Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I fly to Albuquerque, NM, pre-sparrow fart tomorrow morning, courtesy of BubbaGirl, to help launch the organization's new personna. So if you're in that neck of the woods tomorrow evening, come along and join us. I'll be the chica revving up interest in SandyBottom's and my entry in the 2009 Yukon 1000.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sailing away

I’ve jut finished reading Tania Aebi’s story of her 1985-1987 circumnavigation around the world on her 26 foot sloop, Varuna. The book’s called Maiden Voyage, and I couldn’t put it down. Fearing for his daughter’s teenage behaviour, Aebi’s father pretty much plops her in the boat at 18 years of age and shoves her off, hoping the experience will make a better person of her. It does, and after nearly two-and-half-years, she completes her voyage, learning celestial navigation along the way, how to raise a cat at sea, and the vagaries of a troublesome diesel.

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

PLB in action

Like me, you're probably keen on reading any story related to the use - particularly successful use - of a personal locater beacon (PLB).

I subscribe to Stephen Regenold's The Gear Junkie, a daily and weekly blog e-news devoted to new outdoors gear (though I'm yet to win the weekly give away!). Regenold recently posted a Q&A article detailing a mountaineering incident in early June in which a PLB was employed. One of the involved climbers, Bill Becher, a writer from southern California, had the ACR MicroFix PLB unit in his pack, though he never expected to use it. But while descending from Mt. Gilbert near Bishop, Calif., in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Becher’s friend and climbing partner fell and broke his leg. They were several miles from civilization with no good options.

An interesting lesson learned from the incident, which can neatly be related back to kayaking, is that the PLB isn’t that precise and you need some way to signal rescuers. Becher says that the helicopter had difficulty spotting them until they saw him waving his red parka.

So don't forget to carry that signal mirror and some flares with you!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Last day...

It was my last day of work at Sigma Xi on Thursday, and my colleagues and friends gave us a right royal send off. Particularly the effort Sharon put into making and icing the cake, as well as David finding the appropriate decoration, courtesy of REI. Of course, the WeeOne stole the show...

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

The new boat

Just for those who may be interested, here's dad's new boat, Rising Star, up on the hard at the marina in Whitianga on the Coromandel. He found that the flying bridge was pretty rotten, so got a few pingas knocked off the final price. One of the local boat builders is to build him a new one over the winter, which NZ's slipping into. To help with getting around, dad's younger brother Allan helped put in a new capstan, which can be operated from the flying bridge and the internal steering console. At 87, all these tricks keep you out on the water longer!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Adventure arising

My brother Rob has a wonderful adventure coming up in the next few days. Dad, who turned 87 in April, recently sold his 32ft keeler to him, as dad's bought a 36ft launch. We appreciate that this is a big mind set change for dad, but he realised that if he's to keep out on the water, then bowing to power rather than sail may be the best move for him.

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 South Island (west of Picton on the map above). Today, Rob's flying north to spend a few days provisioning the boat up, and then sailing it home. Rob's a very competent sailor (here’s a story he wrote on a trip to Fiji from NZ), and joining him will be two equally competent yachties: Tina and Andrew Troup–siblings from Christchurch. Tina’s sailed to Antarctica and other antipodean islands, and Andrew’s building his own yacht (alloy) and has crossed the Pacific, among other trips.

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

I scream, you scream...

Ice cream’s a big deal in New Zealand. Kiwis are amongst the highest per capita consumers of ice cream in the world—lying either 2nd or 3rd (with Australia) behind the USA. In fact, Kiwis each eat on average around 18 litres of ice cream per annum.

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 conehokey 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 flavoursvanillawon the top prize, beating the more unusual flavours of peanut butter, bacon and egg and Mexican. Entered by Invercargill business Deep South, the standard vanilla flavour impressed judges more than a raft of other more exotic choices. Deep South was also named as winner of the Best in Category prize for their standard chocolate and hokey pokey ice creams.

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

Fridel Meyer

I saw the name Fridel Meyer mentioned in Sea Kayaker magazine’s latest eNews. Seems this young German woman was ahead of her time in her adventurous sea kayaking exploits. There’s not much to be found on her, but I dug as deep as I could!

In 1932 she paddled her folding kayak—a Klepper—from Bavaria to London. And the next year she shadowed Captain John Nolan—apparently much to his annoyance—as he attempted to paddle right around the U.K. in a “race,” of sorts, sponsored by The Wide World magazine. Nolan was the joint holder of the world record distance for inland waters, at 5,551 kms (3,450 miles).

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 Aberdeen.

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

SPOT under the spotlight

I'm a great fan of, the Web site, and magazine, dedicated to shaving the kilos and grams off your back, your body and your feet. Much of BPL's advice is relevant to sea kayaking, particularly for those long distance trips we yearn for.

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.