Final bits and pieces

I picked up a new camera today.  I don’t really want to rely on my GF-1 kit on the boats for the coming year.  Especially in order to have a camera to grab and shoot ‘on the go’.  Although I’ll have it with me for those must have shots, it will be living in a dry bag with lots of moisture absorbing sachets.

I’ve no idea what the weather will throw at us whilst out sailing but one thing is for sure, wet and salty isn’t ideal for any camera.  To that end I’ve selected a ‘rugged’ spec water-resistant shock proof camera.  Rated to 12 metres, it will take splashes but most importantly keep salt out of switches and joints.

Reviews keep popping up the Lumix FT-3 as the best image taker, which after all is why I want this gizmo.  Test shots today seem to back up these findings, so that’s what I went for.

Inevitably these days, a camera to take pics isn’t enough, you need a quiver of additional features that add to cost, ultimately compromising the ‘headroom’ to optimise the camera.  In this case, the marketeers decided that a compass, barometre (yes really) and GPS are essential, while control of aperture and shutter are not, nor an ability to shoot in Raw.  I can live without HD movies, but of the add ons, this one seems pretty useful.

The camera I’d love to buy would be an Olympus XZ-1 with a weather proof case as per rugged cameras, but sadly it appears to not exist.  There is the route to weather proofing using a housing, but the added bulk makes it something that won’t fit in a pocket and its overkill for a splash proof solution.

Size wise, the Lumix is ideal and will fit nicely into my chest pocket on the boat, remaining handy at all times.  Despite its compromised controls, It’ll serve well as a useful alternate for the GF kit.

I’ll post up some pics soon.


The Reading Continues

I’ve spent this week mostly reading and making notes.

With the exception of a couple of very practical hands on open university modules over the passed two years, Its been a very long time since I had to read, learn and make notes on anything fact or theory based that needs remembering as a fact, not a process.

The process of marine navigation is pretty logical and involves a lot of common sense, geometry and vector maths.  All very applicable once I can get a chart & boat and start practicing.  Even coastal pilotage is nicely systematic.  There are some funny applications and abstract concepts involved in how navigation is derived, but they have little bearing (see what I did there?) on the processes.

Weather theory involves a lot of facts and events that whilst obvious in isolation, take a lot of what I consider abstract thinking.  Lots of terminology needs remembering, not something I’m great with until I get familiar with the reality.  Reading forecasts and applying real world weather is ok and that’s the main application at this point.  Taking a synopsis and creating my own weather picture and considering global patterns to create real weather is another matter..and something I think best left to computers to get wrong, they seem svery good at that in the UK!

By far the biggest tomb I’m yet to dust off is the “International Rules for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea”.  Says it all really!  391 pages of highway code for anything that bobs about on the briny.  Something to be nibbled at in bites, not chunks!  That’s next weeks task.

I hope, with a little review next week prior to heading south, I’ll be confident to get stuck in and spend the course lectures applying and refining this, rather than rushing to pick things up as I go along.

Now, All that’s left is to point the bath tub in the right direction and go somewhere!



Pre course prep

Well,  just a short post to update where the prep is for the course starting 3 weeks today.

My Peli-case laptop case arrived before Christmas and has already proved itself with a trip to Spain in the panniers:- Excellent device, though chunky, well worth the next to bomb proof protection it offers.

The new HTC phone I bought is equally beefed up with an Otter shock absorbing sleeve and is now full of weather and wind apps.

On a more pragmatic level, 2b pencils, map case, erasers, 12 volt adaptor/chargers and all that stuff ready.  Books are nicely piled up and well thumbed.

I’ve also laid out all my layers and weather gear and pared it all back to the minimum ‘basic hygenic’ level for trips extending to 2-3 weeks without laundry.

I want to say a big thanks to:

Neil at TE Partnership for supplying my Gill kit and Dubarry boots.  Needless to say this is top quality kit and I can’t wait to try it out. Gill & Dubarry

Chloe at Icebreaker for supplying some smell proof (yes, it really is) Icebreaker thermals

Mike at Dogtag insurance for the help in getting my travel cover in place and a cracking rate.

And of course Isabelle for letting me bugger off for 17 weeks. 🙂

As always, more to come!

Spain, December 2011 part I

A trip to Southern Spain to escape the winter blues and Christmas mass hysteria had been on the cards for some time.  Winter 10 saw Iz and I ride down to Aragon for what we’d hoped would be warm days and lots of gravel.  Well, we got the gravel, but shivered our way through the trip both on the bikes and in the apartment we rented.

No such worries this year, with a destination a LOT further south and a massive high pressure sitting over much of Spain. (not to mention some rather furry bar muffs)

We set off on a day’s ride through England to Portsmouth and enjoyed glorious weather.  Crisp blue skies, above zero temps and no traffic.  Sticking to the Motorways never inspires much biking enjoyment, but the UK weather is so fickle, it’s easier to take the simple option than end up stuck and miss the escape window of the ferry.

We made a quick stop at cousins for what is fast becoming a pattern of chat and Domino’s pizza before heading to the port for the night boat.

Double strapping of the bikes by the loading crew did raise an eyebrow about the sea state!  It actually wasn’t that bad, but it was certainly windy with a crashing steep sea!

We arrived in Bilbao before dawn to a wet drizzle and soaking roads.  I’ve had concerns about the Metzeler Tourance EXP’s currently fitted to the GS and it seems I was proved right.  From the moment we hit the road (and at a number of points through the trip) they offered little confidence.  Numb and unresponsive with little grip in anything but the dry I can’t wait to tear them off the bike and find something else.

Once clear of the hills around the coast, with the sun up the roads dried and we made great progress to Zaragoza and then turned south over the mountains to Teruel.  We enjoyed huge clear blue skies and low temps all the way down.  The wind slammed us for about a hundred miles south of Zaragoza, but I suppose the endless wind farms should have given us a clue as to what we should expect!

We landed in Teruel to stay at the fabulous Parador just 10 mins outside the town.  On the hill overlooking the region and the old town and right by the route we were on.

In time for what we thought was a late lunch we headed into town to be first in the restaurant.  Over an incredible menu del dia with chorizo and potato soup, lamb cutlets and the ever present patatas bravas, we adjusted our clocks to account for Spanish meal times and then had a good look round the city.

Well worth a look, but I’d say no more than a half day mooching would see the old town covered.









A bit of a chilly start to Christmas day at minus 7!!

Thankfully there was no water about at all or we’d have been checking back into the hotel. The 1200 took a bit of starting despite the brand new super duty battery I’d fitted a few weeks ago.  I doubt the tired standard BMW one would have coped that morning.

The road south from Teruel is stunning.  Bends, sweepers, views, everything.  To do this on an early summer morning would rank as one of the best I think.  So much so, we barely stopped to take pics.

All too soon we were in the flat lands near Murcia and headed into concrete hell of the coastal towns.  Our family stop over at Playa Flamenca was a welcome break, but isn’t conducive motorcycling!!  Nice to see the family for a couple of days as they settle into a new house, but we were soon ready to ride again.

More to come shortly.