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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jetboat Marathon - Day 7

Well the weather was a mixed bag, staring out as blustery NW and then after lunch changing to a cold SW.

The days race was held as two criterion events with waves based on boat class.

There was some good racing, and dissapointment for 25 who had soem difficulties. And over all James Murdoch in 323 made up the small deficit he had from Friday to take first place.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Jetboat Marathon - Day 6

As I suggested might happen, today the Waimak river race was slightly shortened with the top of the river moved back from Woodstock to a little closer to the Gorge Bridge.

The river was still high and dirty, but was dropping and made for an interesting days racing.

For most of the Marathon James Murdoch in A Class 353 has been leading the event,


but today he slipped into second place.

Tomorrow is a double criterion, again on the Waimak. Will James be able to regain the lead?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jetboat Marathon - Day 5

As mentioned previously, today was a lay day, allowing boaties to improve (or fix) their boats after 5 days of grueling racing, and for me a day to catch up on a number of appointments, and unfortunately to attend a funeral.

At the top of the table things are looking very close. See http://www.nzjbrra.co.nz/ for results and more details.

Tomorrow is meant to be a long race on the Waimak from the SH1 Ramp to Woodstock, but given that the river is very high and dirty after lots of NW rain in the hills things may change. But it is dropping, so by tomorrow it may not be too bad, but may depend on what has happened to launching/retrieval options at the top.

For River Flows see eCan's site

N95

With it looking more certain that I will be deployed with the NZ Red Cross IT&T ERU to Haiti in the near future I have been looking at various technology options for the trip.

I normally use a Telecom Harrier as my Cell/PDA, while I have had it for a while now and should upgrade it, but I am awaiting some of the changes to the Telecom network to see what I will upgrade it to. At present I still find that Telecom coverage and mobile data is better than that of Vodafone, so will probably continue to stay with Telecom as my local choice.

Certainly GSM is the best choice for travelling. So even with the Telecom "Worldmode" phones it would appear that Vodafone is currently the best option for pricing. I would welcome comments from anyone that has experience with Telecom Roaming with the Worldmode phones.

So I have purchased a Nokia N95, which includes a 3G capable GSM phone, along with a 5Mp camera and GPS. And while I went with the original N95 rather than the N95 8G, with the microSD slot I can currently have the 8G storage of the N95 85 at a lower price. Taking the N95 means that I can leave behind the camera, the MP3 player and the GPS, plus it is smaller than the Harrier. It is not the Windows Mobile that I have grown used to, but it does include most of the features one way or another.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jetboat Marathon - Day 4

Another pretty early start and another good day on the rivers, the weather has also been pretty good to us.

Today was a good days racing as planned from near Glenavy to the Kurow bridge and back again on the Waitaki River. Another day with only minor incidents, so not too busy for the safety patrol boats.

For safety communications a mix of options, equipment and operators are used. The main safety communications and timing is done by a team from Christchurch AREC (Amateur Radio Emergency Communications). We make use of a mixture of Amateur Radio repeaters, both fixed and in some cases portable, and on the more difficult rivers we use HF. HF mobile in a jetboat is a bit of a challenge, but works well on the long rivers with gorges, and also as a backup on the rivers that we have coverage by VHF repeater.

There is other communications for the race organisers using a mix of Marine radio and commercial channels, but these do not always cover all of the river.

Day 5 is a lay day, so there will be nothing to report, and Friday should be a long race on the Waimak river, although the recent N/W'er has caused the local rivers to rise, so an assessment will be done closer to race time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jetboat Marathon - Day 3

The race was meant to be from the mouth of the Rakaia River to the Gorge Bridge and back again, however due to the stong wind conditions things changed.

The race ran as 3 legs, 1 from the mouth to a location about 7.5Km above the SH1 bridge, leg 2 was a return to the mouth and leg 3 was another run up to the same point as leg 1.

The wind made it a difficult day in the boats with sand blown everywhere, but the event was a pretty good day with no major incidents.

I continued my trials of SPOT, the Satellite Messenger to track my position on the river.

After the race we proceeded to Oamaru for the night before Day 4 on the Waitaki River.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Blackbox M14

Today my Blackbox M14 noise cancellation headphones arrived. I got these in preparation for possible travel with the Red Cross ERU. Noise cancellation headphones have been around for a while and are certainly a a must have for long distance travellers.

I looked at the Bose QuietComfort products which are pretty expensive, and comparing features and price the Blockbox M14 looked pretty good. They have had a number of good reviews and while not directly reviewed by Consumer at the time they compared other products they did get a good mention after the comparison.

They would probably work well for radio work on Jetboat racing events, but not sure that I want to take them out on the river just yet (they are brand new). I will write about my experiences with them in due course after I have tried them 'in anger'

Jetboat Marathon - Day 2

Today was pretty uneventful, the river was higher than normal, dirty and hard to read with plenty of pressure waves, but there were not too many 'casualties' from today's racing (note that I am not driving, just a passenger).

In the safety patrol boats we have a driver and navigator as normal, plus a radio operator and a paramedic. We are spread through the race field and keep tabs on race boats to try and find when they may have had an incident.

Today the race started at Spotswood, but my patrol boat launched near Waiau township. We went upstream for a while and awaited the race boats and then headed off with them after the first 5 competitors. We then followed with them to the end of that leg of the race just after the Ferry Bridge near Hanmer. After a while for the racers to make any necessary repairs, adjustments, refuel and have some lunch we were ready for the return leg. We headed off ahead of the race start and positioned ourselves near Leslie Hills bridge, and again waited for the lead competitors before heading off with them.

There were no injury related incidents, so the paramedics had a quiet day, and I kept my feet dry, so it was a pretty good day all around. The weather has so far been pretty good to us.

See some of the spots I was on the Waiau today thanks to SPOT click here

Tomorrow is on the Rakaia, and the weather is predicting high winds and rain feeding the rivers, so could be an interesting day.

We will be overnighting in Oamaru for an early start on the Waitaki on Wednesday, and then back for a lay day on Thursday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bird Flu in NZ

It has all been pretty quiet in the media about Bird Flu for a while, but now ...
So we need to continue to be vigilant and to continue to prepare

A little while ago we found out that some of the NZ stockpile of Tamiflu has started to 'expire' but as was expected that when the mutation occured that allowed the virus to spread to humans it was possible that Tamiflu wouldn't work any way, and now ...

And in the mean time the stocks of suitable masks have all but disapeared from the shelves of chemists etc. At least if the govenment has stockpiles for emergency workers then these won't have expired.

Jetboat Marathon - Day 1

Today was a criterion, circuit racing, mainly to get a seeding order for the river races.

We were on the Waimak river and the races were 5 loops of about a circuit 6Km up and down again.

Tomorrow is the Waiau River.

This year HeliPro is a main sponsor, so there were 2 helicoptors covering proceedings today.

The Blog

I have been using Blogger for a while now (off and on). This time I have changed to hosting with them, but still using my own domain name, so as to make use of some of their new features.

There was a bit of an issue with the change over caused by the DNS changes and some caching going on somewhere, but hopefully now that some time has passed this has been resolved.

Also, similarly to previous occasions, where they have provided some level of upgrade to functionality it came at a cost in that I had to redo some of my content. It wasn't a major issue, and hopefully the new functionality is worth it.

I'm still to try a some more of their 'gadgets' so watch out for future changes.

SPOT

SPOT - The worlds first satellite messenger

Spot is a small device about the same size as a large GPS or Cell phone.

It combines a GPS and a Satellite transmitter to allow your position and key status to be sent from anywhere.

It has "I'm Ok", "Help", "Emergency" status modes and a tracking mode.

It potentially replaces an Emergency Beacon by providing similar function to a beacon as well as the "OK" Status and the "Help" status which could prevent a lot of "false alarm" type beacon activations.

It sends messages to your selected contacts by SMS and/or Email and provides your position on a Google Maps display. See where my SPOT has been; click here

It is potentially useful for all sorts of functions, and I am trialing it for potential use for Search and Rescue, tramping, remote sporting events, and also for use while overseas.

The unit itself is relatively low cost, but has an annual subscription dependant on selected services.

Contact me if you are interested in further information.

Safety Communications for Jetboat River Racing

Today I start a week in a jetboat as a radio operator in the safety patrol boats for the New Zealand Jetboating River Racing Marathon.

I will be trying out the SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker on these events (more on this in another article soon)

and maybe some photos to follow as well.