boating books

ome very worth reading books on boating. Some are very well – known novels that I’ve read already (a few of them in multiple times), some are new documents that I’m reading or plan to. According to my categorization, they fall into the following 3 groups: Fiction, purely imaginary, although not real, they’re highly inspirational, Non – fiction, real accounts of real peoples and their adventures, Technical, the fundamental details that help building those archivements. My 3 simplified, consecutive steps of a self – actualization process… All these books are available in public domain, I collected and compiled into PDF format, click on each titles to download.

FICTION


Twenty thousand leagues under the sea – Jules Verne

 

Sea wolf – Jack London

 

Treasure island – Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Moby dick – Herman Melville, my all – time favorite, a piece of hard to read, highly metaphoric literature

NON – FICTION


A thousand miles in a Rob Roy canoe – J. Macgregor

 

Voyage of the paper canoe – Nathaniel Bishop

 

Alone in the Caribbean – Frederic Fenger

 

Sailing alone around the world – Joshua Slocum, my favorite, another neo – classical Ahap captain!

TECHNICAL


The dory book – John Gardner

 

Small boat building – H.W. Patterson

 

Canoe and boat building for amateurs – W.P. Stephens

 

The Gougeon brothers on boat construction, a very helpful, thorough book on wood working and epoxy.

the call

We’re all following a strange melody.
We’re all summoned by a tune…

ery busy lately, can’t even find some little time slots for paddling! For many time I’ve been hearing it, the tune sounds like Enya’s Orinoco Flow (a.k.a: Sail away), and I know, it’s calling, I just have to “Slide to answer”, but pressing “Remind me” is my only option right now! :-( Won’t miss your next call again!

folding bike

new toy, a “towing platform” for the kayak, a GIANT tiny folding bike that can be carried on the boat through the waterways! Steel frame, 20 inches wheels, 6 speeds derailleur gears, and weighted at 15 kg, this is the best balance I can find: small enough to be folded and transported on the kayak, while still large enough to be able to attain some speed while towing the kayak in return on long roads! To be used in my upcoming trips! :-)

NSTarget

Once we were standing still in time,
Chasing the fantasies that filled our minds.
…Now looking back at all we’ve planned,
We let so many dreams just slip through our hands.

[
Do you know where you’re going to – Diana Ross ]

his has been added into my intermediate – term TODO list, a promise to return to Poulo Condor made earlier last year, in a different way, not by way of air of course. Don’t really know if I could make this, cause it’s really a tough (and adventurous) target to conquer, and there’re lots of things I also wanted and planned to do, too many of them indeed, but let just set the milestone there!

vũng tàu, june 2014

his has been in my TODO list for quite some time, but for various reasons, couldn’t get it done till now. To the present day, I’ve accumulated more than 1,000 nmi under my belt with Hello World – 1 & 2 (nearly 1,900 km, as logged by my Garmin), but that’s only the 20 ~ 25 km paddling around my home. I need something longer to testify my endurance; and for the last 2 months, I’ve been preparing for this 60 km paddling trip to Vũng Tàu: physical exercising, equipments, plan A, plan B, etc… It just comes the time to… get your paddles wet!

My Hello World – 2 kayak is a true player on rivers, but it’s surely no performer at sea. A 14 footer, it’s quite unsuitable to be deployed on longer journeys, so I need to make careful planning. The trip will be completed in 3 legs, approximately 20 km each, the first 2 will follow Sài Gòn and Lòng Tàu rivers, the last leg would pass Gành Rái bay to reach Vũng Tàu on ‘open sea’. And indeed, I have no ‘plan B’, no camping gears, no food and drink for a 2nd day of paddling, no signaling devices… it just has to be done, 60 km in a single day, in a single try!

Leg 1

Wake up at 3:30 AM, I carefully check the gears, load the kayak, have a big breakfast, and at 4:30 AM, I depart. Right at the first paddling stroke, it begins to rain, cats and dogs! And it continues to rain lightly for the next several hours, but that’s good really. Silently pass by many fishing boats, some was sleeping, some was watching a FIFA World Cup’s live football match! Heavily loaded, I make my way through the misty, dark water with a pace around 6 ~ 6.5 km/h. At 5:30 AM, the Garmin indicates a minor rise in speed, ~ 7.5 km/h, it’s the tide’s coming into play!

6:00 AM, as the dawn was breaking, I steadily made 8 ~ 9 km/h, 6:45 AM, I was making a comfortable 9.5 ~ 10.5 km/h riding. The tide plays quite a role in my planning, it should help to conquer the first 2 legs as fast as I can, reserving stamina for the last troublesome leap. Velocity then increases to 11 km/h for a short while, momentarily reaches 12 km/h, woohoo… I finished the 1st leg in 3 hours with little resting time, reaching Tam Thôn Hiệp crossroad, the southern most outskirt of Sài Gòn, beyond this point is Cần Giờ mangrove biosphere reserve.

Leg 2

8:00 AM, after a short break, I start the 2nd leg, which traverses the Cần Giờ mangrove forest to reach the sea. The Garmin instructs me confidently through this complex maze of rivers and canals, making ‘bip – bip’ sound in approximation of each turn point (the planned route was made on computer and transferred to the device). I’m a bit in hurry as I know I don’t have a large time frame to utilize the tide, in all, less than 4, 5 hours or so. 8:30 AM, the tide will finish lowering in Vũng Tàu area, though for inland water, there’s still a delay effect.

Speed drops gradually along this 2nd leg, and at 10:00 AM, I was returning to 6 ~ 6.5 km/h, as the tide was coming to a complete stop. The last few kilometers of this leg was a bit difficult, cause although my arms and shoulders showed little sign of tiredness, my butt was in great pains after hours of idleness. Then it was a moment of thrill, to stand here and watch over the large calm estuary where the river joins the sea! Another leg done, an hour of resting, lying leisurely in the boat, watching the sea, having lunch, and making some selfies! :-)

Leg 3

Right at noon, I start the final leap. I was having a good day, it’s heavily cloudy, the sea is quite calm, small waves, south – west light wind at 2, 3 on Beaufort scale coming to my convenience from starboard ‘broad reach’ or ‘beam reach’, Vũng Tàu‘s mountains are clearly visible across the big bay. I decided to start as soon as I can, fearing the regular afternoon tropical gales and rains could bring much trouble later on. Switch the Garmin to compass mode, keep the bearing at 125 degrees for several hours, this gonna be just a piece of cake! :-)

The following hours turned out to be not easy indeed! I begin to feel pains for my hands, the waves have hampered my efforts and reduced speed into the 4.5 ~ 5.5 km/h range. I have not a single moment of worry, but rather a kind of tranquility in my mind while navigating this immense sphere. I stop for a while having an nice talk with a local fisherman, then keeping on the straight line to target. On starboard side then seen the Cần Giờ Aval lighthouse (VN: hải đăng Bóng Trắng). Then at 4:30 PM, landed in Vũng Tàu at the precise pre – planned spot.

Return

Terra firma eventually, my 12 hours of paddling completed with flying colors! :-) Nothing more to expect for the day, I go for dinner, then back to the hotel and have another 12 hours of sleep! Next morning, I was messing around the harbors, watching the fishing boats, then at noon, load my kayak onto a rented truck and return to Sài Gòn. My arms are still having some little pain as I’m typing this, but the feeling is really pleasant. It could be a small thing to others, but a little real achievement for me! Another milestone in my boating progress!

The trip helps rectifying some defects and shortcomings on boat building and boating equipments. It’s only in these longer trips that I would find out what gears, food, drink, clothing, etc… should I have, what improves and accessories I could do for my boats. Yet Hello World – 2, at 14 feet, still belongs to the recreational class, it’s not a real expeditional sea kayak by design… The trip also helps consolidating my understanding and experiences on what I should prepare to make successful future sea crossings and longer passages into mare liberum :-) .

Epilogue

The Sài GònVũng Tàu route is crowded in maritime traffic, big boats from a few thousand to a few dozen thousand tons come and go every few minutes. It’s a real risk that your tiny boat could be overseen and overrun by those giants, as I was ‘near – missed’ by a huge freighter at great speed by just 50 ~ 70 m in one case. I should have an VHF radio to communicate with them to avoid collision. The waves created by those boats, though could be as high as 1 ~ 1.5 m, are not dangerous actually, as they are well patterned and well behaved.

Routes plotted with Google Earth: planned route in blue, actual route in red. Some GPS logged data: distance travelled: 58.4 km, total time: 11:31′, paddling time ~ 9:00′, resting time ~ 2:30′, I averaged out only 5.08 km/h over all. Obviously, there’s still lots of things to be improved here!

Another aspect of paddling in tropical weather: the ‘thermal efficiency’ of your body (like any other machines or engines) would degrade badly in the 30 ~ 38°C temperature range, you’ll need lots of water (and food) to keep up the pace, a sunny day could easily use up 4, 5 litters just for drinking (not to include cooking). That could cause a ‘logistical problem’ as a kayak has limited storage capacity, it could be a headache to prepare food and drink rations (among other things) for a 4, 5 days trip, the heavier the load, the slower the boat of course.

Some video scenes of the trip captured with my GoPro camera.

Vũng Tàu is no stranger to me, having visited it many times before. But this time is different, a chance to view the city from another perspective. For many moments, I thought I had quite some illusions of grandeur, the literal, optical meaning :-) , as the sceneries appear as in tilt – shift photography: people, houses, cars, boats, the trees… all appears to be so small under the blue sky, even the mountains do not look really big… A fantastic feeling when you observe the little city of Cap Saint Jacques from the back of waves, some distances off from shore.

a bit of roughness

typical small tropical gale during this rainy season… winds can momentarily reach up to level 5, 6 or more on Beaufort scale. It can get pretty rough at time right here on Saigon river and without a spray skirt, the kayak takes on water easily in this weather, when filled up about 1/3 of the volume, the boat is heavy to paddle, it becomes less responsive and easier to take more water in. I need to pump the water out several times during my routine 20km paddling trip.

But it’s also fun, the rougher it get, the tougher you need to be! :-)

woodworking

y humble woodworking corner with a modest collection of tools for sawing, cutting, drilling, planing, chiseling, sanding… dozens types of chemicals for epoxying, painting, varnishing… For now, it’s still a small corner with basic tools, but it’ll be growing into a “well – equipped” boat – building workshop soon! :-)

4th image below: a clock, a thermometer and a hygrometer to help mixing epoxy resin, a process which is quite weather – sensitive…

lãng mạn

Thái Bình Dương gió thổi,
Thuyền em trôi nổi tựa cánh bèo.
Sao không ra giúp chống đỡ chèo?
Anh hùng sao lại nằm queo trong thuyền!?

ãng mạn, từ nguyên: , lãng () là sóng, mạn () tức tràn đầy, nghĩa gốc của lãng mạn như thế. Không phải ngồi một chỗ, đọc vài câu thơ, hát vài ý nhạc vớ vẩn mà phần lớn trường hợp, còn không tự phân biệt được đâu là loại hay, loại dở, loại tầm tầm, loại nhảm nhí rẻ tiền… (chưa bao giờ các phẩm chất cơ bản con người lại xuống cấp mạt hạng như bây giờ). Lãng mạn tức là… sóng tràn đầy, thế thôi; đâu đó ngoài kia, có một không gian thật… lãng mạn! :-)

on saigon river

or the last several months, I rarely take a camera with me while kayaking. Partly cause I don’t want to bring delicate electronics to water, partly cause I want to concentrate just on paddling. But that’s why I’ve missed many noteworthy things on the way, many times I wished I’d had a camera at the right moment.

The other day, I was paddling in the late afternoon when a large flock of white storks approached my boat in the opposite direction. The V – shape formation obviously was utilizing the “surface effect”, flying closed to water. Just 10m away, the birds raise the altitude, make lots of noises, and pass above my head, a spectacular scene!

Another day, I was taking a short rest under a big mangrove palm tree, watching a beautiful butterfly in a brush nearby. All of a sudden, a big catfish jumps from beneath the calm water, catches the butterfly in its mouth, then disappears as quickly as it comes. I wished I could have taken a picture of that interesting moment!

A colorful world of boats of all kinds and sizes on the rivers, ranging from 0.5 ton (my kayak :-) ) to 50,000 ton (this is about the upper limit for boats to traverse safely on Saigon river). The 3rd and 4th images, the pair of Sonya – class minesweepers: HQ – 863, HQ – 864 and two Svetlyak – class gunboats: HQ – 264, HQ – 265 at Hải Minh naval shipyard.

Most people I met on rivers is friendly. The local fishermen are usually timid (except when they’re drunk), the vendors are talkative and glib, only the professional sailors warmly share with me their thought on boats and boating… I receive lots of questions on my boats, and some even propose to sell / build for them another Hello World – 2 :-) .

A week ago, I passed by a group of wooden boats, whose outlooks are very different to boats of this area. The long, narrow hull, the crescent rudder, colors and decorations… those could be boats of Cambodian influences, I’d thought, very original design, little modern modifications! The next day, I come back with a camera, and they’ve gone! :-(

Today, I met that group of strange boats again, luckily. It turned out that they’re of Cham ethnic group, not Khmer as I initially assumed, coming from Châu Đốc (An Giang province). It was so good that a really friendly young guy showed me around the group of 4 boats, 4 families living floating lives. They’re poor, but simple and sincere!

The young men then showed me that of the four boats, there’s a different one, it’s an “antique” dugout boat, made mainly from a single huge log of wood. The other 3 are modern builds, wooden planks on frame, although externally they look exactly the same. He said, the dugout boat has been handed down from generation to generation…

…And he doesn’t even know how old the boat is, but estimated that it should be older than 150 years. I examined the boat’s very original design, such a dugout is surely a very rare specimen that can hardly be found today. I then continue my paddling path, many entangled thinking in my head, twilight is gently casting on the immense river…

A watery Saigon
photo album

(Many pictures taken are not very sharp, since my new fixed lens has difficulty making proper focuses through the opaque water – proof plastic cover)

 

Chiều buông, trên dòng sông Cửu Long, như một cơn ước mong, ơi chiều! Về đâu, ơi hàng cây gỗ rong, nghiêng mình trên sóng sông, yêu kiều…

Chiều về trên sông – Thái Thanh

hello world – 2, accessories

ay after day, I gradually… felt in love with my new kayak :-) . Although quite sturdily and heavily built (~ 32 kg), it behaves very well on water. The longer and thiner hull offers much better speed (compared to Hello World – 1), but the most important thing is that the hull shape provides and maintains sufficient “kinetic energy” for the boat to make sustainable headway into unfavorable winds and waves!

The added retractable skeg works perfectly! Within the storage compartment lies the skeg box, which houses a 30 cm skeg blade that can be controlled (lowered or raised) via a steel wire which runs into the cockpit on the right of my seat. With winds coming from astern, the skeg is lowered to reduce the boat’s drifting and yawing, or when waves are large, the skeg helps reducing rolling motion.

I now have the excellent Fein Multimaster oscillating tool into my woodworking collection. Watch a demo video here to see what the wonderful Multimaster can do. There’re some other accessories needed for this Hello World – 2: a paddle, a hand pump… For the paddle, it’s the first time I experiment with carbon fiber fabric, it seems to be very solid, but I need to learn more to get the most out of this special material!

The hand pump is quite simple indeed, it takes just a couple of hours to get it done. Two check valves (one way valves), some PVC parts, and a toilet pump (available at most super market). The hand pump is a crucial accessory for my kayak, as now it’s turned into rainy season, and as I’m paddling into rougher water. There’re some more accessories to be made and tested, before… the voyage begin!