Flying Over Catalina Island

4 02 2009

“It was half terrifying and half exciting as Kristine and I screamed and giggled at the same time. And when we finally got settled from the shock that was when we noticed what was around us. The view was mesmerizing. The experience, exhilirating. From a bird’s eyeview, the island was gorgeous and the water below, deep!”


                 Main photo by Kristine Flores

As soon as I surfaced down below to the deck of the Catalina Flyer, I saw Kristine dash to the starboard side of the ship with the camera in her hand. Unfortunately, she wasn’t fast enough to catch the dolphins surface again in hopes of getting a photo of the cute mammals. I felt disappointed, too, since I didn’t get to see the dolphins come up to the water. I cautiously handed her a cup of hot chocolate I bought her from the ship’s lobby, hoping neither one of us would drop it.

It had been an early morning for us. The Catalina Flyer was to leave the port at 9 am where it would take us about 22 miles (or half an hour) to the island east of California mainland from Newport Beach. It was hard to believe that the island was part of California: right at the shoulder of the Pacific Ocean I felt like the ship was taking us to Hawai’i instead. From a distance, Catalina Island looked like a place you’d want to get away to but close enough to reach. We arrived on time but while waiting for the ship to dock and let the passengers off, I had a generous amount of time to take snapshots of the island.

By noon we had picked a place to eat at Armstrong’s Seafood Restaurant and Fish Market – patio, please – and braced ourselves for a delicious lunch. The beauty of eating on the island was that the fish will always be the cath of the day. Jimmy ordered calamari ($8.95) as an apettizer while I tried the smoked albacore ($8.95) something I have never heard nor tried before, while Kristine ordered oysters (she loves oysters, $14.99). Scrumptuous. Soaking myself in the sun while having a fabulous meal was my ideal patio dining. And the view, exquisite.



“Our eager faces were showing until he said ‘ – and whatever you do keep your legs in, and DON’T KICK’ -“.

Over lunch we had talked about activities we could do while on the island: scuba diving, snorkelling, hiking, renting a scooter, jet ski, fishing, golfing – then our eyes were distracted by a parachute from a distance. Parasailing! Watching the glider in the sky kept us in awe. He (or she, or they) swooped, dipped, and hovered before our eyes. Unanimously, we all agreed to challenge our adrenalines to do something as wild. An hour and $75 dollars later, we found ourselves standing at the pier where the boat that would send us flying in the sky docked. Quite small – won’t sink, but big enough to pull us like a human kite. Jimmy went first (2 people can go parasail at a time and Kristine and I decided to stick together – just in case). We put on our life vests and straddled on a strap-on that would be attached to the shute and hold us up in the air. He instructed that the grasps (handles) attached to a strap were for us to maneuver the glide to the direction we wanted. If we wish to go left pull the left strap, pull the right strap and it would send us flying to the right. Our eager faces were showing until he said ” – and whatever you do keep your legs in, and DON’T KICK”. He immediately instructed Jimmy to stand on the riser and hooked his vest to a rope attached to a wheel. Before getting ready he had given Kristine his camera to take vidoes and photos of him up in the air, she and I sat back across from each other and started taking photos of ourselves. Finally, the instructor gave the captain of the boat a “go” and Jimmy zipped away up to the sky. He went really high. In a matter of 30 seconds he was possibly fifteen stories above the water gliding and whooshing his way on the backdrop of a clear blue sky.

Everything was captured on his videocamera. About five minutes up in the air and he was on his descent back to the boat with a big smile on his face and expressing “That was awesome!” as he greeted us.

As the instructor released Jimmy from the rope, I tried my best to stealthy hide my camera in my pocket. I succeeded. Waiting for the instructor’s “go” signal for the driver I clumsily checked my camera to get it ready to record – then zip! We flew. It was half terrifying and half exciting as Kristine and I screamed and giggled at the same time. And when we finally got settled from the shock that was when we noticed what was around us. The view was mesmerizing. The experience, exhilirating. From a bird’s eyeview, the island was gorgeous and the water below, deep! Instant panic came over me fearing the worst case scenario that I would either drop my camera or worse, the chute fails plummeting us both into the deep water. I paused to relax thinking about taking photos. I carefully handled the camera in my hands, zoomed the lense over the horizon, across the ocean, to the island, and on the boat.

And then we went on a dip.

Frightened, she and I cursed and screamed at the top of our lungs for our dear life and when it was over we laughed.

“That was scary,” Kristine said to which I agreed. And the unexepected happened, we went for another dip and another. Plunging the chute for our dear lives, I thought the captain was playing a trick on us because I had no recollection of Jimmy dipping like we did. It went on for a couple more and we finally got used to it. I decided to play a little bit with the handle and swayed us to the right. The shute took us along with it heading east. Then I played with it again catapulting us to the other direction.

Eventually, the parasail just cruised on high altutitude- where I refrained from catapulting us on either sides and the chute going on unexpected dips – the sense of what it must have felt like to fly sunk in. It had been a hot day at the island but the air was cooler above the ground. Even from up above, the smell of sea water was aromatic. Due to distance, waves could be seen crashing and foam up but the echos would not be heard. The islands’ houses seemed that they were carved out caves on the side of the hills and mountains that made up the island, stack up on each other, while its windows glistened. Patches of green reflected through the water as signs of marine plantlife which mostly consisted of giant seaweeds as tall as the palm trees scattered all over Catalina – their natural ‘skyscrapers’. A few yachts haunted the open sea and a local plane aparitioned from afar. I gazed to the horizon looking for mainland California and found no signs of the mainland, an isolation at its best.

Looking down, the instructor waved at us where I waved back at him. I was quite enjoying my time flying though it was hard to enjoy a thrill while getting the thrill-er out of it. Then we went for another dip and we were finally getting pulled back to the boat, and that was my cue to hide the camera. As soon as we touched down Jimmy whispered in my ear, “He was waving his hand telling you to stop kicking,” then I blurted out an Oh? (Honestly, I do not remember kicking).

The whole experience exhausted us but having a view like that from above was well worth the price we paid. The rest of the day was spent scouting the rest of the island along the shore. We went on a submarine where we saw absolutely one of the most pathetic marine life we’ve seen (what they showed on the brochure looked better, whatever happened to the colourful fishes?). Nontheless, Kristine and I had a blast playing around pretending the submarine was sinking(1). Along the shore we found the palm trees groomed pretty phallyic – er, I won’t deny it, it REALLY looked like a penis(2). Then to the casino for Jimmy only to find out it was closed(3). By 4 pm we were back on the dock waiting for the ship to take us back to the mainland.




As soon as we boarded the ship, I quickly found an outlet to recharge my camera’s battery, but before doing so I was eager to see what I have captured during my flight on the parasail. And it went like this: you see my feet, you hear a scream, you see my feet levetate, and then cut. Nothing was captured but six seconds of the before scenes from the adventure. Greatly disappointed, I told Kristine the bad news that the experience is now only captured in our memories.

I had been exhausted for that day that like the rest of the passengers I found a spot to lay myself down for a quick nap. The ship swayed to my lullaby and then I passed out. About fifteen minutes later the captain announced:

Attention all passengers, this is the captain speaking. I would just like to point out that on the starboard side of the ship – which is to the right of the ship – are whales saying hello to all of you

All the passengers instantly got up, took their cameras out and tried to get a snapshot of the giant mammals. I hestitated to take mine out. Like Kristine’s missed opportunity of the dolphines and our six second captured parasailing adventure, I decided to just keep this moment in memory.

All photos taken by me with the exception of the Main photo, by Kristine Flores



One response

26 03 2009
Brian Brandl

i like this site ALOT better. it is much easier to read and enjoy the experiences you pick out interesting spots to learn about. great job ashly

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