Friday, April 30, 2010

Holding Our Breath

Literally -

The winds shifted a bit yesterday - from dead calm at 0600 to SE as the sun warmed the area and to a steady flow from the E as the day went on.

Around 0630, a hint of burnt oil was in the air from the test burn offshore.

Hopefully the multiple groups addressing the nonfunctioning cutoff valve can get a diverting solution in place.

5000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day is a lot of oil. And if you haven't read - the well head is 5000 ft down (nearly a mile!!!).

Life around here will not be so amphibious or aquatic if this slick/spill is not contained or diverted.;_ylt=ArQCifJqLNFQqsT7kyc3fOCs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTN1MWtwOHBxBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwNDMwL3VzX2xvdWlzaWFuYV9vaWxfcmlnX2V4cGxvc2lvbgRjY29kZQNtb3N0cG9wdWxhcgRjcG9zAzEEcG9zAzcEcHQDaG9tZV9jb2tlBHNlYwN5bl90b3Bfc3RvcnkEc2xrA3VzZXNjYWxhdGVzcg--

Makes you want to ride a bike - everywhere.

Petroleum should be used for things we have not yet developed suitable substitutes for yet - like epoxy (but not disposable plastics - there are potato based forks out there - if we can do that, there should be no reason we can't make more everyday items out of biodegradable plastics; or not fuel for individual travel - trains, ships and larger trucks maybe).

Solar and wind with an emphasis on converting desalinated water into hydrogen fuel cells should be the way to provide our portable energy needs - this will take a cultural mindshift - heck everyone of us has bitten off on the idea of paying for checked baggage and meals on airplane flights. How did that happen? And how are you dealing with it - I changed my ways (mailing stuff and bringing lunch onboard).

Man has had energy challenges from the beginning - harnessing fire for warmth/security, clearing forests, burning coal, drilling for oil, dealing with nuclear waste - and at each turn there our technology has helped make the transition (when was the last time you saw a coal fired ship or whale blubber fueled street lights). Each leap forward however really represented a step backward in the carbon cycle - not how much carbon we were spewing in the atmosphere, but how far back that solar energy was originally captured and how long it has been stored - cleared forests for firewood or wood fired kilns/furnaces, coal fired ships, oil driven economies :: decades to grow trees, millennia to heat/pressurize ancient forests/marshes buried long ago by the changing landscapes, epochs to take the bodies of countless, tiny aquatic animals and heat/pressurize them into liquid hydrocarbons.

All these things are just captured rays of the sun. Today we can directly convert sunlight into electricity (and each of us can live off the grid) and we can go to Maui Tacos in Kailua and order a burrito and eat it with a fork made from a potato (not sure if they are still doing that - the potato forks were not cheap - yet).

But our dependence on fossil fuels is deeply woven - in order to make a potato fork, you need electricity and metal molds - the chain of energy to produce the tractors that work the farms, produce the metal that is used to make the vehicles to transport the forks to a market, the metal used to make the vehicles to mine the metal and the fuel to drive it all - most green things are beget from oil. Oh - and outside of the huge food distribution networks, there are hardly any smaller farmers (save the local farmers markets with people who grow their vegetables and sell their excess - the supermarkets buy from corporate mega farms that use metals and fuels.

So - fossil fuels are the web of our existence.

Sorry about the ranting - I guess I'm just getting bummed out now that the kiting/sailing/paddling/fishing around here is about to take a turn for the worst. Not to mention the air quality around here.

If you think PMS is bad, you haven't seen me drydocked (ok some of you have - Baghdad for 365). Speaking of Baghdad - I vividly remember the smell over there, burnt oil. So for more reasons than one, I am still holding my breath... hopefully the response folks can cap this well, that they don't see the need to light the slick on fire, and that we all take a step back and look at the way we live - where can we simplify and use fossil fuels where we have no substitutes and work to develop them so we can further break our dependence. We get all the energy we could possibly need every day for free from the big fusion reactor in the sky - every bit of energy man has ever used has come from the sun. Why are we not smart enough to cut all the middlemen out of the process?


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tri Sailing

Today - our amphibious adventure consisted of sailing our trimaran.

Took the tri out on two independent runs:

The first was with the family - rigged up just the main. We still got 9.1 kts in 14 kts of breeze. Marlon said he didn't get seasick this time - a good plus, while Noe started crying her eyes out saying she was cold - negative. One for two isn't too bad. They are still too young to keelhaul to improve their morale, so we tried the old fashioned way to make them feel better - dippin dots ice cream.

I called Roger up and then I rigged up all three sails. I wanted to sail with someone with more knowledge than I had to get better with the boat, especially off the wind (broad reaching). We made a long reach to the R2 marker off Cat Island, then headed back pinching for a bit so we could make a reach with the screecher back to the harbor. I forgot to tie off the roller furler line so we had some issues with the screecher, but we still had it up and running. Got 13 kts out of HOOYAH in 14-15 kts of breeze. Roger even coaxed me into sailing into the harbor to land the boat (I would have never done that on my own - clear, uncongested beach has been my mainstay) - smooth operation. There seemed like there were a few holes in the wind flow, but what a great day of sailing!!!

Nothing like a bunch of sore muscles and sun warmed skin to make you feel alive!

National Naval Aviation Museum

We needed to pick up La's longboard from the ding repair shop yesterday, so we decided to bring the kids to the Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola.

Before I talk about the museum fun, I will clarify what you just read.

Yes I can fix dings.

If you know my wife, then you know no matter how meticulous I get with a repair, it will never do. This is the same rationale that most wise, happy couples use when embarking on challenging endeavors - learning to snowboard/ski/windsurf/kite/golf/you name it - in order to preserve the health and quality of the relationship, the partner in the know who would take the role of instructor, or in this case, ding repair guy, would rather pay a professional to avoid the potential of conflict centering around the issue at hand. SO - this was never about whether or not I could repair a ding - it was completely about not having to live up to the impossible standards that La has with her longboard.

Now back to the museum -

This is probably the 5th time I've been to this museum. A lot of old memories - but more importantly, a lot of new ones! The kids (especially Marlon) had a great time! As we were going back through for a second pass to pay more attention to the things we couldn't get enough of the first time, a fire alarm went off and we had to call it.

Next time we come back, we'll bring the trimaran and rip it up in the waterways around the base (perfect setup)!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Curved Japanese Block Plane

I'm trying to get the last bit of shaping done on the first three boards so I can get them painted and glassed and wet.

The regular block plane was too big and gouges too much when you're down to the fine sanding. So I finally broke this out - a curved Japanese block plane that I bought when we were back in Japan (duh).

If the blade were just a smidegon narrower, it'd be perfect, but closer is better than butchered.

I've just got to slap some spackle on the boards to fill in some gaps and it'll be time to paint.

In the meantime, I'll work it out with the kiddoroos what else they want on the boards (drawings of plesiosaurs, butterflies, sharks and horses no doubt).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pearls of Wisdom

Advice from Tshirts are rarely good, but these make you want to go and buy a second set, chop out the cool innards (the part with the graphics) and sew them on to a shirt that I will fit into.

Why don't the corporate clothing fashion gurus know that big kids like this stuff too???

Well - at least I know what I'm going to do with these tshirts when Marlon outgrows them...

Okaloosa Island

Squirt guns and paddleboards on Saturday at Okaloosa Island, Florida.

This was at the ICW side, just East of Fort Walton - actually really close to where the Trimaran Nationals were being held.

Nice water over there.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Packing Material Recycling

I've got a ton of non-blanked EPS in the garage, and some bamboo veneer...

Guess what is on the chopping blocks...

The alaia I made previously was a tremendous PITA to ride - primarily because of the lack of floatation. This Nine Lights version looks to be an awesome modern interpretation of the original, made out of EPS so you get the super buoyancy, and all of the finless, rail-engaging ride of the original.

The short, stubby outline looks to be a super planing shape for easy paddling.

And best of all, the veneer can be cut into any shape - stay tuned for this one... it's going to be really cool.

Big SUPs

The straighter one is for a friend in Houston - 11'6" "Jack-of-all-trades" so he blop the dogs on board, paddle a ton of flatwater or chew on some waves.

The curvier one is for my wife so she doesn't have to load the board on top of the van. It's a 9'2" that'll surf (so she can gain confidence in the surf and maybe get back to standard surfing on her other boards), and still paddle flatwater here in Southern Mississippi for daily exercise.

By the way - Aku Shaper is the program, get your copy because it's free, and help make the world a better place by shaping boards for people to ride and free their pent up stress!!!

Noe's miniSUB

Yesterday afternoon, I got a chance to work on Noe's board.

With the rough shaping done on all three of the first wave of boards, I shifted to working on the templates for the big SUPs - more on that soon.

I can't find my tiny planer so I'm of to Lowes to see if they have them there. The fine sanding/tip tuning on all three boards should be done soon (then it's glassing time...)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Farrier/Corsair Trimaran Nationals

Took an afternoon off and went to Ft Walton Beach, Florida where the subject event was being held. What a unique opportunity to check out so many different types of Farrier and Corsair boats in one stop!

Ian Farrier (the boat designer) was present as this was the 25th Anniversary of the F27. He was very patient as most of the owners asked him every question under the sun concerning the lineage, ideas and inspiration behind the common man's trimaran.

Got home real late and it definitely messed up my internal clock at work (imagine sitting in a not too exciting, but still important meeting, and the room temperature starts to get rather warm - your head starts bobbing like a hyperactive fishing lure - and then you wake up realizing you've been under for several minutes - not that that happened to me today.... but the feeling was something like that)

Lots of knowledge gathered in a very short period of time - efficiency. Me likey!

In case you didn't know, Ian Farrier is the gentleman in the blue shirt (check out the socks).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shaping Bay Operational

The Lightwind Kiteboard is pretty much done, but I still have to calculate the footstrap positions and the finboxes.

I've already foiled out the kid's mini-SUBs and I'll be cutting out the railbands in the next day or so.

Shaping is for the weekdays - after work, after having seen flags wave all day - teasing me with what kiting, sailing, SUPing or just 'beaching' possibilities are out there while I'm pounding the keyboard and reading every piece of administrative correspondence my unit pumps out - yes shaping helps dissolve all those woes and pent up stresses away. There is no way I'd shape on the weekends and ruin my pressure relief valve.

The Marines have landed

The Marines have a Reserve Unit here in Gulfport that work with Amphibious Troop Transports. The locals get to see them practice on the weekends occasionally.

The family got lucky yesterday and saw them splash on their way out, and make their landing after a day of training.

This place is full of surprises!

The Gulf is warming up

It's only mid-April and I'm kiting in the Gulf of Mexico (felt just like Kailua Bay in June temp wise) without a wetsuit or any other form of rubber on me! Makes you wonder what Hurricane season has in store...

Obviously went kiting yesterday. I was actually so tired when I got back that I couldn't stay awake to blog or sort through the GoPro pictures.

Kiting in trunks alone is AWESOME!!! No more rubber suits for several months!!! I can see the need for longsleeve, lightweight nylon shirts very soon to prevent torching, but those are easy and more digestible than wetsuits.

Good wind! Solid 13-17 with puffs into the 20s! Nice!

Mathematically speaking, it was only a matter of time before I got a jump recorded. This one wasn't a record breaker in hang time or a nose bleeder in height, but still is a moment frozen in time of kite assisted gravity cheating flight.

Gulfport ain't a bad place after all (they just need to have a good surf shop and a shuttle out to the barrier islands that caters to surfers).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Side Project - Sewing

After watching my wife La make beautiful things for nearly a decade, I have now gotten the bug to be able to sew things. Not "pretty" or "cute" things, but MANLY things for doing MANLY things - like:

- Board bags
- Combination GPS, Anemometer, Pliers and knife holders
- Equipment covers
- Padded paddle covers
- other manly things

Also hoping to become proficient at doing repairs on kites and sails.

This is the project to get the foundations under my belt - the Sailmaker's Apprentice has an intro project - the DITY bag that has all the different types of stitches and materials pushed into one small project.

I know what you're thinking - doesn't he have enough going on with all the foam and epoxy sitting in the garage? Well - in order to keep the creative juices going, you sometimes have to leave the project you currently are vested in behind so you can come back to it with a fresh perspective - that's what La always tells me anyways when I see her juggling 20 sewing projects. This will be good backup for when I just don't feel like hanging out in the garage.

The picture is the bag parts all laid out and ready for cutting.

The troubles we go through...

Here are the big SUP blanks.

Carted these things home through traffic going 45 mph, with a nice stiff wind coming from the SE. The load shifted just a bit, but made it home safe and sound.

I felt the eyes of the locals saying "What in tarnation is that? Them things don't look like no bed I ever seen... Maybe it one u dem der yogi thing a ma bobs???"

La's "inside the van" loadable SUP, and Ray's newbie "do it all" boards. Mow, mow, mow your boards, back in my garage - merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily shaping boards is a scream!

Man - am I stretching with this blog-vomit or what???!!!! I better quit while I'm still ahead -

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Orleans Insectarium

Spend a good deal of yesterday at New Orleans with my parents.

The kids had an awesome time at the Audubon Insectarium.

Intermediate Shaping Done on 2010 Board #1

I still have to thin out the tail a little bit - not much, that is where the highest loads will be experienced. The final completed version will be decked with bamboo veneer, given 4 Futures boxes and have two foot straps in the front (one on each side obviously) and options for 2 or 1 on the back (max-flex) - may still settle for just one.

Time to switch over to shaping the mini-SUBs.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Old Editor, New Editor

A couple more rack shots.

I had switched to the new blogspot editor (but I don't like it). I was experiencing technical difficulties with the new editor, but have now switched back - this is a test (and the other pictures I had intended to post earlier).

Tomorrow - work to date on the kiteboard and the the beginnings of foiling the mini-SUBs!!!

And here they are!


Now I can shape the rails (already did)!

Moving right along!

Roughed in

Today I built the shaping racks I need to get the rails dialed in.

Pictures to follow.

Errands and cooking followed, but I did spend time afterwards in the garage to foil out the board more.  This one should be done in a day or so, then I'll knock out the kids' mini-SUBs.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Kiting Session

Kited yesterday.  No pictures (dead battery on the DSLR, lost bolt on the GoPro) but sometimes kiting without pictures is a good thing (am I that narcissistic that I have to have pictures taken of me using solar energy to atomize water...???).

12-17 mph wind from the SE.  Used the Naish "Flash" board and V4 16 - RIPPING!!!

The wind was generating swell - knee high, but genuine swell!!!  Some folks with more developed swell might be laughing, but I have learned to appreciate any waves.

Also chewed up a lot of foam off of the light wind piggy.  Pictures of that to follow today - I have to finish building my new (streamlined) racks so I can shape the rails (I've been working off the sawhorses - man am I lazy).


Someday (sooner than later)

After looking across the web far and wide, I have finally found our 'intermediate' boat.  Not the boat that will train the family how to sail on and have beach picnics on, and not the boat that La and I will ply the seven seas on, but the one in between (while Marlon and Noe are still in school).  

This thing is a rocket ship with a 35' mast, way more than enough sail area and light as a feather.  This can be stored on a trailer (at the house for safe keeping and oogglling) yet towed with a medium sized truck (so I don't have to break the bank on a full sized, gas chugging monster).  The boat I crew on now is 6 foot longer, but the Skipper needs crew on a consistent basis - this ride needs just two.  This one has a super shallow draft so beaching is not a problem.  Envision strapping boards to the trampolines and heading out to isolated surf spots - anchor offshore and have a ripping session; afterwards, nap until the winds come up and sail home.

The best of all worlds!  Will try to get it in the next five years.

The Farrier F-22(R) Cuddy Cabin!!!