Sunday, September 26, 2010

Launch!

There was a launch last night from Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is just next to Point Conception. The nice thing is that the rockets go so high in the air that you can see them from a long ways off. This particular one, a Minotar 4, was blazing away going a bit southwest, so we had a nice view up at my brother's place. Each rocket shot (the ones with the streak) was 30 seconds long. Then there were other space related things, like sunset and moonrise. Makes the heart just sing with the music of the spheres, right?
So, the first shot was from just after it came over the ridge, for 30 seconds, and you can see the first stage burning a nice red, then the second stage igniting. The first stage was a solid fuel rocket, I think it was aluminum and perchlorate, making that distinctive aluminum burning reddish orange. The second stage was more subdued, I think it might be a liquid phase, because of the lack of a plume, all you see is the flame itself, no smoke trail. (less smoke for a liquid rocket)
The second shot is all third stage, I think, with a little bump at the beginning from my hand when I pushed the shutter down, and also when it ignited. I think it started up pretty close to when I pushed the trigger. Its quite a long stage, that one is...
Then there is the coast phase, and finally the fourth stage. Ignition of the fourth stage, which is about 90-110 seconds after liftoff, was about 100 km in altitude and about 1000 km downrange. What a long way to go in so short a time!
And you can see it going over the curve of the Earth, as it appears to go down, but is really just going further and further away. I believe it finalizes the orbit halfway around and then is done. This launch was successful (I learned later) resulting in an orbit about 540 km high.













Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Soccer!

I went to watch a LA Galaxy soccer game while in Long Beach, and I got to see David Beckham play, though he didn't play for very long, he came in during the second half and played to the end. He's a good player, and I noticed that there was a distinct type of kick that he has, where he can place the ball very accurately over a long shot, but he didn't score any goals, or even assist. Landon Donovan (the captain) scored two goals, to win the game, which was very exciting. His first was a steal from the defender and then he dribbled around the goalie to score, and the second was a run in and blast after a cross that bobbled around in front of the goal for a while. (he's no. 10) Long Beach was a nice anchorage, again, and I got a shot of the boat bobbing along in the waves. I saw a bunch of Black Skimmers, but didn't get a shot of them, it was too dark.
At Sectionals, on sunday, at the last point of the last game we played, I sprained my ankle, so I am hobbling around now, rather than walking or running. I hope to be back in action soon. Sailing proves to be painful, because there is a lot of walking around an unsteady deck to tend to things, and that all makes my ankle feel abused.
On other subjects, the whole sticking around here until the hurricane season is over is potentially proving to be a good idea. There is currently a storm next to Cabo San Lucas, which is the southern tip of Baja California, and it is projected to go maybe up the Sea of Cortez.

Planes, fish, birds, Long Beach

Ok, so I have been busy with things lately. I was watching planes, and brought my camera along, so I got some shots of the airplanes landing... Can you tell which each one is? Then I headed out to Catalina again, and dove a little bit, and met the guys on the boat that is pictured behind (so it looks) of mine in the silhouette shot.. On the way I also saw another half eaten Sunfish. The poor things always look so chewed upon, even if they are whole, and this one was certainly not. At Catalina I saw a bunch of Pelicans diving, so I tried to get some shots of that, and then I of course got that fish that I showed the video of in the last post so grotesquely.
When I got into Long Beach, I saw a nice big cargo ship with a little dude on it, so I figured it was a nice perspective on size. Big anchor, that's for sure.
I went to Long Beach to play in Sectionals, which is a tournament for Ultimate Frisbee. My team got 6th place, which is enough to go to Regionals, if we choose to go.












Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spearfinshing for Mackerel

I shot an Atlantic Mackerel (I think it was at least) and I have a pretty good video of it. It was nice and tasty despite my bad cooking.
video

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Anchors!

There is a lot of speculation as to what the perfect anchor is, and I have spent a lot of time researching this on line, but I haven't really found too much to lead me to a favorite. Before doing any research, of course, I bought a new anchor. Since then I've found that it doesn't work like I want it to.
The way that I want the anchor to work is that I drop it over, and then lead out a certain amount of chain and rope and done! In reality, anchoring is a difficult task, where you have to make a lot of compromises, and you will always be wondering if you did it right. Or at least I will. Anyways, it all started when I anchored out at Marina Del Rey and lost my trusty Bruce style anchor, with a lot of chain on it. I miss that anchor dearly, so I thought I would see if I could find it. I am still searching. Jeremy made me a nice stainless steel grappeling hook, which I have been dragging around in the depths over where I believe the anchor to lie (though it may have been stolen, in which case, its not there anymore) to no avail. So I got me a new anchor, the CQR type (top picture) and it isn't what I was hoping it to be. I got it because I would see this style on a lot of old cruising boats, and I figured that they would know best. In fact, they don't seem to know best. My first attempt to set it didn't work, so I tried again, and it just slid nicely along the bottom, wondering when I was going to stop pulling on it and let it rest. So I put out a Danforth type anchor, which I haven't taken a picture of, but is very common and mostly pretty cheap. But I don't like the danforth types because of how they tend to snag on themselves and then become useless. So I want something that will work in all angles and not "pull out" or "foul".
Supposedly, the CQR will dig in and then pivot without letting go, so it is a great anchor for that. What it really does is never dig in, so I am feeling a bit had by it. I do have some theories as to how to make things better. My theory is that the anchors will dig in to a hard surface (hard sand or hard mud) if they have enough weight. On soft mud, most anchors will do, even if they are light, but on hard stuff, you need to get something like 30 lbs of weight before they will even dig in. No dig in, no holding, so for a small boat, it kinda sucks. The big boats all have big anchors, which are heavy, so they don't have trouble. The other factors are shape dependent. I should sharpen the tip of my CQR, so it digs in better, and I am thinking about bending the flukes (the plow parts) to make them wider, so it has more incentive to dig in. More on that later, if I do it.
The end solution to anchoring for me is to put out a bunch of different types of anchors, and hope that one will perform when another does not. Right now I have my BIG 100 lb gorilla (as Jeremy calls it) 35 lb danforth out with my CQR as a backup, but I would like to have another Bruce type, or maybe two.
If you have time, look up anchor testing on youtube and see videos of the anchors digging in, and you will see why I want a bruce.
I also want to get a Delta, which is the most modern design and probably the best in all around conditions, but I don't want to spend 150 bucks or more on an anchor.
Still, it is possible to make one, so maybe I'll work on that. I also have some lead in the boat, so I could make an anchor and fill some parts of it with lead, to add to its penetrating power in hard grounds. I made an excellent anchor roller that uses a stainless tube as the rolling part, since before I had to replace the plastic rollers so often. I think I really like the roller, but I am interested in having two anchors ready to go up front, so that could another project.
In searching for my anchor, I think I will go diving out at the anchorage tomorrow, and see what I can find. If I can find a bunch of other anchors and a lot of chain I will be really happy, because I could use about 100 ft of chain or more.