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SUP Langkawi - Daniel Wynn

Paddling solo and unsupported 110 miles in 10 days in soaring temperatures and monsoon rains. That’s the challenge amateur paddler Dan Wynn from Pembrokeshire set himself in November 2017, paddleboarding around the Langkawi Island archipelago, 30km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia.

With a love for the ocean, and the unique sense of solace and contentment you get when afloat on a SUP, Dan and his second hand Red Paddle Co iSUP set off into the unknown. Despite having little long distance paddling experience, Dan’s desire to explore, do something no one else had ever done before, as well as experience real Robinson Crusoe style-camping was enough to put his plan into action and complete his challenge. Dan shares his exciting trip with SUPboarder and offers some top tips if you’re planning a similar adventure paddle…

The time had come to push off from the golden sands of Langkawi and into the deep blue sea. Before embarking on my expedition, a million questions were racing around my head… Had I packed the right gear? Would my second-hand inflatable stand-up paddleboard (iSUP) be up to the task? Would I be up to the task? If doubt was raised in any of my answers, it would be a perfectly valid and acceptable reason to call off the expedition.

“Many a doubt was raised – but my heart screamed only to float off, so float off into the sunset I did.”

10 days later I returned to the same point at 9pm under the cover of darkness. A curious local shone his scooter headlight onto the beach illuminating me firmly in the spotlight. He might have been helping me land in the dark, but I believe it was more fuelled out of disbelief. His deep curiosity was matched only by my intense relief at finishing my journey.

“110 miles paddled in 10 days.”

An amateur paddler from Pembrokeshire with no previous experience of multi-day SUP trips nor camping in tropical conditions had set off into the unknown; in the process successfully becoming the first-person to circumnavigate the Langkawi Island archipelago by human power alone. My route took me around the outer edge of the entire archipelago encircling all 104 islands and involved camping on uninhabited, remote islands whilst braving tropical storms, monsoon rains, temperatures of 34oC, dehydration and heat stroke.

Langkawi, often called the ‘Jewel of Kedah’, is an archipelago of 104 islands off the east coast of Malaysia near the border with Thailand. It is designated as a UNESCO ‘GeoPark’ and has 3 large rainforest reserves. These reserves have towering, steep-sided mountain peaks standing like battlements over dense rainforest rumoured to be a stronghold of the illusive Clouded Leopard. These reserves create a mosaic on the land forcing the majority of human development to the south of the main island, Palau Langkawi. The result is large areas of the coastline are truly wild as the rainforest meets the sea in a dense, impermeable wall – no phone signal, no access and so no rescue possible.

My choice of Langkawi was fuelled by a desire to experience real Robinson Crusoe style-camping on deserted, isolated islands. Only 4 of the 104 islands are inhabited in this archipelago with the majority living on Palau Langkawi. I wanted breath-taking scenery, beautiful wildlife and an experience like no other – in this respect Langkawi did not disappoint. I desired to see the untamed, wilder side of this destination which is rapidly becoming a tourist favourite.
Yvon Chouinard offers the following definition of adventure which I have paraphrased…

“When everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts!”

By this definition my trip was certainly an adventure. It didn’t all go to plan. I discovered the perils of SUP in monsoon season; as mid-way through my trip I camped in a tropical storm with driving rain, lightning and wind speeds of 40mph. My hammock was destroyed along with my tarpaulin – the only piece of material that protected me from the rain. That night I lashed my SUP and belongings to a tree, put on my waterproofs, curled up in the foetal position on the sand and waited for the sun to rise. There was nothing else I could do. I was cold, wet and hungry. I awoke to find a hermit crab pulling the toggle of my coat after barely managing 1 hours sleep.
The monsoon rains operated like clockwork bringing strong winds and rain almost as soon as the sun had set. This heavy rain could last for anywhere between 4-6 hours. Many nights thereafter I slept on the sand under my iSUP offering myself as food to the mosquitos. Suffice to say as the trip went on, my lack of sleep became an issue.

A friend recently gave me the definition of something called Type 2 Fun, which was “fun in retrospect, hateful at the time”. My trip was certainly hateful at times but it would be completely unjust to say it wasn’t fun also!

The daytimes yielded paradisiacal paddling conditions. Mirror-calm waters, clear skies, blazing sunshine and beautiful coral reefs blurred beneath the crystal clear seas. At times the scenery was reminiscent of a certain ‘Lost World’ minus the large reptiles. Dolphins regularly kept me company on my island crossings and Sea Otters could be seen walking along deserted beaches. Brahminy Kite and Sea Eagles would glare down at me from their lofty perches, skeletal branches overhanging sheer vertical cliffs, watching with what appeared to be mild disdain as I paddled past. They reminded me of the jury in a court of law and I was the defendant.

Some of my favourite memories were of exploring the vibrant mangrove swamps. I never encountered another person in my explorations of these living waterways. Jellyfish would emerge like phantoms from the murky green water. Shore crabs would skitter along the mud embankments – the silent watchers. Shoals of fish would leap clear of my board as I passed. The air was rich with the smell of damp organic decay. The only noises were ‘popping’ sounds as gas escaped the mud and distant ‘cracking’ as trees shifted or bent out of shape. The sun was barely visible through the canopy, such had the trees grown it was like paddling through a living tunnel. The colours were mind-blowing, every shade of green and gold imaginable, so bright and vivid it reminded me of an artist’s paint palette. It was an exciting, secret world seemingly reserved just for my personal viewing pleasure. I never felt more like an invader on the whole trip then in these moments.

This adventure was an eye-opener for me as it revealed the opportunities that SUP presents. Put simply…

“SUP is a one way ticket to adventure.”

When I bought my ex-rental inflatable Red Paddle Co paddleboard over 3 years ago, I saw new avenues of discovery and experience. It represented a new way to travel the world and challenge myself.

Many who read this may be thinking to themselves, “sure that’s well and good but I bet it was expensive”. I cannot stress enough that I did not spend a fortune on this trip, as with many trips the flight was the most expensive purchase. Including flights, in total the trip cost no more than £750. I used salvaged ghost netting to secure my gear to the deck. I recycled old containers/bottles to store my water. I used a simple camping stove to cook on. My hammock was second-hand off Amazon and I used plastic tarpaulin found in most builders’ yards to keep the rain off – in fact I got it from a builder’s yard! With a little creativity and resolve, you can salvage much of what you need and make anything fit for purpose. My extra gear totalled about 9kg on top of the weight of the board meaning I was paddling approximately 24kg.
I have a 10’6” Red Paddle Co iSUP, a beginner/intermediate level board and by no means a specialist expedition board. However its flexibility and transportability were essential in achieving this record. I could simply pack the board away in its travel case, protect it with extra padding and check it in as normal hold luggage. It wasn’t the perfect exploration board, but I didn’t let that stop me. It was more than up to the task – in truth, it coped with the challenge better than I did. Aside from a few scratches on the underside, it took everything a tropical paradise could throw at it from big swell to strong winds, extreme heat, rip tides and sharp coral reefs.

The only obstacle to any of you reading this from doing your own SUP expedition is the little voice inside your head telling you it’s a bad idea.

“Do what I did… shut that voice down, throw yourself into planning the trip and book that plane ticket!”

Below are some of my top tips to help get you started.

Research your route thoroughly noting potential haul-out/camping spots. These locations are your lifeline and escape points in bad weather.
Use Google Maps to plot known water courses. In hot conditions, water is essential. I drank 4l/day – knowing where to refill your bottles is a real game changer.
Never underestimate how much water you need. Take water filters, back-up filters, purification tablets and more containers than you think necessary.
• Take time before your departure to talk with the local community. I had 2 days dedicated to learning local knowledge.
Take midday siestas to dodge the heat – paddling all day in 34oC is unbearably hot and a sure way to get heat stroke.
Wear the appropriate protective equipment and exercise basic water safety, i.e. carry flares, radio, torch, whistle and PFD.
Respect the ocean and learn as much as you can about local tides and weather patterns. In particular, keep a written note of tides times for all the days of your trip. Don’t rely on memory or phone signal.
Choose your equipment carefully. What to take with you is really a personal choice. But here are a few pieces of essential kit I could not have done without:
– Free Soldier Hammock with an inbuilt mosquito net. A wonderful hammock; it was comfortable and easy to assemble. Downside it does not come with an inbuilt fly-sheet – in retrospect I would opt for one that does.
– Survivor Filter Pro-Le Water Purifier – a fantastic piece of equipment that included a nanofilter, carbon filter and ultra-filter assembly. It is a small, portable hand-pump that easily filtered murky water rendering it drinkable. I added Oasis purification tablets after filtration just to be sure.
– Garmin eTrex 30x – great handheld GPS unit that comes with the option to buy additional base maps. I found it be very accurate, always locked onto satellites no problem and had a good battery life.
– Golden Fuji Gas Stove – small and portable gas stove. I actually bought this in Malaysia and it was excellent, even surviving a brief inundation when the tide caught me out.
Take lots of dry bags – water and sand get everywhere!

Words & photos – Dan Wynn.

SUP Langkawi - Daniel Wynn

(Don’t worry Dan didn’t paddle all the way with his paddle backwards! It was a rushed posed shot!)

Well done Dan. A great achievement. No doubt this won’t be the last of your big SUP adventures! We look forward to hearing what you’re planning next!

What SUP expeditions are you planning in 2018? And do you have any top adventure paddling tips you’d like to share? Get in touch at info@supboardermag.com or comment below. 

Single use plastic is damaging our environment and harming wildlife. Sian from Psyched Paddleboarding in Wales explains what everyone can do to help and how making small adjustments in your every day life will make a huge difference.

So… next time you go shopping, think about what you’re buying. And next time you see some plastic floating in the water, don’t just paddle past it, pick it up. If we all do our little bit we can make a big difference.

SIC ambassador, Will Schmidt, released the trailer of his upcoming documentary, ‘Through My Eyes’.
In May of 2014, Will successfully attempted what is now historically the first and only solo and largely unassisted stand up paddle of the Pacific Coast of the United States from Canada to Mexico. Armed with an assortment of video, global positioning, and audio equipment, he was able to document this extraordinary journey that is told through his own eyes.

We can’t wait to see the full documentary.

Himalayan SUP - WSA

Friendly locals, stunning scenery and great paddling opportunities makes Nepal the perfect SUP destination for the more adventurous paddler. In 2018 The ‘Water Skills Academy’ will be organising guided trips to Nepal, so you can enjoy the SUPing whilst they sort out the logistics! Want to find out more? Read on… 

Mention Nepal and the mind conjures up images of high snow-covered peaks, Sherpa’s and climbers in down suits. Or if you are a little older, it may take you back to the hippy trail and wild stories of happy times in Kathmandu. On the other hand, a paddler may dream of multi day white water trips in seriously remote areas. For years the rivers of Nepal have been a focus for the white water kayaker or rafter, a playground for kayakers challenging themselves against some of the worlds best white water. Taking an eye off the white water, Nepal has some flat water offering multi day SUP adventures.

This year, Live the Adventure Co, Himalayan specialists and the Water Skills Academy ran a Nepalese first. Whilst not a first decent the Kali Gandaki offers in its lower regions, 6 days of easy grade water, with one section of white water. This river description has deterred many paddlers but for a SUP decent a perfect fit. The Kali Gandaki rises near the Tibetan border and flows to the Ganges cutting its way through deep gorges and jungle corridors. Paddling in Nepal we learn that the rivers change every year as the monsoon, which fills the rivers with its continuous rain in summer, can change a river dramatically.

Arriving in Kathmandu, late October the team assembled in Thamel, a fun vibrant tourist area with its bars, cafes and guesthouses. After a fun evening the team of paddlers from the UK Canada and Nepal flew to Pokhara west of Kathmandu. Flying to Pokhara is the best option to save time. The road between the two areas is a rough ride and can take 6 hours at best, or a lot worse. Pokhara sits below the Annapurna on the bank of Phewa Lake. It has a slower pace than hectic Kathmandu and is the gateway to some of Nepal’s great river systems. Last minute preparations and the team boarded the bus for a scenic drive to the put in. The put in is below a small town of Ramdi and alongside a grade 2 plus rapid, easily portageable. With our gear loaded on the raft supporting us for the river journey we pushed off and paddled downstream into the wilderness.

A river journey is special, each day waking to the unknown of what the day will bring.

On many rivers kayaks and rafts have become a regular sight by local villagers, however the lower Kali Gandaki has seen very little river traffic and definitely no Stand Up Paddleboards.

Travelling for 6 days we were treated to white beaches to camp on, fantastic food and friendly locals. River days start with an early morning tea and breakfast, breaking camp once the sun has dried the dew from the tents and tarps. Each day paddling several hours before pulling over onto a deserted beach for lunch. Each day around 3pm we waited for the best beach to camp as we floated past. Unloading the raft each afternoon, tarps erected and kitchen set up. Tea and popcorn as an early evening snack before an amazing feast and fireside stories.

Each night we were treated to insect songs from the forest, stars and fireflies. Days were warm under the Himalayan sun with the continual flow of the river. Research and planning had confirmed an easy float trip however changes to the river had made each day more challenging than anticipated. The flow was steady however following a long and heavy monsoon we were surprised by the number of grade 2 rapids faced daily. Whilst these would be no issue for a raft or kayak, SUPs are a challenging craft.

Each day bought new experiences on and off the water… amazing paddling, laughter, stories and friendly locals.

All too soon our get out was in sight, boards and raft deflated we were back on the bus for a challenging journey back to Pokhara and a last paddle on Phewa lake.

Words – WSA

This river journey is suitable for the adventurous SUPer with a good level of experience, happy to be on and in the water.
Places for April and November 2018 trip available.
To find out more and join the team in 2018 get in touch – travel@livetheadventure.co or info@waterskillsacademy.com

 

Ben Fisher's full on SUP Challenge... Celtic crossing 'bandit run'!

SUP challenges take place all over the world, from local lake challenges to open water paddle challenges (and everything inbetween!) There are some amazing events out there to get your SUP challenge juices flowing. But what happens when the weather doesn’t play ball with the event date or injury prevents you from taking on your dream challenge? Well… you could sit back and wait for next years event hoping the same doesn’t happen. Or… you could just get on with it and take on a ‘Bandit run’! 

We hear from Naish paddler Ben Fisher after he decided to do just that – make it happen instead of waiting for it to possibly happen. After the 2017 Celtic Crossing was cancelled earlier this year due to unsuitable weather conditions on the dates set, instead of waiting until next years event Ben decided to find another weather window and take on the 32mile, downwind, open sea crossing solo! Paddling from the Isles of Scilly (an archipelago off the Cornish coast), back to the southwest of England with just a support boat behind and a lot of choppy water ahead, Ben knew it was going to be tough! Just because you are in control of dates and times doesn’t make the SUP challenge any easier.  Before you get to the finish you’ve got to get to the start line!…

Having pulled out of last year’s event due to a knee injury, my main goal of this year was to complete the Celtic Crossing. Originally planned for September, then bumped until October and subsequently canned because of storm Brian, my persistence persuaded Glen Eldridge (from Ocean Sport Centre) and the event organiser to escort me on a late season attempt if both tide and weather were favourable. Mid November was the very latest we could attempt the crossing due to water temperature and daylight hours. Initially planned for the Monday the 13th November, weather then turned unfavourable (light wind but a swell from the north). On Sunday afternoon Glen gave the call to attempt a solo crossing on Tuesday 14th November.

Having thought the event would be binned off entirely until May next year, I had not been prepping for the challenge ahead. Luckily, I had left most of my gear box ready to go after the initial planned event two month previous, however, I had not started to get myself into the right mind space or thought much about the physical prep (hydrating and eating a lot of food). Sunday evening after running around like a mad man I grouped together all of remaining kit; doubling up on the paddle boarding kit in the most part in case I had any failures, wet weather gear for the transit out there and in case of an incident where I need to be extracted from the water, along with a mish match of gels and energy food and any other potential useful stuff, amounting to a fairly hefty pile of kit.

I went to work all day Monday, post work I popped into Reactive Water Sports to pick up a board bag, then to the super market to get ‘fuel’ for pre and post crossing; bananas, pasta, porridge, flap jack, nuts and scotch eggs. Getting home it was a manic couple of hour checking and double checking I had all the kit, making oat mixes for breakfast and cooking up pasta to eat on the go. Finally setting off to St Ives, where I had a couple of hours kip in the van.

Tuesday morning, I woke to my alarm clock at 0500 hours, I had half an hour or so before the planned rendezvous with my escort crew Glen and Johnny. I wolfed down my first tub of soggy oats and got all my kit (paddle board, paddles, dry bag and a boxes worth of ‘stuff’) onto the beach. We had the boat loaded and stowed by around 0630 and got under way to the Scilly Isles, approximately 45Nm trip on a 7m RIB, in the dark against a 15-20mph wind and head sea, progress was slow. 1 hour in and progress was not good covering less than 10 Nm, at this point it was looking doubtful we would make it out to the Scillies at all (ETA at current speed 11:00am). As we made it into the deeper open water away from the turbulent water of the Cornish coast, conditions got better but progress was still not great, all three of us took a beating from the slamming as the boat came off the top of short confused swell. Any chance of pre-race energy loading/ fuelling at this point was out of the question as both hands were needed to brace against the motions of the boat. I had already jettisoned a banana I had in my pocket as it had reverted to mush. Glen did a great job at steering through the confused sea state throttling on and throttling off, this was a constant pay off between time (tide and day light to complete a 6-hour passage) and between us and the boat making it to the Scillies in one piece. Passing the Seven Stone Light Ship conditions started to get better and we started making ok progress, finally making it to the lee of the Scillies the sea state dropped, and the RIB was able to punch through the half foot of chop at 30knts. We finally made it to Hugh Town quay in St Mary at 09:50am – for the best tide I would have liked to have left by 09:00am. I can safely say the trip out to the Scillies was not the best way to prepare for a 6 hour paddle on open water, thinking my back and arms had already had an intensive work out, I had 30 minutes to get myself and kit ready.

The next half an hour was spent fuelling up (both me and the boat) getting equipment ready and getting myself in to the right state of mind. Having set up my hydration pack up on Monday evening, the bladder had burst on the way out, meaning I resorted to a spare smaller bladder and using the pre-mixed electrolytes I had in reserve on the boat.

My board of choice was the 14ft x 24inch 2017 NAISH MALIKO.

I reinstated the fin and stuck a compass to the deck, put on my wetsuit and booties (a lot of thought went into what to wear – a wetsuit you get very hot but if you fall in having some neoprene will help keep off the cold, and judging by what we spent 3:1/2 hours driving into I didn’t back myself not to fall in, I choose a 2mm short sleeve wetsuit) and I was ready to go.

We started just after 10:30am, the official start line for the Celtic Crossing is the end of the harbour wall in Hugh Town. The first 400m or so was cross swell and wind, this was a quick wakeup call as to the physical challenge which was about to come. Having got into the main channel I could turn to an East-North-East heading of around 69 degrees which was a run line back to Sennen, this first part of the paddle I flew with shin high chop and a fresh breeze channelling down the Scilly Isles archipelago. I was making good speed, averaging between 6 and 7mph (5-hour crossing).

Beyond the rocky outcrops of the Scillies I stared to pick up a northerly swell rapping around the island. This developed in to the dominant ground swell direction, the same swell we experienced on the trip out an hour or so earlier. Progressing further and getting a few miles clear of the shelter of the Scillies a more south westerly wind swell kicked in, there were some small bumps to be had, but it was hard going.

It was around the two-hour mark where I took my first dip.

Refreshing but annoyed with myself for going in so early on in the crossing (at this point this is where the mental game kicked it, there is the potential for moral to drop and start falling every couple of minutes).

A couple more hours, a couple more dips, bumps were hard to line up because of the confused swell which I am assured is normal for the location. This made for hard work for balancing, with core muscles working overtime and dropping strokes to stop falling in. The hardest bit was getting going again from sitting on the board and having an energy gel, getting back to the feet felt super wobbly in the sea state and because of this I had less breaks, not getting the salt and sugar I needed to sustain progress. As a result, I begun to get cramp developing in my forearms and upper abs, an uncomfortable painful sensation and far from what I wanted with such a long way still to paddle. Rightfully so, the advice from the Glen on the support boat was to stop for a couple of minutes to refill my hydration pack and eat flapjack and isotonic gels. This was around the middle of TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) 18mile mark, not much shipping traffic to recall.

Pushing with the crossing was becoming as much mental as physical.

I started pushing to get into some of the bumps, one memorable bump, the Maliko picked up and accelerated, a decent 100m or so ride, only to meet a breaking wave for the conflicting swell chucking me off into the water. Although not cold I was glad to have a wetsuit on. Most of the time and effort was on focusing on the nose of the board, looking for the next bump. The odd breaking wave in the peripheral threw the concentration resulting in a support stroke which was proving more effort every time. With the boat alongside I hear call of support from Glen and Johnny, then just in front of me a tuna the same size as a dolphin breaches and jumped out of the water. It is incredible the wild life that you see in these waters, a couple of years ago it was a shark.

The last hour and half were the toughest, within sight of Sennen Cove, land did not seem to be getting any closer. It felt as if I wasn’t making any progress, (this I think was both mental and physical) exhausted by this point and due to the delayed departure, the counter current for the north to south had kicked in which I was having to paddle against. The sky was beginning to darken, at this point I thought I would struggle to get in in the light, and this gave me the drive to try to get into the bumps and wrap up the crossing.

The last challenge was negotiating the Cowloe, the semi submerged reef of the Sennen Cove. We had to pass to the north of the rock which meant pushing directly into 2 knots of tide and cross swell, pretty wobbly after 5 and half hours of paddling, I had a couple more dips at this point. Finally clearing the reef, I gave every last bit of energy to get into the Sennen Harbour wall, the official finishing point for the Celtic Crossing. Time elapsed since leaving Hugh Town harbour wall – 5hours and 54 minutes.

Having done the crossing out of season, and a solo ‘Bandit run’, Sennen car park was deserted. This added to the rawness of it all and part of the agreement of a mid-week spontaneous solo attempt. I was swiftly taken away for a hot shower and cup of tea.

Although not the prefect preparation for the race, and the challenging conditions encountered, 2 days on and my back and stomach are still very sore, but I am content. Taking on such a challenge, it will never be the perfect race, so many variables to align; training, race prep, wind, swell, tide, weather and equipment.

I grabbed the opportunity when it arose and had to be adaptable and push through with what was presented to me on the day.

A massive thanks to Glen for creating the opportunity. We pushed it out to the very last chance of a crossing this year due to daylight hours, weather and temperature. As it was, Johnny and Glen had to make the return trip from Sennen to St Ives in the dark along the treacherous Cornish coast line with a running sea and counter current. Big thanks to Johnny for the media coverage and support provided right from meeting at 05:30am in St Ives.

And thanks to all the other support; NAISH SUP as a board sponsor, Water Sports Academy (WSA), Reactive Water Sports for their support through out the season, GeoSup App which allows me to review and relive the crossing and Devonport Royal Dockyard Sport and Social Club for funding and supporting my Celtic Crossing Campaign.

Words : Ben Fisher

So if you are looking for a bit of inspiration to get back on the water after the Christmas break, we think this does a pretty good job! We can’t wait to see what Ben is going to do next. But one thing is for sure… knowing Ben it wont be easy!

Photos : Glen Eldridge (Ocean Sport Centre) and Johnnie Wells

Check out Ben’s full paddle on GeoSUP online by clicking the picture below or visiting/ downloading the GeoSUP app here : www.geosup.com

If you are looking at doing something mad in 2018 what about something like best mates, James Whittle & Tom Caulfield set out to do at in October 2017… an ultra-SUP triathlon across Patagonia.
A 1600km cycle, a record attempt 65km mountain ultra-run, and a 120km SUP between the two great lakes Viedma and Argentino.

Well done boys, just epic! Read the full story on the Red Paddle Co website

Going on a SUP adventure with a few buddies to some far off destination might not be for everyone. But if you’ve ever had that feeling of wanting to get out there and paddle somewhere new this video from Ryan Salm and friends is for you. Paddling Norway’s beautiful Lofoten Archipelago is a SUP adventure heaven… just pack a drysuit!

If you want to get into doing SUP adventures check out Will’s video blogs of SUPing across Scotland.

All is not well in paradise… / Voyage of Te Mana #4

The islands in the South Pacific are known as a slice of paradise, with their golden sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. And as Jess & Nick sail, SUP and surf their way through Polynesia their blogs and photos has us green with envy. But unfortunately as Jess explains ‘all is not well in paradise.’…

So far our photos have shown nothing more than tranquil anchorages, glorious beaches lined with palm trees, and of course the never ending clear turquoise water with its beautiful fishes and coral. And for the most part this is reflective of what surrounds us as we sail our way through the Pacific. But we think it’s important to also mention some of the not so idyllic aspects we are seeing on our voyage.

Having sailed past our fair share of ever present water bottles (we even managed to snag a stray thong/flipflop in our outboard prop?!), we’ve also found many other assorted plastics whilst beachcombing deserted windward shorelines, where the pretty shells have been by far outnumbered by the presence of discarded plastics. From microplastics (small pieces of plastics that have been broken down by the wind/waves/sun into brightly coloured flecks that look tasty to fish and birds) to macroplastics (anything from toothbrushes, shavers, plastic toys, soles of Nike runners, plastic netting and ropes, and of course plastic bags and bottles/lids of all shapes and sizes), we have seen it all (without looking hard). And it’s a little disturbing to say the least.

Of course this is not news to any of us. We all know that the production and our consumption of plastic is unsustainable, and that its life cycle will outlive all of us by thousands of years. And thanks to the internet we’ve all seen images of seabirds and fish that have died from ingesting too many microplastics, and have most probably heard of the floating island of rubbish that has formed in the north west region of the pacific… entirely out of ocean plastics and other debris. It’s as if our society is binging on plastic, and unsuccessfully trying to find the right diet to get things back under control. And it’s not easy, as any dieter will attest. It requires behavioral change and that is hard, even harder when there are no immediate personal repercussions for having to do it.

I’m a great example. On land I would always try to remember my reusable shopping bags at the supermarket, but sometimes I’d forget, and no biggie… because in lucky country Australia they give you plenty of free plastic bags anyway (thankfully it sounds like this is about to change!). And coffee cups… I’ve got a keepsake cup somewhere, but it would not always be with me when I wanted to order a takeaway. And as our rubbish and recycling in Australia all gets whisked away nicely by the garbos each week anyway, its hard to actually gauge what level of rubbish and plastic waste we’re really creating. Out of sight, out of mind. But on a boat things are a little different. There are no garbos, there is no wheelie bin down the driveway, there is just our little boat which is both our floating home and our rubbish tip. Which means we have to think a little more about what we are consuming and how we deal with it.

Food is obviously our biggest consumption onboard, and with all organic matter fed to the fishes, we are left to store and then correctly dispose of our waste plastics, glass, cans and paper/cardboard. So far we’ve seen varying degrees of recycling programs on some of the more developed islands, to the burning of piles of plastic amongst the palm trees in more remote areas. But before we left Australia we had also started thinking about what (nonedible) consumables we would need whilst onboard. Already overflowing with surfboards and SUPs (lets not even get started on the toxic foams and synthetic resins used to make these toys) it really wasn’t much. But a supply of tropical surf wax, some polarized sunnies to make sure we can see the reefs whilst navigating, swimwear, and sun protection to stop us returning as sultanas were really all we thought we were in need of.

With Nick’s background in sustainable materials science we started searching to see if there were products out there that best fit our needs whilst also having an environmental conscience. It was refreshing to find there were companies and entrepreneurs starting to do things differently who more than fit the bill. And needless to say in this process I’ve learnt a lot about a whole bunch of things I can’t believe I’d never really considered before! So here is a run down of what we found after much research into our consumable options, and hence I’d like to introduce our Friends of Te Mana:

Surf Wax

Before looking into this I hate to say I’d never really thought much past the smell of my surf wax…However it turns out the majority of surf waxes available on the market that are made with petrochemical by-products and ingredients that are non-biodegradable, non-sustainable, non-renewable, synthetic, and toxic to the marine environment. Already aware and alarmed by this, Graham and his small family owned and operated business from Lennox Head – Tree Hugger All Natural Surf Wax – produce high quality surf wax that is 100% biodegradable and petrochemical free. And, their wax still smells pretty darn good!

Sunglasses

And I definitely hadn’t thought about the production chain behind my sunglasses… Entrepreneurs Ryan and Rob had however and started Norton Point via a kickstarter campaign in 2015. Based on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in the US, they have developed the first line of sustainable and socially conscious eyewear made from recovered high density polyethylene (HDPE) ocean plastics from the canals and coastlines of Haiti. For every pair of glasses they sell they are committed to cleaning up one pound of plastic from the ocean. They also give back 5% net profit to global clean up, education, and remediation practices. We think that’s pretty impressive, and they’ve definitely succeeded in making us ‘sea plastic differently’.

Swimwear

Having owned my fair share of bikinis over the years, my only real concern with them up until now had been finding a pair that stayed on whilst surfing… I’d never really considered that most swimwear is made from petroleum derived nylon or synthetically produced polyester, or that more environmentally friendly alternatives might be available. Designed by the lovely Fiorella and made using locally based manufacturing in Sydney, Seapia’s beautiful swimwear not only stays on amazingly well with surfing and jumping off boats (not even a little bit of indecency), but by using Econyl fabric (made from recycled fishing nets) and waterbased inks they are (aside from a pair of coconuts) as ocean friendly a bikini as you can get (and far more comfortable).

Sun Protection

Although a little off the topic of plastics, but still relevant to the ocean and our ever increasing awareness of what we’re doing wrong to it… Sunscreen. Good old sunscreen is harmful for many of the little critters in coral reefs?… How did I not know this already?!… Oh wait… I forgot we don’t care about reefs in Australia. The majority of sunscreens on the market contain oxybenzone (among other things), which has been shown to be harmful to coral reefs. But Sydney based Chris and Kieren from Little Urchin thankfully know better and have developed a reef safe and eco friendly natural sunscreen that is good for us fair skinned humans, as well as being good for the ocean. They use zinc oxide as the active ingredient, which has been shown to be safe for the marine environment, as well as a whole load of other natural ingredients that I can actually pronounce. Also using zinc oxide (combined with other natural organic ingredients coconut oil, beeswax, olive oil, cocao powder and butter – that make it smell delicious!) Sun and Earth Natural Zinc is a small business from Byron Bay’s Hinterland that are helping to keep our snozzes and lips extra protected without using any nasties that can harm the reefs we are surfing over.

So there you have it. It doesn’t take much to start thinking a little differently about how and what you consume, and thankfully there are a growing number of companies out there already one step ahead.

Consume wisely… the ocean will thank you.

Words : Jess Cunningham ( Voyage of Te Mana)

So… next time you go to the shops, think about the impact what you’re buying will be having on the environment. And if it’s not good… think again! We are all responsible for the plastics and toxins polluting our oceans. And we can all do something about it by thinking more carefully about what we use and buy. Lets support the great companies around the globe doing their bit to help clean up our oceans. 

Incase you missed Jess and Nicks previous articles you can read them here

Paddling on lakes can give you some of the most beautiful paddling around the world. Paddling through out the seasons gives you the changes of plant and wildlife, so every day can be different. And when the conditions are right, paddling on lakes can give you some of the flattest water to offer paddle perfection. So don’t always head to the coast for your next paddle adventure. Go on a search for lakes instead.

This video is filmed on and around Caragh Lake, a large scenic lake in County Kerry, Ireland and produced by Tadhg Hayes Video Production.

 

Around the world there are many beautiful and magical locations to paddle and explore.  But unfortunately there are also many places that are becoming un-paddleable. Charlie Head is a man always on the look out for the next adventure on his SUP. After paddling around England & Wales and taking on the mighty Amazon with help from Red Bull TV, Charlie is soon off on another quest. This time, not only to raise awareness of our changing world, but also to capture something special before it’s gone. One area that is about to change forever is the Blue Nile River, due to the near completion of a huge dam upstream. Charlie and team plan to not only paddle this river for the last time, but also capture the magic and beauty of the river by filming a documentary along the way. But these epic films don’t just happen… they need support and funding.  Back ‘The last Descent’ here.

Charlie paddling the Amazon

About Charlie Head 
For us at SUPboarder Charlie Head is a true adventurer. Every chance he has, he is on the water exploring around the next corner, or planning for that next unique adventure. His go for it attitude is contagious and his softly spoken voice is certainly made for tv! We’ve followed Charlie’s adventures on many occasions and have got to know him well. He’s normally a do first and talk later kind of guy. But the time restraints of this trip has him doing the exact opposite. When possible Charlie likes to fund his own trips and expeditions. But this trip involves more than just him, as Charlie explains…

Below is summary of the trip from ‘The Last Descent’ website.
This is a documentary about a team of explorers making the last ever decent of the Blue Nile River. We have a very imminent timeline due to the construction of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. This profound reality means it’s the last chance for us and for anyone, to descend this iconic river, we want to honor this river and tell her story, before it’s gone forever.

Due to this unchangeable time scale we have to be realistic on the funding we can rise to get this project done.

The money we are trying to raise here is the bear minimum cost to just survive the 35 days in Ethiopia. Please see funding breakdown below.

Not long ago, our team made the first and the last descent from the primary source of the Amazon, the river Maranon We heard it was being damned, and we teamed up with our wing man Rocky on a campaign to protect the river, and spread the word. Now we intend to paddle board through the grand canyon of the Nile with a similar dream and vision of adventure to let the world know what is to be lost in the coming years and to motivate people to do something to help protect the remaining canyon. We invite you to help us make the grand canyon of the blue Nile of Africa more well known and we hope you will enjoy experiencing it through the film and posts that will follow the first ever stand up paddle boarding trip through the blue Nile.

Sadly, for this trip on the Nile, we may not have the same opportunity, but we sure as hell want to show the world what were saying goodbye to, and showcase it’s history and beauty. The Nile is one of the most well known and enigmatic rivers in the world, The Blue Nile emerges from Lake Tana in Ethiopia, the Blue Nile is the main stem source if the Nile. Downstream in the underpopulated origin of the Nile the native wildlife is abundant and in particular dangerous Nile crocodiles lurk in the waters.

Unfortunately soon it will not be possible to paddle through the entire grand canyon of Africa anymore because one of the largest damns in Africa the ‘Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’ should have already been completed and started flooding by July 2017 but the building has been delayed so that adventurous spirits can paddle the river ion its free flowing state, so this is literally the last chance to capture the essence of this river before it’s lost forever. When it has been completed it will flood 230 km of the river, including the lower part of the grand canyon section.

We have assembled a very special team to make this possible and have come together for our passion of education and love for our planet. The funds that we raise will conclude the investment we need to make this production happen in time!

Fortunately we have already sourced the bulk of the investment ourselves, but unfortunately not enough in time before the imminent dam construction. So this is why we need your help as we can get to raise these last funds to make this production possible.

A massive part of your contribution and your support for this trip is going to help towards supporting the education surrounding this project , by raising awareness and support for the importance of the protection of these endangered environments. Your investment is so important to us because you are helping us to capture some of the last memories of the most extraordinary rivers of the world.

Find out more about the trip and back it here : www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-last-descent-africa

SUPing the South Pacific

Jess and Nick continue to sail, surf and SUP themselves silly in the South Pacific, whilst onboard their floating home Te Mana. SUPing in gin clear waters, surrounded by golden sandy beaches and colourful coral reefs, their daily SUPing adventures are what most of us dream about once in a lifetime! Here’s what Jess and Nick have to say about the latest stage of their trip…

Over the past six months, not only have we managed to learn to sail on the go, but also in the process we’ve sailed ourselves over 2000 nautical miles from French Polynesia, to Niue, to Tonga, and onto Fiji. And after the rough seas encountered on passage, the longest of which has so far been 9 days, there’s never a more welcome a sight than sailing into the smooth flat waters of a turquoise lagoon, just waiting to be explored by SUP.

And lucky us, as we had hoped for when we decided to undertake this voyage,

“we have basically been able to SUP ourselves silly in all of these amazing locations.”

With the South Pacific being such an incredible watery playground just waiting to be explored, armed with our quiver of surf and SUP boards on our trusty yacht Te Mana, we are more than prepared for fun and adventures in whatever lagoon we choose to sail ourselves into.

From the vibrantly lush mountains that tower above the simply stunning lagoons of the Society Islands, to the remote palm tree encircled coral atolls of the Tuamotus, to the coral cliffs and caves surrounding Niue, and the seemingly infinite amount of small uninhabited islands each with their own white sandy beach in Tonga… we’ve SUPed them all.

“And then there’s the clarity of the water… so so so so clear. Crystal clear. Gin clear. Just so so clear.”

The view from our SUPs, whether it be of the brightly coloured reef fishies, the beautiful corals of so many shapes and sizes, the sharks and more sharks in the Tuamotus, the wiggly black and white striped sea snakes of Niue, the vibrant blue starfish that seemed to be haphazardly sprawled over every rock or coral in Tonga, or the families of whales playing happily off in the distance… it has all been just amazing.

Yet despite all of this, it seems our SUPs are sometimes more adventurous than us, as we’ve found them a few times now floating off the back of our boat into the distance (no one to blame but our own poor knot tying!) Thankfully, they usually don’t get far… but Nick’s did get us a little worried when it managed an overnighter recently in Tonga. But lucky for us, despite our fruitless searching, King Neptune spat it back after 24 hours and beached it just 100m from where it had initially untied itself from the back of the yacht! Happy days.

Being only just past the half way mark on our voyage back to Australia, with Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia still on our hit list… there’s no doubt plenty more of the above, and more, in store for us and our adventurous SUPs!

To follow more of our journey, check out our salty journal at www.voyageoftemana.com.

SUPing the South Pacific

We look forward to following Jess and Nick’s sailing and SUP adventures as they continue through the South Pacific. Anyone else a little bit envious!?

Incase you missed Jess and Nicks previous blogs you can find them here:

We’ve bought a yacht in Tahiti! / Voyage of Te Mana #1

Life afloat / Voyage of Te Mana #2

Voyage of Te Mana - Jess & Nick

Jess and Nick and their floating home Te Mana are back with part 2 of their adventures exploring the beautiful waters of Polynesia and the South Pacific. Having bought their boat in Tahiti they’ve been island hoping over the last few months, with SUPs onboard, recently arriving in Tonga…

Voyage of Te Mana - Jess & Nick

We’ve been floating in French Polynesia full time now for a few months. And although l’d have classified us as water babies when we were living on land (forever trying to be in or on the sea, SUPing and surfing around the waterways of Sydney and the beautiful South Coast), it’s just not the same as living constantly surrounded by ocean and its never ending motion… and of course, its never ending challenges.

And there have definitely been challenges aplenty for us with our newfound life afloat… as you would expect – having not really sailed much before we dove right into the deep end and bought ourselves a yacht in Tahiti!

“Don’t they say there’s no time like the present, and if you’re going to do it… do it properly? So we did. And we are learning… by doing… quickly!”

With it clearly not being our long engrained love of sailing that lead us here, it was more so the realisation that there’s no better way to access Polynesia’s many gems than by boat. And although space is always at a premium on a yacht, on board Te Mana (our 40 foot Beneteau Oceanis) we’ve managed to squeeze in as much of our land life’s garage contents as we could. Our arsenal of toys includes 5 surf boards, snorkelling/freediving set ups, spear guns, fishing rods, cameras and underwater housings of all shapes and sizes, and of course our SUPs. Although Nick has left his surf SUP on land (at this stage!), we’ve bought along our two favourite Red Paddle Co SUPs, as the option for below deck storage on passages (rather than strapping them on deck as with traditional SUPs) was just too good to pass up.

Aside from literally allowing us to walk on water, SUPing forms a massive part of our daily cruising life. When we’re at anchor, not only are they our method of choice for up close and personal exploration of some of the world’s most stunning tropical islands, atolls, and coral reefs, but they also provide us with fitness, transport to/from land, surfing (you’ve got to pick your wave here to ride an inflatable on!!!), skurfing, and of course just plain and simple fun and enjoyment.

Someone asked the other day if we were missing our life on land… lets just say there was no time lost in answering!

“So until that answer changes, it looks like we’ll keep floating on, SUPing, surfing and sailing our way across the Pacific.”

Jess and Nick will be sharing their sailing & SUP adventures on SUPboarder with regular blogs. But in the meantime check out their website Voyage of Te Mana. 

You can read Voyage of Te Mana #1 on SUPboarder here. 


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