Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00

SPOT Satellite Global Phone Review

When it comes to two-way communication in the wilderness, a satellite phone is one of the better items to have as it allows you to talk directly to the authorities during an emergency. One of the problems with sat phones is that they are expensive to purchase typically costing between $600-2000 for just the unit itself.

SPOT, makers of the very popular satellite GPS messenger, have just introduced the SPOT Satellite Global Phone and with a suggested price of $499, it's one of the first sat phones aimed (and priced) for the recreational outdoor enthusiast.

Buddies and fellow Canadians, James Manke and James Roberts are teaming up to travel and compete in the National Greenland Championships held in Qaqortoq, Greenland in this July and are looking for your support. The project is very cool and you should consider helping them out.

Getting people to wear lifejackets while on the water has always been a tough goal. Over the years we have seen all kinds of campaigns from boring government brochures to funny spoofs of old cop shows. Now things have taken a bit of darker turn with the new drowning simulator called, Sorte En Mer.

You need to try it but be prepared, it's pretty intense.

The simulator starts off with a video of you and a friend out sailing on a calm day then quickly turns into a disaster when you are knocked overboard and left watching your friend sail off into the horizon unable to control the sailboat. To keep your head above water you need to scroll your mouse wheel for as long as you can.

Drowning simulator capture

Are you able to stay afloat long enough until your buddy comes back? I couldn't.

Shock campaigns like this have been around for a long time and I’m sure you’ve seen posters with splashy photos of traffic accidents telling you to slow down, or reminders that you love your dog so don’t kill it by leaving it in a car on a hot day.

For a while now researchers have been looking into shock campaigns to see how effective they are. While there is an emotional reaction to seeing bloody car wreck photos, a study back in 2008 in the Netherlands showed that they had the opposite effect. In the study, some male subjects who saw the commercials judged driving fast to be less dangerous or trivialized the message that driving fast is dangerous.

I remember as a teenager our local high school used to arrange for a local wrecker to come and drop off a crashed up car to remind students not to drink and drive. Who knows how many students got the message but all I know is that a large group of us used to stand trying to figure out how to get in the crushed car so we could get photos of ourselves.

Another interesting study out of Belgium showed that campaigns based on fear tended have a short-lived effect on attitudes and opinions and that the public get used to the element of fear faster than a message based on a positive emotion.

So does that mean that this campaign won’t be effective in the long term? I don’t know. I’m not a behavioural scientist.

What does make this video unique (and thus possibility more effective) is that you need to interact with the video to keep the character alive. After my little index finger got tired of scrolling the mouse wheel and I drowned, the first thing I thought was, "wow, if I could only last 3 minutes and my finger was worn out, how could I swim longer than 5 in those waves?"

To me, it was a very different response compared to seeing a poster below put out by Life Saving Victoria.

Where's your child poster

Maybe that interaction element could be just the thing to drive home the message of Lifejacket usage while on the water.

Big news in the outdoor industry today with the announcement that Confluence Watersports has been bought up by private equity firm, J.H. Whitney Capital Partners.

Though you likely haven’t heard of J.H. Whitney Capital Partners you have likely heard of some of their other privately owned companies including, Eastern Mountain Sports, Pure Fishing (who make Berkley and Trilene fishing line and Igloo Products (makers of coolers).

So what does this mean for Confluence Watersports? Mainly a major cash injection into the company so they can move to the next level of their business plan which includes a planned name change to Confluence Outdoor.

"We are very pleased to be brought into the J.H. Whitney family," said Sue Rechner, who will continue in her role as President & CEO of the newly formed Confluence Outdoor. "Confluence has always been an active and invested member of the outdoor industry, and we are fortunate that our new partnership with J.H. Whitney will enable us to build upon our success in paddlesports as a platform for future expansion."

Terms of the deal were not announced as both Confluence and J.H Whitney are privately owned.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014 00:00

Who Says Only Boys Can Portage?

Fiona from Badger Paddles recently released a limited run of their Girls Portage Too poster and I absolutely love it.

Inspired by the portage signs scattered all over Ontario parks like Algonquin, this reminds us that anybody can portage a canoe (with the correct technique).

Fiona sent me this sample which my youngest daughter was happy to take charge of. It's getting framed and going up in the landing at the top of the stairs.

Cait and her Girls Can Portage Too sign.

The 11" x 17" poster is available for a limited time and are $9.95 and any additional posters are only $5 (max 5). You can order yours here.

 

Each year the Colorado School of Mines hosts their annual Engineers’ Days which is a celebration all the things nerdy university engineering students are into. The day involves a whole pile of stuff like soap box races, gold panning, mattress races and what I can only imagine as super awesome, a Tesla coil demonstration.

One of the great traditions of the event is the annual cardboard boat race down the local Clear Creek. The only rules are that the contestant teams must build their boat with a set amount of cardboard and tape and it must carry the while team down the raging class I moving water. Extra points are awarded for creativity, floatability and keeping upright at least until the finish line.

This year, two students decided that floating down a river was so last year and decided walking was the way to go. Just wait until they need to negotiate a very small waterfall

Go team AT-AT!

If you are like me and you sometimes find it tricky explaining to your students the complex interactions between Low and High pressure systems or weather forecasting you need to pick up the amazing resource, The Weather Cycler.

The Weather Cycler is essentially an 8.5"x11" cardboard slide chart and guide for interpreting and forecasting weather. What makes it very cool is that when you slide the inner card out, it creates a simple animation of a low pressure system moving into your area. While the animation is happening, there are other cut outs on the page that demonstrate expected weather, pressure and cloud formations at any given point throughout the weather system. It’s a fantastic resource.

If you are looking to pick one up check with your local science shop to see if they have it though you will likely do better ordering it online. I recently picked up mine from the gang at Body Boat Blade and it was $12.50 plus shipping.

From the YouTube description:

Maritime New Zealand's (MNZ's) new advertising campaign harks back to the glory days of 1980s cop shows to show that, like bulletproof vests, lifejackets don't save people's lives unless they're worn. Police officers Brandon Reynolds & Joe Lyons head to the docks for a bust. Things don't go as planned...

The campaign draws on MNZ's latest research, which shows that men aged 40 plus are the least likely to zip up on the water. Black humour and '80s TV show nostalgia are used to deliver the deadly message that having a lifejacket on board won't save boaties or their mates if things go wrong. Being close to your lifejacket is like being close to your bulletproof vest -- it's just not close enough. People think if they have an accident, they'll have time to put their lifejacket on, but boating tragedies tell a different story....

For more information about summer boating safety, visit maritimenz.govt.nz/lifejackets

And for good measure here is the Starsky and Hutch opening that made me want to be a cop so bad…

If you are the type of person like me who always thought that kayak fishing was as boring as watching grass grow be prepared to have you world-view destroyed.

Adam Fisk was out fishing in his kayak in Florida when he accidently hooked onto an 11-foot Hammerhead shark. The being a shark; it wasn’t impressed and proceeded to tow Adam around for the next two hours covering an estimated 12 miles.

During that time some of the other sharks in the neighbourhood were clearly jealous of the action decided to follow along as well.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014 00:00

The World's First 3D Printed Kayak

Anything that's 3D printed is just awesome in my books. Doesn't matter if it's this thing or that thing, it's awesome.

3d printed stuff

Leave it up to Jim Smith over at Grass Roots Engineering to take things to the next level with his latest project, a 3D printed sea kayak.

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