Ferry Captain, Catalina Express
Boat owners see them regularly, the ubiquitous ferries of the Catalina Express — catamarans and monohulls in an eight-vessel fleet — moving people and supplies to and from Catalina Island, from San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point. Adam Sanchez is one of the people who operate the ferries, and we caught up with the 20-year Express vet, the last eight of those as a captain, recently for a chat.
Sea: How does one become a ferry captain?
Adam Sanchez: I took a very intense two-week class that prepared me for the exam to get my 100-ton license, which allows me to operate vessels that weigh 100 tons or less. All of the Catalina Express vessels are within that range.
How has the island changed since you’ve been a regular visitor?
There are many new ways to see the beauty of the island: Hummer tours, hiking trails, zip lining, and different boat tours. There are also many good places to eat and shop in the town of Avalon.
What is the one thing passengers consistently do that you wish they’d stop doing?
I wish they would stop saluting me.
What some things passengers can do to ensure they have a pleasant experience aboard the ferry?
Arrive early to get their boat tickets and get in line early. The seats are not reserved, so the first people in line get the first choice of where they want to sit, whether it’s general seating or Commodore Lounge seating.
Ask the crew where to sit if you are worried about motion sickness and also where to go for the best views.
Follow the luggage guidelines and bring what you are able to handle by yourself; don’t overpack. That way you won’t have to leave anything behind and you won’t struggle taking your luggage on and off the boat. I see this a lot.
What is the most exciting thing you have seen while on the job?
Anytime we see whales breaching, that is always exciting.
What is your favorite snack on the ferry?
I enjoy the beef jerky. Also, I enjoy a snack-size bag of cookies, which is a free snack choice available to the people who ride in the Commodore Lounge. I have a major sweet tooth.