Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Catalina Island

I've been here for a while actually, but I haven't felt like taking pictures much. I finally got my camera out and took a couple shots. Its been hard to get the camera out mostly because its foggy a lot and I like a nice yellow sun when I take pictures. Oh well.
Life out on the island is really nice, especially on the north end (or west end, depending on who you talk to). I still haven't gone to Avalon (the other end) and I don't know if I ever will.
It seems that my schedule will take me out to the islands for the most part, and I'll come back to the mainland every once in a while to reprovision, then come out here again. The diving is nice, there are plenty of fish, and potatoes and eggs aren't getting old very fast. I think I'll make some banana bread (see post in January 2009) sometime soon, because I'm craving something like that.
The fourth of July is coming up soon, so I'm excited about that. I'll be in Hermosa Beach, most likely. This trip is still lots of fun, despite sometimes feeling lonely, but I'm feeling pretty good about everything. I need more books and maybe more movies.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pain and suffering

On Tuesday I went ashore in Cabrillo Beach anchorage (which is in San Pedro) to go to the aquarium and then visit a used marine store, where I had previously gotten some nice things. In the morning I had gone to the dock to change out my forestay with a stronger one, so I sailed back out and then dropped the anchor and paddled back in.
But in a few hours the wind picked up a little bit, and unbenownst to me, my nomadic boat wouldn't stand for staying put. The aquarium was nice and then when I had finished my business at the marine store I got a call from some number I didn't recognize, and I picked up to hear that my boat was on the rocks. So I ran down and by the time I got to the dock, they had rescued Altair and brought her to the dock.
Nothing was wrong, as far as I could see, so I sailed over to Catalina to get a good look at the bottom (see above video) and found that I broke the trim tab rudder attachment at the bottom, and then scraped a lot of paint off the bottom. I just fixed the rudder, but since the bottom paint is scraped off, I'll have to wash off the things growing on it until I get to painting it again.
Hopefully it won't slow me down too much.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Turning Point

For some reason, I've been hesitant to cross the border. Ok, for a number of reasons. When I first started planning this trip out, my goal was to sail around the Channel Islands, and its hard to give up on a past goal, even though I may want to get into mexico soon. So I'm not going. That whole plan of getting here and there by certian dates, well, those dates are going to change. A lot of it has to do with meeting up with Danny, and he'll be coming down to LA, so I'll be in the islands for a few more weeks.
As much as I grumble about the USA at times, and maybe even about southern california, I am still scared to go into Mexico, where I have never been before. I will go, but I delay partly out of intimidation. The other part of me, of course is that I am in the water again. Oh how joyous it feels to get out in the water and dive. I dove out at catalina Island over the last few days quite a lot. I shot a green fish with a blue eye (tasty) and saw a bunch of lobsters, so I'll have to figure out how to get those, and just had a good time in the water in general. So I will stay, visit more islands, and keep visiting my friends here.

Oh, and its hurricane season in mexico right now. Previously I have been scoffing at them, but they aren't anything to scoff at. So I feel like I'm making a smart move to steer clear of the area where its possible to get hit by a big wind.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Its been a while since I had good internet to post last, but I'm back at my friend Matt's place in Redondo Beach, so I can post again. I left his place a week ago, went out to Catalina Island and did some diving and spearfishing (see spearfishing video below) and then came back in to San Pedro, where I met up with a friend who works on a tall ship there. Tall ships are a funny place, because (as I was instructed) it is hard to tell a homeless person from a tall ship sailor. Over the last few hundred years, many things have changed, but some have not. They are, however, NOT pirates. I learned that a long time ago, and despite some of their ships being used in films as pirate ships, they are not designed for that purpose. Anyway, two years ago I met up with a lot of tall ships up in Port Angeles, and a few of those same sailors were here in this place! I got to go out sailing with them, which was very exciting at first, but I soon realized that I didn't know how to do anything on board. I was a lump of useless clay. I couldn't steer the boat; the captain had the wheel. I couldn't raise the sails; I didn't know which lines to pull. I couldn't adjust the trim of the sails for the same reasons, and so I took a few videos. I did end up going aloft to help furl a sail, and I think I did a decent job for my first time. (its at the bottom)
The sailors are really nice people, and they took me in as one of their own readily. It feels so good to form community, and it was being formed while in that company.
Then I chased the boat out as they went to Catalina and I headed around the corner of San Pedro to get back to Redondo Beach. I'll spend the next two nights here then leave wednesday to go out to Catalina myself and then on to San Clemente Island and then to San Diego. I expect to make it to San Diego on friday or saturday (or sunday if I dawdle)
From then on, I will prepare for crossing the border, and head down south.
My plans for Baja are this: I will run through the first night out of San Diego to get to Point San Quintin, then rest a night there, then run through another night to get to Cedros Island (right at the big hook in baja), then a short trip to Turtle Bay, then another overnighter to Magdalena bay, then another overnighter to Cabo San Lucas. So all told I think it will be about two weeks of travel. If I leave San Diego on the 21st, that gives me

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Los Angeles

I'm in LA now, having come down from Santa Barbara. On route, I managed to see a Sunfish, which is a cool looking fish, and I also took out my little video camera and took a pretty cool video of dolphins from under water. I'm working on a system to look at things under water, and its kind of working out. I also made a speargun attachment for the camera, so I'll have some dive videos with spearfishing soon too.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Santa Barbara

Something about this town, and in fact, all of Southern California, chafes against me a little bit. Like sitting in traffic, or listening to the freeway out your window when you want to sleep, or even sitting in the shade when its still too hot out. Irritating. The channel islands are not like this. Central California is not like this, but in SoCal the corporation (I believe) sticks its hand out and tries to pull your wallet out of your pocket.
Its very impersonal, and very hard to do much for free, and you have to drive everywhere.
I don't like driving anymore. I don't even like cars much. The rules, the traffic, the people in boxes where you can't wave to them and smile and even shout over the wind to see where they are from or going. Too many of them.
Consequently, I am getting lonely. I bet I'll cure that when I go out to the islands again, but in the city I am alone. Even among the vagabonds who anchor out in Santa Barbara, drinking and smoking pot (I am not, but they are) I am alone. I can't be a part of their crowd, and I'm not a part of the rich tourist crowd or of any crowd here.
I see people walking around hand in hand and kissing, and I am alone. It doesn't bother me too much, but I don't like feeling sorry for myself because I've chosen this life, and its awesome. But still, I am one of the grains who has fallen through the cracks of America.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Diving Videos

Here are some videos from my new little camera, a GoPro Surf camera. Its really wide angle, unlike the older dive camera I have, which is too zoomed in all the time. It also takes pictures. The water wasn't that clear, but I hope that this will work out great when I get clear waters. I also need to make a speargun mount for it.

Anacapa Island

So this isn't really just Anacapa island. This is the trip with Jeremy. We started at Santa Cruz, spent the night on the south side of the island, and then got up the next morning and went for a swim. I'll post some diving videos in the next post. Jeremy got a Calico Bass, and I took a shot at a fish, but missed. It was a nice little time in the water, but the fog started rolling in, so we went back to the boat. After Jeremy shot the fish, he didn't have a place to put it, so he stuffed it up his wetsuit, and it stayed put for a while, but soon he forgot it was there. Then it wiggled, and he nearly jumped out of his skin. In the back of your mind there are always sharks or danger when you're diving, and most especially when you're in cold water like this, so I can totally imagine an unexpected wiggle inside my wetsuit to be quite starting.
After a while, we got the anchors up and headed down to Anacapa island, where the fog finally went away and we thought about diving, but the water looked murky. Probably we should have dove again, because we didn't do any more for the rest of the trip. We spent the night (mostly sleepless again) on the south side of Anacapa Island, and then the next morning we sailed around the eastern end and finally went ashore.
Not that there was much to do ashore, because the island is about 100 ft of cliffs, with very little beach, and above the cliffs it is somewhat flat, but we couldn't get up the cliff very far.
There is a big arch rock at the eastern end, which is really cool, and I wanted to paddle a boat through it, but maybe I'll do that some other time. Also there's a lighthouse on the top, but we couldn't get to it to explore.
We never got going very fast during the trip, but I figured I'd try to make a fast-looking shot work. I was quite disappointed by the lack of wind. We eventually made it to Ventura Harbor on Monday night, and then found out that a night at guest moorage would be something like 40 bucks, so I managed to find a place to anchor out that is behind a breakwater but out of the basin. So hopefully I won't get a call from someone who asks if this boat on the rocks is mine...
Now I'm at Jeremy's place trying to get rested and ready to go back out there. Its my 29th Birthday as well today.
29, without a plan, wandering aimlessly around the salty waves.

Santa Cruz Island

So after Santa Rosa Island, I headed on downwind (east) to Santa Cruz Island. I've been to this island before, aboard a high speed catamaran (is there a slow speed catamaran?) and visited Scorpion Anchorage to camp for a few days. I had talked to Jeremy (my brother) about him coming out in one of those catamarans and meeting me at Scorpion, and then we could take our time getting back to Ventura, spearfishing and sailing around. So he arranged to catch the Saturday trip out, and I was going to meet him there. I left Santa Rosa on friday, and figured I'd just anchor out in the bay next to Scorpion for the night and wait, but the wind intervened. So as I arrived, it began to pick-up to rudder breaking speeds, and LaFawnda slipped one of her rudder footings out, so I had to use my main rudder instead of LaFawnda. Then I got in and was fixing that up, and I noticed that I was dragging anchor, which (since I have tons of chain on the anchor) I had thought I had cured last summer. But no! The Bruce style anchor I have on the front is not the best in sand, in fact it slowly drags through the sand and the only way to stop that is to use a bigger anchor (not more chain) or to run a different kind of anchor out. So I moved to another spot, a little further away, and with more room to swing about, but still I was dragging. So now I moved to a spot on the other side of the island from Scorpion, nowhere near where I was going to meet Jeremy, and was going to spend the night there. As I rounded the eastern corner of Santa Cruz island, the wind came head on against me, so I cranked the motor on full power to go against it. I watched my speed go from 6 knots to 4, then to 2, and finally, to rest about 1 knot, which is REALLY SLOW. And I was at full, even more than full power. Give 110%, right?
So finally I got to the anchorage and then put out two anchors, one danforth, and one Bruce (my normal anchor) and set them securely. Ok. I'm set for the night. But what will Jeremy think when I'm not there in the morning? So I pulled out my NuCanoe and readied myself for a paddle ashore. I set a long line off the stern (you can barely see it in the pictures) with a float on the end, so if I couldn't paddle against the wind (oh, it was WINDY, something like 45 knots) then I could at least grab that before being blown out to sea. Then I got in and managed to go forward, albeit slowly, so I headed to shore. The beach faces south, and there was a good sized south swell, so I tried to time it coming in, but of course didn't do a good enough job, and got sucked in a bit too far as a big roller came through and WHEE! I got ashore without too much damage, though, so I hiked up to the top of the mountain to try to call Jeremy on my T-mobile phone.
Unfortunately, I discovered at the top, T-mobile doesn't work out on the islands. I think there is an AT&T tower on the top of one island nearby, and since I'm in the "domain" of that tower, my phone will not see any other tower, but it can't connect to it, because I'm not part of that provider. Its frustrating. I know cell phones are line of sight (or close to it) and I could see the mainland. My phone could see the mainland. But no signal.
I also managed to lose the eyepiece to a birthday present from two years ago, a little telescope that you pull out in sections, like pirates would do 200 years ago. It saddens me greatly. (sorry Danny)
Anyways, it was a great little jaunt up the hill, and the anchors held fine, though I watched another boat dragging as I climbed the hill.
The next day it was pretty calm, and since I didn't really sleep much during the night, I woke up strangely refreshed at 5:30 and got up to sail over to Scorpion. I ended up waiting around for a while, so I paddled ashore to talk to the rangers (its a National park) and saw a ranger that I had seen a couple years ago. I also talked to the naturalist of the island and we discussed different kinds of boats and cruising, as well as Materials Engineering, because she had done the same undergraduate degree as me. Small world, huh?
Finally my brother arrived, and we paddled everything out to the boat and got ourselves settled, and then headed on over to the southern side of the island to try to dive somewhere. It was really calm most of the time, and just as we go to a place to anchor, the wind picked up a lot, so we had a fun time trying to figure out a good way to anchor to keep the boat from being to uncomfortable. It was uncomfortable, however. The wind, current and waves were all from different directions, so impossible to reconcile.