Catalina Island
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November 25, 2017 - 8:51am

Articles by Jim Watson

Catalina Island’s seventh annual Flying Fish Festival held over the weekend was a “fabulous” success, according to Donna Harris, Director of Marketing for the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce.

The weekend was marked by numerous activities for young and old, from boat building contests to a live ukulele concert.

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part series. Jim Watson is the author of “Mysterious Island: Catalina,” available at Amazon, Kindle and in stores in Avalon.

Just exactly what is the Magellan Club and how does one become a member? If you were with me last week, I introduced the concept of this club—named after the intrepid Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan—and the overriding stipulation for becoming a member: namely, circumnavigating Catalina Island under your own power.

Somewhere around my fortieth year in this world and my tenth on this island, I fulfilled a great ambition I had entertained since first moving here.

And that was to paddle my kayak, or be conveyed by some other means of self-propulsion, all the way around the Island, stopping here and there to swim or camp or spear a fish.  I would be in no particular hurry, I decided, and I would be sure to stop at the Isthmus first on my westward leg and again on the easterly one to replenish my supplies and sling a rum and coke or two at the Harbor Reef Saloon.

A fishing boat with 17 Mexican citizens illegally in the United States aboard was seized May 16 by U.S. Border Patrol agents near Catalina Island.  Officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine have described the vessel as part of a “human-smuggling operation.”

Catalina Island briefly found itself thrust into the national headlines in a very unlikely way earlier this month as a result of a nail-biting aviation emergency.

It all began two weeks ago Saturday on an otherwise relaxing United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Kona International Airport on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Local musician Butch Azevedo recalls a memorable day only a few years ago when he was out in the Interior doing some oak sapling monitoring near the Laura Stein Volunteer Camp.  

While taking a lunch break, he said he and the other members of his group spotted a large black cat pacing around at a distance of about 200 yards.

“It was not a deer, it was not a buffalo, it was not a regular cat.  This thing was huge, probably 200-plus pounds,” he said, swaying his shoulders back and forth in panther-like fashion.

Catalina Island is home to a wide variety of animal life ranging from our iconic buffalo (OK, bison) and white-tailed deer, to our darling little foxes and untamed shrews.

As we all know, many of these animals are not native to the Island and found themselves here only by means of introduction via the Island’s only bipedal mammal, homo sapiens.

Editor’s Note: Jim Watson is the author of “Mysterious Island:  Catalina,” available at Amazon, Kindle and in stores in Avalon. The following is “the second in a two-part series."

Having lost his treasure map overboard on his fateful trip across the channel, Samuel Prentiss found himself shipwrecked on Catalina’s West End.  All he could remember about the map that had purportedly been given him by the dying Tongva Chief Turie was that it was buried “under a tree.”

Editor’s note:  Jim Watson is the author of “Mysterious Island: Catalina,” available at Amazon, Kindle and in stores in Avalon.

On a Spring day in 1829, a New England-native named Samuel Prentiss, carpenter by trade, found himself sitting alone on a wind-swept beach on Catalina Island’s West End.

He was, quite possibly, the only soul on Catalina Island at that particular moment.  

A few weeks ago I either astounded you or bored you silly with the etymology (origins) of several of the place names in California and on Catalina Island.  We looked at the origins of place names from Salta Verde to Mt. Orizaba and then some.

Well, it’s time to put your thinking caps back on and travel back in time with me nearly a thousand years to the first usages of the word “avalon”:  who used it and why they used it.