Playing with inflatable boats


Have boat will travel. But which boat?

 Rafts, tenders and belly boats, sea kayaks, sit-ons and Canadian canoes – all inflatable and packing into a suitcase. Having a portable and easy-to-deploy watercraft in your RV has never been easier and so no surprise for many of us nomadic folk they have become a do-not-leave-home-without addition to our list of tools and toys.

Modern inflatable boats are moderately priced – you can get an entry-level one for under a $1000 – they require next to no maintenance and take up little storage room. But once out and inflated, they open up a whole new layer of geography to explore: rivers and lakes, lagoons, estuaries, sheltered coastlines and, if you’re more experience and adventurous, the not-so-sheltered seaside as well. All of which begs the question: just which kind of inflatable boat should you get for your RV?

Ready to upgrade my old rubber boat – big and unwieldy by the standards of latest inflatables which can be backpacked around and taken into an aircraft as cabin baggage – I asked that big question at Incept Marine, a family business operating out of  small farming town of Taihape. Since 1989 Incept have been making an impressively full range of inflatable boats, from huge expedition-grade rafts ready for the Himalayan rivers, to kayaks and canoes for the sea and rivers and the shallows where the kids can safely splash about and play Titanic. The company has made the name for itself the hard way: not by cutting corners, using off-shore labour and offering budget deals but by innovation and quality. Their boats are still made in New Zealand, and tested on local waters, like the Rangitikei which has cut a deep and spectacular canyon through the papa country around Taihape. Their boats may not be the cheapest ones around but, as the company owners the Booth family will tell you with home-grown pride, when you buy an Incept boat, you’re buying the best there is.

“You ask which boat?” said Martin Straka,  the sales manager at Incept. “You really need to turn this question around and ask yourself what kind of things you want to do with it.” Some soul searching is required first. Do you mainly fish from the boat or do you want to play in whitewater? Alone or with a partner or friends? To be used mainly for day trips or multi-day cruises? Do you need a performance vessel to handle any water anywhere or just something to float about on a sunny day and read? “These are all critical questions to answer to yourself first,” Martin concluded, “because there is no one boat that can do it all. But whatever you want to do, we have the right boat for it.”  Continue reading

The ebook revolution

The Future of Reading and Writing

The only thing I regretted, moving from a house into a motorhome, was leaving my book collection behind: memorable reads, precious finds, reference resources. There was no space for them in my  caravan, and even less so in the Landcruiser Camper, and I ended up donating almost all of my treasures to the local library. I consoled myself that they are still there if I needed them but that I was no longer burdened with their physical weight and bulk. This all took place four years ago, almost on the eve of the ebook revolution.

Have you notice it? The greatest event in the world of books since Gutenberg invented a printing press so that the books no longer had to be copied by hand? When it first arrived, the ebook revolution caused much confusion and fear, even resistance and laments for the loss of printed word. But there was really no stopping it. And a good thing too. I now have my library back, well almost all the items, the important ones anyway, and it’s all digital, stored on a device no bigger than two DVD covers put together, hundreds of books taking no space at all.

On an e-reader like Ipad you can store over 100,000 books, the library in town where I live holds “only” 40,000 titles

Electronic books are no new thing, there have been applications and programs to read them on a computer or laptop screen for many years now, but it was always awkward, and hard on the eyes. And you couldn’t quite cuddle up in bed with a laptop as you could with a book. But with the new generation of ebook readers you can. The screen are finally easier on the eyes, and there are many other advantages of using e-readers. Apart from seemingly infinite library storage – an average novel takes up 300-500 KB, so on a 64 GB iPad, for example, you can have 130,000 books – you no longer need a reading light. You can copy bits of text as quotations, save or email them, and instantly look up words in a built-in dictionary. This is a godsend if you’re reading a technical text or a book in a foreign language. You can also instantly download a book that may not even be available in New Zealand for a fraction of the price it would cost to have it shipped. And did I mention saving the trees?  Continue reading

Walks in Ahuriri Area

With the controversial Tenure Review and subsequent creation of so many Conservation Parks and Areas public access to some of the most scenic corners of the country has been changing so fast it’s often hard to keep up with the developments. This, at least as our vagabond lot is concerned, has been mostly good news though often you may find yourself going to a place you think you know and finding it has changed so much it’s like visiting it for the first time.

This has recently happened to me in the Ahuriri, a long and superbly scenic mountain river valley which leads off west towards the Main Divide from SH 8 about halfway between Lindis Pass and Omarama. I used to come here over the years, regularly if not frequently, to fish and hunt, to tramp or climb or to just walk in the beautiful beech and tawhai forest. In the sun-baked Central Otago where I live such forests are a rare thing indeed and so from time to time one can suffer from an almost unreasonable compulsion to walk in the shady woods. For this I would often come to the Ahuriri.  Continue reading