Friday, February 24, 2012

TRAK Files Episode 2

I am proud to have the second episode in the series I am filming and Producing for TRAK Kayaks out.
Check it out below and stay tuned for more soon! the series will build up in Technical aspects and challenges for the boat, allowing us to fully learn about its abilities and flaws.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

STANDARD HORIZON HX851 Floating Handheld VHF/GPS Radio

Check out this, It must be the Ultimate VHF Radio .GPS, VHF,  Glow in the Dark, Built in Strobe Light, GPS Messenger. wow


The advanced HX851 floating handheld VHF/GPS includes a 12-channel GPS receiver allowing you to transmit a DSC distress message, report your position or send calls with your coordinates, perfect for everyday use or adding to your ditch bag. The workhorse HX851 includes 6W of transmit power, a die-cast chassis that’s ergonomically shaped with rubberized armor for a non-slip grip. A luminescent glow-in-the-dark gasket helps you find your radio at night.

GPS capabilities include waypoint entering (store up to 200 waypoints), navigation to a waypoint, DSC (Digital Selective Calling) functions including: Position Request and Position Report and navigation to a DSC position. Full dot matrix display with channel names, Radio/Position, Radio/SOG/COG, waypoint navigation and compass displays. Volume & Squelch indication on display, NMEA 0183 output on cradle, water-activated SOS strobe light, preset key with 10 channel storage, NOAA Weather with alert and a submersible speaker microphone jack for connecting optional accessories. 12V and 110V chargers included. Three-year waterproof warranty.


  • Material: Polycarbonate housing, die-cast chassis
  • Controls: 10-button keypad
  • Scanning Modes: Programmable scan, programmable priority scan, dual watch
  • Weather Alert: Yes
  • Transmit Power: 6/5/2.5/1W
  • Receiver Performance: Sensitivity: 0.25┬ÁV; Rejection: 70dB
  • Battery Type: Li-ion 1150mAh
  • Battery Life: 7 hours +
  • Waterproof: Floating, rated IPX7 submersible
  • Dimensions: 2.5"W x 5.6"H x 1.8"D
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Screen Size: 1.6"W x 0.9"H
  • Weight: 11.5oz.
  • Included Equipment: AC/DC chargers, charging cradle, antenna, belt clip
  • DSC: SC-101 Digital Selective Calling
  • GPS Receiver: 12-channel, Time to Fix: cold start 50 seconds
  • NMEA Output: NMEA 0183 output on cradle
  • Waypoints: Waypoint entry (200 waypoints), Navigate to waypoint, Navigate to DSC Position Request call
  • Warranty: Three-year waterproof; $65 flat rate

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Week In Santa Catalina

Santa Catalina. Jan 15th – ish!


"The weekend is now over, with the last of the weekend warriors headed back home to Santiago and the surrounding areas, leaving Santa Catalina a sleepy beach town once again. For two days, cars full of youth and of young families would line the shoreline, bringing surfboards or boogie boards, some with lawn chairs and toys for the kids to spend the day playing in the waves. Others though, the flash young adults of the big city would stay behind at their cars, open all the doors, the boot, the hood even! and have a tailgate party, attempting to win over their neighbour by playing their terrible reggaeton noise louder than the next. All day for 2 days did we hear nothing but this cheesy obnoxious music. (I like to think of it as the Latino version of Bollywood music but even then I think I like Bollywood better) They would drink their beers, and stand around looking for people to admire them."

"Santa Catalina has no ATM’s, no grocery shops...the only amenities consist of restaurants, hostels, a few dive centers, plenty of surf rentals, (mostly attached to the various accommodation or restaurants) a police station outfitted only with ATV’s, one lawyer, a small school, and a teeny little library. But no groceries. There is one poor excuse for a corner store that sells a few cans of sardines and packs of rice, with a fridge stocked of a handful of juices and single serve tetra packs of milk. I’m not really sure what the point is of them existing to be honest. There is one lodging that is owned by an American couple that offers massage and yoga a few times a week." Other than that, this is a sleepy laid back "tranquilo" town, just how everyone who lives here loves it!

- Allie -

©JaimeSharp-8157The Beach Here is Stunning Called "Playa Estero" ( Estuary Beach in English) as it has a little estuary mouth right at the start of it! Here there is a wonderful forgiving beach break, great for beginner surfers and long boarders, though when the surf picks up it is awesome for advanced surfers too. there is a small rock reef in the middle which makes a wonderful left hand break, great for Goofy footers like me (people who stand right foot forward). Around the point from "Estero" is the famous ©JaimeSharp-07638Wave Break of " La Punta" (The Point) touted as the best point break in Central America. This little Town is a surf paradise, however the coastline is scattered with little coves and islands so the possibilities for exploring by sea kayak are also endless. What brings me here; apart from being able to Surf in the mornings and evenings and work on my computer doing film editing and graphics work for TRAK Kayaks in the afternoons, is Isla De Coiba.

Coiba location

Isla De Coiba (Coiba Island) is a National Park, the center of one of the world’s largest marine parks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Until 2004, Coiba was also home to a penal colony. The park itself, founded in 1991, is made up of 38 different islands and is home to the 2nd largest coral reef in the eastern Pacific. Coiba is the largest island in Central America (50,314 hectares) and the marine park covers 430,821 hectares. The marine life is incredible in the park. There are orcas, dolphins, humpback whales, sea turtles, huge manta rays, tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks and much more! The beaches are nesting grounds for sea turtles, and the island itself is home to at least 36 species of mammals and 150 species of birds.

Coiba Island also home to several species of monkeys, crocodiles, andGuard house and cell-block, la Central, Coiba Island, 1956 has one of the last concentrations of scarlet macaws in Panama and Central America. Around 80% of the island is still pristine rain forest. The presence of the penal colony ("1919 -2004 the prison on Coiba was a feared place with a reputation for brutal conditions, extreme tortures, executions and political murder. Nobody knows exactly how many people were killed in the prison during this period, but sources claim that the number could be close to three hundred. As such, the island was avoided by locals" Wikipedia) coupled with the fact that it takes a 2 hour motor boat ride to get to the island, means that the park and Coiba itself are largely untouched. The main Mission for us is to attempt to Circumnavigate Isla De Coiba.

Until then we Enjoy our ocean side camp site at Surf point Hostel ($5 pp a night for camping), I love waking up to the surf right out my door and grabbing my board. A hop skip and a jump and I am riding sweet warm waves in the morning Golden light or fiery sunset glow.


- Jaime -

"Our spot at Surf Point is absolutely perfect, being 5 steps down to the sandy beach, perfect for the mornings to wake up and head straight for the waves or to a shady spot for some yoga. However, there are no kitchen facilities here, but a wonderful restaurant called Mama Ines. The whole place is run by a Panamanian family of 4 brothers and their sister who is married to a Frenchman named Yann. He’s the one we deal with mostly, as he runs the front of house serving our meals, keeps track of rent and can speak the broken English needed for those travelers who don’t yet have a handle of their Spanish. I love it because I can speak French with him, and his English is pretty limited so we find ourselves using a great mix of French & Spanish."




"We awoke this morning with the sun at about 9am maybe? Blazing hot in the tent regardless. There were barely a handful of people out surfing yet which was my first clue to the weekend being over. My skin needed a break from the sun today so instead of our morning session in the waves, we spent it in the shade practicing yoga, as a group of tourists on horseback passed us by, surfers headed off in the distance. It was heating up to a grossly hot day."




©JaimeSharp-3357"The best part of the day was heading out for a sunset surf, water still warm, our faces aglow with hues of pink and purple. We were the last out of the water by a long shot, the hunger in our bellies finally drawing us out (in the dark of night) and Pulling us in for dinner on the balcony overlooking the beach. A barefoot after-dinner walk meandering the quiet road into town under a black night sky, watching for shooting stars and enjoying the peace and quiet of the night....well, it’s exactly as I hoped for when dreaming of these nights back in Vancouver. "

- Allie -

Monday, February 6, 2012

Arrival in Santa Catalina

After a rough bus ride and a feisty barter with the flat deck taxi driver ( he wanted to charge $50 to Santa Catalina) due to no more Buses that night. We eventually settled on $35 though Allie wasn’t totally happy with that. With the Back fully loaded with TRAK Folding kayaks and bags we where off to Santa Catalina.
Here is Allie’s point of view on arriving.   
- J -

Panama to Santa Catalina_thumb[1] 
“Um Paradise? Hi, lovely to meet you, name’s Allie, I think we’re gonna be best friends. Ok?” (Hmm, strikingly similar to how my best friend Bree and I met years ago, pretty sure it’s the exact same conversation we had. It sure turned out alright eh Bree?!)

Allie putting up a fight for a better fare.
We are Loaded (yes, capital L loaded) down with gear. These folding kayaks are heavy business, thank god they’re on wheels! We pull into Santa Catalina in the dark, and already the vibe is laaiid back mon. Barefoot, surfboard-toting locals and gringos alike, pedestrians and bikes roam the roads, the air is smelling oh so sweet. We find a lodging right on the beach that offers a spot to pitch our tent. I can barely see our surroundings save for the twinkling lights in the trees, but I don’t need to - the surf below the ledge we’re on is loud and tells me enough to know I love where we’ve landed! The crickets might be louder though, I’m not sure. I’ve got a $@!# eating grin on my face and I squeal as excitedly and quietly as I can so as not to wake up the neighbouring tent. I’m in paradise.
Our first morning we rise with the sun, in a full screen tent with no fly, open to the light and warm breeze. to a hammock, this is best way to wake up. I notice the surf is waaay out now, I can still smell the smoldering of last night’s bonfire down the beach, and a young palm frond grows in the grass right next to my face. I take a deep inhale....stretch my limbs....curl up and go right back to sleep. There’s all the time in the world today and I’m in no rush to get anywhere. When I do finally wake up, I take a good morning yoga stretch and look out to the water where I see Jaime playing and doing handstands on the beach. Yes! Let’s go! I grab my bikini, and head out to meet him where we spend the next 3 hours playing in the waves next to the surfers and other body surfers. Amazing. I let out a few good squeals left from the night before, and a few newly refreshed this morning. I look back at the beach where a line of perfect palm trees are backed by small slopes of lush greenery, little cabanas painted bright pink, green, blue, and purple rest in the shade. I squeeze my fists so hard in excitement throwing my arms in the air and fall back splashing in ecstasy.

©JaimeSharp-3338Welcome to the next few months of my life in Santa Catalina.
Time for a siesta in the hammock while the reggae plays in the surrounding yard, and some light work in the afternoon doing editing on the computers then exploring the town on bike. To the good life!
- Allie -

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tracking Down Our Second TRAK Kayak


Jan 11th - 13th©JaimeSharp-07609

The rest of our time in the city was spent taxi-ing back and forth between old town and downtown, barely taking any real deep breaths of clean air (cough hack cough!), finding one tropical park for a moment of respite, taking cold showers in the land of one-tap showers, (I love even when there’s two taps you know you’re not getting any hot water) searching out the forgotten gear for our camera equipment and computers, (what a headache) finding a decent English speaking dentist for Jaime and tracking down the second TRAK kayak at the FedEx office.

- A -


I have a cracked root canal and cavity, the dentists in panama are a wonderful cheap and well trained option for the world traveler. $50us gets you a filling and $500 gets you a high end tooth cap. I will talk more about this adventure later when I find the time to go through with it. For now I just had a really good tooth cleaning for $25us.


IMG_3028Now it is time to pick up the Other TRAK, I had flown via Belize with one TRAK Kayak, it had cost me $200 dollars to get it to Belize (for $10 more i got a first class set, so that was a given). From Belize to Panama no one even flinched at the Large bag even though it was slightly over the 70lb allowance for Taca. The Other TRAK kayak had been posted from Canada for a little bit less money, when we eventually found the Fed Ex station the boat was waiting in its box, IMG_3005I signed for it and then we unpacked it. getting a Taxi from there to the bus station proved tricky with two large Golf bags and our Backpacks. We ended up making Friends with a Venezuelan political outcast who now runs a restaurant ("Finca" with the best fruit Shakes) next to the FedEx station. Our new friend told us her interesting story of not agreeing with the politics in Venezuela thus was forced from her government job and the country to Panama. In the meantime she had called her friend, also from Venezuela, who took us for $10 to our Bus in her thankfully large trunk car! - J -

Now - it’s on the bus and off to Santa Catalina via Santiago and Sona, About a half day trip. Beaches, Surf, Sun and sand along with small town living, here we come!!

- A 'n' J -