Monday, October 27, 2008

LB2CAT Training Ride, 10/26/2008

Top Picture is Jim Walker. Picture to right is Cheng Leu and Kim Bushong
SUBJECT: LB2CAT Training Ride 10/26/08 by Ralph Perez (Guest writer) This morning at 0’dark thirty I wake up to the fog horn that sounds like its right outside my window. Normally for me I don’t mind fog except that today is the much anticipated LB2CAT training ride called by non other than “Famous Friebe”. If you own a Seadoo and you ride WOT or have recently raced you know who this is – if you don’t, he is the guy that can coax the maximum mph’s out of your Seadoo.If you haven’t yet gotten a copy of the video – 2008 LB2CAT Race – visit the footage of the now famous Mark Gerner riding #58 SeaDoo built up by Famous Friebe is reason enough for purchasing a copy. The other reason for getting a copy is to remind you of why you bought that ski in the first place. So why not come join the rest of us for a “fun ride” next time; to the island and back.Yesterday the wife and I helped some friends move a 40’ sailboat from San Pedro to its new slip in Long Beach. The sea was like pond water all morning. By 6:30 p.m. that evening the San Pedro Channel (waters between the mainland and Catalina Island) was covered in fog with Catalina Island totally exposed. This made for a great picture as they were all low lying clouds with clear skies. It was no surprise what this morning would be like for me.As you may recall, my ’08 Ultra 250X broke down on me last Sunday as I was leaving Two Harbors, Catalina Island while riding with John Belton. Some electrical issue is all I know at this point.When I left my house this morning the visibility was about one mile. As I approached the last bridge into Long Beach from San Pedro the visibility kept dropping until I pulled up to the launch ramp. In no time flat I counted fifteen PWC riders that showed up for this mornings ride.Most had made the early morning journey all the way from Fresno, California to do this ride. Fog or no fog everyone was itching to get going. By 0830 all riders were in the water and heading towards the Queen Mary.I was pulling up the rear as Jim had outfitted me with one of his handy dandy camera cams so I could record the ride. I got some great footage of the riders heading into the fog; the Queen Mary and then some more riders (how could they see) and fog.Unfortunately, the great footage of the dolphins and the sun breaking through about 5-6 miles out did not make it. Seems the SeaDoo also likes to go fast and in no time flat the RAM suction mount holding the digital camera fly’s up in the air; the length of its cord and directly back at me, possibly bouncing off my helmet before it comes back down at full force right on top of my $400.00 Garmin 76CX; splitting the screen wide open.A short while later (9 miles from Avalon) to be exact; my assigned “Wing Man” Kim Bushong looked like he was dead in the water; and so I return to him. He quickly tells me he is taking on water fast! Dejavu I say. Maybe there is a Catalina Triangle and we are dead smack in the middle of it; come to think of it I haven’t seen the other 14 riders since we entered the fog bank.Bermuda doesn’t have to be the only place with these kind of weird waters. Seems I recall that according to her book Weird Michigan; author Linda S. Godfrey believes there is also a Michigan Triangle located over central Lake Michigan and now I’m starting to think there is one out here too. Right over there I tell Kim, four miles up the road; that’s where my Ultra started taking on water and where I was starting to sink.Could it be human error? Not on this occasion; it turns out it was just a disconnected engine cooling line (lower bottom – by the supercharger belt) only we didn’t find this out until we got back to the launch ramp. That was a 19.8 mile tow according to my broken but, still visible Garmin screen.Just call me SeaTowDoo from now on. I towed Kim at 25 mph with him riding on the back of my ski. Maybe this will make a good retirement job. I’ll sell tow service just for PWC’s. Only I know there are only a handful of you that ride anymore than two or three times a year so I won’t be making much money. Thanks to my previous breakdown (read Almost Sunk my Ultra 250X article) I purchased a new 100’ of (5/8) poly pro line and cut it in half. 50’ went to the my GTX and 50’ went to my Ultra.So you’re interested in joining this little group on a future ride to the island I’ve set up a FAQ (pronounced FAK) or list of "frequently-asked questions" (and answers) for you that may help. So here goes. (stolen and changed from my earlier Key West Ride Article)Q: How much experience do I need to ride to Catalina Island?A: Experience is how we avoid mistakes. Mistakes are how we gain experience. Does this answer your question? If not, we will just call it a “learning experience”.Q: How dangerous is it to venture out to Catalina Island?A: Why it’s like filing your taxes which you will soon be doing; and as dangerous as only you decide to make it. Show up with no GPS, cell phone, VHF radio or do not wear a wet suit – man now that’s dangerous.Q: What about the Bermuda Triangle – I read that ships magically disappear?A: Don’t worry about it we’ve got our own. The main reason for so many mysterious happenings is due to the San Pedro Channel being at its strongest, and wickedest, as it flows through this so-called triangle. Toss into the mix of Santa Ana’s, Catalina Express, tugs, supertankers, inebriation, carelessness, waterspouts, rogue waves and it’s a wonder any of us ever make it back alive.Q: I only ride my PWC on a lake – will I get seasick and is there a cure for seasickness?A: Yeah. Go sit on the shady side of the Queen Mary and wave at the Catalina Express as it goes by.Q: What should I do if a shark attacks?A: Ride like hell. Remember, they usually only attack the boat that is sinking.Q: Shouldn’t you be worried about pirates when offshore?A: That was earlier this year. Buccaneer Days. There are modern day pirates in some parts of the globe, but not with any frequency in these parts. You face a far more chance of being abducted in Belmont Shores than offshore on your ski.Q: What happens if I lose sight of land and get lost?A: In the rare event that every one of our GPS’s fails, or that a flying camera comes crashing down on your GPS and breaks it (hey, this really did happen) just head northward but don’t do what Columbus did.A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner. - English proverbSee you on the water!Trawlercat is a USCG licensed Captain and former boating instructor.__________________ By TrawlerCat AKA Ralph Perez