31 May 2011

Autumn sea kayak camping

Autumn brings the very best kayak tripping conditions in Moreton Bay. The heat has abated, the insects have diminished and the rednecks have just about gone.
The same location in the middle of summer is no fun, for me.
Stormy evening_c
enjoying the evening at the beach as stormy clouds on the horizon promise rain.
Last week-end I enjoyed a camping outing with good friends. Seven of us, all using traditional paddles: Greenland and Aleut, solid core, laminated and carbon ones. We all share the same passion: paddling with trusted friends where skills are high and the politics low :-)
The rain set in around dinner time but the large tarp gathered us under its shelter. A simple candle fire gave us the illusion of a real fire while nobody got smoked out. A quality bottle of wine was Stevatron's shout* for using his new sleeping bag for the first time. Sleeping under the tarp still required some protection from the hardy insects; a small net or the now famous home-made insect repellent: San-fla-Van (Vanilla's secret recipe).

Launching from Moreton
photo: Simone Staff_used with permission

*"shout", Australian for:  it's somebody's treat.
In our group, when somebody uses a new item for the first time, it's customary to buy a round of Magnums or a nice bottle of wine to enjoy with others

27 May 2011

Photo: Sunrise at camp

I realized I kayak too much and needed a bit of a "stix" fix. A few days backpacking light with friends in the granite belt region of Queensland restored the "imbalance".

May sunrise_c
One of the rare images I have of a sunrise as I usually don't like getting up too early :-)

24 May 2011

VIDEO: Feeling good in Moreton Bay

It ain't always gnarly paddling with MEI.
Relaxed Sunday outings in Moreton Bay offer plenty of opportunities to just kick back, enjoy a fun paddle and do some rolling.
Queensland summer heat can be oppressive, especially when there is little wind. We often prefer rainy days which also happen to be when most motorized crafts don't go out. Rain doesn't bother us and getting wet is a given. We regard kayaking a wet sport.

The softer side of G-Dawg

20 May 2011

Photo: Sailing fun in Moreton Bay

sailing with Mockpool_c
Kayak: SeaBird Designs North Sea
Sail: Flat Earth Sails
Paddle: Aleut Vanstix


16 May 2011

REVIEW: Merrell Pace Glove shoes

Adventuretess' favorite paddling shoes are falling apart.
After serving her very well for 3 years on her frequent paddling trips the sole has started to come apart from the upper. Time for new ones.
While the Merrell Waterpro were a very good choice since they offer excellent support and a very sturdy sole (to protect the foot from sharp rocks and the occasional broken bottle) the upper part of the shoes had a lot of padding that took a long time to dry.
It was time to look at alternatives. Away from water sports, the emerging craze of barefoot running is taking the USA by storm, with Vibram Fivefingers being the leading brand. The low profile design appeared to suit the snug fit required in low volume kayaks.
Fivefingers offer minimal support and are very low profile however they only fit feet that are "square" in shape where the second toe is longer than the big toe. Fivefingers don't fit a lot of people.
Merrell has followed the new trend of barefoot running with a slightly beefier shoe that has more of traditional look but lacks the hefty padding in the sole.
This spring (Northern hemisphere) they released the Pace Glove.

Initially designed for running off-pavement the shoe has almost no cushioning and minimal fabric in the upper making an ideal candidate for a paddling shoe.
Since all its materials are synthetic the Pace Glove has no problem getting wet.
The sole is a Vibram offering (the absolute best grip and durability in the biz) has low profile lugs that offer outstanding traction on slippery boat ramps. The heel has a gentle curve that allows a comfortable rest of the foot when seated in the cockpit (no Achilles tendon dig-in either).

The shoe is very low profile and contours the foot's shape with no "empty" pockets. It does therefore fit well in low volume cockpits. It is rather flexible to allow some feel from the foot rest pegs but the sole is stiff enough to prevent sore feet after an energetic long paddle with positive legs drive in one's stroke.

The only problem are the shoe laces. Obviously takes more time to lace up shoes than just pull a toggle to secure them on the feet. The Merrel Waterpro had the toggle. Shoe laces also have to be tucked away to prevent possible entanglement with the cockpit foot pegs or other protruding fittings.
Obviously these shoes offer no insulation and probably not suitable for cold water paddling. They are however an ideal compromise of support, safety and durability for our style of paddling.

12 May 2011

Vicarious adventure

Never before has being an armchair adventurer been more exiting than right now.
Somebody “tweeted” from the summit of Mount Everest today.

photo Didrik Johnck_with permission

It had to happen. In this increasingly populated and complex world people are continually seeking new outlets to fuel their need for excitement. To be there 'at that very moment'.
The primeval need for adventure and exploration in the past was first domain of books. Throughout history explorers had great following and were often held in high esteem - heroes if you will.
The concept of the vicarious adventuring is an old one. People are fascinated with the danger and hardships endured during conquests in far away lands. Libraries and bookstores are full of text of adventures, some as factual accounts (for the type A personality) other as a mixture of fiction and of more engaging prose. Explorers originally illustrated their journals with hand drawn pictures and maps. These journals fascinated readers that often would not even dream to leave the comfort of home.

With the advent of technology the medium changed. Books started to contain photographs. There is something compelling about photographic evidence supporting an adventurers story. Sir Edmund Hilary famously photographed his summit of Mount Everest for historical reasons and also to dispel any doubts of his success.
Motion pictures changed that again. Explorers, climbers, seafaring voyagers and dare devils suddenly could record their exploits and bring them to the masses.
Even if recording the adventure on film often involves a great amount of planning, additional cost and hardship (schlepping an Imax camera to Everest was a great feat), filming the action became essential in some circles.

The recording and sharing of events however is not just motivated by altruistic “for the benefit of the public” philanthropic streak; at least I don’t think so.
These days it is a rare expedition that is not attracting sponsorship. Very few individuals have the means to self support complex and expensive adventures.
And that’s where the commercial side of the adventure comes in.
In the old days sponsorship often required a direct “return on investment” to the party willing to fork out the money or equipment, today things are a bit more complex and somehow easier.
Christopher Columbus approached the Queen of Spain to give him ships to sail to the then unknown Americas. The Queen was hoping to get gold field discoveries in return. England sponsored many explorers to then colonize new lands.

photo: Brenda Clarke_with permission

Since the golden age of exploration dried up the real big gigs (there aren’t too many lands left to be discovered anymore, in the classical sense) the focus has shifted to smaller feats.
It appears that these days the expedition that involves smaller teams (or solo) with smaller budgets have a great following. Joe Public loves those feats. It is hard to believe the following that some really simple “expeditions” attract.
In my sport of sea kayaking I have noticed some paddlers drumming up sponsorship for trips that are little more than extended vacations. They appear to give little in return to the individual/business outlaying the money.
It is understandable when the journey is linked to an outstanding feat, or a charitable cause where individuals are willing to donate their money for a humanitarian reason, but some people are willing to part with their money to support somebody elses holiday. Why is that ?
For most it is to be “part of” an adventure that they are not otherwise able to be part of. The vicarious adventure. The armchair explorer.

Back to the Mount Everest tweet.
Samsung sponsored the dude that promptly and proudly announced to the world (via his Samsung product): I MADE IT
Half of the globe (OK maybe a bit less, but you get my drift) were with him at that very moment, or so they felt.
History was made and they were PART of it.
Samsung is laughing all the way to the bank…

Editorial in collaboration with ATTP

10 May 2011

VIDEO: Capricornia Coast_part1

The weather gods were smiling on us for the Easter break Capricornia coast extended sea kayak trip.
In the days leading up to the trip the forecast predicted increasing and possible strong winds the following week.
Believing we could handle the forecast conditions and armed with good preparation and knowledge of each others skills we set sail for some exciting kayaking.

if you have fast Internet connection select 720p to view it in HD
The islands were mainly deserted and very few other water crafts were about. In the early days of the trip the swell was not yet large enough to prevent close-up exploration of the rocky coast that is so different than my usual paddling environment.
Being in a small group allowed us to quickly amend plans as the weather changed and we enjoyed the more challenging condition.
If only we could paddle in demanding environment like that more often to further our skills...

Part 2 coming soon

01 May 2011

Photo: sailing into the sunset

Sailing into the sunset
Sailing into the sunset on a recent extended trip.
While some regarded the conditions a bit too windy to paddle we had great fun sailing our kayaks.
Video of the trip coming soon..