Archive for March, 2014

Welcome to reality sunshine

Posted: March 28, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

Imagine walking onto a dance floor, an unfamiliar song playing and you try to hear the beat and translate it into moving feet and hips. Its humbling to say the least when we set about teaching ourselves many ‘firsts’. In theory it makes perfect sense but once in practice it proves challenging.

I recently was able to experience this at a level that brought frustration, confusion and deflation. I took Ocean’s Soul into the water for the very first time. A project that saw some 100+ hours of labour invested over several months was finally floating on its own. Feelings were mixed…I had envisioned what launch day would look like, feel like and encompass. I compare it much to window shopping. You see a jacket that catches your eye, you picture yourself in it but until you try it on you don’t truly know what it will feel like. The correlation fits as I wondered, would the oars feel heavy? Would the boats track be centered and sustained? Would the blisters be tolerable? Most importantly would my rear end be comfortable?

VIRB Picture

Stepping in brought about a said satisfaction as immediately the boats stability was evident. She felt solid, sleek and ready to stress every seam, joint and layer of epoxy. As I strapped in my feet, swung out the oars, adjusted my seat I was now ready to take my first few oar strokes.

VIRB Picture

It should be mentioned that it is common to overlap the oar grips (handles) with your left hand over your right hand as you drive through the pull. Of course, in theory this would be very fluid. In reality it looked like scraped knuckles, oar handles binding on one another and oar blades getting caught awkwardly in the water and causing the boat to brake and list to that side.

It was torture…

I let in the negativity…

I let in the doubt…

I cursed as I struggled to sustain any sort of rhythm. If Ocean’s Soul was a woman embracing me in a dance then I was stepping on her toes, pulling on her dress and sharing my sweaty palms with her.

I knew enough that it wasn’t going to be cake the first time out, but I didn’t expect what it was. I felt cornered and with only learning the art of rowing through video, reading and hours on simulating machines in a gym, this was very foreign.

VIRB Picture

In a previous post I discussed the math and physics behind rowing and the set up or ‘rigging’ of the boat. It became evident that I had not yet dialed this in appropriately. However, having faith in the numbers and the history was hard. My mind was saying this was not right. My back was saying, don’t ever put me through that again. My will was saying, the heck with it; I’m not laying down just because this got hard.

I revisited the geometry and set about checking and rechecking measurements, settings and all the things that change heights, leverages and the overall drive of the rowing system. I knew instantly that  my cockpit coaming modification was not permitting my oars to be dropped low enough to get the blades out of the water high enough to avoid catching themselves during the recovery. The idea of cutting into the fresh paint and making changes to lower the coamings height made me anxious. I soon found that the oars themselves felt low. An easy fix would be to raise the entire rigger to facilitate clearing the coaming but also bringing the oars grips higher to a more comfortable level. Two inches of height was gained with some scrap wood and new mounting bolts. Another observation was that the oarlocks sat at the same level. In order to help the act of overlapping hands during the stroke, I opted to remove a spacer below the right hand lock effectively dropping it just over a centimeter below that of the left. This differential would assist in getting my left hand over my right.

Reluctant to feel defeated, I stepped into the cold water of Georgia Strait, sat in once more and took hold of the green grips of my concept2 oars. What followed next was pure euphoria and relief. At last what I dreamed would be…was. The boats gearing felt right. The strokes were efficient and powerful. Most importantly, fluidity entered the equation.

It was by no means days and miles of trials, but it was a start; and like all things new, you have to start somewhere.


Beyond the task of rowing

Posted: March 21, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

We are well into week 1 of spring break and it’s fitting that today marks the official start of the spring season. Progress with the expedition has been good. As I enter into the final two months prior to departure there is a lot to consider, wrap up and procure.

The boat itself is officially seaworthy and ready for sea trials this weekend. Getting the hatches to seat correctly and seal themselves has proved trying, but only after a water test will I know for certain that they will indeed keep the cargo compartments dry. The first order of business once on the water will be to set the oars, set the grip length and inboard. The length of the oar, along with other variables like spread (distance from the centerline of the boat to the oarlock), blade size, blade type, inboard (distance from the handle end to the collar), catch angle, and so on, determine the boat gearing aka ‘rig’. The gearing/rig setup effect is no different than changing gears on your bicycle, the latter obviously achievable whilst on the fly.index


Transporting the boat is another easily overlooked logistical item. Fortunately, owning a truck makes this easier but not without adding to the already existing headache rack by having a rear rack built and mounted to the truck bed. This will ensure safe transport of the boat as well as leave me access to the truck bed itself.

Sponsors for this expedition have been fantastic to work with and have been very supportive. One of our product sponsors, Garmin, provided a wearable GPS marine wrist watch titled the Quatix, as well as two digital VIRB HD video cameras. The beauty of this setup is the ability to capture multiple angles of the same subject matter but the real magic is in the control. Without needing to touch the cameras once they are set, I can remotely control their recording ability wirelessly from the watch itself.

virbquatixvirbDespite the beauty of technology and the obvious convenience it brings, there is still an investment of time required to understand certain operations and usage limitations. Case in point, I have used Google Earth (GE) to plan my route around the island. An absolute invaluable resource that enables me to prematurely ‘see’ what I would other wise only see in real time once on site. It has enabled me to chart waypoints based on the location of islands, reefs and coupled with marine atlas’s the means to preview a beaching area. With each added ‘placemark’ within GE, I can quickly obtain its lat/long coordinates and give it an appropriate name or title. The challenge then, becomes exporting this data in such a way that I can import it into my GPS units.


Without getting overly technical, GE exports the data in a .kmx/kml format. Garmin, as is the case with most GPS units, will except the data in a .gpx or .fit format. Thankfully, a quick google search turned up free conversion software that enables one to create .gpx files from the GE format(s). Simply plugging the GPS device into a computers USB port and treating it like any other external device or drive enables you to simply click on its drive location, click on the Garmin folder and drag and drop your .gpx file into it. Once disconnected from the computer, you need only restart the GPS and it will autoload the waypoints to its internal database/memory.

I will be using a Garmin Oregon 300 colour GPS handheld as my primary unit with a Garmin eTrex Legend as my monochrome backup. With my recent offering from Garmin in the way of the Quatix watch, it now offers me even more redundancy as I can preload the watch with my route as well.

Communications will be limited to my cell phone whenever I have service, but for the most part will only be turned on when a call is needed to be made. I will also be carrying a handheld waterproof and float capable VHF marine radio. This will enable communications to passing vessels but more importantly the ability to monitor weather channels and keep up to date with what mother nature is serving for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In case you’re wondering, my intent IS to use it right side up!


The last piece of kit, and arguably the most important, is my SPOT beacon. I often refer to it as the cheapest life insurance but equally a means to communicate. It affords me the ability to preload an ‘OK’ message online which the unit will transmit to up to five individual cell numbers and email addresses whenever the OK button is pressed. Within the message will also be a link with my present location. For an added expense, the live tracking ability can be set automatically so that updates are sent at predetermined time intervals. It also has two other buttons, HELP and 911. HELP is also enabled with a preloaded message of my choosing and when pressed, will relay the message to the same contact list as the OK button does. It essentially speaks of a situation that is not dire, but requires assistance or help. Pressing the 911 button alerts not only the five listed contacts, but also Search and Rescue and indicates the situation is life threatening. Here’s hoping my OK button is full of grime and sweat by the trips end and that the other two buttons are still pristine white đŸ˜‰


Maui Musings

Posted: March 8, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

During the past few weeks, what was a regimented workout schedule, took a beating with work travels to three different sites. The latest and last brought me to Maui, HI. Not to fear, have bike, will travel. It made sense to take the time to pack my bike and bring it along as a means to get around, to and from work; a half hour ride each way. Having placed a new wheel set on an older bike, I was eager to experience the performance enhancements and was not disappointed. However, the experience humbled me in more ways than one.

In order to pack a bike, one must remove the handle bars, seat and seat post, front wheel and pedals. The whole lot gets tie strapped to ensure it all travels as one with no parts rubbing on any part of the frame or surrounding parts. This was done to a tee and boxed accordingly the night prior to departure. The seat, seat post and pedals were bagged and placed by the door…where they still remain.

Suffice to say, arriving here in Maui and opening my bike box left a lot to be desired once I realized what was left behind. I disheartenedly assembled the bike and stood back to look at its awkwardness. If Merriam-Webster had a listing for ‘dumbass’ I’d be the accompanying picture – and no, there is no active definition for the word ;). But all was not lost. I thought about ‘flintstoning’ it and making like Fred and peddling the bike with my feet in order to get to the bottom of the hill where the boys at Maui Cyclery would take care of me.

Thanks to Donnie and his staff, $150 later and a rag to wipe the egg from my face, I was back in action.

Today I woke to rain…lots of it. I figured in keeping with my training motto of getting ‘comfortable with the uncomfortable’ I had to grin and bear it. However, to start work at 6am meant an earlier rise which meant biking before the sun came up. The back streets of Paia are dark and I had no lights or reflectors of any kind. I stepped outside, clipped in one foot, threw my hood over my helmet and just sat. There is something profound about looking at a situation and just tossing out any notion that its going to be difficult or miserable. Allowing oneself to overcome ones own inhibitions and skepticism is remarkable but not easily attained.

I listened to the rain. My hood reminded me of a metal roof as you could almost hear each distinct drop as they careened from the heavens. They each streamed across the thin goretex and welded seams to then suspend themselves from my jackets waist seam before gravity deposited them on the ground. With a push of my right foot I was off. New pedals meant new cleats and adjusting to blindly clipping in took a little getting use to. I wobbled my first few yards before settling into the descent into Paia and then the flats of the Hana Highway as I made my way to the airport.


After a long work day the lure of the ocean was too much to resist. I ditched my bike on a stump on the shore…

Image…dropped my work clothes in a dash before throwing on a set of board shorts. It took all of a couple long strides to propel myself into the mercy of the Pacific. The surf this time of year and this week in particular is strong. Waves came high and heavy in their usual sets and I made like a cork and just bobbed with them. Few things provide the sense of freedom like swimming in the ocean does. Feeling your body sway with the pull of a receding wave to only then be pushed by a flooding wave. Of course serenity and tranquility come with reality. How this played out for yours truly was while talking to local surfers whilst on the water, I made the cardinal mistake of turning my back to the ocean. Let’s just say I can’t do a cart wheel on dry land to save my life, but evidently mastered it on the water today.

ImageSo perhaps the training has lost some formality this week outside of the body weight exercises that are easily done in my room; squats, lunges, push ups and sit ups. Better still, is that diet has been easy to monitor and keep clean given the abundance of fresh ingredients here if you don’t cave to the fast and easy options. Most daytime meals have consisted of flax wraps with raw ahi tuna poke, washed down with ice cold coconut water and followed with two sweet mandarins. (Thank you Costco…you and your Tuna Bar are my vice for the next several days.) However, I had the pleasure of eating at Sushi Paradise last night in Kihei and was treated to hands down, the best sushi of my life. Flavor profiles that are indescribable.

ImageI ended my evening looking at the ocean. Listening to it, watching it and thinking. I thought of Roz Savage as she crossed these very waters of the Pacific solo several years back; what she saw, felt and heard. I pondered about the great Captain James Cook who was the first to see Maui in the 1700’s and how he interpreted the very sights that on some levels remain the same today as they were even back then. And more so, I think about what inspiration these random individuals drew from their musings and life happenings to move them through their own endeavors? It brings me to the realization that there is genuine truth to the cliche that life truly is not a destination but ultimately a journey.


The Paint Scheme

Posted: March 4, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

Late last week the expedition reached a milestone that was months in the making. All the prep work, sanding, finishing, trimming etc culminated into a two day process that saw the boat finally get painted and clear coated. Picking it up last week, I had mixed emotions. You have a visual of what it was and what you hope it to be. Seeing it for the first time, I was lost for words. Dave and his crew at Arrowtech exceeded expectations and produced a glass like product with very clean lines.

Performance trumps appearance, but appearance is the window dressing and creates the ‘pop’ that will garner the boat some curious looks and likely ignite conversations that will bring opportunities to spread the expeditions purposeful message. The paint scheme I designed played well with the boats name, Ocean’s Soul. The majority of the vessel is painted in a brilliant yellow save for some areas with personal messages, characters and/or lines and masks that sustain its natural wood grain look aka its ‘soul’.

The yellow to wood transition comprises of a puzzle piece effect which ties nicely to the autism symbolism it represents.