GEAR: Wool in Harsh Environments

By Noah

I’m not really intending to pitch a product, but rather discuss specific type of product: wool.

Well, I just pulled the first wool shirt I bought years and years ago to figure out what model it was. It has been washed so many times and hauled all over the world and sweated through for so many miles that all the tags are completely illegible. However, I’ll take it on the next trip, I’m sure.

Closest I can figure is that my old wool shirt is now called the Icebreaker Tech-T Lite Short Sleeve Tee. I own probably half a dozen of them in various colors and permutations. (Here’s the women’s version: Icebreaker Women’s Tech T Lite.)

Perhaps Icebreaker clothing needs no review. Still, it was a tough call back a few years ago on a student budget. They’re not cheap. The brilliance of wool, though, comes in layering, which became very apparent at 10,000ft in the Caucasus a few months back. That’s when the Icebreaker Men’s Oasis Leggings and the Icebreaker Men’s Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip Top really are invaluable. (And, the women’s versions: Icebreaker Women’s Oasis Leggings & Icebreaker Women’s Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip Top.)

Things worth mentioning…?

Other than the obvious benefit in temperature regulation, the treatment in this wool doesn’t itch and it dries surprisingly fast. Though what I actually value more than anything is the fact that this wool can go epic amounts of time without getting too rancid to wear. Considering how fast they dry, however, there’s no reason to let them get too far gone: on my bicycle, I would wash one shirt in the morning and ride all day with the shirt just tied onto my panniers. By the time I was ready to camp for the evening, it would be dry.

I don’t like these little gear mentions to sound too much like a pitch for the product, but honestly, I really believe the Icebreaker holds a fairly high place in my “every trip” gear list. Most of my assignments require a certain amount of lightweight, compact travel. Last month I used almost exclusively merino wool and I think I got six shirts of various types, leggings, and a liner (that I can wear as a light jacket) into half of an 8L drybag. The other half was three pairs of Smartwool socks and their accompanying liner.

It may be worth mentioning that the Icebreaker shirts are not entirely unattractive. Granted, the tights are not meant to be seen and the socks are kinda… ya know… but the shirts just look like a t-shirt and the half-zips and long sleeve tops come in a number of flavors.


It is a $70 t-shirt. And or up to $130 pair of tights (which are really just fancy underwear). And some of the hoodies and whatnot can actually get pretty expensive. Is the price justified? I actually think so. They’re not pulling the proverbial wool over your eyes (no pun intended): this is actually a serious piece of clothing that actually contributes to the success of assignments in harsh conditions.

Just don’t lose it.


As I mentioned earlier, Icebreaker shirts hold a high rank in my “every assignment” packing. I think it is entirely because this stuff is so freaking versatile. The same shirt goes with me to cold weather assignments, warm weather assignments, and I can wear it on a seven mile run around Hyde Park, and to meet a friend at the cafe (maybe not immediately after that run, though).

Layer these under foul weather gear and you might even get too toasty… if that’s possible.

A monetizing mention:

Though my comments and opinions about the Icebreaker Merino clothes themselves are entirely my own and generated from real-world use, the links I post that open to Amazon are actually part of an Amazon Associates program. If you are in the market for these products, please click through and purchase them by my referral. It costs you nothing extra and I get a percentage of the sale cost:

Icebreaker Men’s Tech-T Lite
Icebreaker Women’s Tech-T Lite
Icebreaker Men’s Oasis Leggings
Icebreaker Men’s Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip Top
Icebreaker Women’s Oasis Leggings
Icebreaker Women’s Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip Top

Proteus is our child…

By: Noah D.

What on earth have we been doing for the past month of silence on this blog?

Everything under the sun. (Well… whenever there is sun.)

IMG_4410I’ve installed the new AIS and VHF splitter (which required running a second GPS receiver, a new NMEA cord to the helm chartplotter – I had to wait on it to come from the USA – and the physical installation of the units in a tiny little space) and I found how much a mess the nervous system of this boat is after 20 years of build-up. (And whoever did it was insane.) I dismantled one toilet entirely to unblock a blockage and partially disassembled the other to install a proper anti-siphon… which proved to me that I have my Dad’s iron stomach. New LED navigation lights are also installed… the old ones stood full of water half the time. However, now the green side has a decidedly blue hue, but they are super bright. Also, we installed all new LED interior lights and red night lights after two fixtures decided to go out completely. Lynn has been up the mast twice: once to retrieve the lazyjack halyard that broke during the Celtic Sea storm… and then again a few days later because I dropped it and it ran 20ft up the mast. And speaking of lazyjacks, we got everything restitched and I rebuilt the track on the side of the boom (that had also been ripped off in the Celtic Sea). The whole cockpit enclosure and dodger has been removed, treated, restitched, and reinstalled… we had a dodger window blow out during a storm. We have two new halyards and a clean bill of health for the rigging after a survey.

What do we have left? Our generator is still not running right. Some of Ireland’s best and brightest mechanics have been working on it and there’s still something amiss. It’ll come around…

Also, we’re going to have the boat lifted out briefly for a bottom spray before our trip south. It is amazing how much crap grows on the bottom of a boat in 6 months… even with good anti-fouling!

Finally, we’ve been out for a little sail up the coast from Kilmore Quay to Arklow. And we’ll be in Greystones before too long to be close to Dublin for final provisioning and picking up our new companions for the Big Trip south.

Expect the updates to come more frequently as we begin our adventure. I hope you’ll stay tuned…

Proteus, the name…

By: Noah D.

The minute we had settled on the Proteus name, I got the vinyls made. They’ve been sitting in a box for almost the past month, but got the old name off and put the new name on.

2014_10.17-3959Of course, they are a little larger than USCG spec, just to make sure. And we also settled on putting “Guntersville, AL” on the transom as our home port. A little home-town pride, perhaps? Definitely a conversation starter in a British marina.

The vinyls are just perfect – though simple – and spectacularly done. I shopped around a few different companies and opted to go with the uniquely named Funky Monkey Boat Graphics company. They’re a UK company and apparently have a great quality for a fair price.

I did my own design, though, and, if you blow up the photo, you can see there is a little drop shadow on there. Not exactly complicated, but the drop shadow uses a global light originating from 45 degrees forward of the bow: the drop shadow “drops” towards the aft of the boat on both sides… and on the rear, the drop shadow is directly underneath.

Simple, really. And probably nobody is going to ever notice it. Not all of design is making pretty logos: sometimes it is just thinking through its destined location.

In other news, we’re still on the hard and have been delayed a few days for technical difficulties with the marina hoist. When it comes to lifting our home, I’m not complaining that they take a little more time to get it repaired properly.

Stay tuned…
-Noah D.

GEAR: The MSR Hubba Hubba… one year later.


By Noah

Twenty-four hours after this pair of photographs were taken, I experienced the most difficult night of my life. And, though that might sound like an inflated statement, here’s a little of the circumstances surrounding this photograph:

My friend, Philip, and I–both photojournalists–were working on a project with the shepherds in the southeastern Caucasus. This particular evening in Georgia, we were in the lowlands awaiting our hosts: shepherds of the arid Samoukhi region in the far southeast tip of Georgia. This beautiful location (exactly here) is final staging ground for shepherds who will make the hard push up and over the Abano Pass into the summer grazing grounds.

This particular night of relative comfort–due to the tent–was followed by hiking approximately 20 miles from 1500ft to 9500ft the next day… at which point we were in conditions too bad and too urgent for the tent, so we “slept” in every piece of clothing we owned (including our coats)… inside a sleeping bag… under our rain cloaks… surrounded by all our gear… rolled in a blue tarpaulin.

Now, that wouldn’t be so bad, except the fact that outside our little blue burritos were about 6000 sheep, goats, cows, and horses. At this point, none of us–not even the shepherds–had eaten much other than vodka-soaked bread and some canned tuna (I think it was?) and half-way wild onions for the last 36 hours. This was the danger of this trek at this time of year: all the livestock are pushed hard because there is nothing to eat above the tree-line.

I mention the hunger issue not to make you pity us, but pity the sheep and the fact that I was nibbled and stepped on countless times during the night. Somewhere around 3am, I was nibbled on and whatever-it-was pinched the skin of my shoulder… so, I punched it through the many layers. The satisfaction of clocking a random animal in the middle of the night was short-lived…

The conditions were complete misery. For the few minutes of sleep I might have gotten, I spent most of the time shivering and soaking wet. It had been “raining” lightly as we lay down; however, I think it was just pervasive clouds. And to tell you how pervasive was the water… everything–literally everything–was wet. Every layer of the 5 or 6 that I had on was wet. Even under my back, which was inside the sleeping bag all night. The only thing that was not wet was the contents of a $10 oversized dry bag that my cameras and notebooks were inside and I had been very careful not to open it.

MSR_natchez-3What a strange way to start a review of a tent: a night in the most miserable conditions I’ve ever experienced and I didn’t even put up the tent! I give you this little anecdote because that is the situations in which I have no problem taking this tent. Even though the situation did not allow for it to be set up this time, it would have handled it, I have no doubt.

Rewind one year to the first time I ever used the tent for an extended period of time:

I rather consider it a shakedown cruise of my equipment and myself. For eight days, I bicycled from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi: the entire length of the Natchez Trace. For 444 miles over eight days I lived on a Jamis Aurora Elite expedition bike and lived in the MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent.

The 2014 version of this tent has been redesigned, but my copy–the 2013 version–I actually slightly prefer due entirely because it is green. (Though it is a tough find these days.) I wouldn’t have thought much of this until I saw it in action. One hazard of wild camping–especially certain places in the world–is being bothered by people. The tent, though kind of lime green, blends in well with the environment. The new version, however, is all red and grey… certainly a little more stylish, but a bit less natural colors.

One thing that I do recommend with this tent is the proper MSR Tent Footprint that is built for it.

Now, why is discussing a tent relevant for a sailing site? One of the coolest things I’ve seen people do while sailing routes like the Great Loop is to actually get out of the boat and camp along the way.

Notable things to mention…?

MSR_natchez-2This tent can put up with some of the most ridiculous conditions I’ve thrown at it. But don’t think that means it is difficult to set up or break down. It literally sets up in 7 or 8 minutes and, from the experience of the morning after the top photo was taken, it can be broken down in perhaps 60 seconds. Most importantly, footprint, structure, and rain fly packs down to the size of an American football (maybe a fraction larger) and weighs much less. I can pack it into luggage for international assignments and I don’t have to sacrifice too much else.

The tent is also spectacularly designed. Having spent weeks and weeks worth of time in this tent, I’ve never felt a drip on the inside that I didn’t inadvertently bring in. The design extends to the rope-free set-up. The tent pegs are really perfectly designed to hold each corner and the rainfly without fuss. I’ve been in a few storms with (Force 3-4) wind and I haven’t worried about it at all.

Don’t expect it to keep you too warm, but shockingly, the interior of the tent says warmer than I expected considering how breathable the material actually is.


The Hubba Hubba (two Hubba’s) version says “2-person.” Yeah, that is true. But you probably need to be quite good friends with them. I used it as a 1-person tent while on the Natchez Trace and kept all my equipment inside. With two people, the only space you have is for lying down. The rainfly extension becomes the gear shed, which the footprint does not extend to… meaning, if it rains, water will be running under your gear… or shoes.

It also has only a very small little pocket on either end for storage. It really might not matter very much to some people, but I could see how this Gear Loft could be a nice addition.


MSR_natchez-1Would I buy it again? Absolutely. It is not the biggest tent in the world (far from it) but it is perfect for extended living in rough conditions. MSR (Cascade Designs) have constructed a serious tent and not wasted anything while not stripping it down too far.

Is it a perfect tent to keep aboard a boat? Yes. Put it in a little out-of-the-way compartment. And when you need to take it to shore in your tender, you won’t even know it is on the boat.



A monetizing mention:

Though my comments and opinions about the tent itself are entirely my own and generated from real-world use, the links I post that open to Amazon are actually part of an Amazon Associates program. If you are in the market for these products, please click through and purchase them by my referral. It costs you nothing extra and I get a percentage of the sale cost:

MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent
MSR Hubba Hubba Tent Footprint
MSR Universal Gear Loft