Saturday, August 28, 2010

Trip with Abe and Katrina

After Rafting down the Deschutes River last weekend, Abe and Katrina (who drove down from Canada) decided that since they were already partly down here, they would just continue south and drive down to LA and come out sailing. And so it happened. We scrounged up some suits and snorkels and went out to Catalina to explore. The water was pretty nice, but not super warm, and Katrina lived up to her 5 years ago today hurricane public image, and helped to cause the winds to blow the most strongly that I have seen since I've been down here, about 25 knots. Since I don't have the diversity of anchors that I used to have, we drug the anchor in a couple places, and of course wrapped a line around the propeller at the same time while heading for nasty rocks. Fortunately, we lived. Abe did some decent dives to 20 ft or so, while Katrina (who didn't have fins or a weight belt) mostly stayed on the surface. I dove for the first time in about a month, and was expecting to be unable to stay down or go deep, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I could go nice and deep. Consequently, I saw a small 6 inch leopard shark, a green Moray Eel, and some purple crabs up in a cave that I haven't seen before. On the way back to the mainland we saw a pod of whales, which I think were Fin whales (or Finback whales), and are second only to Blue Whales in size. We got about 100 yards away from some of them, and then sent out the whaling boat (the nucanoe) out with oarsman (Abe) and camera operator (me) to do some photo reconnaissance. The whales, which are the fastest of the great whales, were too quick for our slow oarsman, so we failed to get any underwater pictures. After that, we saw a shark, which I think must have been a Blue Shark, because of the size of the two dorsal fins. (the main dorsal, and the other one that is further back were similar in size.) On a White Shark, there is almost no secondary fin, its really small, but we saw the dorsal, the aft fin, and the tail very clearly.
Catalina also have Buffalo, if you didn't know it. We managed to find one of them lounging around in Two Harbors, so that was a treat. I hadn't seen one of them before this out there. They were brought out for a movie a long time ago and were never removed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Run in, continued...

So I am in repair mode right now. I've measured the cables that hold up the mast that were damaged by the other boat, and I've ordered them, so soon I'll get to picking them up and installing them. Unfortunately, I managed to lose my faithful Bruce anchor over the weekend of rafting, and I need to replace that.
On thursday, I headed out to the Deschutes River to go river rafting, and invited Abe and Katrina (his girlfriend) down to join. (I, in turn, was invited along by a friend I met down here at frisbee) Anyway, the weekend was looking promising, so of course my boat decided to get run into just before I was ready to leave, and when I returned to it today I discovered a lot of things wrong. The anchor that I like to use as my primary is missing, still down at the bottom amongst the rubble. Apparently the anchor line was cut during the weekend, I suspect something sharp on the bottom. So I need to get another, or go diving for this one (and hopefully others, if I can find them) but the water is murky and gross.
LaFawnda is also suffering. She doesn't like being in big waves, and that's what she got over the weekend. And my anchor roller is not happy either. All in All, a number of tasks.
And I don't have much time. Abe and Katrina decided to come on down from oregon to Cali in order to go out sailing, so they should be here tomorrow, and I need to get the boat in order by then. So I've got a bunch of things to do in short time. Ok, here are some pictures from the rafting trip...
Oh, and there is one shot of Malibu, and a shot of the anchorage from the airplane. You can see my boat in the picture, the second one in from the right.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Have you ever watched a Polo game? Its actually really exciting... The horses thunder past and every once in a while someone pulls out a sword and cuts someone's head off. The frisbee game that I just started going to has polo afterwards, so it was nice to watch that.
Also, in exciting news, I got run into by another boat yesterday. I had just anchored out in Marina Del Rey and was thinking about going ashore when I heard this terrible crunching and awful shaking, and I scampered up on deck to investigate. A big Catalina 38 had run into me, and had caught on one of my shrouds (the cables that hold the mast from tipping over) and that had stopped the boat. My anchor held solid, and didn't slide at all, so I ended up taking a lot of the force of the boat. The shroud was torn in half, despite my near conviction (earlier) that since the cables and swages were so old, the cable would just pull out of the swage (the end of the cable) and that would be that. But it didn't. In fact the swage is stronger than the cable. And since the cable is strong, I am pleased with the shape my rigging is in, despite its age. Anyways, it tore one of the cables up completely, and broke another one, and now I have to replace them. The guy who ran into me was quite considerate and gave me his number, and I'm working out how to get the replacement cables on and who to do them, and then I'll go get it done. I expect it to be around $400 or $500, but hopefully not any more than that. West Marine of course priced the job at $1050. They always are outrageous. The boat is not Oceanworthy now, but I think I could sail her around a little bit, but I would want to be careful. Right now I tied up a couple lines in the mast to hold things up.
There was also a hole poked in the deck, and some other scratchings. Oh, the trials my poor Altair is going through.
Note, however, that the problems she faces are almost solely caused by rocks, or boats, and not by waves or by wind. So the safest place still remains out in the middle of the ocean.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Meteor Shower!

Last night was a nice little meteor shower, called the Perseids, which happens as a result of the earth running through the dust left over from an old comet, and therefore happens once a year in august (when the earth is in that spot in the solar system) There are other meteor showers from other old comets that we can look at, but they happen at different times of the year. Anyway, this one is the Perseids, because it looks like all the meteors are coming from Perseus, which is a constellation. The Leonids all look like they come from Leo, but that one is in November. So I went up to a hilltop away from the lights and took some pictures. The one that looks like a meteor isn't, but is a airplane, so I didn't manage to get any to show up in the pictures, but that is all right. They are too faint to show up in a long exposure with the settings I used.
In addition to the stargazing, I went up to Griffith Observatory a little while ago, which is a beautiful building above LA, and it has a wonderful terrestrial view that I've seen three times now, but never looked through the telescope (which is open to the public after dark)
Oh, and there is a few shots from Marina Del Ray, where I am currently anchored. It is a not so nice free anchorage, but still, free.
I also have been playing frisbee so much I figured I should take some pictures of that...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Video Camera alive!

Ok, so I haven't been doing anything exciting lately. I'm sorry for that. I've been getting a bit lazy. And in addition, I've been troubled by technical difficulties, but I'm slowly overcoming them. My underwater video camera, the GoPro, got sick and was in a coma for a while, but it has come back to the world, and here are a couple things from it!

Also, I don't get internet all the time out on the boat (in fact almost no time at all) and I don't like carrying everything ashore, so sometimes (like now) I have taken some pictures, but I can't transfer them to my computer because I didn't bring the card reader. Maybe I'll go get it today and then post an addendum tonight.
Life has been going well on the water, it is still nice down here in SoCal. Catalina is a welcome refuge from LA, as always, and there is plenty of places to go visit on the island that are new and exciting. And lots of people out there to meet and visit with.
Still, there are some problems that I've been trying to work out.

Food: I don't really have a lot of good food. The things I eat are all right, but I am sure glad to get ashore and get new stuff. Why? Because I like things like fruit, and orange juice and cheese and other things that need to be kept cool (if they will survive for a week) and I can't keep them cool. My fridge (ice box) is really not icy at all, because it doesn't have good insulation. It was built into the boat with 1971 insulation (I am sure that they have invented better by now) and not a lot of it. The top is a mahogany plywood sheet, so no insulation there, and the sides are unknown insulation, but potentially none on the outboard side, where it meets the hull.
So I might go after an icebox, or a cooler. Any suggestions on the best brand? I don't need anything big, and I might just go with one of those styrofoam coolers that you can get for REAL cheap, but I'm open to ideas. Then I'd convert my present icebox into dry food storage or something, and hopefully things will work out better.
Another option is to get a small fridge and run it, but that requires more electric power than I have, which means getting more solar panels. (not that getting the panels is that hard)

Rigging: Most people replace their standing rigging (the wires that hold up the mast) every 10 years or so. I don't know when this rig was last replaced, so it is probably due. Supposing I run into big weather and lose my mast, that would suck. But it is expensive to do. So I am in a dilemma. I have already added an extra forestay by running one off the bowsprit, so I have an insurance there, where both have to break in order for the mast to drop. The boat has built in redundancy in the back, where the points most likely to fail (the bottom) are doubled. The back-stay comes down and splits into two sections, which connect to the boat. So front and back are pretty well tied down. The sides, also have redundancy, because they have shrouds that go halfway up the mast, so in the event of the side stay failure, they take the load, and then the mast might break in half, but at least I would still have that half of it.
Some cruisers have what are called "baby back stays" or Running backs, or running backstays. I think I want to make some of them. They are basically cables that come down from near the top of the mast and connect to a point on the side of the boat aft of the mast, but not all the way back. As a consequence, they will interfere with the mainsail, and have to be taken down on the side the sail is being set on. That means that they usually have a quick-disconnect and tightening device on them, and (since there are two) are usually only run one at a time. The benefit is that I have an extra redundancy on the side stay, and on the back stay (my two weak points right now) but the downside is that I have to make a connection at the top of the mast (which doesn't exist yet) and on the sides of the boat (which don't exist yet) and find the cable and the tightening mechanism.
The other option is to re-do the cables and swaging, at a cost of about $800 or maybe more.
Unfortunately I don't have a good indicator for failure on the swages. On some things, you can see them rusting and know that you are losing strength at a certain rate, but with stainless, it doesn't really show you.

I still haven't gone surfing yet, and as the days go by I am more and more eager to go, but it is hard to find a suitable spot; where I can leave my boat unattended nearby, and where there are not hordes of other people who will make it hard for me to catch a wave. I have, however, been playing lots of frisbee, and am awaiting my cleats being shipped down from my dad's place, so I can use them. Pretty much I go out to the islands during the week, and then come to LA to play frisbee on the weekend.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Long Beach

I am anchored in Long Beach currently. It is quite the nice area, in fact. Upon looking at the charts and maps, I would have thought long beach to be a mostly industrial spot, with a beach that was filled with bums and garbage. In fact, it is a high class spot where fancy people go to eat and walk along the water, and drive their Ferraris around. Which makes it not the ideal spot for me. There isn't much of a spot to land my boat, despite having a really nice anchorage and practically no swell. All the beaches are combed by people and patrolled by enforcement, which makes it hard to tie up a nucanoe and leave it behind. So I don't think I will be back.
There is the Queen Mary (a big old ocean liner tied up right downtown) and a cruise ship dock, and I've met some nice people, but I think I'll hop around other marinas in the future. I haven't been to Dana Point yet, so thats an option. Unfortunately, I have forgotten to bring my camera around on the little trips I've made around here, so I don't have any good pictures. This shot was from when Danny was aboard, when we got a Sheephead fish, and you can see the big teeth.
The underwater video camera managed to fix itself (I am not sure what was wrong, but it wouldn't work) and so I am anxious to make new underwater videos.
Also, when I was in Cabrillo anchorage in San Pedro, last week, my paddle for my nucanoe was stolen. So I was forced to find a new one, which isn't as good.
And finally, I'm playing frisbee almost every sunday now, with a group of people in Hermosa Beach, and that is really fun. For the last two months I've been borrowing cleats whenever I go, but soon (I hope) my Dad will send me my own pair (that I left behind stupidly) and I'll use them. For now my problems are that I need to find a pair of good cheap sandals to wear, and maybe another pair of running shoes. Or some Shoegoo.
This year's hurricane season is progressing slowly, with only 6 depressions, and I think 4 of them made it to be named storms, and none of them coming close to the Sea of Cortez, but I'm glad that I am staying out of the way for now. The season closes in October, and there is a big race from San Diego then, so I might follow the racers down then.