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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
June 6, 2014     The Catalina Islander
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June 6, 2014

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Watson From page 1 wish. That'il get you into the club all right and I wouldn't be sur- prised if somewhere along the line someone has done just such a thing. Mind you, this is a club in name only. We have no secret handshake nor do we have our own array of personal- ized beer steins hang- ing from the beams of some pubbyAvalon lo- cale. I could, however, probably have some t-shirts whipped up in a jiffy. Because of the re- search I've done into this topic and because it's my club, I can think of no better can- didate for "Admiral of the Magellan Club" than one par- ticular local gentleman. But before I introduce him and tell you of his circumnavigational exploits, an Honorable Mention is in order. Way back in 2004, our local diver extraordinaire Captain Jon Council completed an unbeliev- able circumnavigation of the Is- land while SCUBA diving. Yes, you read that right. As part of a fundraising and awareness-ra'sing event, Council completely circled Catalina Island underwater, a distance of more than 50 miles. Technically, be- cause he was aided by a DPV, or a Diver Propulsion Vehicle (one of those hand-held propeller-driven thingies) he doesn't qualify for our contest here. But I think you will agree that I would be greatly re- miss in not mentioning his incred- ible feat and conferring Honorary Member status upon him. Therefore, I would have to say that the title of Admiral of the Ma- gellan Club should go to our very own former Avalon City Council- man and former Mayor of Avalon Rudy Piltch. Over the course of a decade, Rudy rowed his 14-foot Jim Watson Columnist Catalina Wherry rowboat "three and a half times" around Catalina. Sealing his status "the Admiral," Rudy was in his early 70s when he made his last circumnavigation in 2005. Rudy shares his accomplish- ment with former Two Harbors resident Jim Dittmar, whose wife Sherry joined them on two of the trips. Two other adven- turers, Tammy London and Bob Clark, accom- panied Rudy and Jim on the last trip, thereby be- coming charter members of the Magellan Club. The type of boat that Rudy and Jim used for their around-the-island trips was originally de- signed back in 1910 by legendary Avalon boat builder Pard Mathews- on. Mr. Mathewson built many of the original rowboats and even glass bottom boats that one sees in early photographs of Ava- lon. He is also credited with build- ing the first motorized glass bot- tom boat. What possesses a man to row a boat around Catalina Island? Ac- cording to Rudy, it was his love of rowing and just all around ocean adventuring that impelled him to make the trips. "I worked for Joe Guion at Ava- lon Boat Stand when I was a kid," he said. "He used to let us take out the rowboats and row recreation- ally. I kind of fell in love with it then." Rudy's first rowing trip around the Island was in 1993 and as with subsequent voyages, he took a few days to complete the trip. Accord- ing to Rudy, there was no particu- lar reason for the trips other than the adventure and the love of the Island and the sea. As I mentioned earlier, Rudy has completed "three and a half trips" around the Island. That "half trip" was Rudy's third at- tempt at circling the Island. "We had gotten as far as Lit- tle Harbor," he said. "We'd been camping on the very West End and there had been a gale force wind in the upper part of the Channel and it created some really big, steep crests and waves." Those waves, banging into the cliffs along the windward side of the West End, were reflecting back out to sea and mixing it up with new swells coming in. This con- fused sea wreaked havoc on our heroes in their tiny boats. "If you were within 100 yards of the shore you'd have the wave coming in from the southwest and then after it hit the Island you'd get the waves going back out," he said. "And it made it' so hard row- ing that we finally went into Cat Harbor and quit." Like a Joseph Conrad novel, however, Rudy eventually found redemption for the failed attempt by successfully completing the next circumnavigation---his last one--in 2005. There are no doubt other mem- bers of the Magellan Club out there, people who have at one time or another circled Catalina Is- land with nothing but their brawn and bravado. (I hear a rumor that Packie Offield accomplished this feat in a kayak once...) I don't want to leave anyone out, so if you know of any other such adventures, stop me on the street or email me at jim@chan- Conservancy event schedule: 2014 Little Harbor Hike Saturday, July 26 Starting from Two Harbors, this scenic 5-mile-plus hike trav- els the ridge route to Little Harbor. A beach barbecue lunch, including beverages, will be served at our reserved beachside picnic site and a shuttle will return hikers to Two Harbors. The event is organized by the Marinero's, a Catalina Island Conservancy Support Group. Los Caballeros Catalina Trek event September 17 - 21 Members of Los Caballeros, all accomplished horsemen of the Conservancy's CatalinaCaballeros, enjoy their 65th Annual Catalina Trek. Catalina Island Conservancy is the beneficiary of .... Catalina Film Festival September 24 - 28 Various Locations, Avalon Last year's Catalina Film Festival was bigger than ever with industry workshops, recep- tions and parties, award ceremo- nies and, of course, lots of film screenings in numerous catego- ries. This annual competitive fes- tival includes awards in up to 10 categories, including the Isla Earth Award, Las Caballeras Ride September 30 - October 5 Las Caballeras celebrate their 20th annual ride with a week of camping, camaraderie and cowgirl fun. Las Caballeras are all enthu- siastic members of the Catalina Island Conservancy. L N Come Visit Djongo! Fun, Exciting & Unique Toys For All Ages! Pet Supplies Games. Puzzles Arts and Crafts Books Educational Toys Video Games Indoor/Outdoor Sports Items And so much more! 233 Sumner Avenue (310)510-9117 Across from Mini-Golf Course We proudl00 s00ve OOLE THE CATAUNA ISLANDER Friday, June 6, 2014 ] 9