Tag Archives: Baja

Spot Satellite Messenger Warning

10 Jun

UPDATE – After a few conversations with Spot, they graciously decided to refund my service subscription fee. The Spot customer service people were very professional and helpful. They acknowledged there were software problems (app), and suggested I tried the latest version of the app. I declined, as I really don’t want to be testing this product. I want it to save my life. So all went well with Spot. That left me dealing with the hardware, which I had purchased at Best Buy. All I could get was store credit, which I suppose is better than nothing. So all is good. I may try the Spot Messenger. We’ll see.

 

When a product is advertised as something that could save your life, it had better work. The Spot Connect doesn’t.

Facebook Comments On Spot Messenger

I looked into Spot products on the advice of Surfline’s Sean Collins. In his article on Baja surf travel, Sean recommended the Spot Satellite GPS Messenger as a “don’t leave home without it” product. If stranded out of cell phone range, this satellite communications product would send a message to loved ones and help at the push of a button. “I need this” was my reaction.

The Spot Connect – Doesn’t work.

I went to the Spot website and learned of another product, the Spot Connect, a device that Bluetooth-links to your smartphone enabling texts and basically more functionality than the Spot Messenger. With all the testimonials and stories on their website about the rescues due to the Spot products, coupled with Surfline’s recommendation, this seemed like a no-brainer.

The Spot Messenger – Works

But I messed up. I should have researched more, in which case, I would have bought the basic product instead. The Connect doesn’t work. Whether it’s the app, the firmware, or whatever, it’s a waste of money that risks your safety. Stick with the basic product.

More on this story here at The Surfer’s Guides blog.

AFX Helmet Review

5 Jun

AFX FX-39DS Helmet Review from SurfTravelGear on Vimeo.

The AFX Dual Purpose helmet is nice and bright, for high visibility, but has a few issues.

Bad Gas

2 Jun

Problemas? Head to Llantera San Borjas in El Rosario.

There’s a nice, busy Pemex station as you enter El Rosario from the north. This is an important gas stop in Baja, as the next Pemex station isn’t for another 200 miles. There’s gas by the can midway, at Catavina, and more in Punta Prieta, although the latter is difficult to find, but those only have “magna sin” (unleaded regular), and the Pemex in El Rosario has premium.

Most are reluctant to get gas from the can. I’ve filled up in pueblas, fishing villages, and everywhere else they’ll sell you gas from the can, and have not had a problem once. I can’t say the same for the Pemex in El Rosario.

Gas from the can. Fishing village Laguna de San Ignacio. Magna sin only.

Less than a mile after filling up on Premium, while still in second gear to avoid getting a ticket in town, the DR started sputtering, then died. It would start, but sputter and die in seconds. It had to be the gas. What else could explain this? Turn around in the direction of the gas station. Start pushing.

After a 100 yards or so I get to the Llantera San Borjas, owned by a guy from LA, which was fortuitous, as I can speak some Spanish, but not enough come breakdown time. We talked it over and decided it was the gas, of course. They figured I hadn’t watched closely enough and filled up on regular instead of premium. I was quite sure I got premium. Regardless, we decided to drain most of the gas and refill. This went for my extra gallon loaded in a bag on my tail rack.

With much gas drained and the tank nearly empty I tried starting the bike hoping I could get it to sputter enough to make it to the gas station and save the boys a trip with the gas can. The DR started, and ran. And ran and ran. I made it to the Pemex without a stutter.

The answer had arrived. Whatever was bad about the gas was at the bottom of the tank. Which means it was water. There was water in the gas.

I pulled up to a different island for a completely different pump, loaded up on premium, again, and was on my way. No problema.

In Catavina I filled the DR up with regular for the first time. She ran fine. And for the next 1,500 miles or so I filled up mostly on regular, as that’s all that was available. Not a stutter.

Next time I won’t drain as much gas. There was probably less than a cup of water in the tank. Also, if you’ve never drained your gas, you need to put the petcock in the Prime position, otherwise it won’t drain.

UPDATE to Board Support Up Front

1 Jun

Duct tape repair. (Have to look closely.) Temporary, and unnecessary, as it turns out.

It didn’t take long for the PVC contraption (see Board Support Up Front post) to fail, cracking after just 8 hours or so in the saddle. Here we are at the Old Mill in San Quintin applying a duct tape repair. As it turned out, it was never needed. In just another couple of hours the support broke off completely, slipping away from the duct tape. The event went unnoticed, though, as the problem solved itself.

The support was never meant to work on its own. It was there as much as an anchor for the bungie cord as anything else. When the contraption broke off, the hose-clamped piece stayed in place, which was all that was needed anyhow, as the Carver racks in the back fully supported the surfboard. All that was needed up front was the bungie cord to keep the nose in and out of the wind. This photo shows the remaining mess that worked great for the rest of that trip, another 2,000 miles, including hundreds of off-road riding, at speed.

All that was needed in the first place was an anchor for the lower bungie cord hook.

So what started as the biggest concern – keeping the front of the surfboard supported and out of the wind – turned out to be a non-issue. Very good news.

Carver Surf Racks

6 Mar

OK, down to the good stuff: Surf racks on a motorcycle. I checked Deus Ex Machina rack, but you can’t buy it without buying the motorcycle attached to it, and at this point they’re only doing street bikes. I also checked out the Surfer Peg rack, but again, it’s street oriented, and needs to attach to the frame. That’s not inherently bad, but it would require fabrication that I’m not quite interested in. Primarily, though, it’s the street focus that steered me away. I settled on the Carver Racks, even though they’re not for motorcycles – bicycles and scooters, but not motorcycles. What I liked, though, is that it could be bolted to the rear rack.

When putting the racks together I encountered a small problem: The rubber tubes were too long, so the pieces wouldn’t fit together without a bit of cutting. I called the guys at Carver in Hawaii. They were a bit surprised, but were good with the mod.

Case Savers

5 Mar

A slow-speed fall could spell disaster if the brake pedal or shifter gets driven into the engine case. And it happens all the time. So adding case savers is a must. I checked out the case guards at Procycle. They’re $80 and made of stainless steel. Then I found the aluminum (translation: lighter) guards at Motorcycleproducts for $60. Lighter on the bike and wallet too.

Easiest things in the world to install, once you find the right adhesive. The instructions ask for “RTF” adhesive. Went to the local hardware store, OSH, but they never heard of it. Went to Home Depot, same deal. But after scouring the aisle I found this (below). As it turns out, it’s basic silicon seal.

After finding the right stuff it’s easy. Clean the guards with 409 to remove all dirt or finger oils, and spread the silicon seal.

Press the guards to the cases and tape to hold in place.

After letting the silicon seal set for a day I added a bead around the edges to keep dirt from getting inside.

UPDATE: The installation went well, and after riding over 2,500 miles in Baja, most of that in desert temperatures well over 100, I’ve seen no problems. The news is that ProCycle now has installation instructions on their site. Not much different than these, but they like the red silicon. Check it out here.

The Surfer’s Guide to Baja – New Edition

2 Mar

The new, 4th edition of The Surfer’s Guide to Baja is finally back in print. It’s been out of print for nearly a year while the update for the 4th edition has been under way. Available at core surf shops everywhere, or it can be ordered direct from Amazon, Createspace and other online vendors.

UPDATE: The Kindle version now available too…here.