Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weekend away

It's not often I get a chance nowadays to get a solo weekend away, so when the chance came a couple of weekends ago... An early dark start from Durham down to Harkers Island, packed the boat, parked the truck in the Ranger Station car park, filed a trip with the good folks there, and headed off.

Had a tight sail across to the Morehead City end of Shackelford Island, and punched out Beaufort entrance with the tide. Gets a bit tricky dodging all the fishing boats there. And then a great sail all the way up Shackelford, enjoying the beach line and the wild horses.

Camped on the island among the sand dunes just across from Lookout Bight. Took a long walk along the beach and enjoyed an early supper watching the most wonderful sunset around 1700 hrs. Snuggled in my tent with toasty down Macpac sleeping bags, reading the first half of a real live novel, Sue Grafton's U is for Undertow.

Cuppa and porridge the next morning, an incredible sunrise, temperatures warming up to around C20, but wasn't going to leave until I'd finished the book and waited for the dew to dry on the tent. 1000 and a slow two-hour paddle sail inside Barden Inlet, back up to Harkers. A true "holiday" 35km trip, altogether.

New gear on this trip: The smaller version of the CGear sand mat. In a word: fantastic. Being able to unload and load, sit and muck around, and no sand anywhere. As always (see previous blog entries), I cannot rave enough about these mats.

Also, the Crazy Creek HexAlite Original Chair. Finally, a chair I can roll up and fit in my Sisson's 7" hatches, and it's light and flexible. Having a chair of some sort is a true luxury.

And, of course, a Morehead City Els Shrimp Burger on the way home...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Out on the Pamlico: gear review

Just back from a four-day Easter paddling trip with Floatsome (David). What a marvellous time we had! Trip report and map to follow....

As always, a few new pieces of gear really stood out on the trip:

CGear Sand-Free MultiMat: I cannot rave enough about these mats! On test here is the "small" mat, weighing in at 1.45kg (3.15lbs), and sized at 182.88cm x 182.88cm (6ft x 6ft), which should fit at least three to four adults.

To keep it secure, the sand mat has three securely sewn external D-rings each side, which aren't really necessary if the wind isn't blowing. Be warned that the D-rings don't fit the regular sand stakes I and others normally use for staking a tent on sand (the
SMC Sno-Tent Stake)--instead I used my regular "land" stakes, which worked just fine.

As you can see from the image above, to lay the mat outside the entry to your tent, means no sand inside the tent or anywhere else on you. The technology's fantastic--sand and dirt falls straight through the mat, and doesn't come back up. I left the mat out overnight, and once the sun's on it, it dried fairly quickly from the night's dew or rain.

The MulitMat's fabric is very tough and thus a bit stiff. Since my hatch covers are only 20.32cm (8in) wide, David stored the mat in his Mirage's gaping rear hatch. I'm going to try out the small MultiRug next, to check its packability and pliability.

I wouldn't use the mat on an adventure race--a tad too heavy and bulky; but for weekend trips or expeditions where comfort's more the rule than weight is, the MultiMat's an essential piece of equipment to pack--for sand, dirt, grass or anywhere.

And what a great colour for a possible rescue!

NB: CGear very kindly sent me a MultiMat to test out--thanks, Ben!

High UV Protection Buff: I now go to great lengths to keep any sun off my face. In March's Everglades Challenge I wore a Kokatat Destination Baja sun hat.
While it did did the trick, it was a pain in the proverbial to un-velcro to talk or imbibe and then re-velcro--using two hands--every time. With the Buff you can just pull it down with one hand and reposition the same. The Buff's Coolmax gives you coolness and 95% UV protection. Love it!

Timolino Tabletop Mug: Currently on sale at Campmor! Everyone's got their favourite double-wall stainless steel insulated camping mug; this is now mine. And it has a very secure lid. Love not having my bottom lip burned when sipping hot tea. Also takes oatmeal, a very good NZ sauvignon and a few sips of cognac...