21 December 2009

DIY: tie down anchors for modern cars

Like most kayakes I travel to destinations where I paddle.
Probably very few paddlers are lucky enough to live close to the water so launching the boat does not involve transporting it.
Even fewer, if not launching from home, are willing to catch public transport to get to their paddling destination with their own kayak (actually I know only of Dubside that does it).
So, like majority of sea kayakers, I transport my boats with my own vehicle.

When I was shopping for a new car one of my priorities was that it would have decent roof racks.
I primarily intended to car top mountain bikes.
Only later on I found that to safely transport sea kayaks I would need to tied down the bow.
My car, being a relatively efficient vehicle that does not guzzle insulting amounts of gasoline, it's shaped to offer less wind resistance.
With that comes a front end that is rather round and with no anchor points, unlike some chunky urban warrior vehicles :-)
I have a few spots under the car where I could attach a rope but that would rub right across the plastic bumper and probably wear off the paint.
Fortunately one day I saw somebody else with the perfect solution: an anchor point that was off the car's under hood ("bonnet" in Australia).

Holden (Opel) Zafira's front end with webbing for tie down.
All I needed was a simple section of flat webbing and a washer.
The strap is 5" long, folded in half to create a loop.
I used a nail, heated up on a flame, to poke a hole through the webbing of the strap and the same time seal the hole and preventing fraying of the fibres.
Most times the bolts that mount the mudguards to the body of the car might be just in the perfect location for an tie-down anchor point.
In my car the hood is very "slopy" and I need a very forward anchor point: I drilled a hole closer to the end of the hood .
I used stainless steel hardware so I would not have corrosion problems later on.

The webbing loop can be tucked away under the hood when not in use.
My friend Greg Schwarz however has made a more sophisticated anchor point.
He fabricated a bracket of stainless steel that has been shaped and polished to match the car's look.

Once I had a closer look at the bracket I realized that a lot of work went into it.
It's shaped so it will fit under the hood and has a welded rib for strength.

Like anything else that Greg does his anchor point is obviously deluxe!

Anchoring a bow of a sea kayak is often overlooked and not many people do it.
I usually don't bother anchoring mine unless I envision driving the car on the freeway.
My roof rack is drilled to the body of the car (factory) and the chance of that failing is extremely remote.
However, aftermarket roof racks that are held against a car by simple brackets and don't have a solid bolt anchoring them to the roof are way more prone to be dislodged at high speed and in strong cross winds.

PS 31JAN10
The above article has been reproduced with permission at Adventure Kayak Magazine

14 December 2009

Club matters

I apologies to my readers if this post is not of global interest but I have an issue that I believe needs to made public in the best interest of my fellow paddlers.

After my first year of sea kayaking I wanted to further my skills and meet like minded people.
I sought to join a group or club that would offer me camaraderie and some new knowledge/skills.
In 2005 I joined the Queensland Sea Kayak Club.
I still remember the welcoming feel from the members and the down to earth approach to sea kayaking that the Club had at this time.
After a few years of general membership I thought that it would be fair to “give back” to the members that made me a better paddler.
I advanced my skills and undertook training to become a trip leader of sanctioned Club paddles (QSKC advocates for structured safe paddling pods).
I lead numerous trips from single day ones to several week expeditions.
I further involved myself with QSKC by serving on the Committee first as Events Coordinator and later as Vice President.
Unfortunately as it happens in most Clubs of independent thinkers sometimes there is a clash of personalities.
Opinions and agendas might differ and occasionally they results in conflict.
Recent events at my Club have escalated to the point that I have been publicly accused of wanting to ruin the Club (1).
It puzzles me how some members who have only been in the club for such a short period of time (including committee members whom I have supported personally) have suddenly started to spread rumours and/or unfounded gossip against me.
As such I feel, members of the Committee have not been acting fairly and in my humble opinion not in the best interest of the Club.
Moreover, official communication amongst members started to become censored (2) and records of communication deleted (3).
The record of minutes of Committee meetings also have became incomplete and bias.
The Committee meetings became secret with Club members no longer being permitted to attend (4).
Not entirely happy with the developments and accusations towards me I had to take drastic measures to ensure that in later days, I could not be accused of wrong doing.
I decided to voice record the Committee meetings that I was present at.
I was faced with opposition and was denied the ability to record meetings because this right was apparently deemed illegal by the Committee (despite it being a statutory right, see below).
It was revealing when at the recent meeting I was met with total disdain from the Committee when I voice recorded the event.
While accusations of illegal activity was again mentioned I reminded them that my doings were actually supported by Qld Law (5) and was to keep accountability in play whilst ending unfounded bias slurs against fellow members.

My question however remains: if the Committee did not want other members to attend the meeting and did not want me to record the meeting, what really was going on?
Why the secrets? It makes me suspicious as there is little transparency and a souring lack of accountability from elected members.
Surely the Club members would be interested to know why the current Committee is acting in this manner.
Censoring communication, deleting records and refusing a voice record of their meetings seems suspicious to me. I believe Club members deserve better.

I am aware that many new members have been the recipients of gossip and the smear campaign against me.
Club members that have been around as long as I have will probably know that my intentions are to make the Club thrive.
A Club that has offered me so much is worthy of my contribution.
I want to maintain a Club where paddlers have a choice of activities, a choice of varied skill level outings, and a choice of instructors.
I want the Club to remain the hub of activity for all levels where novices and more experienced paddlers are catered for.
So while some newcomers are accusing me of trying to ruin the Club for two years in the row, my involvement in the Club and my ethically based leadership of trips speaks volumes.
It’s up to the reader to form his/her opinion now.
And next time you hear rumors, with a healthy level of scepticism, ask for some facts instead of just mud!

(1) public accusation on Club's Google Group on 07DEC:
>>… Tess, Dom and your dwindling band of supporters you need to bury youregos and your personal dislikes and realise you had the opportunity todo something with the QSKC when you were the committee but didnothing… The QSKC is all butdestroyed again because of you actions. I hope you are proud ofyourselves, wrecking a club twice in as many years is no mean feat.<<
however Mark Priestley on 18NOV asked:>>…. For the long term good of the organisation and the sport and recreation of canoeing, it is also about a decision for all to cease and never to discuss publicly or in writing the types of matters everyone is buying into… <<
(2) records of the above public email were deleted at a later date after they were publicly posted. Any reply from the accused (Tess Dodd) was refused to be posted making it appear that the accused was acting guilty.
(3) Some records of trip write ups are missing from the QSKC website.
(4) Club Member Ken Doy received this email on 07DEC:
>> Hi Ken,We have had advice from Mark Priestley at Queensland Canoeing that given the situation at hand regarding the electing of an Interim President it is recommended to only have current committee members present at our meeting this Thursday…<<
(5) legislation that the Committee is aware of and denies: Invasion of Privacy Act 9171 http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/I/InvasOfPrivA71.pdf granting the right to record conversations whilst you are a participant in that conversation.

"I think there is a good reason why the propaganda system works. It recognises that the public will not support the actual policies, therefore it is important to prevent any knowledge or understanding of them by redirecting their interest'.
Avram Noam Chomsky

07 December 2009

SHOP: bombproof anchor

Occasionally I have to install a stainless steel saddle onto a kayak as an anchor for accessories that need mounting on the deck.
A typical installation requires drilling of the deck, two stainless steel bolts, a couple of washers below deck and some nylock nuts to fasten the saddle securely.
For light loads this installation is perfect: fast and easy.

For and anchor point that requires higher loads this method might not be ideal.
I needed some anchor points for the stays for my sailing mast that could take a higher load.
The typical saddle installation created a stress spot on the deck and some cracking occurred in high winds.

At the Rock and Roll hosted by NSWSKC, Andre Janecky (Hybrid Australia) showed me a more secure way of anchoring the saddle. It requires a bit more drilling and some epoxying but the results are superior to the conventional way.

a stronger saddle mounting on the deck of my Mockpool
Below I have documented the procedure I used to mount the saddle :
(these images are not of the work on the Mockpool)

First, I measured the width of the saddle.

I marked this width on the spot where I wanted my anchor.

I drilled out a slot wide enough to accommodate the saddle’s arch.

and I filed the slot's edges smooth

The saddle is shown here sitting snugly in the slot.

and viewed below deck

Andre showed me that epoxy putty can be used to anchor securely the saddle to the underside of the deck and at the same time create a wider footprint for load distribution.

carbon cloth used for the patch
Andre showed me that epoxy putty can be used to anchor securely the saddle to the underside of the deck and at the same time create a wider footprint for load distribution.
I preferred to use a patch of composite fabric and epoxy. The results are similar: one is cheaper but messier, the putty a bit easier to use.
This view inside the front hatch shows the laminate of carbon cloth with resin and some very thick epoxy glue (resin with microfiber filler) to seal and secure the saddle.
I tinted the glue with pigment to match the deck’s color so the drilled slot would not be as visible.

the job does not look pretty but it is no visible inside the small front hatch opening

04 December 2009

When TV is bad for you

You might know that I don't' do TV.
That's right: I see nothing good on it therefore I don't watch it.
That's not totally true since I do have one that was left with me ages ago.
It's the "rabbit ears" style small screen (I mean it: it's small) and shows only one channel in color, the others in B&W.
No cable for me baby, but occasional "snow" (real bad reception).
So why do I have it?
So I can watch some news in the evening to keep in touch with the world (it would be kind of socially inept if I did not know that 9-11 happened or the Tsunami disaster in Asia).
I had a TV (again, given to me because somebody felt pity on me) in Los Angeles.
Those two years were the least productive ones of my life.
I actually would look forward for the regular shows that the tube would provide to the masses.
While I never was a fan of Gerry Springer (it actually made me cringe) I would watch Friends.
Moving back to Australia I made the conscious decision to avoid the TV trap.
Even as a kid I realized that TV was junk and very little was worth of attention.
These days I prefer to tinker with fibreglass, sew on my industrial machine or read a book (no sci-fi for me though).
The technical posts on this blog are testimony to the creativity that the lack of TV brings.
At my current workplace I don't fit in too well with the younger crowd of commercial artist and animators where all the talk is about the latest cartoon movie release; I fit better when I used to work for REI or Chumba bicycles.
I choose to gravitate around people that "do stuff" versus the ones that like to watch the "stuff getting done".
Same with sports: I am interested in participating in a sport, rarely watching it on TV.
But one show really takes the cake: American/Australian Idol (I call it Idiot :-).
I know it's targeted to the younger generation but it's rather saddening to see that today's idols are just a bunch of manipulated puppets that can act/sing.
What happened to the idols that I had when growing up: great explorers, mountaineers, Olympic skiers and world travellers (and none were TV celebrities)?
For me there was so much more reality than reality TV, more tears over skinned knees and less over broken DSL consoles... I rode a bike, hiked the mountains and roamed the woods, skied in winter and windsurfed in summer.
So I was appalled when came across this Youtube video.

It seems that there is a need for a reality check...