On The Water

June Casagrande

It's a good year to fly.

The Catalina Flyer, a high-speed catamaran that can whisk up to 500

people a day to and from Catalina Island, looks to be on its way to good

year. In fact, for the first four months of this year, the Flyer had its

best year ever. And though things slowed down a little in May, Catalina

Passenger Service President Bob Black said 2002 is looking promising.

"I feel good about it," said the Newport Beach native who's been

involved in the business for about 30 years. "I feel like it should

continue. We're real prone to weather and hopefully we'll start getting

some nice sunny weather -- not just for us but for the whole Peninsula."

The company's main business is operating the boat that, for $37 round

trip, carries visitors from the Balboa Pavilion to Catalina Island's

quaint city of Avalon. From January through April, the Flyer averaged

about 200 passengers a day making the 75-minute, 28-mile voyage. In the

busiest season, which centers around July and August, about 450 people

take the Flyer each day.

But a good first quarter isn't the only reason for optimism, Black

said. Catalina Island has some events planned for the rest of this year

that he says are sure to be a hit:

Now through Nov. 9, the Island is celebrating "Buffalo In Paradise,"

a public art display of life-size whimsically decorated fiberglass

buffalo placed in various outdoor locations throughout Avalon. In

November, the buffalo will be auctioned off and proceeds will go to a

local charity.

And there's good news on this side of the pond, too. Balboa Peninsula

revitalization has finished its first phase, and people coming down to

the area like what they see, Black said.

"Memorial Day weekend was just a zoo down here," he said. "The city is

really sprucing up the area and we really appreciate what they're doing

down here. Things are looking good."

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