30 October 2012

VIDEO: sea kayak sailing afternoon

Once again the forecast was not too conducive for sea kayaking as we know it: the wind was to blow up to 30 knots!
I didn’t have any specific destination in mind and no major crossing to tackle, so I resorted to have some fun with my kayak sail again.

What could have been a rather tedious slog paddling in a stiff breeze turned out to be a fun filled afternoon of zipping up and down the gentle wind waves.
I only wished that the tidal flow would have opposed the wind direction, to create a bit bumpier conditions :-)


26 October 2012

SAFETY: going solo made safer

On the left shoulder of my PFD I have my personal locator beacon (aka PLB) tightly strapped hoping I never have to use is. It gives me a sense of security that in case the proverbial sh*t really hits the fan somebody might come to my cry for help and pluck me out of the water.
I also know that those electronic gadgets aren't totally foolproof or operate 100% of the time (details here ).
Lately I have found myself venturing on more trips alone; my usual paddling companions seem to have other commitments or maybe have just grown tired of me :-)
While solo trips have a certain appeal they also pose more risks, especially when on the water.
As I prefer more textured waters and longer paddles to more remote places (of a week or so) I have been contemplating undertaking those trips alone.
Ex Cap_34

One concern that has crossed my mind would be the rare scenario where I would come to trouble and be left stranded somewhere with no way of letting people know of my predicament.
I should let my loved ones know where and when I am going but giving them all the details and logistic constraints might prevent that from happening. Printing out maps with detailed plots and ...
I also don't want to "burden" a relative or a friend with the duty of checking on me if I don't contact them on my return, giving them the mental constraint to be my lifeline in case of no-show.
Put it this way: I would rather not be that person that a buddy relies on for safety.
So I was rather pleased when a new registration service was set up for the purpose of "keeping an eye" on theirs subscribers.
iNeverSolo.com a free service that allows you to register you intentions.
"The brainchild of an outdoorsman,
pilot and engineer, iNeversolo is an innovative online resource that lets you create
a plan for your outdoor activity so that, if you don’t make it back when you said you
would, an email and text alert goes out to the people you designate and they can track
you down. iNeverSolo ensures that while you may be on your own outdoors, you are
not really alone." says Peter Downing of iNeverSolo.

The service is free to the users supported by international advertisers and sponsors.
Initially only available in USA, it has just recently added international coverage.
Anybody that signs up to iNeverSolo.com can submit as much (or little) information about the proposed outing, and it doesn't have to be epic. Anything from a simple outing of a few hours in the bay (or woods) to week long expeditions.
You let them know when you will be back and when you will log off and they keep track of you.
I don't mean that they physically check on you (nobody will come around my place if I don't log-off) but they will send out an alert to the contacts I nominated if iNeverSolo fails to get hold of me first and I don't send them a response. So, if I fail to come back from my trip and iNeverSolo can't get in hold of me they will alert my contacts that might notify the authorities to come look for me.
For more details watch this animation or read this info

Ex Cap_33

Of course such service has one downfall: what if I get "stranded" on a remote island (with no mobile service) with a couple of Swedish backpackers and prolong my trip for a few days? I would hate to see that Marine Rescue chopper hovering above looking for me :-)


23 October 2012

REVIEW: Carb neutral beer powered vehicle

While the engineers of the world are scampering to invent a carbon neutral vehicle to happily transport people around, a different kind of development has been happening behind Oregon's mountains: a carb neutral vehicle that is very environmentally friendly.
While this vehicle has had tremendous success in Oregon, Utah's DMV seems to be reluctant to allow registration...

Powered by a "V12"engine that sometimes fires in slight imperfect synchronicity, it requires open minded and willing passengers to cruise with one "designated" driver and one licensed barman to make it reach the top speed of 7 miles per hour. Unsuitable for off road (the engine is underpowered for steep hills) it is primarily designed to transport patrons between "refuelling" stations closely spaced apart (microbreweries).
Manufacturers' fuel recommendation is premium (beer) only with a rather high average in-town consumptions of 3 gallons per mile; it is however carb neutral as the carbs ingested are soon burned off by the engines frantically spinning the pedals.
The vehicle is a soft top with excellent street appeal: trust me, you will get second looks, from either gender :-)
The downside of this unique vehicle are the seats: testers found them somehow spartan and suitable only for short journeys as a long drives in the country produced saddle sores.


16 October 2012

New found love

We met in a carpark, a sunny day, I remember.
We hit if off immediately and I think it was love at first sight, at least for me.
For the next month we became inseparable and travelled on a road trip of the West Coast of USA.
It was a magical time, intense and unfortunately too brief.
Now I miss him...

select full screen, HD with headphones for best viewing experience

Rockit is just like the Foof, my first love; he is the legacy that my pooch left behind.
Extremely well trained and with great intuition Rockit backpacked with me in the Sierra (East side) to elevations just shy of 12000ft.
My preferred territory is above tree line where the vistas are only interrupted by high peaks.
There is a strange sense of vulnerability when sleeping in windswept high valleys; I had to keep a watchful eye on the weather or find myself camped for the night on exposed terrain with wind battering the flimsy fabric walls of the tent. Luckily the weather in the Sierras usually holds until late in the season as it did for me.
I huffed and puffed to reach the high valley under the load of a backpack with supplies for 3 nights: I am a "flatlander" these days and my legs see very little action. Rockit however seemed unaffected by his backpack and trotted ahead scouting the route.

It was after Labour Day and most of the crowd have dissipated. We did come across however a party of maybe 10 with about 7 dogs, all coming back from a camp up high. It is wonderful that the regulators in US have set aside remarkable areas where dogs are welcome, where owners of trusted canine friends can enjoy the outdoors, together.
I sat there, stunned by the beauty of this landscape and tried to absorb it all in, and "upload it" to my mental memory. It is in the high mountains that I feel the most serene, excited and peaceful at the same time.
Laying on my back I spent hours just watching the clouds rush push the peaks to then fizzle out into thin air. As evening approached they blushed, first a faint pink to full deep red as darkness approached. I slipped into my sleeping bag and Rockit borrowed my light down jacket. There was just a hint of frost in the morning.
Not extremely fond of the water Rockit would however leap onto boulders like a goat. He followed us without hesitation sharing the adventure that Edgar and myself wanted to experience.
Rockit added his curious and playful spirit to our mountain trek to then keep guard at night: we were in bear country and he could alert us of unwanted visitors.
There is special bond between myself and Australian Sheppards; a breed of exceptional intuition. Owners of these dogs know what I am talking about.

I chocked back a couple of tears as we parted at Los Angeles international airport; Edgard pulling back into traffic, Rockit perched out of the window watching me disappearing into the stream of people.


10 October 2012

Photo: High Sierra

There is a magical place that has a special spot in my heart.
It is not along the seashore or deep in the woods but high in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada of California.

Blue Lake_2

I recently reconnected with that place and realized how much I missed the simple pleasure of journeying through a rocky landscape in good company.
Sheltered from the breeze I slept outside in a hollow on my last night looking at the starry night.
With just my face exposed from the hood of my warm sleeping bag, the cold breeze transported me back to my childhood Alpine valley.
Cuddled next to me, my new found love.

Currently working on a short video on the Sierras.     Coming soon...

03 October 2012

Video: The Ocean Dragons

I have had no time to create a post of my own lately (I have just returned back to Australia) but I have come across this brilliant video by The Ocean Dragons.

These guys really enjoy rough conditions using Greenland paddles.

Thanx to Adventuretess for the link