Our first visit to Catalina by sail was for a 3 night stay in August at Two Harbors. Two Harbors is located on the Isthmus and is not nearly as touristy as Avalon. Though there are ferries shuttling people in and out during peak season, you’re more likely to see backpackers and boy scouts. With exactly one general store and one restaurant, it is the destination of outdoorsy types. During our visit, the rustic little town was bustling but not overly touristy, and the weather could not have been better. We hiked, played on the beach, and explored the crazy clear waters of the cove in our dinghy (with our sweet new Lehr Propane Outboard!).
Two Harbors Dining
We provisioned well with our favorite foods and prepared most meals aboard the boat with the exception of one meal on the patio at the restaurant. The Buffalo Milk, beer, and spinach dip did not disappoint, but there isn’t much else on the menu I would recommend. The general store is sufficient for absolute essentials. Some items on the shelves had a layer of dust and a high price tag. I did see gluten free pasta though. Needless to say, I was grateful that we had stocked our galley with our favorite foods. This trip was before we installed our refrigeration system (I know, we lived without it for a YEAR), so used a few blocks of dry ice in the bottom of the icebox to keep things like berries, yogurt, and most importantly – cold beer.
Two Harbors has showers and laundry facilities ashore – all for a price. The showers are $2.00 (in quarters) for 4 minutes. There are change machines at the facilities in case you forget quarters. The showers are hot with good water pressure. Pack light though, because they are tiny, and keep your expectations low in terms of maintenance and cleanliness. Plan to wait if you want a shower at, you know, a normal showering time.
A Word About Mooring
On our first trip, we simply hailed harbor patrol on channel 9 before entering, and they showed us to our mooring. Many boats visiting Catalina are skippered by folks who are unfamiliar with the mooring process. In the worst case scenario this leads to disaster, and at the very least, a captive audience to watch you fumble along. Tying up to a mooring ball isn’t the most intuitive thing, and it’s a little different everywhere. I definitely recommend doing some investigation ahead of time and reaching out to harbor patrol if you’re unsure about anything. We had studied up on mooring, but had never actually done it. Being escorted in was really helpful. As a result, we nailed it on the first try (with me at the helm!). If you would rather anchor, free anchorages are also available about 100 yards from the moored boats.
Shore boats are available to shuttle you from your mooring or anchorage to shore. During our visit the cost was $3.00 each way. You won’t catch us paying that for every trip to shore, but people do it. Plus, we were stoked to use our dinghy.
Our second visit to Two Harbors was a quick and chilly overnight stay in mid October. The moorings were discounted for the winter, and only a few boats were moored in the cove. I’m pretty sure Wednesday night is karaoke night for the locals. We were serenaded to sleep.