Sunday, February 19, 2012

pants, pictures and power

I received my new pair of Northface Paramount Peak Convertible Pants in the mail the other day.  The "convertible" in the name means that the legs can be unzipped from the pants at the knees so that they become shorts.  I almost never take the legs off of the pants, I prefer to have the protection from the sun.  But it is nice to have that option.  They are made out of a mid-weight nylon fabric which is strong, comfortable and quick to dry.  Lots of pockets on these pants, plenty of places to tuck away tools, pocket knives or cameras.  These are the perfect pants, in my opinion, for being around small boats.  

This was a  warranty replacement for my old pair, which you can see me wearing in the photo above anchored at Tangier Island's Cod Harbor.  The back pocket stitching, after four years of use, had come undone and I was told that Northface would restitch them for me.  Instead, they sent me a brand new pair of pants.  I still can't get over the fact that they would guarantee an old, well-worn pair of pants.  Wow.  With that in mind, I bought a second pair of the pants today with a birthday gift from my mother (thanks, Mom!).  I don't expect I'll need another pair of sailing pants for a long time to come.

I have decided not to buy a new camera for the coming year.  I've been less than thrilled with the performance of my Pentax Optio W90 waterproof point and shoot camera.  I've been disappointed with the battery life, low light shooting, focus and video.  But even as I say that I look back through the photographs from this past year - that is one from the Wet and Windless sail above - I find quite a few photographs that I like.  Some maybe the camera is not all that great.  But maybe it is not all that bad.

I've researched other cameras for the past several weeks only to find that each and every waterproof camera out there has one problem or another.  It's either battery life or focus, reliability or color shift, a tendency to leak or a tendency to just not work.  Pick your poison, no camera is perfect.  I'll stick with the Optio W 90 for this year, maybe buy a few extra batteries to get me through cruises.  And hope for a better camera to emerge next year.

I was checking my friend Alan's blog today to see how the build of Mosquito, the trimaran that Alan designed and is building with parents Paul and Dawn for the Ultimate Florida Challenge, was coming along.  Alan and Dawn have only a couple of weeks to get that boat ready.  I can't wait to follow along on the challenge.

The most recent post was about about Mosquito getting some sponsorship from, a water sports supplier that seems to specialize in equipment for catamarans, sailboards and surfboards.   Murrays is helping out the Mosquito build with some lines, hardware and other gear.  Good for Mosquito, good for Murrays.  What caught my eye was that Alan mentioned they sell a wide variety of items including solar chargers.  

I have been interested in solar power for a couple of years now.  In the next year or two I hope to do some longer cruises - maybe two or three weeks - and recharging batteries would be an issue.  I've read about solar panels designed for camping, I've looked at them at REI and I've read the reviews that indicate it is still a developing technology.   Murrays offers the (not exactly cheap) Powerfilm Solar Rollable Chargers.  These may be worth looking at.  The technology is coming along.  It is just a matter of time before compact solar power is reliable.  Thanks, Alan, for the tip.




Anonymous said...

Well. Steve, even though your images are "to die for", I know its frustrating finding a trouble-free, "waterproof" camera. I use to assess cameras.

The pants I've been wearing around the boat (and everywhere else) come from L.L. Bean. Item # TA234434, Tropicwear Zip-Leg Pants, nylon. I like having the cargo pockets, and a couple of hidden pockets to boot. Like everything else at L.L. Bean, guranteed satisfaction.

Like you, chompin' at the bit to get out on the Neuse River on "Alert". Have to see what March brings weather-wise, since "Phil" saw his shadow on Feb 2.

All the best,

Buck in NC

Steve said...


I'm traveling the first weekend of March, hoping to launch the second or third weekends. We'll see.


Shawn Stanley said...

Steve, I think our mutual 'virtual' acquaintance Webb Chiles may have some experience with that Powerfilm related to his Torqueedo..I seem to remember the powerfilm as an option for charging when I was at the Torqueedo stand at the Annapolis Boat Show.

No guarantees on any of my memory though. However, I am as interested as you for any solar power technologies..I have a small 3.2 watt trickle charger on my boat which I switch over from battery to battery at every visit. The sun should at least outlive us, so we might as well use it as much as we can.


Steve said...

Thanks, Shawn, for mentioning that. I will check with Webb - I do know he has mentioned solar panels a few times. The needs and money are not in place for this year, but next Fall I'll take a hard look. Solar power makes too much sense. In a few years I suspect it will be very common and reasonably priced.


Shawn Stanley said...

Steve, sorry my last post was a bit unclear..I may have had a beer or two that evening.

My limited understanding is that rolled panels are not nearly as efficient as solid panels in terms of power output to the square foot, & I know space on Spartina is limited.

I guess my point is that a 20-ish watt solid panel may tuck up under the deck safely when it needs to be put away, but will provide much more power when deployed as compared to a similar sized roll-up panel. My little panel was a gift..I only had to buy the $15 Sunforce controller.


Steve said...

Thanks, Shawn, for the clarification. I've still got a lot of research to do. It would be nice to have solar power -- but really I could live without it. Sometimes simpler is better. steve