Frankie convinced me to try a cruise up the east coast of Australia for 3 days departing from Sydney. Check it out.
In Bali, out of the blue (sorry couldn't resit that pun) a Thresher Shark paid us a visit at Crystal bay.
The van is sold, and already on her way to Byron Bay with her new owner!
Really looking forward trying this bag out, my normal bag leaks water from my wet gear into my car :S smelly after a few days!
Well in just over 3 years I have gone from zero to PADI Rescue Diver - just one rung below a professional!
DIVING: Scuba Gear Update
I was just washing and putting my gear away from his weekends dive and wanted to give you a look at some of my gear updates
After our trip earlier this year in Asia I really got to put my gear through a number of dives as a full system and got pretty comfortable with the whole thing.
Product details below:
Camera Set up
Olympus TG 4
Olympus PT-056 dive housing
GoPro 3 black
Reg mouth piece:
Custom moulded mouth piece
Flying east from Bali, Indonesia across tiny islands ringed in gold and turquoise, over fishing villages and mountains you come in to land over yet another cluster of islands into Labuan Bajo airport, new, white and shiny. Soak it in. It's the newest building in 'Bajo!
Straight away I noticed the striking difference in the faces of the Flores people compared to the Balinese and Javanese. They look almost exactly like the Timorese - Big wide smiles. Slightly curly hair. It felt so comforting. Reminding me of my time in East Timor in 2008.
'Bajo is a growing port town and also the gateway to the Komodo National Park. The national park is a magnet for divers and adventurers alike.
We specifically went to Bajo to do two things. See the famed Komodo dragons and to dive. We spent 7 days in Bajo, diving almost every second day. A boat trip to most dive sites is around 1-2 hours. Our longest day included a guided walk within the National Park on the island of Rinka, a neighbour to Komodo. On the small island is a ranger station where the rangers live and base from - they have two main roles. Act as walking guides and to show the dragons The Rinka dragons are about 1/3 smaller than Komodo's due to evolution. Rinka's giant lizards are still 2-3m long. Our guide cheerfully informed us that they climb trees until they are too big then just hunt on the ground for small deer, birds and other Frankie sized prey.
A day trip to Rinka can still fit in two dives later in the day however a trip to Komodo is about 5 hours one way from 'Bajo. With time not on our side as well as a hunger to dive in one of Asia's greatest sites - Rinka it was.
I can't talk about 'Bajo without talking about the diving. The best way I can describe the life around the national park - Prolific and Jurassic Park-like. Every fish, every Turtle, every Nudi was bigger, brighter and totally amazing.
We stayed with Blue Marlin in Komodo - can not recommend them as a dive company and lodging more highly. Loved it. 5 stars for me.
Check out my other travel posts : Here
The Australian winter is upon us.
Here are two videos where I show where the van is up to:
I have added 1.7r value foil backed earth wool insulation
About 1/2 of a roll - full roll cost $90AUD at Bunnings
When the heater controls died I have not replaced them, opting for the manual control change over using a pair of pliers, I show you how in this video.
Check out my other Van posts here
The Perhentian Islands are approx 25km off the north east coast of Malaysia, just south of the Thai border.
Flights are multiple times per day from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Biru, the nearest mainland airport. Then it is a 60km drive to the coast with any one of the friendly local taxi drivers. Before you depart KL, it is advisable to call your accomodation on Perhentian and confirm boats are operating to the island that day, particularly early in the season. We were caught out a bad weather front swept through as we arrived and no boats were operating.
Boats are either booked by your accomodation or tickets purchased at one of the local Kuala Besut ticket agents.
The boat ride from Kuala Besut to Perhentian is approx and hour. If the sea is rough be prepared for a bumpy ride.
Where to stay
We stayed on the ‘big Island’ Perhantian Besar at Abdul’s Chalets. Abdul’s afforded the best mix of location, privacy and quality.
Abdul’s has its own ‘home reef’ located within a roped section for snorkelling away from boats. Many other shallow reefs are within a 15 min walk of your front door.
Large parts of the big island are accessible only by boat and the hotel is more than happy to organise for you.
What to do
Anything in the water!
Perhentian is set up for watersports, be it scuba diving, snorkelling, turtle spotting, or relaxing on a beach.
Calm water frontage
Not being told by our hotel that there was no boats operating, leaving us stranded in Kuala Besut - check with your hotel (particularly in shoulder season) about access.
Don’t forget to bring
Sunscreen and a towel
December has seen some big changes as every month seems to.
I have added an additional 100ah 12v AGM with some new fusing options.
There is now a fuse between the 2 batteries 50amp resettable, along with another 50amp resettable between the batteries and the load distribution fuse panel.
I also managed to snap up a 1000w pure sine inverter during the christmas sales - I haven’t managed to install it yet however I am thinking of just putting an anderson plug and use it occasionally.
This time we trooped off to Mystery Bay on the NSW South Coast, just south of Narooma
The Mystery Bay Camp site is a bush campsite in a eucalyptus forest surrounding the bay.
The site consists of long drop bush toilets and cold showers dotted around.
However being the self sufficient little chaps we are we had our 12v shower, a kettle and a bucket = warm shower
We set up a tent to use as storage and to save our space as the camp site was so busy and we didn't want to come back and find others in our site.
As there is no Optus connection available, we used a prepaid $2 Telstra sim card in a wifi pod so we could we could still contact my family who were travelling for the christmas holidays.
Our days were filled with exploring the surrounding coast line, eating local seafood and sunning ourselves on the beach.
I could have guessed that it was all going too well! Coming back from coast, top of Clyde mountain we burst a coolant pipe.
Pulled over before motor seized without coolant, no Optus service. Used Wifi pocket again to Facebook message friend in Canberra, he coordinated with NRMA who attended, towed to Braidwood, NMRA replaced coolant hose and we were able to continue on our way home
As I sit here looking back over the progress on the van since we purchased her (it?) since August I am astonished with the changes. Full electric fit out, mattresses, storage, mechanical. All have been completed in this short time.
Never being one that believes in starting slow, her maiden voyage was a 2 night, three day, 800km long weekend. Canberra to Bombala via Cooma was the first leg, camping just outside the town at a river known for its frequent platypus sightings. Sadly the river was up and not fury friends were sighted.
Being our first night we wanted to stay away from other people and chose to free camp, having a fully self sufficient.
The main learning we had from the first night was - sleep with your head to the back - while the fridge is quiet it does start for 2-3 min every 30 minutes. With your head at the rear you do not hear it at all.
We were up early and left our little river side spot, stopping at a local rest area to clean up and make breakfast. Nothing done by halves with Frankie on board. Toasted croissants with ham and cheese.
By lunch time we had already arrived at our next overnight spot - Mallacoota, the northern most town on the coast in Victoria.
Opting for a powerless site a the local van park that dominates the towns estuary foreshore allowed us to have near uninterrupted water frontage. Why pay for a powered site when we make our own!
All in all it was an 800km 2 night 3 day shake down. We worked out what worked well and what needed improving.
But more on that, next time.
Don't forget to checkout our social media channels for other updates:
So this this month saw the conclusion of a number of projects I had been wanting to bowl over.
I rewired every circuit in the house battery (second battery for the muggles). Adding a fuse block and a master 50A fuse.
I also added a voltage sensing relay between the van's alternator and the second battery to charge while driving.
I installed an Anderson plug on the exterior of the van to allow hookups to external solar panels when the van is in the shade.
The final project was the adding of two digital meters for solar input and one for output to keep an eye on usage.
With the rewiring of the system I now have 3 12v cig sockets in the front and one in the rear all running off the house battery. I needed more other wise I would need to keep unplugging the 12 fridge to charge my phone or run a 12v fan.
My parents have a 1 year old 31lt Waeco 12v CDF-35 fridge they are giving to us so we theoretically can go off grid for weeks (food and relationship pending :D )
Videos to come
I'm back home now. 8 dives over 4 days. Turtles, Manta Rays and Thresher shark thrown in.
Most at of my time was spent in Amed on the north coast on the island of Bali.
I recently uploaded a new video to show you the progress since the last video.
Some highlights include:
- Finishing the interior upholstery, moving from gray vinyl to a dark blue interior that is really nice and gives a warmer feeling.
- Additionally we have received the mattress covers for the folding mattress that forms the bed of the van as well as curtains to block out the light.
- The large Fiamma wind out awning was installed that doubles the living space as well as allows outdoor cooking.
It has been a busy few months working on the van. The interior is almost up to scratch with the covers for the mattress being the only roadblock before its first test.
The front windscreen that was cracked from left to right because of a rust bubble has been removed and repaired.
The last piece that I am looking for to make it perfect is a side awning that does not require roof racks. This is proving to be more ellisive than I had imagined. Any ideas?
No longer is the capture of your action adventures dependant on the sun being your only light source.
Encapsulated in a unit smaller than your GoPro, the Knog Qudos is the perfect companion to keep your action being recorded long after the sun goes down. The added bonus of being waterproof to 40m makes it perfect for projects like my DIY Scuba GoPro Tray. The aluminium exterior acts like a large heat sink keeping everything cool and happy.
The Qudos has multiple modes to adjust brightness and light speed, allowing you to control your shots in any scene or location – whether deep underwater, high in the sky, or anywhere in between.
- Output : 70 - 400 lumens
- Dimensions : 31 x 70 x 40mm.
- Weight : 150g
- Materials : Die Cast + CNC Machined Aluminium heat sink and optical grade lens.
- Battery : USB Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
- Burn Time : Up to 4 hours.
- Waterproof : The [qudos] action is IP68 tested and waterproof up to 40m.
- Compatibility : For use with GoPro Hero 2, 3, 3+, 4 and action cameras with a GoPro conversion mounts.
A while ago I wrote about #projectsailboat. This was a desire to learn more about the “systems” of a boat prior to purchase. Such as a means of producing power (solar), storage options in limited space etc. Greater discussions with my partner led us to move away from the idea of a boat - we simply would not get the use of it, being some 150km from the ocean. The next option was a camper - we enjoy camping and exploring but due to weather this limits our options. A camper would extend the 'season' as well as offer a support vehicle for scuba diving. After much searching we settled on a relatively old 1998 VW camper van. It had been roughly converted - allowing us to add many of our own touches. The video below gives you a look at the van after we have had it for only 2 weeks.
Check out the video and don't forget to like, comment or subscribe.