Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The day’s activities included shopping for groceries for Dawn, hardware for Dawn Patrol and IPA for the 18:00 shindig at campsite 3 (SavannahDan and PaddleMaker). It’s a little more than 36 hours until launch!--Floatsome
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
KiwiBird herself may yet grace this page this morning, but just in case, as you may surmise, things aren’t exactly to plan. To paraphrase John Denver, "All my dry bags are packed, I’m ready to go." But as of 0800 2/27/08, they’re not yet leaving on a jet plane or even a van:
We went around to Dawn and Paul's last night, with a fab dinner FWKB had made, and home-made tiramasu! to help feed Dawn, Paul and Alan, working feverishly on the new Core Sound 20, now named Dawn Patrol, sans artwork at this stage. Unloaded all my gear and came home.The good news is that we finally succeeded in a SPOT check-in yesterday afternoon, and I got Google Earth to run on my home laptop, so we blogfans should be able to keep an eye on KiwiBird as she plies her way toward Key Largo. Stay tuned.—Floatsome.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
A fellow Kiwi, and a maritime historian, Druett's written a can't-put-it-down story of two 1860s shipwrecks on the godforsaken Auckland Island, 459kms (285 miles) south of New Zealand. In this part of the Southern Ocean, pretty much not a day goes by without a good howling gale and freezing rain.
Unbeknownst to either party, the five-man crew of the Grafton is shipwrecked at the bottom of Auckland Island, and a disparate group of 19 from the Invercauld at the top, not 32kms (20 miles) apart.
The different approaches to survival and comradeship are key to the story, the crew of the Grafton working together for nearly two years to build a cabin, a tannery and a forge, to make tools to build a boat. All with their bare hands.
The Invercauld's 19 whittles down to three, for want of leadership and with a great dose of laziness.
One of the reasons I love a great adventure yarn like this is to learn how folks do physically and psychologically survive under such conditions, just in case I ever end up in a similar predicament.
Hey, you never know!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
This is a race well worth keeping an eye out on. The race only runs every three years, and the 24 two-man crews sail their yachts around the North Island in four legs, with stopovers at Manganui, Wellington and Napier.
I've heard that in previous races the start of some legs have been delayed due to crews having too good a time partying...
You can keep up with the race at the organizer's site, SSANZ (Shorthanded Sailing Association of New Zealand); and the crew of the Thompson 850 Waka, Jonty Cullinane and Josh Tucker, are blogging for The New Zealand Herald throughout the race.
Of course, whenever hearing about how many hands you are allowed to employ during a sailing race, it reminds me of a skit from one of our old family favourite 1970s UK TV shows, The Two Ronnies. At the end of each episode they'd read the news. This particular news item went something like this:
Ronnie Corbett: There's been a dramatic development in the Round the World Single Handed Race currently being sailed.
Ronnie Barker: Yes. One of the contestants has been disqualified.
Ronnie Corbett: He was found to have been using two hands.
Ronnie Corbett: It's a good night from me...
Ronnie Barker: ...and a good night from him.
Friday, February 22, 2008
I have fallen in love with this woman - never have I experienced such helpful, courteous, customer service - doesn't take much these days, does it?
Gayle explained how I could update my default page without getting the constant error message I was frustratingly experiencing. And then I happened to mention that every other time I was pushing my OK button, red lights would flash. Seems I had a malfunction. (Apparently I'm one of only four SPOTters to have experienced this particular problem.)
I explained to Gayle that I had a 300+ mile kayak race in a week and was leaving for Florida next Wednesday. This was yesterday. When I got home from work today, waiting for me was a demo SPOT unit, on loan for the race, overnighted from California. (I have to return my own unit to the manufacturer, not SPOT Inc.)
And in the box was a chocolate. (Have I mentioned that I've fallen in love with this woman?)
Another wee touch, to cap it all off, when I called Gayle (I now have her direct line, on my mobile) to let her know that I'd received the unit (and to profess my undying love for her) and ask her how to transfer the new unit's serial number to my personal SPOT account, she'd already done that for me.
Gotta tell you, I'm enjoying my SPOT.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
I’m not in the best of shape, health and fitness wise, in comparison to last year. The cold/flu bug going around has hit hard locally, and I’ve succumbed twice in the last month. And the second cold brought my old asthma on, which has me merrily puffing away on all sorts of junk many times a day to try and beat it. I’m somewhat delusionally lucky that I’m not a full-blown “asthmatic”; I just cough and gasp like hell for a couple of weeks after any cold, and only take my meds when needed.
So not a hell of a lot of training has been going on.
But I’m a great fan of Chris Duff’s mantra, “Never put your body where your mind hasn’t been first.” At least this time my body has once been there, but I’m still sleeplessly running through the entire route by memory, and matching that with my Blue Charts and Google Earth.
Dawn and I drive down to
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
But all was not lost! I have a fabulous friend and work colleague, David (with a new WaterTribe name of Floatsome), who will be my right-hand mouse. David will also be receiving my check-in phone calls and SPOT signals - hopefully not the Alert 9-1-1 - so will have absolute power over letting you all know just where I am and what I had for breakfast. Well, let's hope it'll be a bit more exciting than that.
Hopefully we'll also be seeing David competing in 2009's Everglades Challenge - he more than likely will be buying from me the Mirage 19 I have safely tucked away for him. A total fitness guru, David has more marathons, triathlons and an Ironman under his belt than you can poke a stick at.
BTW, that's David on the right, Brian in the middle, and me on the left, half-way through the 2006 Tour de Cure.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Now, a few years ago, being French, we Kiwis may well have left them, but even though memories linger, you have to move forward.
RCCNZ mission coordinator Keith Allen said the incident highlighted the value of people carrying this variety of EPIRB, which had greatly assisted in the rescue."Because the 406Mhz variety EPIRB is able to be detected by satellite within minutes, it gives rescuers an accurate position very quickly, which greatly speeds up any emergency response," he said.
"The fact that the beacon was also registered with up to date ownership details, meant that rescue agencies knew straight away who was in trouble and were able to make contact with them."A 406Mhz PLB is compulsory for every competitor in the upcoming Everglades Challenge, so it's kind of nice to see it working in action. In fact, any kayaker doing any serious offshore kayaking should pack one away with them. I even take mine with me on road trips. Remember those women last year, in two separate occasions, who drove off the road and weren't found for a week or so...
Saturday, February 16, 2008
If you’re just into the multi-miled journeys that she and partner Doug Fesler row and paddle through, you’ll be gripped. And there’s also some poignant takes on life and life’s journeys tucked away here and there.
She has some excellent reflections on risk, but that’s a topic covered many times in like-blogs. What I particularly found of scaring interest is her take on the perception of what’s “truly wild.” Here they are, paddling in
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
“The first thing I learned was that the man who has water on the mountain is king,” says hiking enthusiast Dana Law. “Water is absolutely the most important thing you’ll have in
You can read more about his experiences on his blog, and more about his upcoming talk from the San Diego Weekly Reader.
And you can read some of Dana and my earlier hiking tales here.
Dana’s wife says I’m the only other woman he’s allowed to share a tent with.
Monday, February 11, 2008
The NFCT is an historic 740-mile water trail through
Three Stewardship Interns will help to maintain the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, coordinate volunteer work trips, and will have opportunities to mentor with professionals in the fields of natural resource management, ecotourism, recreation, outdoor education and environmental policy. Candidates must be self-sufficient and love being outdoors. Paddling experience strongly preferred.
The Program Intern will assist NFCT staff with the wide variety of activities that happen in the busy
The Youth Program Intern will help coordinate and lead NFCT’s new Northern Forest Explorers Youth Program in
The dates and details vary for each type of internship, but all will receive a $1200 stipend. More details and the applications are at posted on the Stewardship page of the NFCT Web site. Applications due February 29, 2008.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
There's something about paddling at night - complete self dependence, touched with a slight tingle of... fear, perhaps. I certainly jumped when the boat hit floating debris. But such a clear night, I could almost speak to every star.
A touch of pink on the water, just for a few seconds; and not a whisper of breeze nor another boat or even a gasp for a few hours. And returning home, a useful breeze - nothing fancy, but enough to raise the sail - to help get me home.
Made me appreciate, if you don't paddle, you don't get there, but if you do paddle, you do, and you feel.
Friday, February 8, 2008
I’ve recently written an article, soon to be published by Sea Kayaker magazine, reviewing five or six poop systems that we kayakers can use while paddling out in the wild. And I must admit, testing the systems and writing the article has changed my own views on my personal responsibilities to lessening my impact in as many ways as possible.
So I’ll be including with all my EC gear, six or seven (I’m a pretty regular kind of gal) Phillips Environmental WAG Bag waste kits. (WAG stands for Waste Alleviation and Gelling). What I really like about these kits is that they're completely biodegradable once deposited anywhere destined for landfill.
I asked my fellow EC paddlers on the Watertribe discussion forum what their thoughts were on this sensitive subject, and a few folks wrote back with some interesting thoughts. One main point being that you don’t have to buy expensive systems to follow this ethos – newspaper and a ziplock or ordinary plastic bag will do the trick.
But something that did disappoint me a wee bit is that folks argued that if it’s allowed by “the authorities” to poop above high tide etc, then that’s okay to do so. My point here is that if we all keep pooping in the wild, even where we’re allowed to, it’s all one day going to come back and bite us in the… rear end.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
I remember being astounded by the warmth of the
And then a treasure find of all treasures. On the way back to our pick-up point, I found a large, prehistoric-looking, brown, curve-backed shell creature with a long pointy tail. It was obviously just the shell, as no body resided beneath. I’d never seen anything like it in all my life! Clutching it to me, insistent that it come back with us on the plane, I asked our water taxi captain what on earth it was. “‘Orseshoe crab,” he smiled. “As old as the ‘ills, and ‘undreds of ‘em ‘round ‘ere. Though that’s a ‘tic’ly big ‘un.” And back it did go home with me.
Now that I’ve kayaked the shallow warm waters of
So a week or so ago, I was all ears when National Geographic News reported that a newfound fossil species of horseshoe crab (left photo above) dates back at least 455 million years - roughly a hundred million years earlier than horseshoe crabs were previously thought to exist.
The ancient animal is remarkably similar to modern horseshoe crabs (right), according to the team that found the fossils in
Photograph courtesy G. Young, the
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
So this last weekend, I actually stopped and took some photos.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Monday, February 4, 2008
Their photos and experiences keep getting better and better, but what tickled me in their most recent entry (p12), is that during their tour around Stewart Island, NZ's "third island", they bumped into Tom Hennessy.
Tom, of course, is famous for his Hennessy Hammocks, loved by kayakers (and others) around the world. I have a yellow one - to match my boat - great for emergency purposes if waved about; probably not so hot for stealth camping.
An American transplant to Canada, Tom now lives half the time on Stewart Island during the southern hemisphere's summer and cold, wintry months of British Columbia, and heads back to BC for the northern hemisphere summer.
It's a small world.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Writing yesterday’s blog entry brought back a few memories. It’s 1996, and I’ve recently taken up a new position at University College London as deputy director of the development office. Surfing the Internet, I see that Sir Chay Blythe is setting up a new trans-Atlantic rowing challenge, in two-person, set-design boats. A bit more research and I find out that there’s a Kiwi entry on the books, and the chap’s looking for a team-mate. I send this Rob Hamill an e-mail, and a few days later he calls me back from Hamilton, NZ, with me in
Having just started this new position, my boss goes to UCL’s provost to discuss the proposal. She comes back with a negative, but a new, better contract, and a conviction that they really are trying to save my life.
I call Rob back and tell him the sad news.
Next year, Rob Hamill and Phil Stubbs – in Kiwi Challenge – win the inaugural trans-Atlantic rowing race, in 41 days and two hours. Their chalk-and-cheese relationship doesn’t survive the distance.
December 1998 and planning another trans-Atlantic challenge with Steve Westlake, Phil is killed when his light plane nosedives into Karekare beach.
Unbeknownst to me, living in the
Rob publishes The Naked Rower, describing his 1997 trans-Atlantic rowing adventure. It turns out that rowing naked, sitting on NZ sheepskin, keeps away the salt sea boils so often afflicting those in constantly moving, wet, salty conditions.
Life’s its own great story.