Channel Crossing Offers a Calming Weekend

Weather willing, I shall slip out into the San Pedro Channel early this weekend, bound for Catalina Island in my little sloop, long before the massive jam of yachts start the Newport Beach-to-Ensenada race.

It will be our first channel crossing this year. It has been one of those years when too many obligations kept my wife and me on land. And we are feeling the effects in nerves that tighten too often and quickly. We need to spend a couple of days on sea time, and feel the cares and frustrations of land diminish.

When we spend an entire day anchored in a Catalina cove, doing practically nothing, and at the end ask ourselves where the day vanished, then we know we have achieved the holy calm we seek.

I’m hoping to see during our crossings something wonderful I haven’t seen since 1974--a boil of Pacific sardines. For the first time in 12 years, this sardine biomass has reached the 20,000-ton survival threshold. Seiners are again on the grounds, although their quota of 1,000 tons is a shadow of the 700,000-ton boom years, but it’s a happy sign of resurrection.


With careful management, we may see again the sight of great schools of sardines showing up in the water as enormous, luminescent fireballs.

Heavy fishing pressure and shifting environmental conditions caused the sardine’s disappearance.

Sailing Notes Small-boat sailors should be delighted to learn that Romaine Violette is alive and well and living in Long Beach. Violette designed and built the first Naples sabot in his garage in Naples, a suburb of Long Beach, during World War II. His idea was to construct a little eight-foot sailboat that could be beached easily. In those days, boats of this type were invariably fitted with centerboards.

Violette built the first sabot of its kind with a leeboard that swung up along the boat’s side when it reached the beach.


Violette will present the winning trophies at the Huntington Harbour Yacht Club’s big Naples sabot regatta May 17-18. About 50 Naples sabot sailors from throughout California will compete in Huntington Harbour in seven different classes of events for juniors and seniors.

Gov. George Deukmejian has appointed Paul T Jensen, 52, a career State Fish and Game employee, to the position of DFG deputy director. Jensen replaces Robert C. Fox, who took a position with the Calif. Exposition and State Fair.

Another Deukmejian appointee is John A. Murdy III of Newport Beach to the State Fish and Game Commission. Murdy, 57, replaces William A. Burke of Los Angeles, whose term expired this year. A sportsman, Murdy enjoys duck and dove hunting and fishing for albacore and marlin. A local farmer for the past 35 years, he is the director of the California Tomato Growers Assn.

The five-member commission meets at least 12 times each year to discuss and receive public input on proposed regulations, permits, licenses, management policies and other related issues.


Two big races are scheduled this weekend: The Newport-to-Ensenada race, with an expected 700 sailboats participating, will begin Saturday at 11 a.m. The starting line is just east of the Newport Harbor jetty. The San Diego Rowing and Paddling Regatta, with 175 rowing craft from seven to 26 feet in length, will take place Sunday in San Diego Bay, beginning at 7 a.m. at St. Clara Point.