On the evening of the 18th of March 2021 Kevin Bolton on behalf of NavWorld presented a Satellite Navigation Talk to the Monument Toyota Constantia and Rivonia Toyota 4x4 enthusiasts at Hobby Park in Krugersdorp. Just after 19:00 Riaan Kotzee introduced Kevin and handed the floor to him. Kevin Bolton is an experienced satellite navigation specialist starting his passion for the subject as far back as 1982 while still in the military. During his 43 years in this specialist field he has worked in South Africa, Turkey and a number of African countries, presenting talks and satellite navigation training courses to professionals and recreational enthusiasts. He has also visited Garmin Europe on three occasions to gain a better in-depth knowledge of their products. The presentation started by reminding us of the basics of navigation: Knowing where you are, Knowing where you are going, Knowing where you have come from, Keep orientated, Have an alternative plan, And lastly always a bit of common sense or keep calm. Followed by the elements of navigation: Distance, Direction, Time Once the introduction was over the basics of what Satellite Navigation can do for one while out in the unknown were discussed. The reason is that many people think that a GPS is a nice to have and not always necessary. It will give one a position / location (co-ordinate), latitude, longitude and height. It will assists one while navigating by giving distance, direction and time, between locations as straight lines like a stick man or as per road or tracks. The true value in the Garmin products is the TrackLog or Breadcrumb which will enable one to track your movement with metadata; date, time, location and speed per location / crumb. The TrackLog will also enable one to track back from where you have come within the accuracy of the satellite navigation device. Generally a satellite navigation device will give an accuracy of between three to five meters. The TrackLog technology in a Garmin has been used in many court cases to prove the accused, innocence or guilt. With the TrackLog capability a person can create accurate maps of an area and of your routes that you have travelled. And finally a satellite navigation device is a safety device making sure you are always pointed at your destination no matter how you try to confuse it, always giving the time and distance to your destination. Therefore you can never get lost. Kevin is a strong believer in safety and therefore believes that every tour group be it a single vehicle or a number of vehicles, there should be a minimum of at least two satellite navigation devices in the convoy if not at least one in every vehicle and two in the lead vehicle. In today’s world there are four major GNSS in the world being, NAVSTARGPS the American system, GLONASS the Russian system, Galileo the European system and Beidou the Chinese system. At present Beidou is only reserved for military applications by China and Pakistan. If all four systems were available we would be able to receive signal from more than one hundred navigation satellites. The next point that was discussed was how to select a Satellite Navigation System that you would wish to purchase. Breaking the crucial points into 6 headings. Listed below are just a few examples that would help guide you in making this selection. What do I need? A Satellite Navigation System for 4x4ing, must display maps, do street navigation, have a TrackLog, have a big screen, a minimum signal from two GNSS and something that has some level of water proofing. What do I want? A screen that shows sunrise and sunset, something that can take satellite imagery, touch screen, good battery life, able to be dash board mounted and as well as something that can be used as a handheld device. Features that are nice to have? A magnetic compass, with a hunting and fishing screen (when it will be a good day for hunting or fishing), Pitch and roll dials Features that are not needed? A barometer and a backup camera. Features that I don’t want? Camera Budget? The most important. It should be remembered that the top of the range might not always suit your needs and that you could get away with something cheaper. The question was then asked can a cellphone do the same job as a dedicated Satellite Navigation Device. In Kevin’s opinion and his answer, a definite NO. A cellphone does not have the required battery life, most cellphones would not have the TrackLog capability, if it did it would use data for map downloads in most instances which could be costly and that is if there is network coverage. A cellphone is ideal for street and city navigation but not suited for the outdoor adventures and 4x4ing. At this point he discussed the Garmin outdoor products that he would consider. To his knowledge Garmin is the only manufacturer that is still selling these outdoor products in South Africa, as all of the other top brands have either withdrawn from South Africa or have totally closed shop and their products are no longer supported or available in South Africa. The Garmin products that he discussed was: The Garmin eTrex series that are be ideal for hiking, hunting and maybe as 4x4ing backup’s devices. The second device that he discussed was the inReach mini and the new devices with this technology. The inReach technology is not a satellite navigation device but a Satellite Communicator for two way global messaging. Working off of the Iridium network for emergency communications, tracking and sharing of your location. Again safety. The next product which are not ideally suited to 4x4ing but only as back up devices due to the smaller screen size. As with the eTrex series the GPSMAP 65 and 66 series are more suited to the hiking, hunting and professional applications. It should be noted that some of these devices now receive not only the original L1 frequency but now the L5 frequency, improving accuracy. The GPSMAP 66i includes the InReach technology. The following product was the Oregon series devices the bigger version of the touch screen eTrex 35 but still smaller handheld devices. The next up was the Overlander a rugged outdoor device which is ideal for 4x4ing with a big screen, 4x4ing features and user friendly similar to the older Nuvi series devices. This is a device that is Aneroid driven. Built to military spec. This device was reviewed in SA 4x4 during the last year and Kevin believes a winner. The last outdoor device to be addressed was the new Montana 700 series. Kevin has recently reviewed this device with the heading: THE NEW GARMIN MONTANA 700 series, Monster or Beast – WOW Next on the agenda for the evening was to give an insight into a few new Garmin products on the way: The Garmin Enduro, a new sports watch with up to an 80 hours battery life in GPS mode. The Garmin Power Switch, a new digital power box, which can be used to control / manage up to six 12v accessories. The system can be expanded to control a maximum of twenty four accessories (4 x Power Switches). These Power Switches will work with most compatible Garmin 4x4ing devices and most smart phones. The limit, being a maximum of 30 amps per device. Important, not made to manage a winch. The last new device is the Garmin Tread. This device will be a winner for 4x4 enthusiasts and it is a mixture of the Garmin Zumo XT and the Overlander but with a 5inch screen. The device includes a VHF radio for messaging / no voice, with tracking to a maximum of 20 vehicles simultaneously. Tracking range of the Tread will be limited to the nature of the terrain. Due to only texting and no voice, no license is required in South Africa. It should be noted in some countries the device can have voice communication. However this feature is not in South Africa and therefore does not come with the required additional accessories. Once finished with the product overview the different mapping that can be loaded to Garmin satellite navigation devices was discussed, being: Street mapping for Africa (4 map sets), City Navigator Southern Africa with the 12 southern countries, East Africa, West Africa and Northern Africa. The newer Garmin product is Topo Active Africa (complete Africa) with contour maps (maybe more representation lines, less than contours, which have a height value). Topo Active Africa can do auto routing to points of interest but not to street addresses. Tracks4Africa mapping, which Kevin believes is a must for anyone traveling north of the South African borders and adds value to 4x4 adventure. The other “map set” is BirdsEye from Garmin which is satellite imagery similar to that of Google Earth. Some of the new devices has this capability now included in the purchase. If not it can be purchased for an annual fee and downloaded as per requirement. Due to the size of the files one would only download places of critical interest. Kevin believes that this does add value to a navigation experience. When enabled, this would show as a backdrop to any other map enabled. To complement the Garmin products possible accessories that could be of value and purchased additionally were discussed. Suction mounts (the new bigger suctions really work), dash mounts and air vent mounts Power cables, carry cases, protective screens, extra batteries for long trips incase and external antennas which he believes are not necessary for most devices these days but are a requirement if your vehicle prevents the satellite signal from entering the vehicle (example armoured vehicles or similar) RAM mounts are a product that also comes highly recommended with some of the larger and newer devices coming with RAM mounts in the box. Some comments were made that people should take a bit of caution when using a satellite navigation devices. Ensure that when inserting co-ordinates that they are in the same format and the same datum is used. Select the setting for the route you wish to travel, shortest or fastest. This does make a big difference to your desire route. A common fault is when people confuse a route (which is planned) and a Track / TrackLog (something you have done) When navigating to a town or city do not try and activate the route from the street address but from the town or city function. If looking for a point of interest or address ensure the search function is set for near you or near another major center. When searching for something ensure you are using the correct spelling. Most of the new names are in the latest map sets and that the old names still exist and have not been removed. In closing Kevin gave an introduction and a few tips when using the Garmin Base Camp program. Base Camp is a map viewing or mini GIS, software package, intended for use with Garmin GPS navigation devices. It will organize, save and create data, plan your trip with common datasets that can be shared between friends. The software should be used to plan your next hiking, biking, motorcycling, driving or off-roading trip. You can view your maps, planned routes, and marked waypoints. As with your satellite navigation device you must ensure that BaseCamp has the same and correct settings, while using the identical maps for planning your adventure. Before venturing out on your adventure plan and check your trip to ensure the desired information planned is what you want. Remember that some satellite navigation devices have limitations wrt the number of points in a route Please save your information in a logic format under My Collection and on your computer for future reference. The planned 60 minute presentation stretched into a 2,5 hour session with numerous questions from the audience afterwards. In the end a most enjoyable and enlightening evening for everyone.
Garmin South Africa recently announced a new satellite navigation device known as the OVERLANDER. As the name indicates, it is a multipurpose satellite navigation device aimed at the 4×4 market. It is a rugged street navigation unit that can take the knocks. I believe that its large 7 inch screen makes it ideally suited to the recreational market – large enough to see the content, but not big enough to obscure your view of the road. The Overlander was launched on Monday the 16th September 2019 in South Africa. Initially we started with the well-known Garmin GPS V and then moved onto the Garmin Quest but both these device’s limitations were their small screens. In 2009 Garmin launched the Quest the Nuvi 500 which was a favourite in the 4×4 community in its day. Times have changed and technology has advanced. Garmin have brought out other products but none could compete with the Quest and Nuvi 500. Now we have the Overlander and even the name is synonymous with its applications. Before going any further with this review I must state that I do not consider any cellphone or tablet navigation program /app ideally suited for 4x4ing. They are not designed for the off-road lifestyle as they have limitations. For example, when you travel beyond existing infrastructure they become problematic. Some are also limited in terms of inserting waypoints – which is essential in the off-road environment. They are made for street navigation and only street navigation. So, what makes the Overlander more appealing than any other current off-road satellite navigation device (other than the Garmin GPS MAP 276 Cx which can be rather costly when all the extras are added) For me, the Overlander’s 7 inch touch screen is a winner for a start. Whilst a touch screen has not always been my preference, this one is nice and convenient. (The 276Cx is not touch screen). The device is built to IPX 5 standards (dust proof) and MIL-STD-810 (a USA Department of Defence test standard). It is a street navigator that is made for the outdoors (4x4ing) that will not break if it falls. Unlike other makes, this device will navigate you to your destination even if there is no mapping information between you and your destination (by using a bearing). This device is able to get GPS, Glonass and Galileo signal – which means that if one system goes down (as recently happened), the device will continue navigating with the satellites from the other two systems. The battery life is quoted as “up to 3 hours” – depending on the backlight usage etc. This is an improvement on most street navigation devices, but limited when comparing to a Montana or GPSMAP 276Cx (which have removal batteries). The standard maps loaded are Europe, Middle East & Africa including Tracks4Africa data. I am not certain if this is a full version of Tracks for Africa, but as I have often said before, travelling into Africa without Tracks4Africa is equivalent to getting lost. The Tracks4Africa mapping is not upgradeable (quote the Garmin helpline). This device is loaded with Topographic maps but I am not sure that these are contours. They are more likely representation lines to indicate relief. There is 64GB of internal memory available for additional mapping but it also has place for a micro SD card for additional memory. This is a massive improvement when comparing it to devices of 15 years ago which only had 243Mb of memory and no place for memory cards. It has the new magnetic tight-fitting Garmin Bracket AND the box includes a compatible RAM ball adapter. Something I have not seen before…. it has Pitch and Roll gauges which add value. The Overlander can pair with the Garmin inReach communicators (sold separately) for two way messaging. A feature that I have never seen before in a Street Navigator is a digital compass (unlike the previous street navigators where direction was calculated from your positioning therefore you would have to move to be able to get a bearing). It also has a barometer to give a better height accuracy and is not reliant on satellite positioning to give height (which could be out at times). The device includes Traffic reporting capability – which is very useful in congested cities. This feature has drastically improved over the years. The device is also compatible with the Garmin BC 35 Backup camera but I believe this is a “nice to have” – not a necessity. I believe that this device has a very uncomplicated and understandable menu logic, which makes it extremely easy to use. Never seen before, the Overlander has 65 408 track log points. The 276Cx is limited to 20 000. One point that did disappoint was that the device could not take an external antenna but that is not necessary for most people. Currently there is nothing in this device’s price range that can match its capabilities and features for which it is designed, especially when considering the included mapping. The Overlander is not the Alpha and Omega of off-road navigation but does come close to it. As I have written many times before, when travelling in remote areas please make sure that you have a backup navigation system as things can go wrong. A second navigation device (in another vehicle) or even a paper map will assist if things go wrong and you become lost for some reason. As the rules for navigation say : Know where you are, Know where you are going, Know where you have come from, Keep orientated, And always have an alternative route. A point that should be remembered when purchasing this device is be sure that the sales person upgrades the device’s firmware as well as updates the maps to enable you to get your free map update before leaving the store. If buying from NavWorld it comes with well-known unmatchable backup support. Additional Comment : Recently Galileo (the European Satellite Navigation System equivalent to GPS and Glonass systems) did crash due to problems experienced at a Base Station in Italy, but in Galileo’s defence it is still under development and has not been declared operational yet. By Kevin and Christopher Bolton Edited by Jacqui Ikin
Who needs a GPS? Is it the end of the road for GPS navigator devices, or do they still have a place in the overlander’s kit list? Long-time contributor and GPS expert Kevin Bolton gives his opinion… A lot has changed in the GPS world in South Africa since I last wrote an article on the subject back in 2016 (with the exception of my January 2019 review of the Garmin GPS Map 276Cx, which I consider to be my ideal 4x4, general navigation and outdoor lifestyle device). While back in SA from my work detail in Turkey, I decided to touch sides with a few people in the GPS navigation ﬁeld. On my visits to a few retail outlets, there was a very obvious lack of street navigators (PNDs) on the shelves. Next, I noticed one could not ﬁnd a TomTom street navigator anywhere. The Garmin street navigators were available but demand has clearly lapsed. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, general street navigation in and around town is easily and accurately done on most cell phones (which are sold with numerous standard navigation apps). Second, a lot of new cars, including the less premium ones, are sold with built-in navigation systems. Many in the industry believe that PND’s (Street Navigators) will not be around for much longer (two years at best), mainly because mobile phone navigation apps and in-car systems will get you around the town perfectly. In my opinion, however, these are not true navigation systems and they are deﬁnitely not ideal for the outdoor lifestyle. The track log (or electronic breadcrumb) given on the Garmin street navigators is where the true value of these devices lie, showing the route you have just travelled. There is a story in a recent YOU magazine recounting how a couple visiting Italy drove round and round in circles without realising it. The breadcrumb feature on a proper GPS device would have showed them something was wrong. But back to Tom Tom PNDs and sports watches. Unable to ﬁnd them on retail shelves, I discovered comments on the internet to the effect that the company no longer had a local head ofﬁce or support centre. I contacted an overseas support centre who conﬁrmed that Tom Tom no longer had an ofﬁce in SA and had stopped PND and sports watch retail sales I also read that the Tom Tom Fleet management operation had been sold to Bridgestone. I was able to conﬁrm that Tom Tom Africa (the TomTom mapping company) is still in South Africa and growing from strength to strength. I have always considered their mapping to be among the best available for southern Africa. On the Garmin front, the company management has changed in recent years with many people being promoted into senior positions in the broader company from the South African ranks. Garmin are still going strong in the Outdoor, Fitness, Marine and Aviation ﬁelds – these markets are growing and sales have increased. The PND market is also down for Garmin, but there will have been some local boost resulting from the Tom Tom exit. It’s this time of the year again when Garmin launches new products, among them the Garmin Drive 52 and Garmin DriveSmart 55 and 65 series devices (the new name for a Nuvi/PND device). This announcement was made on the Garmin American website, so it is not clear which devices will be released in South Africa. There is also talk of new and/or upgraded outdoor products. Globally, the good news is that some of the new Garmin devices are not only receiving the American GPS signal and GLONASS (the Russian satellite navigation signal), but also the Galileo signal (the European satellite navigation signal). Having three satellite navigation systems will both improve the accuracy of the devices (to within 3-5 metres), and will give the signal more integrity and provide back-up if one system was to fail. To date I have not heard of the American signal failing but have heard of the Russian system failing on two occasions. Meanwhile, happy GPS adventures.
Designed for high impact intense Close Quarter Battle (CQB), this indoor field makes for exciting airsoft shooting action. It is equally suited to fast-paced breaching-type team play or ultra-conservative, careful action. You never know what will be around the next corner. Games can be extremely intense with slow movement as you don’t know which corner your opponent may be hiding in. Over 1000m2 of airsoft game area, the Killhouse is perfect for intimate team games, Team training, Bachelor parties, Birthday parties, Security firearm tactical training and casual game play as well. Centrally situated in Strydom Park makes for easy access and is conveniently situated right next door to the new, larger Airsoft HQ offices. Plenty of safe parking is available. Due to the close proximity of most shooting action, many players opt for pistol load out or Personal Defence weapon rifles like MP5’s, P90’s or the like. This is definitely not a sniper field! Face protection is compulsory and FPS limits have been lowered to limit the pain threshold. Nevertheless the action is still exciting and realistic. Only a limited number of players are allowed on the field at any one time and almost the whole field can be marshaled from above. This also makes it very effective for security companies who want to train tactical staff with proper gun handling and house breaching before putting a real firearm into inexperienced hands. Hostage situations or home break-ins can be simulated for training purposes, putting you up against real people. For airsoft game play, games are obviously shorter which allows for more variety and flexibility. Rough terrain and poor footing is not an issue on this field. Another nice feature of this field is the ability for us to go to darkened mode. With the lights off during the day it is not completely blacked out, but allows players to experience the difference of low-light conditions. At night, it is another story and torches would definitely be necessary. Due to the fact that the field is not affected by weather or other security issues it is possible that mid-week evening games can be arranged.
It has now been almost two years since I last wrote a Satellite Navigation article, so I thought it appropriate to start with a review of what I consider to be currently the ultimate 4x4 off-road GPS. This device has been created for the outdoors: it is rugged enough to take the knocks, yet is also user-friendly enough for street navigation. A few years back, I wrote an article describing what I would consider the ultimate off-road GPS. The Garmin Montana was launched shortly thereafter, which met 85% of my criteria, desired features and functionality. Garmin launched the 276Cx about a year ago, but I have only now been able to lay my hands on one. I can, in all honesty, say that it is most definitely an upgrade on the 276C. The stylish Cx looks and feels different, but its keypad is the same, and its user-friendliness and menu logic are very similar. It is rather like the older Garmin Montana (a 2011 model) but it is not touch screen. In fact, I prefer the button- driven functions to the touch screen. I find it important that it has a large (five-inch) screen with 800 x 480 pixel resolution, as that makes it a winner with me, and adds a tick to my 4x4/off-road checklist. Other features that contributed to my opinion (that it is an improvement and an upgrade), are: Garmin have doubled the Track Log from 10 000 to 20 000 Track Log points (breadcrumbs). The device now takes a standard Micro SD card – a big improvement on the old Garmin propriety card that was horribly overpriced. The internal memory has been increased to 8Gb (expandable with a micro-SA card). The dual-battery system can use 3 AA batteries (up to 8h of battery life) or the supplied 5000 mAh Lithium battery (16h of battery life). It also runs off the vehicle battery. The device receives both GPS and Glonass, the Russian equivalent of the GPS signal. Note that this feature needs to be enabled. This unit can take an MCX external antenna, which improves its operational ability in vehicles which have difficulty receiving satellite navigation signal through the front windscreen... which is more common than you would think. The negatives? An initial disappointment was the price (listed on the Garmin website, www.garmin.co.za, at R12 499, but available from Navworld at under R10 000), but then I considered that it is similar in price to any of the previous devices in its class when they were launched. My first Garmin StreetPilot, circa 2003, cost me R18 000... The small suction mount (same as the Montana bracket) has been retained. I believe it could have been made larger to carry the extra weight of this device. A larger suction mount is available, at a nominal extra cost of R200. Because of its size and weight, this is not a device that I would mount on my motorcycle or bike, and nor is it the ideal hiking device; but, as a 4x4 navigation tool, it has no current equal. FEATURES GPS + GLONASS. Altimeter. 3D Compass. 5-inch WVGA display. Connected through Bluetooth®, ANT+® and WiFi®. TTS guidance. Preloaded with TopoActive Africa maps. 1 year’s free BirdsEye Satellite subscription. High levels of customisability. Water-immersion-rated to IP67 standard. Pairs to smartphone, to receive Active Weather Updates, enable Live Tracking, access Weather Radar data, update Live Geocaching information and receive phone notifications. Can store 250 routes, 250 tracks and 10 000 waypoints. Dimensions: 191.5 x 94.5 x 44mm Weight: 450g (including rechargeable battery pack) If you have any further questions, contact Christopher Bolton at 011 791 0204/5. By Kevin Bolton
The Price MATCH does not apply to: - New store opening - Store closures - Online clearance sales - One day only sales such as but not limited to Black Friday and Cyber Monday - Deals on online classified or auction websites - Online pre-orders The Price MATCH does not apply to stock that is: - Used for instore displays - Is aged - Discontinued stock - Refurbished / second hand - Damaged The competitor in question must be in-stock of that identical item. The competitor must be a legitimate South African retailer, and the price match must include the cost of delivery. The price match does not apply to foreign stores, including foreign online stores. The items up for comparison must be the identical item, brand, barcode, and volume/weight. The warranty/guarantee period must be identical to that of the competitor product. The retailer deemed to be a competitor needs to be a valid VAT registered retailer – accredited by our suppliers as a reseller of their goods and brands that are in question.
I'm on a mission to find all the great kayaking spots in and around Gauteng. With that in mind, I headed out to Paddle Power on the Crocodile River, 4 km upstream from Hartbeespoort Dam and had my best paddle experience to date. Feeling your entire body work as you get into a paddling rhythm is a fantastic sensation, and you know you're doing good stuff like exercising your core, back, arms and legs – which is incredibly satisfying, especially if you're someone like me and spend way too much time sitting at your desk. But continually going around in circles on a small dam, albeit in a well-appointed kayak surrounded by greenery, can get pretty damn boring. The same scenery keeps gliding by like clockwork. Before you know it, you're almost on first name terms with all the coots (small water birds) defending their little territories around the dam, you've passed each one so many times. Okay, I'm pretty eccentric, so this most probably doesn't happen to you. But my point is, after putting in about six laps at Emmarentia, my mind begins to wander and I get bored. Here's the thing though: After paddling 6 km (one lap equals one kilometre) my body still has more than enough oomph to keep going, but I invariably stop and get out because I'm unstimulated. This is great for getting a couple of paddles in after work during the week, and seriously convenient as I live down the road. But when it comes to pushing myself physically and developing my endurance skills I need a much bigger pond. My next go-to place is Lake Heritage at Cradle Moon. Significantly larger than Emmarentia Dam, and only 36 km outside Johannesburg, it's a great place to paddle – and when I'm there I find I can naturally cover much more ground. Even better, when I'm taking a breather, I can just bob about in the middle, taking in the surrounding Muldersdrift countryside while appreciating the birdlife and watching game amble along its banks. They also have a great outdoor restaurant, so I always make a pit stop there before heading home. But at the end of the day it comes down to the same thing – I'm going around in circles, again. Paddle Power, my gateway to adventureWanting to broaden my horizons, I popped into Canoe & Kayak World and spoke to Robbie Herreveld – one of SA's most respected paddlers and kayak tourer of note – to get some advice. “Paddle Power,” he says right off the bat. “From there you can go 4 km down the Crocodile River and into Harties. Just keep on Malibongwe until you hit the Broederstroom T-junction and you're there.” Well, that was me sold. Two days later I was back, this time to purchase a really cool kayak life jacket – I was gearing up for my first mini adventure! On arrival, I found Paddle Power to be everything I'd hoped it would be. In many ways it reminded me of one of those rustic pub/eateries you can come across in places like the Eastern Cape. Following the colourful handmade “To the beach” sign, I walked through some dense indigenous vegetation and found myself on a small sandy area bathed in sunshine. Large enough to take a few tables and beach chairs, with enough space left over for small kids to play and build sandcastles, I thought it was a nice touch. To my left was the river, and up the bank on my right I could see the shaded deck of the Beach House restaurant that provides great views over the river. Paddle Power's main activities include river rafting trips and abseiling, but I wasn't there for that. On hearing what I was planning to do, Pat, one of the owners, warned me how low the water level was in some areas, commenting that some visitors have a complete sense of humour failure when they get stuck on a sandbank. This made me laugh – the whole point of taking on a paddle like this is to deal with what nature throws at you and work it out. If I'd wanted an uncomplicated, predictable paddle I would have stayed on a dam! Saying hello to the CrocodileNow I haven't messed about with small boats on rivers since I lived in the Eastern Cape during the mid 90's, but everything I'd learned soon came flooding back. My first “wake up call” was quite funny. The river bank dropped down about a metre and was fairly steep, with very little space for me to get my act together while climbing into my kayak. All was going well until I swung my right leg over the hull and my left leg sunk into the mud right up to my knee. Not sure how to extract myself, I gingerly lowering myself into the cockpit and somehow managed to wiggle my stuck leg free and give it a good shake (to wash off the thick mud) without tipping into the drink. Laughing at myself for forgetting how precariously sticky riverbanks can be, I headed out downstream on my way to Hartbeespoort Dam. When Pat mentioned the river was extremely shallow in areas she wasn't kidding. The first kilometre was fairly tricky to navigate, with me having to pay close attention to what the current was doing to pick out the deeper channels. Even then, the water was often too shallow to paddle, and I had to resort to using my hands to scoot myself along until I found a deeper section. But with all the sandbanks out the way, the river opened up and continuing on my way became a non-issue. With the current pushed me in the right direction, making paddling easy, I glided through the predominantly rural landscape dotted with expensive estates with views to die for. And the birdlife was spectacular. At one point, about one kilometre from Harties, I came across a vertical cliff that dropped straight down into the water. Dotted with precariously hanging trees, I paddled under the high-rise canopy and found myself completely engulfed by swirling swallows as they hunted insects for lunch. Then I noticed a pair of Malachite kingfishers hanging out on a branch close to the water not three metres away from me doing the same thing. It was a special moment, and exactly the kind of stuff that made me take up kayaking in the first place! My Harties experienceBefore I knew it I was entering Hartbeespoort Dam. The wide open, watery vista that greeted me I found completely liberating – I'd never paddled on such a big body of water before. So I struck out for the middle, not knowing where I was going, just that I felt free. Eventually, way in the distance, I spotted what looked suspiciously liked a yacht mast, so I changed direction to go investigate. Turns out I'd stumbled across the Ifafi Aquatic Club. After paddling closer to check it out properly, I then began considering my options. Although still feeling strong, I'm no Man Mountain and fairly new to paddling, so I didn't want to push things too far on my first major outing. With that in mind, I headed around the bay where the Swartspriut River enters the dam on my way back to Paddle Power. While doing so I came across a bird sanctuary chock-a-block with breading birds on their nests. The raucous cacophony of bird cries completely bombarded my senses, making the experience quite special – so I decided to take a well-deserved break and hang out watching them for a while. Heading back to baseBy now the sun had shifted somewhat in the sky and I realised it was time for me to start heading back. I had no idea how far I'd paddled, I just knew that when I eventually got back to the Crocodile I still had 4 km to go, and with the current working against me. Travelling against the current once I was back on the river proved to be quite interesting. Whenever I stopped paddling there was no forward momentum at all – I just stopped, then started moving backwards. This meant I had to paddle hard the entire way, it was my only option if I wanted to get back to my car and crack open a refreshing ice cold beer! Negotiating the shallow sandbanks proved to be particularly tricky. Although there was still just enough water to float my boat, it was too shallow for me to paddle, so the current kept swinging my bow downstream and back towards the dam. Knowing that it's always a mistake to fight a current, I went passively with it instead until I found my gap and headed back upstream. By the time I got back to Paddle Power I was happily exhausted, not to mention famished! So I settled down on the Beach House restaurant's deck for a couple of pints and some chow while I chilled taking in the view. And, as an added bonus, the one man band was knocking out some amazing blues – perfectly finishing off what had been an epic day. I've always known that I'd enjoy kayak touring, and now that I've completed my first mini adventure I'm chomping at the bit for more. In fact, I've already given myself a new goal; paddling the entire circumference of Hartbeespoort Dam – now there's a nice big circle for me to get stuck into! - (c) 2017 NavWorld To find out more about Paddle Power visit their website www.paddlepower.co.za
Kayaking isn't rocket science, neither is it particularly expensive, but it can give you a great workout. So if activities like going for a run or climbing onto a bike don't float your boat much, maybe you should consider giving paddling a try. That said, here's how I got into kayaking – hopefully my journey will help motivate you into taking up this amazing, multifaceted sport! Not all of us were born to run, or clock-up kilometre after kilometre along winding trails on a mountain bike. Fortunately, there are many ways for active types to burn calories, get fit and have some quality outdoor fun that have nothing to do with “mainstream sports”. I definitely fall into this category. I'll happily lug heavy camera gear around with me on a 15 km day hike. But if you ever catch me running, chances are something bad's going down – like I'm getting shot at! And I enthusiastically dumped my bike chain for the rush of an internal combustion engine decades ago. My main outdoor focus has always been water. (Although it must be said, hiking comes a close second.) My childhood passion, swimming, later morphed into scuba diving which, in turn, stoked my interest in powerboats and, ultimately, moved me on to sailing – where my interests remained stuck for longer than I care to remember. That said, I don't have a competitive bone in my body, so the thought of taking any kind of racing seriously just gives me the creeps. As a result I prefer more chilled, less structured activities where I get to push myself physically – often without realising it – while simply enjoying myself outdoors. So yeah, I definitely see myself more as a “weekend warrior” than a dedicated sports enthusiast. How I got into kayaking The kayak touring seed got planted in my brain back in 2013 when I signed up for a short offshore paddling course in Cape Town. However, I was still besotted with the 18-foot daysailer I had at the time, so it remained just a fun experience. But when I moved back to Gauteng last year everything changed – now landlocked, I had to come up with a radical new plan to get my “water fix”! Chad Andrews from Canoe Concepts playing model on our NavWorld photoshoot. It was November, and I'd met up with Chad Andrews from Canoe Concepts at Emmarentia Dam for a NavWorld photoshoot. I had recently interviewed him for a beginners kayak article I was doing titled Getting started: All the basic moves a newbie paddler needs to know and needed to illustrate the thing. Knowing that I was interested in paddling (albeit basically clueless!), at the end of the shoot Andrews casually mentions “You should seriously think about join the club, it's really affordable.” “Hey, why not!” I figured. “I'm already here.” So then and there I wandered straight into Dabulamanzi Canoe Club's reception to find out how the whole gig worked. What really surprised me was how affordable signing up was. Annual membership is just R720 (this diminishes as the year progresses), I also paid R100 for the SAMSA levy, along with R80 for my tag that gives me access to the showers and boat storage area. And, when I get my own boat (which I now have), storing it would only set me back an extra R1 000 per year. My luck was in timing-wise for the beginners paddling course, too. This cost R600, but courses aren't run regularly throughout the year. When the racing season is in full swing, like it is now, they shelve newbie training so members can concentrate on competitions. Considering the whole deal to be an absolute bargain, I paid up in full on the spot. Why joining a club makes sense I've completed enough boat competency courses to know how important it is to get the basics right before heading out on your own. And the quickest, most efficient way to do this is to join a club. For a start, you're surrounded by an amazing pool of knowledge – so you tend to not pick up any of those nasty rookie habits that are so hard to shake later on down the line. And yes, while I may not be competitive, I do want to develop an efficient paddling style. That way I get to work the main muscle groups that kayaking targets properly, namely my core, back, shoulders, arms and legs. It also means I can travel further with less effort. Even if you don't want to enter kayak marathons like these guys, you can still learn a lot by just observing their paddle techniques. Another advantage is you get answers to all your questions, often over a beer. And just by kicking back at the clubhouse, watching the “grown ups” doing their stuff, you get to understand what areas you need to focus on and why. Apart from that, you get loads of good informal advice. After I'd completed my beginners paddling course and was wobbling around the dam on my own, other paddlers would often stop and make constructive comments. Things like: “I've noticed you're not holding your paddle correctly, here's how you do it”, or “try this with your stroke, you'll find the blade strikes the water more efficiently”. In no time I was up to speed. And the beauty of it all was I didn't even have my own boat! I'd simply used one of the club's beginner K1 kayaks that are freely available to members 24/7. Apart from allowing me to practice enthusiastically over the December holidays without spending a cent, it also meant that I had some breathing space to save up for the touring kayak I wanted while still enjoying my new-found sport. I opted to pay for the beginners paddling course (comprising three Saturday sessions out of four) simply because I figured it was a really affordable way to get up to speed fast. That said, I could've gone a more informal route. The club throws in one free training session for newbies, which is enough to get you wobbling around and not falling in too often! Then you can either get a coach, or do your informal thing, relying on other paddlers to point out flaws in your form as you work it out for yourself. Finding the kayak of my dreams Paddling may be paddling, but how you go about it makes a huge difference. For example, you might want to enter marathons (which in my mind is best equated to road cycling), or go the touring route (the mountain bike equivalent). Then again, you could have aspirations to shoot rapids, or enjoy the hurly-burly action of kayak polo. And the boats used for each specific sport category are completely different. That said, I knew right from the get-go I wanted a touring kayak. But having wasted more money on boats than I care to admit over the years, I knew the best option was to buy secondhand. So I dived online and, after about a month of patient searching, I found an absolute bargain. My pride and joy ready and waiting for me to have some fun at Cradle Moon. I'd been coveting the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140 touring kayak ever since I first saw it at the 2016 Johannesburg Boat Show, but I never expected to get one so soon. Imported from the US, and a real quality build with a solid international reputation to match, it goes for R20 400 new (including the rudder system). I found one in immaculate condition, including rudder, for just R7 000! And, to sweeten the deal even further, the guy threw in a paddle worth R1 500 and a bilge pump that goes for R300. This seriously freed up my budget – allowing me to get a good Holdfast kayak mounting system for my car, a set of quality lockable tie down straps, along with a good collapsible kayak dolly to easily move my heavy 25 kg touring boat to and from the water. Right now I feel like I'm living the life of Riley. I still have a few more kayak bits and pieces I want to purchase, and some of the compact camping gear on the market is catching my eye, but I'm sure I'll be sorted by the end of the year. Right now I'm just concentrating on having fun – paddling at Emmarentia Dam in the week when I can, and taking my new toy out to Cradle Moon over the weekends where I can train and enjoy myself surrounded by nature. I also feel new destinations calling, my wanderlust is definitely growing – it's going to be interesting to see where I end up next! - (c) 2017 NavWorld
When Garmin launched the GPSMap 276Cx back in December 2016, both the marine and 4x4 overlander communities breathed a huge collective sigh of relief. That's because they'd been waiting for an worthy upgrade to the legendary GPSMap 276C for years! Although no longer “shiny and brand new”, the 276Cx is still one of the most capable navigation devices in Garmin's stable. To sweeten the deal even further, NavWorld has dropped the price to R10 799, and included a free Auto suction cup mount with speaker plus NavWorld Pouch (worth R1 478) to boot! If you're reading this, and have only really ever used Garmin’s handheld or automotive devices before, let us help put things into perspective. The GPSMap 276Cx was designed specifically for land and sea adventurers who require the most durable and functional digital navigator and chart plotter imaginable to reach their destinations. This sophisticated device achieves this in a variety of ways. The most noticeable being its gorgeous 5-inch LCD display that works in direct sunlight and offers a resolution of 800×480 pixels. This resolution offers plenty of headroom to display maps and other data. Old vs New: The original GPSMap 276C (left) and the new GPSMap 276Cx (right) One aspect that may surprise new users is that its display isn't touch-capable – causing newbies to get nowhere fast as they initially swipe or tap the screen to no avail. Fortunately, it doesn't take long to get used to its robust button interface. While this could arguably be a problem for average consumers accustomed to touchscreen devices while driving around town, the GPSMap 276Cx isn't aimed at that audience – but rather a more rugged crowd who desire robust, reliable functionality over modern convenience. The same, but completely different Looking under the hood, there's very little that resembles the old GPSMap 276C device. After a decade’s worth of technology advancements, Garmin has been able to cram a lot more into the 276Cx. This navigator now features GPS + GLONASS support. It's also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatible and can even connect to ANT+ devices. There's also a removable micro-SD card slot that can be used to add new maps or expand the unit’s 6 GB internal storage capacity. Coming preloaded with TopoActive Africa Maps, the GPSMap 276Cx also includes a free 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery Subscription. What this does is make it even easier to transfer high-resolution satellite imagery to the device so you can get a better representation of your surroundings. Other BirdsEye Satellite Imagery Subscription advantages include the following: The ability to seamlessly integrate satellite images into maps whenever you need them. Allows you to layer vector maps on your device for a real-life view of roads, buildings and terrain. New images are updated frequently for greater accuracy, and the download process delivers faster updates. Captures the world in brilliant clarity and detail with high-resolution sub-meter colour satellite imagery. Hunters can perform preseason scouting, determine placement of stands and locate game pinch points. Helps hikers and campers find trails/trailheads and clearings for camping areas. Lets geocachers determine the terrain type around a cache and identify parking areas close to the caches. Allows travellers to view tourist hot spots and landmarks from an aerial view to make excursions memorable. Interestingly, the GPSMap 276Cx now also uses the same Garmin AMPS Rugged Mount that's used for the two Montana handheld GPS models. The device can be powered by your vehicle, by 3x AA batteries, or a 5000 mAh Lithium battery (that comes supplied in the box). Garmin says this battery provide 16 hours of usage. Considering this is a product for adventurers, the GPSMap 276Cx has a waterproof rating of IPX7 – which means it can be submerged underwater up to 1m in depth. Other tools such as the Barometric Altimeter and 3D digital compass come in handy when you're traversing remote landscapes. You can also pair it with your smartphone to get Active Weather Updates, enable Live Tracking, access Weather Radar data, update Live Geocaching information and receive phone notifications. Explaining the button interface in detail The buttons are what makes this product so unique and the layout has not changed from the original 276C. That said, here's a breakdown of its button functionality. OUT & IN: Select to zoom Out and In on the Map Page. Works great to see the weather radar map when you zoom out. PAGE: Select to scroll through the main pages in sequence and to return to the home page. Hold down the PAGE button to switch between Automotive and Marine mode. QUIT: Select to scroll through the main pages in reverse sequence, revert to the previous value in the data entry field, or cancel a function. ENTER/MARK: Select to acknowledge messages and select options. You can also hold down this button to mark a Waypoint. MENU: Select to open the menu for the page you are on. Press twice to open the Main Menu. NAV & MOB: Select to open the navigation options. In Marine mode, hold to create a Man Overboard (MOB) and begin navigation to the MOB location. In Automotive mode, with an active Route, you can press and hold to replay the current voice prompt. Power Button: Hold to turn on and turn off the device. Select to adjust the backlight and external speaker volume. FIND: Select to find a destination. Pressing the FIND button twice quickly will give you the option of setting your current location as the HOME Waypoint. Directional arrows: Used to scroll, highlight options and move the cursor on the Map. Thanks to the larger screen on the GPSMap 276Cx, there's also a bunch of customisable screens that you can use when navigating with this device. Naturally, there's also plenty of space to add your waypoints, tracks and routes. In fact. the GPSMap 276Cx can store 250 routes, 250 tracks and over 10,000 waypoints. That is a lot of data! Simply put, if you're an adventurer who requires the best that technology has to offer, then this is the navigator for you. – (c) 2016 NavWorld
Thanks to SA's scary road accident rate, the prevalence of “cooldrink” seeking traffic officials, plus the high percentage of unroadworthy vehicles and uninsured drivers on our roads, dash cams can no longer be considered nice-to-have gadgets – they've become a necessity. Read on to find out why you should consider fitting one of these practical, all-seeing electronic witnesses to your vehicle. We might not live in the Wild West, but when we get into our cars and hit the road it can sure feel like it. If it's not someone stopping in the middle of a traffic circle to read a text message (I actually witnessed this the other day), it's something else equally bazaar. Then we get mini bus taxis – everyone's favourite and an unrepentant law unto themselves. We all know travelling on our roads can be unsafe. Sadly, the annual road fatality statistics for 2016, recently published by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), just confirms this disturbing fact. According to RTMC's numbers, 14 071 people died on SA roads last year. That's a scary nine percent increase on 2015 and, in fact, the highest death toll recorded since 2007. Human factors were the biggest contributor to road crashes and fatalities, taking up 77.5 percent of the total. Vehicle factors (6 percent), road and environmental factors (16.5 percent) make up the rest. Breaking down the human factors further, here's what we get: Jaywalking pedestrians (38.8 percent), hit and run crashes (18.5 percent), high speed (14.1 percent), overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic (6.9 percent), drunk or drugged driving (3.6 percent) and, finally, driver fatigue (2.2 percent). NavWorld readers might also want to note that cycling fatalities were significantly up too; 451 last year vs. 320 in 2015. Understandably, respected road safety organisations such as Arrive Alive and the Automobile Association (AA) are horrified. So much so, that the AA published a strong-worded press release in which it stated: “These figures are alarming, and should worry every motorist in the country. These numbers seem to indicate that awareness campaigns and education initiatives are not working well enough, driver attitudes are getting worse, and that law enforcement is not making the impact it should. We are deeply concerned about these fatalities, more so because they show an increase, and call for urgent action from all role-players involved in road safety to reverse this.” Why fitting a dash cam to your vehicle makes sense Realising that the only real option for responsible drivers right now is to watch their own backs, both the AA and Arrive Alive recommend the fitment of dash cams to vehicles. Their reason becomes doubly apparent when you consider the high percentage of uninsured drivers (estimated to be between 65 and 70 percent) on our roads. And lets not forget the estimated 800 000 unregistered or unroadworthy vehicles driving around. These realities can lead to drawn out litigation as uninsured, errant drivers try everything they can to avoid taking responsibility – mainly because they can't afford to! As a consequence, things quickly degenerate into he-said-she-said situations, and the truth often gets very blurred. Dash cams, by providing an unbiased, documented telemetric (data) and visual (video) breakdown of events, solve all that – completely removing to-and-fro arguments about who's really at fault from the equation. That aside, video footage of bizarre traffic incidents always goes down well on You Tube! How dash cams work Quality dash cams, such as Garmin's latest offering – the DashCam 55 – all work basically the same way. Mounted onto vehicle windscreens and featuring onboard GPS modules, they start recording video in a never-ending loop the moment you turn your vehicle's ignition key; continually overriding old footage should nothing eventful occur. However, the moment they sense any impact to the vehicle via their onboard G-sensors, they automatically save all the video footage captured immediately before, during and after the incident – providing you with all the evidence you need to prove your side of the story to insurance companies and the courts should the need arise. And, featuring extremely small form factors, they can be easily removed from your vehicle, allowing you to walk around outside and document any damaged sustained. Telemetric data, such as your speed and exact driving route, is also continually recorded and then saved in the event of a crash. High-end units like the DashCam 55 can also do cool things like provide lane departure warnings, forward collision warnings (with 3 sensitivity settings) and a Go Alert, letting you know when the car in front of you starts moving. It'll also provide warnings of approaching traffic lights and speed cameras. Another neat feature of the DashCam 55 is Travelapse. While not a safety feature per se, it works in parallel with the unit's regular safety features to grab still images at fixed intervals along your drive – then stitches them all into a movie that plays like a fast-forward of your journey, allowing you to document epic road trips in style. Here are a few examples taken from Arrive Alive's website that show what kinds of things you can do with a dash cam: Evidence in case of an accident / crash reconstruction Heaven forbid you ever end up in a bad traffic accident. But if you do, dash cams make perfect eyewitnesses as they provide real proof of what took place – making them the only real way to substantiate your claims in a court of law. They also help immensely when it comes to reconstructing accidents and establishing what the cause was. People who drive large SUVs and trucks often get blamed unfairly when involved in accidents. Plus many drivers are often accused of lane hogging, tailgating and other driver behaviours that might have caused an accident – your dash cam footage kills those kinds of accusations stone dead. Fight corruption and fraud There are some unscrupulous people out there who purposely cause crashes, then blame the innocent party. They may try to extort money from victims or fake injuries to collect payment from insurance companies. Video footage provided by a dash cam can stop these fraudsters in their tracks. They are also very handy devices when drivers get falsely accused of trying to bribe traffic officials. Not only will you have evidence of your driving prior to being stopped, but the subsequent conversation can be recorded, too. Preventing vehicle abuse and misuse Not only can the drivers of company vehicles be monitored, but so can anyone else who hops behind the wheel and uses them. By simply checking out the telemetric data and video footage you'll know exactly how your vehicle's been treated. In fleet management and vehicle logistics circles, dashboard camera recorders contribute towards better management and efficient fleet maintenance. They can be used alongside vehicle tracking systems for effective supervision of speed, the route chosen and general driving behaviour. They can also reveal unnecessary lane changes, poor following distances and many other dangerous driving activities. Monitoring young drivers Parents of teens often worry endlessly about letting their children take their cars out. Nowadays many parents just tell their teens they need to accept driving with the dash cam on if they want to hit the road. The camera footage and stored telemetric data can provide evidence as to whether the teens are acting responsibly behind the wheel or not. They can also be beneficial when checking up on your Au pair's driving habits when she's shuttling the kids around. Reporting bad drivers There are many ways to report bad driving nowadays to both transport authorities and fleet managers. Video evidence from dash cams can be used to report drunk drivers, distracted drivers, dangerous drivers and road rage incidents. As video provides real proof of what happened, it also helps keep drivers alert and responsible when driving as they know they could end up on camera. Promoting road safety and educating the public via video footages Sure, video is an effective way of showing wrongdoings on the road. But it can also be used as an educational tool and used effectively in driver training. It's also worth remembering that not everything about dash cams has a serious side – using them can be fun. For example, when driving a scenic route you can record magical road trip moments, then share them with friends and family once back home. Assisting car insurance companies with insurance claims It can be extremely hard for insurance companies to determine who exactly caused an accident. Footage from dash cams is not only useful for supporting insurance claims but also when it comes to apportioning the right amount of blame to the parties concerned. Bottom line: The benefits of fitting a dash cam to your vehicle are numerous – and it's not just me saying it, both Arrive Alive and the AA actively recommend them; you'll never find a better endorsement than that. In fact, I see a day in the not-too-distant future when insurance companies begin offering discounts to dash cam users, in much the same way that they offer discounts to drivers who fit tracking devices to their vehicles today. - (c) 2017 NavWorld
Feeling disappointed and robbed after having to bail on the Ironman 70.3 Durban 2017 due to illness, veteran triathlete Frank Smuts investigates exactly why training, or competing in races while you've got a head cold or the flu is such a bad idea. When a cold or flu virus invades the body, the first question every athlete asks is: “Should I, or shouldn't I train?” If you haven’t fought that mental battle yet, you will eventually – it's a dilemma every athlete has to face at some stage in their sporting lives. Here's the thing, though: Training or racing with a viral infection can have dire consequences for your health. During the Ironman 70.3 East London 2014, two athletes died during the swim, and not because of drowning. However, they did have one thing in common; both of them had been ill during the period leading up to race day. Fast forward to Ironman 70.3 Durban 2017. After three months of tough winter training and a good few thousands of rand later, I got a sore throat and the sniffles just three days before race day. But here I was, sitting on the plane, flying fast and furiously to Durban with all the hopes of making the podium for a third consecutive time and maybe qualifying for the world champs. I was devastated; nothing can ruin an athlete's goals more than a sudden, unexpected illness. The very question facing me was: should I take the chance and race, or am I playing with my life? The three levels under attack: Health, fitness, mental well-beingIllness has a simultaneous impact on an athlete's life in terms of their health, fitness and mental well-being, which doesn't help. As a consequence, dealing with the question of whether you should train or race while ill can easily become a see-saw ride of "yes versus no", then back again. This is perfectly normal. As athletes, we all want to achieve our goals. As much as our heads might acknowledge the facts that warrant a categoric “No” answer, our hearts will always try and convince us to push through regardless to achieve our goal. Unfortunately, a virus has a lifespan of its own and doesn't give two hoots for your training or racing calendar. And, despite all the modern remedies available to us, once it's invaded your system, you can expect severe symptoms to last for 4 to 5 days. That said, it still takes anything from 10 to 14 days for your body to be completely free of the virus – so the best way to control your illness is to take a holistic approach by getting a handle on all three aspects of your life that are under fire. HealthWhen dealing with a head cold or flu, it's vitally important to determine which one you have in your system. Sure, you can take the chance and train with a viral condition and get away with little or no consequence. But don't fool yourself, it still remains a risk and can definitely leave you unable to train ever again or, at worst, even kill you. The general consensus is that anything above the neck is okay for training. And, of course, the view that anything below the neck means no training, is also accepted as true. However, a recent Australian study reported that the relationship between heart attacks and the common head cold may have been totally underestimated. Lead author Dr Lorcan Ruane, who conducted the work at the University of Sydney said: “For those participants who reported milder upper respiratory tract infection symptoms the risk increase was less, but was still elevated by 13 fold. Although upper respiratory infections are less severe, they are far more common than lower respiratory tract symptoms. Therefore it is important to understand their relationship to the risk of heart attacks, particularly as we are coming into winter in Australia.” Of course, for you and me, the best and correct way to go about things is to consult a doctor. Then accept the situation for what it is, take the professional advice to heart and act responsibly instead of trying to wish it all away. Common head coldsColds are mostly rhinovirus infections, causing symptoms such as runny noses, sneezing, coughing, sore throats and the mild swelling of certain glands. They normally last about a week, but when they stick around for longer it could indicate a complication, such as bacterial infection that requires antibiotics. Interestingly, sometimes allergy symptoms can closely mimic those of a head cold. So if you suspect that's the case, try to have it confirmed – because then you're safe and can continue to train as usual. You might want to determine the cause of the allergy, though. Once you've diagnosed it as a cold, and the symptoms are not entirely debilitating, the best approach would be to do a short training session of about 10 to 15 minutes at a low intensity. Monitor your heart rate so you stay within zone 1 or zone 2. If you feel fine afterwards, sleep on it, literally, and extend the session the next day to 30 minutes, still at low intensity. After day two of monitored training, you will know whether you are on the mend or not. If you still feel rough, take it as a sign to back off. The difficult part of listening to your body comes into play here. Rest again for a few days, even for a week before training again if your symptoms get any worse. Don't mess with the fluNow we get to the dangerous version called influenza, or as we know it, the flu. Some, or most of the symptoms of flu are similar to those of a head cold, but they also include serious systemic effects like stiff and aching muscles, bones and joints, headaches and, most importantly, overall bodily weakness. A fever is also part of the package in many cases. If you detect a fever, training of any kind right away becomes a definite no-no. The worse case scenario associated with intense activity while having the flu, is what's commonly described as the virus attacking your heart. The medical term for it is Myocarditis. Myocarditis occurs when the middle layer of your heart wall becomes inflamed. Actually, what happens is the T-cells produced to attack the virus, mistakenly turn on your own system and inflame your heart. At best, Myocarditis can leave you weak for months – with symptoms contributing to a condition broadly described as post-viral fatigue. A more severe form of Myocarditis will render you unfit for any training for the rest of your life, as the heart contracts irreversible damage. The worst form of Myocarditis will stop your heart and even kill you. Chest pains or irregular heart rhythms are clear indications that your heart's possibly showing signs of the onset of Myocarditis. Bottom line: When you know you have the flu, stay away from training for as long as is necessary. If you're unsure for how long, get a medical opinion and stick to doctor's orders. You may even have to abstain from training for 14 days or more. Get your head to accept that. More about that when we get to the mental bit. FitnessThe next aspect to get a handle on is the effect the illness will have on your athletic fitness. Many studies have shown the loss of endurance fitness becomes apparent after between 7 to 14 days of inactivity. The good news is many studies have also shown that the time it takes to regain your fitness is always less than the time of your forced rest. In fact, it's common for athletes to express genuine surprise at how quickly they regained their fitness. The bottom line is that, unless the illness worsens due to mistreatment – for instance, like resuming training too soon – the burn-out period of the virus should be short enough for you to retain most of your fitness without any problems. You might experience a slightly higher heart rate than normal in the first week of training, especially if you push hard to see if you are still up to your previous level of fitness. Don’t overcook it. Work at 70-percent maximum heart rate for the first week. In many instances athletes undergoing forced rest come back in a better physical condition, as niggles and other underlying injuries get a proper chance to heal. Mental well-beingThe psychological impact of getting sick is often as much of an upsetting factor as the actual illness itself. Getting your training interrupted or, even worse, missing out on a goal race can be a real downer. In my case I had to sit out on a goal race, the Ironman 70.3 Durban, in which I'd invested months of training and quite a few thousand rands in. Going from hero to zero within a day, courtesy of a bug that the eye can't even see can be very demoralising and ego-crushing. But while the consequences of a cold and the flu can be harmful if treated incorrectly, when you view the bigger picture it's really just a blip on the radar in terms of your general fitness. In my case, I missed out on a major goal race, a possible podium and world championships qualification, but I had to say to myself: "Nobody died" – and that introduces another handle on your illness, the psychological or mental part. If you take all of the above information to heart, two principles become evident. First: Cold or flu viruses need to be respected and treated correctly, otherwise you can fall victim to irreversible health consequences. People have died because they trained or raced while infected with a virus. Second: You need to keep in mind that, in most cases, the road back to fitness is always shorter than the time you spent out of action. If you find yourself struggling mentally, try to rationalise your situation positively by making it part of a bigger, more important picture. Remember, you can always race next week, next month, or next year. And that's a darn sight better than never being able to race again. If need be, go as far as telling yourself things like you're not that special, this happens to lots of athletes, and you're not the first one and you won't be the last, either. And, if you convince yourself that everything happens for a reason, your time spent convalescing becomes even easier. So find that reason – it can be reading a good book, catching up on work, spending more time with the family, sort out your garage, or dealing with any other aspect of your life that's suffered because of all your training! Your enforced lay-off doesn't need to be time wasted. Sickness is not part of anything we plan for. I'm still annoyed about missing out on Ironman 70.3 Durban, but I definitely learned how fragile and fallible the human body can be. I was so ill I couldn't even walk the distance from my hotel to the registration venue. It was very humbling, but thankfully I am healthy again, so it's upwards and onwards to the next race. Until next time, look after your health! Please note: This article attempts to give broad advice only and should not be considered medical advice. If you experience any respiratory symptoms you suspect to be of a viral nature, consult with a medical professional. - (c) 2017 NavWorld
Thanks to RAM Mount's patented interchangeable rubber ball and socket system, you can safely secure literally anything to anywhere – sometimes, all you need is a little imagination. When it comes to RAM Mount's extensive product offering, the old saying “you get what you pay for” sums things up nicely. Yeah, these babies don't come cheap, but they were never intended to. Ever since this US company was founded back in 1995, their whole plan has been to come up with well-engineered, quality mounting solutions for all our expensive, electronic tech – and they don't give a damn what it is, or where you want to put it. What they care about is that their system works, and that it'll last years. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that clever engineering and genuine quality always comes at a price. Since the company's inception 22 years ago, the electronic gadgetry market, in all its many guises, has mushroomed and evolved to a point were it completely dominates our lives. In keeping up with technological changes and the ever-growing consumer market, the brand's inventory has grown over the years to around 5 000 line components; allowing you to mount your phone, GPS, tablet, laptop, flat screen, action camera, DSLR, even fishfinder and radar pretty much anywhere you like. And no form of transport is out of bounds – you'll find mounting solutions for skateboards, kayaks, mom's taxis, motorcycles, boats, aircraft, trucks, forklifts and even heavy farming equipment. RAM's impressive range of motorcycle base mounts let you secure must-have gadgets (think phones, nav units and action cameras) to your bike in a number of surprisingly creative ways. Their robust, yet classy-looking X-Grip vehicle holders for phones and tablets are legendary for their reliabilty and ease of use. While the versatile Tough-Claw is the perfect mounting base if you're looking for quick and easy tool-less installation and removal on round, square, odd shaped rails and bars. And, best of all, you can clamp it virtually anywhere – whether you're mounting to a motorcycle handlebar, ATV roll bar, wheelchair, mic stand, tabletop edge or balcony railing. They even have a quick-release saltwater fishing rod holder that I think's really cool. In short, the vast range of options available to one can literally boggle the mind. To truly appreciate RAM Mount and get your head around their seemingly-confusing product offering, you need to understand where the company comes from. Simply put, it was founded by an engineer, is owned by an engineer, and uses solid engineering principles to design and manufacture its extensive range of mounting solutions. That said, if your engineer buddies are anything like mine, then you'll recognise the stereotype immediately: they all get a kick out of finding a creative solution, then designing and building it right. The guys at RAM (short for Round-A-Mount) are no different – only the best materials get used, and their products genuinely work. When they say their suction cups won't pop off the windscreen while you're bouncing down a rutted dirt road, they mean it. So much so, that every component comes with a lifetime warranty. It all comes down to a squishy rubber ball The main reason behind RAM's global success is their patented rubber ball and socket system, which literally acts as a pivot point for the rest of their range – allowing you to join together a variety of mounting bases, connecting arms (varying in length) and gadget-hugging cradles into one functional, purpose-built unit. RAM Mount SA's Marnix de Lorm sums it up perfectly when he says, “Mixing and matching our range of interchangeable components to create your own user-specific mounting solution is a bit like playing with grown-up Lego.” As you'd expect, some clever engineering went into what, ostensibly, appears to be a very simple design. Here's how it works: The solid rubber balls are injection moulded directly onto marine-grade aluminium or plastic posts, eliminating any chance of them ever coming loose. When you tighten a RAM socket around the ball, it forces the rubber to distort slightly, causing the hinge (for want of a better word) to seize in position – it's an elegant solution that builds an incredible amount of strength and rigidity into the system. Then, when the socket is released, the ball springs back to its original shape, allowing you to move the connecting arm or device cradle to a new position and repeat the process. Plus all connecting arms have sensibly-sized tightening knobs, allowing you to lock the socket at any angle you want with just a couple turns and minimal fuss. The range comprises five different ball and socket sizes to accommodate different weight requirements and applications. Designated the letters A to E according to their size. A, the smallest, can support up to 1.3 kg, while E – the big daddy – can handle a whopping 9 kg. Durability and robustness aside, what makes RAM's system so successful is its versatility. Here's what I mean: You can remove one ball part from an arm socket connection, and then replace it with something completely different. So, when required, you can swap-out the Motorcycle Rail Mount base for the Suction Cup base in your car, which then can be changed to the Yoke Mount base in your aircraft... and then fitted to the Marine Dash base on your boat. And let's not even get into what you can do with fork lifts, trucks and heavy agricultural machinery. As simple as 1, 2, 3, 4 Fortunately, once you get your head around how their system works, customizing your RAM Mount is quite simple. First, you need to choose a mounting base, depending on where you want to put it and what you'll be mounting. Your options will astound you, so take the time and check them out – you could very well find something much better than what you had in mind. To give you an idea: there are 10 different mounting bases for motorcycles alone. Second, you choose a double socket arm. Coming in short, standard and long lengths, they are all available in various thicknesses to accommodate the 5 different ball sizes. Then, after picking an appropriate top base, all you need do is choose your preferred adaptor and/or cradle. If you have a “mister-fix-it” streak, then RAM Mount's modular, interconnecting system will probably have strong appeal. De Lorm elaborates: “Many of our customers have been collecting components for years. After purchasing their initial systems, they periodically swing past to pick up whatever single component they need for the project they're currently working on, then add it to their collection once they're done. Eventually, they end up with a box full of parts that allows them to come up with some very creative, individualised mounting solutions. I do the very same thing.” That said, when ordering a RAM mount system or additional components, it's important that you understand the part number system – the last thing you need is to end up with a base mount for a C-sized ball and a B-sized connecting arm. - (c) 2017 NavWorld For more detailed information visit: www.ram-mount.co.za
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