Friday, November 14, 2008
Economy, economy, economy.
I haven't found a link if the interview did in fact air, but I have been enjoying listening to CBC Whitehorse, and particularly their Kiwi-like (thankfully, Centigrade) fascination with the weather. Hey, it's snowing up there!
UPDATE (0942 EST): Woo hoo! Just heard the interview on the radio. (Love the Internet.)
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I work in the not-for-profit world and raising money in this climate is far more of a challenge than normal. And smaller non-profits than ours and the communities they serve are hurting--badly.
So sadly, but not surprisingly, Dawn and my sponsor for the Yukon 1000, BubbaGirl, has had to shelve its support for our Yukon 1000 quest for another year.
Not a problem. These things happen. And BubbaGirl remains the fantastic supporter it is for the 2009 Everglades Challenge.
We paddle on!
Friday, October 17, 2008
If you've a few minutes to spare, it's worth catching up with discussions on the Yukon 1000 online forum, with interesting discussions on bears and guns and bear spray, etc. As a Kiwi, one has a natural aversion to guns, unless there's a possum breathing down one's neck, so this is all new territory for this US transplant.
BTW, if anyone knows of a good 2nd-hand Passat G3 for sale or longish rent (or sponsorship gift!), please let me know. We need a training boat!
Thanks to Peter Coates, race organizer, for the photo.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Well, he knew there was some rot in the flying bridge, and a deal was struck with the vendor accordingly. Now that the boat's up in a local boatbuilder's shed for repair, they've found the rot's travelled that wee bit further, down into the structure of the main cabin. Hence the rather well ventilated look the boat's showing at this time.
Knowing dad, he's chomping at the bit to get the dang thing repaired, sans flying bridge—extra windage anyway—and back out on the water for the summer.
I'll keep you posted on progress...
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Here’s a project I love the story behind—something my sister Clio put me on to.
A small team of female raft guides and kayak instructors from around the world, including NZ,
The plan is to take over from NZ, and elsewhere, a bunch of kayaks and equipment to kickstart the Nepali Girls kayaking Club into action. Sophie Hoskins and her NZ team of instructors needs as much support as they can get—and it’s great to see such notable companies as Kokatat and Icebreaker as sponsors. They are currently looking for any donations (and financial aid or second-hand white water kayaks and equipment are all a big help!).
The story resonates—in 1996, when I spent a few weeks tramping in Nepal with one of my idols Doug Scott, and his company, Community Action Treks, a handful of our sherpas were young women—we called them "sherpettes"—around 15 to 18-years-old. We were told that having this opportunity to work was huge for them—many of them had been "given" away as young brides from poor villages, who now found themselves living in squalor in
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
With world unemployment on a bit of a rise due to the current economic crisis, it's always good to see a bit more imagination coming to the fore when looking for new staff. (But I hasten to add that this blog is not becoming a political or economic commentary--particularly after such a hiatus--but I can't resist "commenting" that while I can vote in the upcoming NZ elections--even after not having lived there since 1989--I can't vote in the upcoming US elections, after having lived here for eight or so years, paying a good amount of taxes and being "legal" to boot.)
My brother Rob sent me the wanted ad above, placed in shop windows in Auckland.
Not a lot to do with kayaking I must admit, but a bit of levity in these troubling times, on the water or not, can't be a bad thing.
On a personal note, life's good albeit it extremely busy; the Wee One continues to amaze and delight at just over 17 months; the leaves are slowly turning colour, though the late summer days retain their warmth; and just occasionally I get out to paddle.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Eight years earlier, in mid-1978, Barbara Cameron – my best friend and also a keen yachtie – and I sat in our high school history class and wrote out the list of equipment we’d need to do exactly the same trip, and to be the first women to sail non-stop around the world. Sadly, but greatly, the Kiwi Naomi James beat us to it, later that same year.
Aebi falls in love along the way, marrying her Olivier upon her return to New York. They adored each other.
I did a Google on her to find out what she’s up to now. Still sailing, she’s currently on a Pacific Ocean voyage with her two sons, 13 and 16 years old. But sadly it seems the love affair ended some time ago rather acrimoniously. Still, while love may end, thankfully the quest for adventure stays strong, and now she’s sharing that with her family. Her current trip log makes for good reading... and itchy feet.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Now it's two weeks break until I start my new job! One may think that that gives me some time to paddle, but, oh no, FliesWithKiwiBird has a list of tasks around the place as long as my sleeping paddle.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
But dad lives in Whitianga on the Coromandel in the North Island, and Rob and his family live in Nelson at the top of the
This will be a heck of a trip. So they don't have to cross the notorious Cook Strait between the North and South Islands, they'll be sailing north up the east coast from the Coromandel, up and over Cape Reinga–which can be very turbulent and has often been named the worst bit of ocean in the world–and down the west coast. This is not a trip for the faint hearted! Once down the west coast, there's hardly a decent bar-less port to duck into.
They should also be well covered for safety gear–Andrew’s bringing his sextant–and they'll have a PLB, two VHF, two GPS, liferaft (hired) and an inflatable dinghy.
I am quite envious!
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
One of the first things I do when I get back home is to get my tongue around either a blueberry or a hokey pokey ice cream cone—hokey pokey being our national icon ice cream. Or perhaps a rum and raisin…
So much so is it a big thing that this year's annual New Zealand Ice Cream Awards attracted a record 206 entries.
International judging guidelines are followed, with each ice cream being awarded a maximum 100 points, with points deducted for imperfections in appearance, body and texture, flavour and melting defects.
Interestingly, the mainstay of ice cream flavours—vanilla—won the top prize, beating the more unusual flavours of peanut butter, bacon and egg and Mexican. Entered by Invercargill business
But what makes me feel good about eating ice cream, is that ice cream is about 50% air by volume—so shouldn’t that mean half the calories?
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
In 1932 she paddled her folding kayak—a Klepper—from
Apparently neither made it, even though some books reference that she did win “the long-distance contest.” Meyer pulled at Montrose, 965 kms (600 miles) into the trip, ironically due to serious injuries caused in a car accident. With heart problems, Nolan made another 58 kms (36 miles), pulling out at
Meyer returned the following year for another attempt, this time in a clockwise direction. It seems no one knows how far she got, but she successfully rounded Lands End and headed north.
Monday, June 2, 2008
BPL has recently posted the most comprehensive review of the SPOT satellite messenger yet undertaken, posing the question, does this highly anticipated technological breakthrough live up to the hype? Interestingly, BPL's reviewers are unable to rate SPOT, as they believe SPOT "has yet to deliver its promised functionality and message delivery reliably."
If you're seriously considering buying a SPOT, I thoroughly recommend subscribing to BPL - well worth the money - and reading this review. But I would also suggest that you read the review keeping in mind that the majority of tests undertaken were by backpackers out in the wilderness, where a clear and unobstructed view of the sky is not often possible.
With my own eight or nine months of testing SPOT (and a review I wrote for Sea Kayaker magazine is out in the next issue), I have found SPOT to be very reliable, when used for kayaking, where an open sky is usual. I'm still a SPOT fan, and so is FliesWithKiwiBird.
Friday, May 30, 2008
I received a sales e-mail from them this morning, which made me call and congratulate them. I know they're out to make a profit, as every well-run business should be, but they've also seen that there are people in need in this world, no matter what the politics of their leading government may be.
So, if you buy a tent from Moosejaw, you get 20% off if you send in your old tent to them, and then they'll ship all those old tents off overseas to help earthquake survivors in China.
Good marketing, good money-making scheme, good social conscience.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Yesterday, the boat was found drifting about 210 nautical miles (389km) off North Cape, upright and drifting with its mast intact and its sail dragging in the water.
The decision on whether to salvage the abandoned yacht now rests with the insurance company, which had finally paid out after much haggling. Interestingly, the "mutineers" have donated $14,000 to the helicopter services that saved them, to help cover the $20,000 rescue costs.
But the moral of the story here, is that in pretty much most conditions, don't leave your boat! Which means that to head off to sea, in any size craft, we need the skills, equipment and know-how to use that equipment to ensure that we come back in one piece.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Thus imagine my delight when my brother Rob recently turned me on to a site he's found, offering TIF-downloadable charts from all over the world, courtesy of the New Zealand government. Now this is something to really get the blood pumping. Click on the second chart offered, NZ14061, and imagine yourself cruising the Pacific. Then click on NZ14601 and you too can appreciate what it takes to paddle across the Tasman Sea.
You even have the ability to draw on the charts, insert text and photos, etc.
The charts range anywhere from 3 to over 20MB, but saved to a disk and then printed off at your favourite Kinkos or the like, you should be good to go.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thus consider my angst as I perused the latest West Marine 2008 sourcebook, where on pp80-81, West Marine is promoting youth sailing in general, and the new O'pen BIC sailing dinghy in particular. "Youth sailing." What a marvellous concept. But to me, youth means boys AND girls. There are two "action" photos of six "youth" having a ball in these new boats, and not one of those "youth" is a girl. How on earth are girls supposed to consider themselves eligible to be part of this action if business and advertisers don't consider the negative connotations they create when they don't balance their images and their words?
You may think this is merely a feministic rant. It's not. Many a study has been completed on the consequences of non-gender balanced material - why did it take so long for MBA, law, veterinary and medical schools to now have equal applications (and graduations)? And why are engineering and "hard" science applications from women still so low?
Kudos to one company for taking this step. MacMillian/McGraw Hill, publishers of many an elementary school text book, contracted Sally Ride Science to gender balance every one of its text books. No longer is it just boys peering down a microscope or dissecting a frog.
And another reason why Geena Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The institute works with entertainment creators and companies to help educate the next generation of content-creators, and to help inform the public about the need to increase the number of girls and women in media aimed at kids, and to reduce stereotyping of both males and females.
Ironically, the majority of kayaking equipment advertisements I've seen over the past year or so seem to be fairly well gender balanced. Perhaps this is an industry which does have its act together.
Both images above are from West Marine.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Apple's new 3G iPhone will be introduced this summer, with two 8-gigabyte-memory and 16-gigabyte-memory models. The new iPhone will also have a GPS chip for navigation and "other location-based services."
Now, what does "other location-based services" mean? Perhaps this is a feature that may be in competition with the SPOT satellite messenger? (But perhaps not waterproof;)
I don't know, but I for one will be hoping my already out-of-date and discontinued Garmin GPSMAP 60CS will hang on for another couple of years.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Naturally this has sparked many a conversation in the biking blogosphere.
If you drive a car, and see a cyclist on the road, please be mindful of us.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Okooko is a New Zealand company with a new store just opened in Philly, of all places. "Float," as above, was launched at NZ's Furniture Fashion in May last year, and voted by the public as 'Best piece of bedroom furniture' in the NZ made competition.
Designer David Trubridge has worked from boatbuilding to furniture making, and sailed through the Caribbean and the Pacific with his family in Hornpipe. He sees “Sleep is a voyage through dreams when we wholly give ourselves up in trust, lying curled up in our bed vessel feeling safe and cosy. It can be ten minutes in the office, an hour on the lawn or all night in any place we pull our cradle to.”
Personally, if we could all kayak in something like Float, imagine what a happy world this would be!
Of course, I also love the photo as it's taken from the beach in front of the marina in Tauranga, my home town. That's the famous "Mount" across the harbour - Mount Maunganui - many a time have we sailed out that entrance on a new voyage, or walked up the Mount's summit and marvelled at the view across the Bay of Plenty. Sigh.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Now it seems the argument's also hitting the competitive world of swimming, where Speedo's come out with the LZR Racer Highneck Bodyskin - for only US$550 (NZ$704). Not just another swim suit (or "togs" as we Kiwis call them), these suits are being blamed for toppling a host of world records in the past eight weeks - 36 as of Sunday - by swimmers wearing the high-tech LZR Racer bodysuit.
Speedo says the LZR aids streamlining and reduces skin vibration and muscle oscillation, but critics say use of the suit is tantamount to "technological doping" and should never have been approved.
Of course, every non-Speedo-sponsored competitive swimmer is panicking, wondering whether to ditch their own lucrative suit contracts and buy their own LZR.
But Croatia's Duje Draganja, the world's fastest man in water (and who wears a LZR), harks back to our own paddler vs. boat debate: "It's a great commercial - it's good, but not that good," he said. "Fast swimmers are fast swimmers. That will always be the case, suit or no suit."
Monday, April 14, 2008
Since most Kiwis are only separated by two or three degrees of separation, we probably also knew someone who had been on the ferry that fateful day - the mother of an old friend of mine when I lived in Christchurch was one.
The weather was pretty much to blame - one of those perfect storms. And of the 734 men, women and children aboard, 53 lost their lives. Many of those who died were in the first lifeboat away, which swamped soon after launching.
What is interesting, is that only recently have Kiwis started talking about the disaster. As the New Zealand Herald's editorial stated, "They were undoubtedly encouraged in this by attitudes pervading New Zealand society 40 years ago. This was not a time for what might be thought unnecessary fuss. Survivors were given a cup of tea and sent home. In most cases, there was no talk of compensation. No Government medals for heroism were awarded. The message was to get on with life....
"The answer may lie in a further change emanating, in part, from the 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre. The survivors were encouraged to express their feelings. The firefighters who perished were lionised. In the midst of disaster, America looked for and found heroes.
"New Zealand is also paying ever more heed to its own heroes. The thousands who queued for hours to pay their last respects to Sir Edmund Hillary attest to that. So do the increasing attendances at Anzac Day commemorations. We have, as a society, become more sentimental."
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Thursday, April 3, 2008
We walked up to the fifth floor to find a quiet lounge to discuss our business, and as I walked the marble stairs, I marvelled and drooled at the most amazing art on every single wall. Who knew that such a treasure trove existed!
And there, tucked away on one wall, was a Monet.
Today, the Union League Club of Chicago is recognized as having one of the most important privately held art collections in the region, with more than 750 works of art, including paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts – with particular strength in Midwestern artists.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
We’re both committed
Does using a GP not make paddlers competitive enough? I’d be loathe to think so. I finished first in my class in this year’s Everglades Challenge using a GP - and knocked 22 hours off my time from last year - and was the only kayaker solely paddling with a GP.
We have both resolved that we will not be leaving our GPs at home. Whatever paddle we end up using will definitely be supplemented by the GP, to help ease any possible physical strain.
Thoughts would be appreciated!
Monday, March 31, 2008
As well as finding sponsors for the race. First up, is that Macpac, NZ's leading outdoors brand, is on board. We'll be using their Apollo free-standing tents (free-standing being obligatory), as well as their Sanctuary 900 down sleeping bags.
If you're a regular peruser of this blog, you'll probably have figured that I'm a great fan of Macpac, having used their equipment since 1982, on all my backpacking, climbing and kayaking expeditions and trips. I can't wax enough about this gear.More updates to follow!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The New Zealand Herald reports, that Nelson (where my brother Rob lives) accountant Bill Heritage (photo above) said he was forced to abandon his 7.9m sloop Air Apparent about 90 nautical miles west of the Kaipara Harbour on Wednesday when his inexperienced crew ignored his orders and set off the yacht's emergency locator beacon.
However, one of Mr Heritage's crew said the boat was inadequately prepared for the journey they would not pay for its loss unless ordered to by a court.
All four were air-lifted off the yacht by an emergency services helicopter and flown back to Auckland. Mr Heritage could not stay on board alone because it was too dangerous.
The Compass 790 yacht was left floating and a navigation warning was issued to shipping by Maritime New Zealand.The maritime rescue involved two helicopters and cost more than NZ$20,000. The crew's admitted they mutinied as they feared for their lives when the engine, sails, drogue and instrumentation packed up on them.
How to lose good friendships...
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Initially we had high hopes to use a Kruger Cruiser, but it seems the race rules don't allow that boat in the canoe class, using single blades with a rudder. We can enter the Cruiser as a "kayak", but that means double blades and no rudder. This has started an interesting discussion on WaterTribe's discussion forum, and it's nice to see race organizer Peter Coates contributing, as well as Mr. Kruger himself, Mark Przedwojewski, aka ManitouCruiser.
So, if anyone has any good ideas on a suitable tandem for this great adventure (minimum beam of 26"), we'd be open to suggestions!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Well, here’s a new race of interest, and now the longest of its kind. Not only has the inaugural 2009
Because the 1600km race is unsupported, paddling down the Yukon River from Whitehorse, Yukon across the US/Canada border and on to the Dalton Highway Bridge North of Fairbanks, Alaska, officials are relying on competitors sending two SPOT OK messages a day to confirm their positions – before 2130 to confirm that you’re off the water and camped, and again at 0530 the next day from the same position to confirm you’ve rested at your campsite the entire night. And then another SPOT OK message every six hours while paddling. Otherwise you’re disqualified.
The official starting date of the 2009
Unfortunately for me, but perhaps fortunately for FliesWithKiwiBird, at least one member from each team must have completed the Yukon River Quest to be eligible to enter the race. I e-mailed race organizer, Peter Coates, to see if he could open entries up to WaterTribe. And he responded quite smartly: “You know that is not a bad idea. On the other hand, we have had people completely loose it on the River Quest because of how Big and Empty the river is, and the Flats are much Bigger and Emptier. There are only about 1000 people living along the river from
But he did say that they’re relaxing the Yukon River Quest prerequisite for the first year. “Pretend the rules say ‘or equivalent racing and wilderness experience’.” And Peter’s happy to review your experience with you, as he did with me.
Monday, March 24, 2008
We are in a war and we need to fight it with all our ability
and every weapon possible. WOMEN PILOTS,
in this particular case,
are a weapon waiting to be used."
Eleanor Roosevelt, 1942
March is Women's History Month.
From my couple of years working for Sally Ride, the WASP have become living deities in my mind. Representing Sally's company, Sally Ride Science, at the annual Women in Aviation International conferences, I was lucky enough to meet a few of the surviving WASP. All the most amazing women of their generation.
During World War II, a select group of young women pilots became pioneers, heroes and role models. They were the Women Airforce Service Pilots, WASP, the first women in history trained to fly American military aircraft.
Their stories are amazing. And every now and then, by pure coincidence and via the wonderful world of the Internet, I have the chance of meeting another WASP, whether it be virtually or in the flesh.
One of my favorite stories is that of Bucky Richards and the case of the missing trunk. You can read that story courtesy of BubbaGirl.
But just the other day another WASP came to light. I happened to be e-mailing Sea Kayaker magazine’s editor Chris Cunningham on an article I was writing for the magazine, when he mentioned his mother had been a WWII pilot. I asked Chris whether she was a WASP, and he was surprised that I had heard of them.
Chris’ mum was Lora Jane Harris (nee Cunningham). Lora Jane trained in
Chris wrote me, “Of course as a boy the coolest thing was the time she got in the tail gun of a B-17 and shot at rabbits in the desert. (At least that's what I remember.) She also told of going out on the runway when it was blowing hard enough to bring landing planes almost to a standstill while airborne. The WASP would grab the wings and pull the plane down out of the air. Her buddy Velta Benz was too short to qualify for the WASP, so she hung upside down from a tree and actually got an inch and a half taller, tall enough to get in.”
Chris also recommended watching the History Channel and its program on the history of beverages. “On the popularization of coffee during WWII, they have a shot of a babe serving coffee in a mess hall in the South Pacific. The babe turned out to be mom. My little sister happened to be watching the program and about fell off her chair. Her best known customer on that gig was Tyrone Power.”
Sadly, the WASP are slowly passing away, Chris’ mum being one of them. But we should never forget.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
And I have always wanted to drive over Seven Mile Bridge!
Our day in Key West was one of rain, but braving the elements we wandered around quite happily. Enjoying a drink on the waterfront, old ships atied beside us, with some great live music, made up for the soggy streets.
In fact the weather wasn't the best for most of the trip, cancelling snorkelling trips and glass-bottomed tour boats; but who cares when you can still wander around wearing shorts, knowing that way up north, snow's afalling!