Can I take my 18 foot (1972) 160hp to Catalina?


Old 09-13-08, 10:16 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Posts: 6
Can I take my 18 foot (1972) 160hp to Catalina?

We are new boat people and just acquired a small boat - an 18 foot 1972 Reimell (and love it), and want to know if it is a good idea to try and go to Catalina. Its an older boat in good condition. It has no radio, gps or anything which we will get. But is it too small for a trip to Catalina on a calm day????

If there is anyone out there that can offer some information or let me know where can I get info on ... everything? We are new to the water, and love it, but need much help.

Thanks, Christine
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Old 09-14-08, 12:37 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Near Buffalo, NY
Posts: 4,239
Welcome to the DIY forums!

To me, boats are not a means to an end ... they are the end. Where I go in a boat isn't as important as spending time on the boat relaxing and enjoying our waterways.

That said ... Safety on the water is of paramount importance. It CANNOT be taken lightly. The boat must have all of the USCG required safety devices. An extra anchor and rode will come in handy, as will some springer lines and extra utility lines. Don't count on your four 15-foot dock lines to be enough.

The CG requires one fire extinguisher. Buy two and mount them within easy reach at opposite ends of the boat.

A first aid kit will also come in handy.

If you spend enough time in a boat, something will eventually go wrong and you will use those devices. (I have on several occasions.)

That 36-year-old engine can run like a top, but only if it's maintained properly -- and it needs a lot of TLC. It should be checked thoroughly for any leaks before every use. A regular preventive maintenance schedule is a must. You're posting to a DIY forum, so I assume you're prepared to do the work youself: Buy a maintenance and repair manual for the engine and drive.

Never run an engine that old wide open for more than a few seconds during an outing. You'll get the best fuel efficiency and you'll increase engine life if you run the boat at the lowest speed at which it can maintain plane. Generally around 3,000 rpm.

A GPS that's designed for a car won't cut it in a boat. You need a marine GPS with navigational charts so you can plot your course without running aground. A GPS shouldn't be the only nav aid on board if you're planning to cruise the ocean, though. A compass is a necessity, along with paper charts.

A marine-band radio in a small boat like yours has a range of about 11 miles. Catalina is 48 miles from Santa Monica. You'll be out of range of either landfall and relying on other boats to answer a distress call. No cell phone coverage out there either.

How big is the gas tank on the boat? How much does it consume? What's the total mileage range of the boat? The rule of thumb is to plan to use 1/3rd of the fuel to get to the destination. Your boat probably won't hold enough fuel to go 48 miles with a reserve, so you'll be taking a chance. Seas can kick up quickly and turn a nice cruise into a nightmare. On a calm day, you're golden. But if the sea kicks up, you'll use the reserve fuel in short order.

There are Safe Boating Classes in your area held by the local Coast Guard Auxiliary. PLEASE sign up for one.

Lastly, and to answer your original question: A 48-mile trip to Catalina across open ocean in a 1972 18-foot boat is extremely dangerous even for experienced boaters. If I were you, I'd limit my offshore outings to stay within a couple of miles of land (always maintaining line of sight) and keep one ear on the NOAA weather radio at all times. My preference, though, would be to trailer it to lakes & reservoirs until you get more experience.

Last edited by Rick Johnston; 09-14-08 at 08:59 AM. Reason: Clarification
Old 09-14-08, 09:18 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Posts: 6
Smile Thank you Rick

Thank you Rick,

Your information is greatly appreciated. I will follow your advise - This will be a great first boat and over time, we will get experience - maybe the next boat will be the one for Catalina. Any suggestion on size?

Again I appreciate your input, it is very valuable to us.
Thank you - Thank you!

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