Catalina Island
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Reported on:
November 25, 2017 - 8:51am

Articles by Jim Watson

The legendary tall ship Tole Mour, which graced the waters around Catalina Island for many years, has been sold to a windjammer charter company in the Caribbean.

Island Windjammers, which offers casual cruises on tall ships, recently purchased the three-masted schooner, making it the third vessel in the company’s fleet.  

The schooner was used for many years at the Catalina Island Marine Institute at Toyon Bay northwest of Avalon as a training vessel and “sea-going classroom.”

Where would you bury a treasure on Catalina Island?

If you had millions of dollars worth of gold, silk, ivory and gems and you had to temporarily dispose of them, where would you put them?

This was precisely the envious predicament that a certain privateer named Sir Thomas Cavendish may well have faced many a year ago with ill-gotten booty he had acquired from a Spanish galleon named the Santa Ana.

Put a beautiful island off the coast of any continent and the inhabitants of that continent will invent all manner of means of getting to that island.

Take Catalina, for example.  Over the thousands of years that humans have lived in what we now call Southern California, they have made their way here from the mainland by ti’ats and tomals, skiffs and jetskis, schooners and sloops, kayaks and outriggers.

There’s a life-and-death battle playing out just beneath the waves around Catalina and, for that matter, most of Southern California.

The sea lions are losing and a plant native to Asia is making matters worse.

In case you’ve missed it in the local and even national and international news, huge numbers of sea lion pups have been turning up dead or near death on beaches around the southland, including here at Catalina.  

It was one of those eyeball-rolling moments I frequently experience when doing any sort of Internet research concerning Catalina Island. You know what I’m talking about:  those moments that are triggered by well-meaning, but factually incorrect articles about the Island that one comes across on blogs, travel sites and other such venues written by visitors who try to absorb our thousands of years of history in a single afternoon.

I had been hoping for a suitable streak of gloomy, dreary winter weather with which to revisit this chilling story involving Machine Gun Park, the old Catherine Hotel and a mysterious “lady in black.”  But the weather doesn’t seem to want to cooperate and instead just wants to continue being gorgeous.

This week, we once again revisit the “Catalina History That Never Was” department and an intriguing project proposed by Southern California Edison back in 1980 that, alas, never came to be.

In past columns in this same category, I’ve written about great plans of yore of an often negative nature that (fortunately) never came to be:  the plans to build a nuclear power plant near the East End quarry (or at one point possibly Ben Weston Beach!) as well as a number of plans over the years to turn Avalon into one huge strip mall.

The Valentine’s Day weekend is shaping up to be the first big weekend of the year visitor-wise, according to the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

“It’s the first weekend of the season where we’re having trouble finding enough rooms for everyone,” said Samantha Prince, visitor services and operations manager for the Chamber.

The placid, pristine waters of Catalina Harbor on Catalina’s West End may look innocent enough to the casual observer.

But in the turquoise depths beneath the waves of the idyllic harbor lurk the remnants of fierce battles of canvas and wood, iron and gunpowder, fist and cutlass; tumultuous expositions of violence between Moroccan pirates, Arab dhows and American frigates, Royal Navy Men o’ War and wayward merchant ships.

The Avalon Fire Department is currently in the process of conducting fire inspections for businesses for 2015.  

The inspections, held each year, are designed to ensure compliance with local fire codes and to identify and correct any potential problems.