing, there were girls in bikinis everywhere… on the beach, walking downtown, dancing on boats… everywhere! When I ordered a beer at a local bar the bartender wasn’t overly concerned about seeing an ID (things were a little looser in the 1960’s). On top of all this, the water was clear, warm and provided great diving! I found Catalina Island and it was a very positive experience. After that, I returned as often as possible.
As my life progressed, I got married, had children and Catalina remained an important part of my life. Every visit to the island was viewed as an adventure. My children learned to swim, snorkel, SCUBA dive, paddle board and play golf here. We brought our friends so we could share the island with them and over the years have made many local friends. It was about twelve years ago when we realized the dream of buying our own home here. While we don’t live here full time, we now get to spend considerably more time on the island.
I write historical fiction novels and have traveled to many places encountering interesting people along the way… many have inspired characters in my books. Places like Key West, Saint Augustine, Port Royal, and Avalon have long and colorful histories that can provide a backdrop to a story. I have also found the best stories are told around a campfire, on a fishing boat or at a local bar. If you don’t hear a good story in places like The Marlin Club, The Lobster Trap, Coyote Joe’s or The Locker Room, well, you just aren’t listening!
Many years ago I found myself sitting at a bar, having a few beers with Joseph Wambaugh, a very well-known author… which is a separate story in itself. My first book was in the beginning stages but I was struggling with some aspects of the craft. We talked about writing, etc. and I learned some things from him about listening to the stories around me, but more importantly, seeking stories out and remembering them. Many of the tales heard can be inserted into a novel through a character in the story. I also learned writing is a process that can’t be hurried and all about ‘writer’s block’… when you just can’t make the process happen.
Fortunately I have Catalina. Maybe it’s the weather, the people, the relaxed atmosphere, the cocktails… but there are two places I never have writer’s block; Catalina Island and aboard my boat! So I’ll just keep coming back to Catalina… like Jimmy said in the song, ‘I know I don’t get there often enough but God knows I surely try.’
Mark Marchetti, Author and Catalina Island Resident
When I sit and write it’s always important to stay well hydrated and have a good cigar. My favorite cigar is the Arturo Fuentes Hemingway Signature and as far as drinks go… anything with rum or Jack Daniels will do! Sometimes when people come over and get to experimenting with concoctions at my bar we come up with some tasty drinks. Here’s a few to try out.
2 oz. Jack Daniels
4 oz. Pepsi (use the Pepsi made with REAL sugar)
Splash of Grenadine
Serve over ice
Mix the Jack and Coke over ice, add a splash of grenadine and a cherry. Done!
The Catalina Cocktail
I was shopping at my local Safeway/Vons store and saw a product in the juice section. It was a mix of Orange, Peach and Mango. I looked at that container and it seemed to just cry out, “ADD RUM!” So I bought it and brought it home. It can make this quick tropical drink and is named for Catalina Island where I spend a great deal of time.
4 oz. Rum
4 oz. Orange, Peach & Mango Juice
Get a glass of any size… preferably large (at least 12 oz.) and fill it with ice. Fill it half way with rum and the other half juice. Mix and garnish with a lime wedge.
* I always use dark rum, usually Cruzan, Meyers, or Plantation. If you like the spiced rums then it’s Sailor Jerry or Kraken… and if you want, you can always add a float of Bacardi 151.
This juice makes a great smoothie as well… which you can also add rum to.
1 ½ cups of juice
1 cup frozen mango
1 cup frozen Non Fat Vanilla Yogurt
Blend in the blender until frothy… add rum to taste!
Lizard Key Mojito
The Pirate Mojito
When I wrote Lizard Key I wanted to give the pirate, Nick Roberts, a signature drink. Just as James Bond has his vodka martini ‘shaken, not stirred’ Nick Roberts has his mojito, ‘dark rum, not too sweet’… sort of like a pirate’s soul.
2 oz. DARK rum (Gosling’s Black Rum or a dark rum of your choice)
Two mint sprigs
Juice of ½ a fresh lime
½ oz. sugar cane syrup… remember, not too sweet.
Place the mint, lime juice and cane syrup in a 12 oz. tumbler (make sure it’s a sturdy glass!) Gently muddle the mix with a wooden muddler… not too hard, you don’t want to shred the leaves just bruise them to release the essential oils. Add some ice and rum, briefly shake and top it off with the club soda. Add mint leave or lime wedge as a garnish.
One of my friends in Key West is Bahama Bob Leonard. As it turned out Bob and I went to rival High Schools across town from each other in California and at one time were both SCCA racecar drivers. Bob has written two books which I consider the definitive works on cocktails… especially tropical cocktails; Cocktails and Tales and Cocktails and Tales Too. Great receipts and great history stories. If you’re ever in Key West stop in at the Rum Bar on Duval Street and have him mix you a drink or check him out at BahamaBobLeonard.com.
Sea Planes have been crossing from the California mainland to the Channel Islands for almost a century. The first service was operated by Charlie Chaplin’s half-brother Syd in 1919. Operating for a couple of years, other firms moved in to operate the service until 1931 when Wrigley stepped up.
Phillip K. Wrigley, began the Wilmington-Catalina Airline, Ltd. through his Santa Catalina Island Company, and took over the sea plane services. The airline’s fleet were mostly comprised of Douglas Dolphin’s designed by Donald Douglas.
In 1931, Wrigley helped design a unique airport at Hamilton Cove, the 2nd cove north of Avalon, to accommodate the Douglas Dolphin ‘Amphibion’ planes. The twin-engine Dolphins landed just offshore & would taxi up a ramp to a large turntable mechanism. The airplane would then be rotated until it was facing the water & ready for a trip back to the mainland. A small Spanish-style terminal building welcomed residents, business people & tourists to Catalina.” There was also a large hanger behind the terminal building.
According the Catalina Goose, Wilmington-Catalina Air Line was noted in the March 1941 issue of Flying & Popular Aviation as “the shortest airline in the world.” The article points out that not only was Wilmington-Catalina Air Line, serving 2 towns less than 30 miles apart, the shortest but also the safest airline, having flown the channel 38,000 times carrying over 200,000 passengers with no accidents or injuries between 1931-41.
Seaplane service was discontinued & replaced by a landplane base in the spring of 1941 and following the entry of the USA into WWII, civilian air traffic to Catalina Island was shut down and the Coast Guard took over the Hamilton Cove Seaplane Base.
Just a few photos of the creatures we share the sea with. Future web posts will have some of our smaller creatures.
A close encounter of the octopus kind! This is one of my favorite creatures. They are incredibly smart and very adaptive. They change colors depending on their mood or environment.
Large barracuda like this guy usually swim around alone. When they are small you will see them in large schools. They have large sharp teeth and the unwarranted reputation as being dangerous. I have been in the water with them hundreds of times and have found them to just be curious. If you catch one on a fishing line… getting him off the hook could be dangerous. This was taken in Belize.
Caribbean reek shark. I love diving with sharks. They are fun to photograph and add an element of excitement to any dive. This guy and his pals were keeping us company on a dive. There are really only a few species that are of much concern to divers.
Lemon shark in Bora Bora. This was a large pregnant shark about ten feet long. She was a little far away for the photo and kept her distance. The photo shows how well they blend into the surroundings. You look into the distance and see nothing and then suddenly they are there. We saw several sharks of the same size on this dive but only a few came close to us.
This is my wife, Pamela, diving in Bora Bora at about 70 feet down. The water is warm enough that you do not have to use a wet suit but keep in mind that in the ocean there are lots of little stingy things that can get you. I learned that lesson with fire coral many years ago. Clear warm water with lots of fish… just like an aquarium.