A few days ago i had the opportunity to do an overnight sea doo trip. One of the things I like best about these types of trips is not knowing exactly what is going to happen, not knowing exactly where I may end up etc.
I started in channel islands harbor and knew i was going to head south as there are far more options. I had a pretty late start at just after noon. The air temperature was a very crisp 60 and the water in the mid 50's. Wearing my dry suit with a fleece undergarment makes the temperature a non issue. The sun was shining and I could see forever.
My thought was to go to Catalina which at a straight shot is about 70 miles. As I pulled out of the harbor I decided to stay closer to the coast to see the sites, Pt Magu, Pt Dume, Santa Monica Pier etc. We had rain just a few days before,.. so there I was riding on the open ocean viewing snow capped mountains in the distance. Only in LA.
Once in Santa Monica I decided to head out towards Catalina which from there is a good 40 miles. I got about 10 miles into that ride before I realized that I would not make it to Catalina by dark so I turned around and headed into Marina Del Rey where I spent the evening.
The next morning I planned on getting up early as the conditions are always best early, especially when heading north up the coast which is into the swell ("uphill"). When I looked outside the fog was so dense that I couldn't see more than a few hundred feet. Bad conditions for being on a personal watercraft from a safety perspective i don't like the fog, it scares me
I waited a few hours monitoring the fog report visually, online, and listening to the coast guard report. The reports were consistent, dense fog advisory throughout LA, not just the coast, especially heavy along the coast from Santa Monica to Pt Magu with visibility about 1/4 mile or less.
Finally at about 11a I decided I needed to take off. I needed to get back that day and the fog was still thick. I figured I could go about 25 mph and focus on the 180 degree view in front of me to make sure nothing was coming my way.
As I pulled out of marina Del Rey harbor another person on a sea doo was pulling back in. I went over to chat with him and he told me he had planned on heading north to Malibu pier but the fog was too thick so he was turning back. I told him I was heading north and that we could buddy up to that point but he declined saying the fog was just too thick. He was also about half my age; this left me feeling something between macho and stupid, I will let you judge which.
I was hoping that once I headed north 10-20 miles the fog would break and things would become more clear. No such luck. The fog stuck for the entire 50 miles trek. At times I could see a mile. At times it felt like I could see nothing. I kept at a steady pace of about 25-30 mph. This is fast enough so that nothing could come up from behind and hit me. Also fast enough, but not too fast, so i could keep an eye out and scan the 180 degree span in front of me keeping an eye out for other vessels.
I only stopped once for about a minute to press the OK button on my satellite tracking system and take this picture. Stopping was what worried me most as you effectively become a sitting duck as the sea doo is too small to show up on other boats radar. Along the entire trip I came across one small fishing vessel just off point dume and two pods of dolphins each of which played along my bow.
Given my speed, the distance, and my lack of stopping I made it back in about 2 hours; safe and sound. Awesome? Yes Awesome. I felt so alive, so active, so adventurous, so in my own head, so focused. And after navigating flawlessly and safely through the fog for 50 miles I actually don't hate it quite as much anymore.