Tuesday, December 14, 2004

My First Taste of Africa

The White Nile Completely Rocks!
I had an amazing time. The river is even better than I expected.
There are awesome rapids, fantastic playspots, and the whole time
you only need to wear a rash guard. The people are also really happy and
helpful. I loved hearing the regular call of, "Muzungu, How are you?"
Which means, white man, how are you? Atleast thats what someone told
me. It may mean are you tender and juicy or something.

Here is a link to a short video. The rapid is, The Hump, the first wave is Malalu and the rest of the wave shots are Nile Special.

I went down to check out the first production Vision along with
Marlow Long, and Patrick Camblin and to see what all the talk was about
as far as the White Nile is concerned.

The first thing you notice when you drive into the put in area is how big the damn
river is and the first rapid they are going to take you down is "the Hump" and it looks like a
giant slide into a huge hole and it sort of is but its Nile easy. You pretty much always come
out the bottom.

The river is big I don't know something like 70,000- 100,000 cfs. It is damn controlled
and runs that flow most of the time I guess. It is a drop pool river that has tons of islands in it that split the flow into different
rapids. So at any point where there is a loss of gradient or a drop there are usually several rapids on different sides of these
islands. Some channels are huge like the Dries of the New, and some are small creek lines.
I paddled the channels for several days and could have easily paddled different lines all day.
The top set of channels seemed to be the most numerous with tons of different options and one of the lower set of channels contained the "Triple Crown".
Kalagala Falls, Itanda, and Hypoxia
Which are 3 of the largest rapids on the river all on one set of channels.

The area is super lush and overgrown except where people have hacked out a place to put there huts.
This is actually one of the scariest things about this river. When you get to the bank there really isn't anywhere
you want to go. You don't reach shore first you reach overhanging branches and vines which you are fairly certain are full of
snakes, bats, and giant Monitor lizards. I am pretty sure that scouting was just as scary as some of the rapids.

The Nile is full of fish, and bird life in most of the videos segments I have there are always birds flying in and out of the shots.
The locals are out in their boats fishing and farming the islands all day, and the kids swim and play when they aren't working.

It was a very easy place to paddle. The shuttles for the upper runs are known very well by the local Boda Boda drivers (motorcycle taxis).

There is camping, bungalows, and a couple bar and restaraunts at the put-in. The Nile River Expedition Bar is exciting most nights
during the week because overland tourist trucks are camping nearby and they party hard.
The lower waves are set up nicely as well by the Hairy Lemon Camp.
The name is a little suspicious but the spot is heavenly. The Hairy Lemon Camp is a full service camp on an island in the middle of the river.
There is camping, bungalows, three meals a day if you want them, showers, and a bar, but the best part is the 10 minute paddle up to Nile Special
which is a wave on par with the Dries of the New, and a 45 minute paddle down to Malalu which is more like an ocean wave than a river wave, both are fantastic.

You can look up more about the river and set up a trip at...
Click Here
Jamie runs the show at Kayak the Nile and he can set up anything you need to kayak on the Nile.
Yes anything.

There is much more video and photos on the way.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Finished Work on the Visions

I just finished working on the new playboats... The Visions 44 and 56.
Here is a link to a one minute time lapse of the process of designing a boat
from start to finish.

They will be in stores in time to be a great Christmas present for someone.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Prototyping the Visions

So I have been working on the Visions for the past 7 months. The first version was taken to France for the Lyon River Festival
but we were keeping it quiet during that event. Didn't let it out of the bag until everyone had gone home.

I fell in love with the first proto right away. Lots of speed good blunts and loose and all that but the rail was definitely what
was amazing. I had been thinking about the rails for a long time but hadn't really connected with how we would be able to
make the boat paddle easily but have an aggressive rail. So in the first proto I just tried tucking it under but keeping it progressive and the first ride on the wave I felt pretty sure that I was onto the right thing.

I have been through 4 seperate prototype molds with several iterations on each proto. The Second proto I took to Hell Hole on the Ocoee (for loops), Big Rocks on the Nolichucky (for cartwheeling), and up to the Ottawa River (for all kinds of features). All kinds of different spots were in on the Ottawa like, Corner Wave, Right Side of McCoys, Baby Face, Garburator, Push Button, and this sick little loop hole above McCoys. So really the Ottawa gave me a bunch of great feedback. Thats why you see so much footage on the boat from there right now.

I wanted to make a boat that could play anywhere, big features, little features, or just get you down the river. One the coolest things that I found through the testing was that I could do clean blunts SO much better. I had maybe done 20 clean blunts
ever, and I did close to 20 my first day in the number 2 proto of the Vision. The number three prototype mostly stayed around here making sure that it worked in the smaller features and getting all the outfitting and comfort things right for
this boat.

I sent the boat away to the mold maker the other day and it will be back the middle of November. So we will start making Visions then and shipping in December. I can't wait. If all goes well I will make a couple boats and fly to Africa for my first taste of the production Vision on the White Nile in Uganda. I have tasted enough sanding dust to suit me for a while.
Time to go boating.

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