Catalina pilots

MvGMvG Brussels (BE) and Lith (NL)Charter Member

I am considering a Catalina Channel crossing attempt end of July this year.

The CCSF lists 4 reputable boating companies so I am spoilt for choice. Some of the boats have recently changed captains.

I'd like to hear your experiences, good or bad (PM me if you prefer), with any or all of them, and any advice you may have for me in picking the one that would suit me best. To be taken into account: I am a reasonably though not excessively fast swimmer (EC in 10.5 hrs), will come with a very small crew (if at all), & I usually keep the escort vessel to my left (unilateral breather).

Thanks!

MaryStella
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Comments

  • abbygirlroseabbygirlrose Los Angeles, CAMember

    I've had good experiences with both Bottom Scratcher for a relay (new and old captains) and Outrider (new captains) for my solo.

    MvGMaryStellaAlex_Arevalo
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited January 4

    Given that the two established boats (Outrider & Bottom Scratcher) are under new ownership & operation, there are effectively no differences in swim piloting experience among the four options.

    There used to be some interesting differences in personality and navigation style between Outrider (Pittman) & Bottom Scratcher (Elliot), but again, not relevant anymore given the change in ownership. As the new pilots establish themselves, I'm sure there will be more to discuss.

    All four are roomy, well-appointed vessels.

    I know the new Outrider owner was fulfilling some contracts left over from Pittman for a while, but I'm unsure of his interest going forward in escorting channel swims. I think he's more into fishing charters. The SBCSA removed Outrider from our list of pilots due to nonresponsiveness.

    MaryStellaMvG
  • The new owner of Bottom Scratcher, Kevin Bell is great! He has been making some long-needed improvements and repairs. (yay! they fixed the heads). The food was pretty good last year.

    Magician was new last year. The bunks are air conditioned (good for the crew and ride out to the island).

    Pacific Star was wonderful last year for the large 3x relay I was on and the food was good. Food (galley) is a nice consideration for crew on solo swims. Unless you are a super fast swimmer, it is good to keep your crew properly fueled...just a note.

    Outrider was my old favorite, so sorry to see it retired to fishing trips.

    evmoMaryStellaMvGDanSimonelliCathyInCA
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    I had some really great communication from The Pacific Star on a swim I'm wanting to do (and now have had to postpone). He was really supportive, responsive, reasonable, helpful, etc.... things you don't always see from boat pilots. Since I haven's swum with him, I'm not sure on that aspect, but the initial contact was great! I used the Bottom Scratcher under Captain Greg, so I can't comment at all on the others.

    MaryStellaMvGKarl_Kingery
  • Webstem67Webstem67 Rapperswil,Switzerland Member

    I used David Harvey and Pacific Star last year. Captain, crew and boat were excellent. All went like clockwork from initial comms to the swim. I also had great support from Dan Simonelli and Guy Morgan rotating on Kayaks. Can pass you their details if needed. CCSF can organise also via their site.

    MaryStellaMvGJimloretoDanSimonelli
  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member

    My crew were impressed with Pacific Star facilities and wonderful food. I can't say I saw much beyond the bottom of the shower tray when I got out.

    MaryStellaMvG
  • jnewton116jnewton116 SingaporeMember

    I used the Bottom Scratcher for a solo in August and it was wonderful. The exhaust on that boat is up high as opposed to at water level so I never had even the slightest whiff of boat fumes and they usually stay to the swimmer's left side. Just remember that Catalina requires a kayaker as well as an escort boat. If you need crew when you get there, the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation has a large number of people whose assistance you can request/pay for.

    MvGMaryStella
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited January 8

    @jnewton116 said: Just remember that Catalina requires a kayaker as well as an escort boat.

    Bottom Scratcher may require a kayaker (and other boats where the deck is high above the water), but that's not a CCSF rule.

    MvGMaryStellaDanSimonelli
  • jnewton116jnewton116 SingaporeMember

    evmo said:

    @jnewton116 said: Just remember that Catalina requires a kayaker as well as an escort boat.

    Bottom Scratcher may require a kayaker (and other boats where the deck is high above the water), but that's not a CCSF rule.

    You're right, thank you for correcting me!

    MvGMaryStella
  • MvGMvG Brussels (BE) and Lith (NL)Charter Member
  • DuganaddyDuganaddy Needham, MAMember

    How much does it cost to hire an escort boat for the Catalina swim on average?

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    MvG said: I am considering a Catalina Channel Issyk Kul crossing attempt end of July this year.

    I fixed your post for you, Milko. ;)

    MvG

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member

    Duganaddy said: How much does it cost to hire an escort boat for the Catalina swim on average?

    Rough avg is $3k

    Each of the boats has slightly different fee schedule.

    MaryStella
  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member

    @MvG

    I have experience on all 4 boats, Captains and crews. And I have distinct opinions.

    PM for more details.

    MvGMaryStellassthomas
  • I crewed on Magician this past season and it was a great boat. I've been on Bottom Scratcher and Outrider as well. As a crew member I really liked Magician. The cook was AWESOME!

  • MvGMvG Brussels (BE) and Lith (NL)Charter Member
    edited February 15

    IronMike said:

    MvG said: I am considering a Catalina Channel Issyk Kul crossing attempt end of July this year.

    I fixed your post for you, Milko. ;)

    Sweet! :-)))

    It is on my list Mike. One day.... And you'll be the first to hear about it!

    DanSimonelliIronMike
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