Jan 22 2012

New Smyrna Beach, FL and Canaveral National Seashore Camping and Surfing

To make a long story short, I had to pay a late fee in Volusia County. The closest city to me was New Smyrna Beach. So I decided to make an event out of it and go camping. Then I head surfing was pretty good up there, and I had an old board that someone threw away. It had been fighting the elements for at least 6 years, but hey, why not?  I packed everything into my old Chevy, guaranteeing this would be an adventure, and was off.



Click here for Photography pictures



The drive to New Smyrna was OK, and when I got there, pretty hungry, I held out until it was too late, and the last place left on the mainland was the JB Fish Camp. The Mahi Sandwich was awesome. Lots of bikers, tourists, and fisherman exchanging stories there. The place had a good vibe and one heck of a view.  I would like to drive up with a flats boat and see this side of Edgewater.  After lunch, I went across the street to take a look at the beach.  I could hear the waves crashing, still being about a block away from the walkway.  As I walked up, it was an awe-inspiring site.

This was the first time I had seen the Florida Atlantic Coast in Northern Florida.  The beach was large and flat, and the waves seemed to come up to shore forever.  The sky reflected on the spacious, and there was but a few people.   Unlike Miami Beach, where one would have to walk a few blocks to get to the beach.  Here, you come out of your house, and just cross the walkway.  There was a walkway to cross the dunes about every 3 houses.  After a short video to commemorate the moment, I was off to the Canaveral National Seashore National Park.

Finding the visitor center and registering was easy.  However, there was a lack of maps of the campsite, and I didn’t want to lug around all of my gear in the wrong direction.  So after a few visits to the visitor center on locating campsite 2, I went ahead and spoke to a Park Ranger.  He advised me to drop my gear and walk in through an Authorized Access only area.   Geared up and ready to go, I started towards the walkway.

Crossing over to the beach, I finally got over the horizon, and saw it.  This was one of the most inspirational beaches I have ever seen.  The fact that there were no buildings around, and not a single person that I could see, is probably what did it.

It was one of those moments, where everything aligned.   The fact that my wife couldn’t make it due to school.  The fact that it was Sunday afternoon in a small town where everyone had to work the next day.  I don’t know.  But the fact was, this entire beach, as far as the eye could see, was all mine.  I soaked that in for a moment, and began to hike.

The campsite was elevated, and had a perfect view of the beach, with the waves crashing throughout the night.  After I set up camp, I tried my hand at surfing for a bit.  In the beginning I was kind of worried due to the beach’s reputation for sharks and rip currents, and the fact that there was nobody around.  But there was no way I was coming this far and not trying.  Bottom line, I sucked at it.  My board sank, I couldn’t catch any waves, and when I did, I couldn’t climb on the board.  In the end, I practiced until the sun started going down, and then sat ashore drip-drying.

Eventually it was time for dinner, and I was excited about the skirt steaks I brought with me.  Unfortunately, the charcoal I brought was old, I didn’t bring any lighter fluid, and everything in my camp was wet with salt spray from the misty shore.  On top of that, the mosquitoes decided to come out.  Luckily, they couldn’t get through my wet suit, and I brought a little bit of repellent.   Getting the coals to light was a bit frustrating.  Even with direct fire for 15 seconds on one coal, it just would not light.  After foraging and experimenting with a few different things, in the end, it was Styrofoam that got me through it.  While cooking directly with it is a bad idea due to the release of carcinogens, they make a good fire starter.

The Styrofoam that comes in meat packaging, lights up fast, melts, and that melted substance continues to light hot for a while.   Underneath some saw palmetto leaves I found dry grass and vegetation.  I created a mini tee pee out of four matches.  I surrounded this with broken bits of Styrofoam, that came with the steaks.  Atop of the foam i built a bigger tee pee with pieces wood (which was still a bit moist), and underneath I filled it with the shredded vegetation as tinder.  I lit a single match and the reaction began.   The matches lit the foam, which together with the tinder, dried the wood.  After a few minutes of smoke and fanning the fire (more oxygen = hotter flame), the wood eventually lit up.  I covered the wood with charcoal, following a few more minutes of smoke as the charcoal dried, I had a barbecue.  The steaks took a long time to cook, but were perfect.

After a good meal under the stars, I got myself organized and settled in my tent.  A little down because I didn’t bring any dessert.  I forgot that I had stashed 2 Oreo’s in by backpack on a whim.  That was a good find.  The two best Oreo cookies ever.  I made a goodnight call to the wife, a few emails, and I was out. I woke up around 2AM, but the shore put me right back to sleep.

I woke up around 6AM, at my traditional cereal and Lil’ Milk breakfast, and took some pictures of the sunrise.  After an argument with myself on whether I should stick around and enjoy the day, or head early to the courthouse, I decided on the latter, packed up, and left.

Jan 21 2012

Automotive Spray Painting DIY spray booth

For most people getting into an accident is the worst. In my opinion it depends on the accident. A car accident can be great, as long as nobody was hurt, it’s a small “fender bender”, it’s not your fault, and their insurance is going to pay you.

In my case, for a bumper and taillight replacement, the insurance company was willing to give me $1000.00 This really isn’t worth the work commercially, but since the car was still drive-able, and I’d repair it on my time, I took it. I spend about $300.00 on an aftermarket, pre-primered bumper, taillight, and new paint. I have paint-and-body experience, so the practice was there, I just didn’t have the location.

Ideally, this should be done in a spray booth, but it is possible to do it in a gazebo or carport. The closer one gets to the ideal, the less likely it is to have things land on your paint before it dries. Dust, bugs, water, these are all enemies of your paint job.

What you should have:

  • All walls should be sealed: This can be accomplished with plastic sheeting, and masking tape.
  • There should be a filtered extractor: This can be a square fan, with two basic, blue air filters in front of it, this reduces damage to the environment, as well as over spray for you and your neighbors.
  • There should be a filtered intake: A screen, or metal frame with some air filter material attached to it will do the trick.

That should cover your spray booth if you don’t have a garage. Don’t forget to wet the walls and floor to help with flying particulates, and it doesn’t hurt to wet the air intake filter either. A decent compressor, filter, spray gun, mixing by manufacturer’s specs, patience, practice, and finesse, and you’re on your way to a professional paint job. An actual cross-flow example can be seen here from SprayShield: http://www.sprayshield.com/hazel-doc/BE_CF-1000.jpg

Jan 5 2012

Polytarp sailing canoe

So I have this canoe, that’s over 40 years old and it shows.  I don’t know the brand, only a faded silhouette of a logo washed away on the front of the canoe.  A group of people at work were planning a kayaking expedition to Cape Sable.  Everyone armed with tandem kayaks, equipped with pedals and such, I was, once again, on the short end.  “I have a canoe”, I thought, and went on a test run by myself, alongside two people on a tandem kayak.  I learned that in heavy wind, it’s damn near impossible to keep the canoe pointed in the right direction with one person.  With nobody willing to join me as usual, I decided to make another member, in the form of a sail.  I read a little bit about how to make a sail out of a tarp, as well as basic sailing requirements such as a rudder, leeboard thwart.  Equipped with some new sailing terminology, I set out to make the sailing canoe.

Some research online proved I could make a sail out of tarp, double-sided tape, and some nylon rope.  Rather than use blue tarp from the hardware store, I bought some white tarp from Polytarp Int., so I would at least look legitimate.  After a little googling about sailboat dynamics, I set out to make a rudder, and leeboard thwart, and a mast/boom.  The canoe wasn’t strong enough to handle this new adventure so I strengthened it where I thought fit, as well as adding a mounting point in the center for the mast.


In hindsight, the mast, should have been a little more forward on the boat to improve maneuverability.  Also, an outrigger would have made a world of a difference, as I was throwing a way a lot of wind to prevent being flipped over.  In the end, it sailed.  twice.  The second day I ran aground and ruined the leeboard mount.  Since then, I bought the Hobie 16, and I’ve used, but not sailed the canoe.

Quick video in action:

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/M8oQewmmYu8″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>