It’s 5:30 in the evening and you’re trying to make a left at a busy Los Angeles intersection.
It’s gone around the red to green rotation four times and it’s approaching five minutes that you have been waiting for your turn to use the yellow light as a left turn arrow.
An AM radio talk show host is accosting you with his perceptions and opinions and you, at a sad low point, begin to silently weep.
It’s at moments like these that the existence of Catalina Island is most appreciated and it’s because of moments like these that taking that trip is a necessity.
Cast Off for Catalina is a newly released DVD, produced by a pair of Marina del Rey boaters, who above all else, have a true love for Catalina Island.
“It is both a boating guide tool and a wealth of information for anyone with a love for the island or a desire to make the trip,” said co-producer Ted Fields. “I think everybody’s a little skittish about going to Catalina.
“I have friends who have continually said, ‘One of these days I’m going to do a video about going to Catalina.’
“Well, nobody ever did it. So, one day I called [co-producer] Mark [Ritts] to ask him about getting together and doing it, and, coincidentally he just happened to be at Catalina at the time.”
The fact that the DVD is such a well made educational tool shouldn’t be a surprise, as the two longtime friends and creators of the production forged their friendship while working on the popular 1990s children’s program Beakman’s World.
Ritts played Lester the Rat on the educational show that Fields created.
For years, Fields was in charge of children’s programming for CBS and he continues to be a successful executive producer.
Ritts, a one-time top-level puppeteer, is currently an award-winning writer in the film and television industry and a longtime producer/director.
“Essentially, there was really nothing out there on the subject,” said Ritts. “There was one tape from the mid-1980s shot on VHS, which by current-day DVD standards is of a very poor technical quality. So, we saw an opportunity there and also a way to have some fun.”
Fields, who owns a C&C 30 and has been traveling to the island for many years, said, “Most of us who get into boating have this vision of traveling to faraway places, and Catalina is one way of realistically fulfilling that dream.”
Aboard Motu, a friend’s 53-foot Anel ketch, the production team circumnavigated Catalina Island, pointing out all of the anchorages and interesting attractions along the way.
The program talks about all of the pertinent information that every boater should know in order to make a safe crossing and it contains valuable interviews with Island experts as well.
Both Fields and Ritts were committed to insuring that the program was informational and enjoyable, but also required that its sources be credible.
They interviewed reputable experts from the Catalina Island Conservancy, Catalina Island Museum, and the Avalon Harbor Master to discuss the Island itself, and for the boating issues, a gentleman named Bill McNeely (author of a book entitled Cruising Catalina Island), gently and articulately breaks it all down.
Three-dimensional maps were supplied by a Beakman’s World fan from Colorado, and Ritts, who has also been a guitarist for many years, orchestrated the soundtrack for the video using a program called Garage Band.
Both Ritts and Fields edited the piece together.
Beyond McNeely’s very complete and thorough explanations of the boating aspect of making a Catalina voyage, Cast Off for Catalina is clearly concerned with the well-being and future of the area.
“We both love Catalina,” said Ritts. “[Cameraman] Jack Joy and his wife were married on Catalina, so we knew from the outset that we wanted the video to be, among other things, a [Catalina Island] Conservancy-friendly program.
“We said right at the beginning that we wanted the Conservancy’s preservation messages to be part of it.”
So far, this grass-roots DVD has been picked up by retailers such as Landfall Navigation, West Marine, Amazon, Sea Breeze Books and Charts (www.seabreezebooks.com), and has shown excellent sales numbers for the short time it has been out.
The duo plans on releasing another guide video and they are currently deciding on which location(s) to tackle.
“I think everybody with a boat wants to go to Catalina,” said Fields. “It’s the romance.
“Here is this remote island you can go to and enjoy — but you’re only, at most, five and a half or six hours from LA.”