Catalina Island News

Saviors in the Tunnel

Afishinados Charters

Last week I promised to finish my ‘End of the Beginning’ story.  We pick up at that point in the tunnel where I suspected that I could see the light at the end.  Seeing the light is one thing, getting out of the tunnel is an entirely different matter.

It turns out that light at the end of the tunnel shines a long way into the darkness.  It can also blind you to the immediacy of the problems at hand.  But, it does give hope and it does give direction to your efforts, and those are worth their weight in slogging through.

More importantly, as I soon discovered, are the ‘Saviors in the Tunnel’.  Without their help most of us would still be rambling in darkness.

I now had claim on a new boat for the Afishinados fleet, but there were obstacles to overcome.  More than I had planned for, and a few surprise challenges that would be laid out like land mines in the darkness of the tunnel floor.

First, the easy stuff:

Sea trial.  Check.  The boat ran like a bat out of hell and fully exceeded my expectations.

Financing.  Check.  An unexpected major purchase made easier by the saviors at F&M Bank.

Transport.  Click.  The sound of stepping on a land mine that you cannot unstep without dire consequences.

It turns out that this boat is a lot bigger than many and on the outside edge of the towing limit for most trucks.  I learned that you cannot rent a truck to tow.  Not from U-Haul, not from Penske, not from Ryder and not even from Trucks R Us.  Nobody rents a truck to haul a boat 500 miles.

I did find a company on line called UShip.  This is a pretty cool site.  You can put in all the particulars and wait for a trucker or trucking company to bid for your transport.  Bids do come in, and some are surprisingly cheap, but the challenge is lining up the timing.

The second land mine is one that I threw in to the mix, so it should not have been so vexing.  The salmon were running out of Moss Landing in Monterey.  What better way to test our new boat than fishing for Salmon on the way home?

My second savior showed up in the form of the seller with an F250 truck who happened to live near Moss Landing and who had the time to give me a tow from Oakland to the landing.  Thank you Walter Thomas!

I invited a couple friends who happened to also own F250s to join me for some fishing.  My hope was to get another tow south as far as anybody was willing to take me.  This got very tricky.  If a man (Bert) believes that the load is heavier than his rig can safely carry, there is no way to argue or debate this.  You just have to accept it.

Bert was willing to use his truck to launch and retrieve the boat at the ramp when we hit a mechanical snag that required moving the boat to a mechanics shop.  Robert (the mechanic) was savior number 3, working late to prepare the boat for the next day of fishing.  We lost a little fishing time, but managed to get a nice fish on board and release a ‘shaker’ (undersized salmon).

I was hopeful that this short haul would help Bert to reassess the tow south.  It did the opposite.  Bert became convinced that the boat was heavier than advertised.  I could not say a word (difficult for me). I immediately entered a request for transport into UShip.

Bert’s truck did the haul out at the launch ramp.  Since we were already attached, Bert agreed to tow me and the boat to my friend’s house in Atascadero which is located before the dreaded Questa Grade.

This downhill grade is not long but it is pretty steep and Bert was not willing to chance the trailer brakes on this stretch of road.  We started south and did not make the turn to the 101 which put us into Carmel.  We chose to take a small country road back to the 101 which turned out to be pretty steep and not well-paved: A great test of Bert’s truck.

This mistake put us both on edge.  The boat and trailer loomed large behind us, but the truck performed well and we found our way back to the 101.  Two hours later we were rolling along past my friend’s house and down the dreaded Questa Grade without trouble.  Bert was savior number 4 on this trip.

In order to put this boat into charter service in Avalon, it must get named, registered, permitted, insured and approved to operate in Avalon Harbor.  Great names are not easy to come by, particularly under time pressure.

We enlisted family, friends and on-line followers to help us name the boat.  Some top contenders were ‘SMOOTH’, ‘BENDO’ and ‘SLUGGO’.  We tried these on like you would try out a color swatch on your wall.  None stuck, but we had to name the boat to move the needle.

Karen suggested ‘GUSTO’ which means ‘doing something with vigor and enthusiasm.’  Nuff said.  The boat now had a name.

Karen became savior number 5 on this quest, not for naming the boat, but for braving the DMV to register a boat in Livery service that had once been a documented vessel.  She emerged with registration in hand, a minor miracle.

GUSTO! is now paid for, approved within the harbor, registered with the state, permitted with all relevant authorities, insured for a million and waiting for this wind to stop so we can get on with the business of helping visitors ‘enjoy the isle in style’.

By Capt. John
Afishinados Charters 4 boat fleet – – 888-613-7770