The nights I slept in the Outback Swag Tent, I was just camped in the back yard. After one night in it I had the information I needed and could have gone back to my bedroom, but I liked the cozy space and slept well. The Outback Swag isn’t meant for backpackers. At 18.7 lbs for the tent, mattress, poles, stakes and duffel, it’s heavy by backpacking standards, but it’s also heavy duty and should hold up to a lot of hard use providing years of comfortable camping.
When the fire is going strong there is indeed very little smoke and what does emanate from the stove dissipates a couple of feet above the ground. The visible effect of the secondary combustion airflow is to concentrate the flame as it flows through the opening at the bottom of the pot support. With the fir allowed to burn without a cook pot in place, there is a satisfyingly hypnotic flame flickering 12″ high when there’s a full load of wood burning. That’s bright enough too bathe a campsite in a circle of appealing and useful amber light.
The first time I saw truck-bed liner as the interior finish of a pulling boat was while reviewing Sam Devlin’s Duckling for Small Boats Monthly. Thick for durability and textured for traction, it immediately made sense to me. I grilled Sam about where to find the thick coating, how to apply it, how long it lasts, and if there were any fading or chalking issues with the product he used. I row year-round in the San Juan and Gulf Islands, where long hours of exposure to the summer sun and gravelly and sandy beaches mean my boats get hard, grinding use. The bed liner won’t stop an errant, sharp knife point from puncturing it, but it will handle anchors and anchor chain, the bottoms of coolers transferred from a sandy beach, and gravel stuck on the bottom of rubber boots.
Woodworking raises a lot of dust. I have a collection system hooked up to the machines that create the most dust, but many times I can avoid creating so much dust in the first place by using a scraper instead of sandpaper. If the scraper blade is sharp and burnished to a curl, it will create crepe-like shavings and very little dust.
“A leaky boat never sinks,” or at least that is what my father led me to believe when he kept a 27′ carvel-planked sloop at my hometown’s marina. If you know a boat’s likely to take on a bit of water, you’re going to keep an eye on it and be prepared to do something about the leaks. If you’ve been lulled into complacency by a boat that doesn’t leak, a little unexpected trickle of water could lead to a sinking.
The worst of the winter storms here in Seattle produce some very good wood for salvage. High winds drop a lot of limbs from my neighborhood’s hardwood trees and wind-whipped waves bring fresh driftwood to the local Puget Sound beaches. City crews often cut locust, cherry, and alder windfalls into short lengths and leave the wood…
Back in the ’70s, I used to make some of my own raingear, at first using coated nylon, then switching to Gore-Tex when it was introduced in the last half of that decade. The early versions of the waterproof, breathable fabric didn’t keep me dry in a prolonged downpour, so I often wore…
In small boats, space is limited so it’s important to have good ways to stow gear. Many of today’s open boats have buoyancy chambers that can double as watertight storage space, but it can be awkward to stuff gear through small hatches and even more awkward to pull it out. Compartments at the ends of the boat . . .
One morning, several years ago, I looked out the shop window to see a vibrant, bright green Friendship sloop sitting at the dock. The contrast between it and the sea of white yachts surrounding it was so dramatic that I couldn’t help but introduce myself to the owner…
For years I’ve carried a succession of inexpensive, 5-gallon flexible plastic water containers aboard my boats. They nestle nicely wherever I stow them, and I can head out knowing I have drinking water aboard whenever I take off for a row. The ones I’ve been using were showing their age, and on my to-do list . . .