Ralph Perez, 1st Vice President and Program Director of the Club, invited me to sail with him on a 38 feet sailboat to Santa Catalina Island in October 2012. We were the only ones on the boat and we both have captain license to sail sailboats. We motor sailed from Long Beach to the Island (26 Nautical miles) which took about 4 hours. We stayed one night on board the boat at the harbor and sailed back the next evening because the infamous Santa Ana storm was expected the day after. On the way back the motor broke down so used only sail, which took about 7 hours in a 6 force (10.8-13.6 m/s) beam reach wind. We had to tack a few times to get the sailboat into the Long Beach harbor. It was great fun and interesting to visit this famous island. Ralph also invited me to speak about my adventures at the Club, which I did.
The island is 21 miles (34 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) across at its greatest width. It was originally settled by Native Americans. It’s name to day was given by Sebastián Vizcaíno who came to the island on Saint Catherine’s day in 1602 and named it after the saint.
The island has been used for smuggling, otter hunting, and gold-digging, before developed into a tourist destination by William Wrigley, Jr. (1861-1932) in the 1920s. He owned the island and improved it with e.g. public utilities, new steamships, a hotel, plantings of trees, and flowers. He is mostly famous for founding the world famous chewing gum company named after him.
The Catalina Casino is a theater, ballroom and museum, but no gambling. It gets its name from the Italian language, where “casino” means a gathering place. It was build by William Wrigley, Jr.
The use of motor vehicles on the island is restricted so golf cart are mostly used.
The Consolidated PBY Catalina seaplane was named after the island. It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II and served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces. Also in the air forces and navies of many other nations.
The Catalina seaplanes played a big part in Icelandic aviation history. Flugfélag Íslands (Air Iceland) bought one in 1944. It was used for the airline’s first international flight in the summer of 1945. The Catalina aircraft’s of Flugfélag Íslands and Loftleiðir (Loftleiðir the Icelandic Airlines) were also important for developing domestic flights from 1944 to 1961 when airports in Iceland were few, transport on land was difficult and sea travel time-consuming. From 1954 to 1963 the Icelandic Coast Guard used a Cataline during the 1958-1961 Cod War with the British.