26 Miles Across the Sea

In February of 1999 the company got a request to bid on a group of camps, including one on Catalina Island, 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. We didn't have a full-time agent assigned to that area, so they asked me to go and do the work for the camp bid. There are only a couple of churches on the island, so I made a couple of calls and lined up another appointment while I was over there.

To get to the island you have to take a ferry from Long Beach, and I was on a very early boat - 7:00 am. It takes about 90 minutes to make the channel crossing, and when I got to Avalon (the main city on the island), I was met by someone from the camp who had come to pick me up in the camp's little Boston Whaler boat. We set out at high speed for the run around the island to the camp in very cold weather. There wasn't any cover on the boat, so I had a very windy welcome to Catalina.

I spent most of the morning at the camp, measuring and photographing their tent-like buildings. At that time we used Polaroid cameras which were really a pain when you had lots of buildings. The cameras spit out the picture after each shot, and the cartridges only hold 10 photos. Consequently, I had to drag around my file case with extra film and my measuring tools. It was a pain in the rear for a group deal that we probably weren't going to get (and we didn't).

About 1pm I had the camp guy run me back around to Avalon where I was met by a board member from one of the local churches. In Avalon few people own cars - most of the locals travel around the city in golf carts, and that's what the guy drove when he showed up at the dock. I spent the afternoon measuring and inspecting his church building in downtown Avalon, and fortunately, that effort wasn't wasted. I was able to write several policies for the church and we had them for a client for a couple of years before another agent lost the renewal. No big deal, because under the commission schedule in effect at the time I only got paid for the initial sale so what happened after that didn't really matter.

I did have a couple of hours to kill after the appointment to look around Avalon before catching the boat home. It made for a very long day since the boat didn't leave until about 5:30, but as working days went, it was certainly more interesting than most of them. A once-a-year trip over there wouldn't have been too bad.

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