It was an invigorating day full of variety and outdoor exploration for everyone onboard the inaugural voyage of National Geographic Venture! Angel Island served as a backdrop to our water activities; buildings from the mid-1800s to mid-1900s reminding us of the island’s history with its military garrisons, old hospitals, guard houses, and quarantine and immigration stations. Later, we put our legs to work and hiked all over Angel Island, taking in 360-degree views of San Francisco Bay: the Golden Gate Bridge, city skyline, Alcatraz, Treasure Island, Marin Headlands, and so much more. Red-tailed hawks soared overhead and vultures rode thermals over the coastline. Black-tailed deer were completely at peace with our presence as we shared their trails amongst eucalyptus and oak. Angel Island is truly a jewel in the backyard of San Francisco with its incredible views, abundant wildlife, and rich history.
National Geographic Venture
We departed the dock in San Pedro and sailed into the soft evening light and weather, with the lights of the Los Angles metropolis in the background. After a gentle night crossing of the San Pedro Channel, we awoke to an absolutely perfect day at Two Harbors, Catalina Island. No wind. No clouds. Bright blue sky. Flat seas. A perfect set of conditions for the morning’s activities than included a fast and far hike, a moderate hike, kayaking, paddleboarding, and Zodiac cruising. Those who embarked on the hikes were treated to spectacular vistas, as well as challenges to leg muscles. Those on the water, especially those who went around Bird Rock, saw two sea lions at the surface with flippers extended into the air and sun as little solar heating panels, which warmed the circulating blood before returning and warming their bodies. And of course they did what many of us do when lying in the sun…doze. Once every few minutes a head would poke up to check out the scene, then back to the nap. Hundreds of cormorants sat like miniature sentinels on the rock, all facing the same direction, some drying out their wings after spending some time in the water. Interspersed among the cormorants were a handful of pelicans, including one out of place male who was in full breeding colors. All “dressed up,” but no one was interested because he was a few months too late! Some of the kayakers saw an adult leopard shark, a benign species that pays no attention to humans. In the water (and on the beach) were hundreds of pyrosoma , cone-shaped, colonial tunicates that normally inhabit deeper and colder water, but were probably uplifted to the surface by localized upwelling. And there were signs of giant kelp returning to the area after warm waters of the last El Ni ñ o. After returning to National Geographic Venture , we were treated to an exquisite brunch, followed by deserts on the sun deck. Whale watching Santa Catalina recede slowly into the distance the realization became firm: This was indeed a perfect day in every respect.