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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Paddle Test on Cotuit bay Cape Cod, MA

Trying to find the perfect paddle length after a 6.5 mile cruise around the bays of Cotuit.

Cotuit Bay SUP paddle test from Dean Withrow on Vimeo.

Bonaire Snorkeling in Lac Bay

Under our feet while windsurfing in Lac Bay, Bonaire.

Bonaire Bliss 2014 from Dean Withrow on Vimeo.

Westport River SUP (test run)

Film of AJ training for his SUP race season.

Westport River SUPin' from Dean Withrow on Vimeo.

Father's Day Surf Session

Father's Day surf session Moody Beach, ME from Dean Withrow on Vimeo.

Frisco Disco 2014

Discovered a gem of a Par 3 Disc Golf course in Frisco, NC while windsurfing in Hatteras...

Windsurfing in Cape Hatteras, NC

Yet another trip to the Outer Banks for some fun in the sun.

OBX Winds 2014 (Windsurfing the Outer Banks) from Dean Withrow on Vimeo.

Sunday River Escape

Met an old friend from college for a "Blue-Bird" ski day on Sunday River in Maine.

Sunday River March 2014 from Dean Withrow on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter Blues

How to kill a winter
Ah, New England... it's "like a box of chocolates, you never know what you'll get". Well, this year, I've made sure there won't be: deep snow, large storms or clean ice. It's guaranteed since I made the mistake of picking up a snow blower, buying a generator, building it a shed and then designing and fabricating two new ice-boards. That should do it. This winter will now, certainly be another mild one here in New England.

Iceboarding
There is a group of ice junkies here in New England, who can't seem to get enough of the smooth stuff. We travel in search of any clean plate when the wind is blowing. We're just a bunch of friends who gather with a variety of toys designed to make the most the conditions. Every year, these familiar faces show up with a variety of craft... custom made ice-boards (with windsurfing rigs), kite-wings, kites, skates, etc...  We all live for this.

Not this year. Once again, we've been snake bit. A very promising cold start led to an early snow storm and a white Christmas. It's all gone downhill since. Two weeks (and counting), of warm wet weather. The lakes are a mess and the generator, snow-blower and ice-boards stand idle. C'est la vie, hopefully, there's still time. Seems like a great excuse to start another project.

"Ice-o-bar"
Having some free time to kill around X-mas, I decided to build a new ice-board. I had enough materials left lying around to fabricate one, so why not. I changed the geometry and weight a bit from my last board, using a thinner marine plywood.
Marine plywood deck, red oak stringer

Forcing a deck camber with an epoxied oak stringer

I then recessed a modified mast track using a thickened epoxy. While most use only 1 or 2 tiny sails while ice-boarding, I will carry anything from 6.3 meters to 3.7 meters. The adjustable mast track is a must for me. Next was a layer of pigmented epoxy, black on top and blue on the bottom.

 Routed out and dropped in Chinook mast track

Full coat of pigmented black epoxy

Deck traction is always a concern on ice-boards. Snowy boots need a variety of methods to keep them attached to the board. It starts with sand embedded into a layer of epoxy. Next, comes perforated stainless traction pads that I cut from a sheet and bent appropriately. After the sand and metal pads, I add 100 inches of fan belt to the perimeter of the board. This prevents my huge feet from sliding off the edges. The belt gives me a sense of security in some pretty hairy and dynamic conditions. When I'm really "wound", I use (removable) DaKine footstraps.

Stainless traction pads

Sand textured deck with fan belt edging.

The thinner lighter deck, in turn, provided a new set of problems to tackle. Torque (board twist) reared it's ugly head. I tackled that with uni-direction carbon fiber and carbon twill on the bottom. On the recommendations of several buddies who know a lot more about carbon than I... thanks Rob, Alex, Rick and Jeff!!!

Carbon lay-ups covered with peel ply

The runners were made with 440C stainless steel bar stock, then shaped, drilled, tapped and then hardened to 57 Rockwell (thanks: S&P Heat Treating Inc). That's when the real job starts... My new (used/craigslist) belt sander became my best friend over Christmas. Hours were spent grinding, shaping, and sharpening all 12 of my blades. They needed a new radius and a razor's edge.

Grizzly belt sander set at 45*

Stainless 440C runners

Trucks for the new board started with a set of Veloz downhill skateboard trucks that I had laying around. Everything else had to be fabricated out of aluminum bar stock and stainless perforated sheets and all stainless steel hardware. This time around I tried adding a cosmetic touch by painting it with a transparent metallic paint coated with 4 layers of clear for protection. Yummm! My enthusiasm was short lived however... it chipped off too easily. Live and learn. I decided to strip them and try again, with powder coating.. (see below)

Out with the old (spray paint), in with the new...

"Ice-o-bar" is born

The Snowball Effect
As is so often the case, one project leads to another. I had a beautiful new board with a beautiful, but not so permanent paint job. I needed a solution and "powder coating" seemed like the only viable answer. Google led me to company that sells the "gun" for less than $80 and the powders for about $15 a pound. Now all I needed was a booth to contain the operation. PVC, sign plastic and duct tape was my answer. My dad (the king of "duck" tape) would be so proud of my thrifty solution:
 1" PVC pipe, sign blanks and white duct tape.

 Bath exhaust fan and surge protector added

Copper pipe (for ground) LED light & Eastwood powder coat gun

Paint without toxic fumes... who would have thunk it? All I needed was a small counter-top oven. Not wanting to pollute the one in the kitchen, I found a classic, (from the 60's?) on eBay.

My "Easy Bake Oven" test run

So... the particles of paint are positively charged and pushed from the gun at 8 psi. They are attracted to a negatively (grounded) part and statically "stick" to it. Until baked, the part can't be touched, as the powder will come right off. On the plus side, if you screw up, then brush it off and do it again in seconds. Once coated it needs to be baked on. Using a laser thermometer, I wait for the part to "wet out" at 400*, then bake for 10 to 15 minutes. The results were phenomenal and drove me headlong into my next project...

"El Diablo"
Having just finished one, just like Forrest Gump, I kept on working.
With new found skills and technology (and still no ice), I jumped right into my dream board. The last 1/3rd of my marine ply and leftover aluminum and resin, led me to buy some new trucks from the Ronin company. The fastest skateboard downhill racers on earth were using these trucks and I wanted to build a board around this new technology.


The same process used above, began again (with some subtle tweaks) leading to a somewhat flatter, lower, lighter, more nimble and downright gorgeous new speed machine. Here are some of the steps:

 Red and black carbon twill bottom

 Peel ply over the carbon lay-up.

 Stainless traction pads powder-coated candy red.

 Red Carbon Twill over crossed 6" uni-directional carbon tape.

Ronin powder coated front truck assembly


Using "Ronin red" and the El Diablo theme, this baby was built low and fast. All thoughts of twist and torque were negated by a layer of 6" uni-directional carbon tape set at 45 degrees and topped with a (color coordinated) red carbon twill. It all came together in a few days and resulted in one sweet looking machine.

It will break 55 knots...

My sleds are ready now. Only one thing missing.
Ice-o-bar and El Diablo

Chiquita
Last year's project "Chiquita" also got a makeover. 
Now labeled "The Golden Banana" by my wife Ami... I added some 6" carbon tape for twist control, then disassembled everything metal to ready it for the golden powder coat.
Cooling rack for Chiquita's golden parts

 Torque control for Chiquita

Going for Gold on Chiquita.

Cocoa is "ready to ride"

Chiquita looks ready.

El Diablo, ChiquitaIce-o-bar

If you want to see more (I'm amazed that you got this far) go to my online photo collection HEREJust add ice and about 30 knots of wind... soon please.





















Saturday, November 02, 2013

Sandy Point Speed Slick

Got Speed?

Look what we found in Little Narragansett Bay, RI...
This is a legitimate speed strip out in a bay shared by Connecticut and Rhode Island. I've been "eyeballing" this site for years now and finally got the opportunity to sail it on Friday.


Peter and I discussed a location to sail in a BIG SSW wind that was due to hit us on Friday. His first suggestion was the Kennedy Slick. This is a jetty right in front of the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis, MA. (not my favorite spot due to a very short reach) His next idea was Sandy Point. I thought he was joking as it's a famous speed strip in western Australia. Then after viewing it on Google Earth, I recognized it immediately and started making plans. Peter, Nina and I decided to meet at a boat launch, one mile downwind from Sandy Point, in the Barn Island Wildlife Management area.



Arriving a little late, I interrogated the local sailors as to the conditions and lay of the land.  The wind was already 35 gusting to 40 mph and sails ranged from 3.2 to 3.7 meters. I naturally rigged my 6.3 TR-8 race sail and jumped in. :-) Sailing into a very stiff breeze and surprizingly decent weather, I headed upwind 1 mile to the point. It looked perfect!


37 knots on my first run! (that's about 43 mph)
I'm thinking this could be the day. Today 40 knots is going down...
Unfortunately the only thing going down that day was the wind, as it dropped
at a steady rate then plummeted of the chart when Peter arrived. 



Throwing down 6 or 7 runs in quick succession, I found that each one was slower then the last. Peter arrived just after a rain squall blasted through, bringing with it clearer skies and the sudden drop of wind. Planing was no longer an option and we waited patiently for enough to head back in. It could have been epic for all three of us, but it wasn't meant to be. Peter and Nina had driven 2+ hours to get there and were more then a little disappointed. 

Peter has an interesting, informational and sometimes funny perspective on his blog The Windsurf  Loop. You can read about his take on Sandy Point here: http://boardsurfr.blogspot.com/2013/11/a-barn-good-island.html

Peter shot some Go Pro video on the way out and a quick "slingshot" around me at the slick. Check it out!

 
Windsurfing Sandy Point from boardsurfr on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Ned's Point Cruising

It's been a couple of weeks since we've tasted wind here in New England. September has brought us a present on a weekend no less. While Kalmus Beach would have been a better choice for speed, I had my sights set on a crossing. Ned's Point is 20 minutes from home and has a lot going for it. Great rigging area, good friends and a lot of open water (Buzzards Bay). Not without flaws, Ned's wind line is usually 1/2 mile out into Mattapoisett harbor. This makes for a bit of a "slog" unless you rig big. With clear skies, a steady wind (out of the SW) and plenty of time for worry free sailing, I set off on a crossing to Woods Hole, MA. 20 miles round trip and normally takes about an hour. This one wasn't average. The swells were 4-6 feet with an endless variety of wind and boat chop from every direction made for a challenging ride. Perfect warm up for a day of sailing. I did bring a variety of safety gear, including: a GPS, a cell phone (in an Otter case), a life jacket and a whistle.
Gear for the day: RRD X-Fire 98ltrs board. Maui Sails TR-7 7.0 meter sail. BP Speed Weed 34cm skeg.

Ned's Point Windsurfing from Dean Withrow on Vimeo.

Great day on Buzzard's Bay!

Friday, July 05, 2013

Beating the Heat... Crossing Buzzard's Bay

How did you escape the heat today? Although the wind was light, it blew steady enough for a crossing with confidence. Buzzard's Bay was unusually choppy with wind, swell and boat wake. Leaving Ned's Point at 1:30, the wind was increasing but still under 20 mph out in the bay. On the far side, near "The Knob" in Woods Hole, the wind was non-existent. After falling off-plane I jibed for the return trip. Getting back on-plane took some time, but once up, all was good. Bumpy, but fun. Round trip took just over an hour and fifteen minutes, with the "schlog" included. As always with a solo crossing, arriving back safely always feels great. No matter how much safety gear you bring, there is always an element of uncertainty... just enough to remind me that I'm still living! Love it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Kennedy Speed Slick

Saturday Oct. 15th looked to be a BIG day for wind on the Cape. Our first ripping SW in quite a while. Launching in front of the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis, MA. gave me a near perfect speed slick for GPS runs. The use of handheld, Doppler GPS units has given birth to an international competition among speed sailors from all over the world. Our team lacks a true speed strip and the Kennedy Slick is the best I can find on Google Earth. On an individual basis, my goal is to break 40 knts., on open water. it's been much tougher then I anticipated, but what a thrill trying! 


In order to achieve this, several things have to fall into place:
- Perfectly flat water (Low jetty and High tide)
- 35 to 45 knts of wind
- A Broad Reach, 120*-130* downwind
- The Right Equipment (designed for speed)
- A Fit and Fearless sailor :)
I had the flat water, plenty of wind, couldn't go downwind, my quiver was "not up to speed" (but getting close) and finally... "Fearless" I am, Fit? well not so much, given our summer of no wind.


Sailing along the jetty with breaking waves sending spray over my head was a thrill. The sun was shining, the water warm and everything came home in one piece, including me. Those who walked by were curious and friendly. I met people from Ireland, China, France and a few locals.  Over all a great day on the water. Check out the video below or on my YouTube channel in HD with a better resolution:
http://youtu.be/oEzUqSWKYsQ?hd=1 



Kennedy Speed Slick October 15, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monday, May 31, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Friday, July 24, 2009

 
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Steve Brinster putts for par...
Borderland Spring Fling
2008
Watch slideshow here:
SpringFling
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Monday, February 18, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Winnecunnet Pond
Valentine's Day 2008



















Perfect conditions!
Solid ice and a Steady wind...

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

The BDGC (Borderland Disc Golf Committee)
Jan. 12, 2008 View our website HERE.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007















MERRY CHRISTMAS
Our first real snowfall of the season!
18" of heaven on earth...

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