Amazing Freebie !!

The famous “THE ASHLEY BOOK OF KNOTS” is now in the public domain, and has become available for  >>download<<  in a number of formats over at the Internet Archive.

As kids, being wharf rats on Martha’s Vineyard Island who were always around boats, my younger brother and I were huge fans, readers, and users of “The Ashley”. Clear, concise, and incredibly comprehensive, as well as entertaining, this is, simply put, THE book. We poured over it for hours, and I know that old copy still has a treasured place on my brother’s bookshelf.

While you can get it as a DL now, I would urge you to get the hardcopy as well. This is a book to pass down the generations to turn kids on to how cool knots and ropework can be.

First time they make their own Turks Head sailor’s bracelet on a rainy day they will be hooked.


2nd Jacket… [semi] fail

At the same time I ordered the “Aqua Shoes” just below, I got a second Ghost Whisperer clone… this time with a hood. I wanted to see if the zipper would be in the more standard, right-hand orientation… Nope!  That must just be how they make’em in China these days.

There were only slight other difference between this hooded unit and the >>original<< I reviewed back in June. Most notably, this has several more down channels up the body. Good loft once you let it fluff up, same nice gunmetal blue color.

The reason it is a “semi”-fail is that the size is really at variance with the first one. The first fit quite loosely in a 2XXL… now this one is way to snug over my fat belly in a 1XL. That is always the risk you take buying any “sized” item over the internet, and even moreso with size choices on the Chinese items… buyer beware! However, since this “fail” came in at only $14.89 [shipped], I am not going to the hassle of return. It can just go in the stuff sack as a >> dedicated down pillow <<like I found so convenient with the first one. If I really-truly decide I want a hooded jacket, I can grab another in a size up.

New Camp Kicks

Got some new “shoes” to wear around camp [etc.] and I couldn’t be happier!

These are basically like the ubiquitous Crocks™, but I like the design far better. [I never liked the heel-sling on the Crocks]  They have more of the shape of my favorite pair of jungle-mocs… a full shoe shape covering the heels and higher on the top of your foot. I like the grips on the bottom better, and they weigh in at only 8.5oz. in a men’s size 11 [44cm]. Plus at under $9 shipped from China and delivered in only a week, they are a better deal than the $18+ range for Crocks™.

I believe that these “aqua shoes” are what the Chinese use to wear in the public baths.

The insoles are actually held to the main body of the shoe by those five nubs that lock into the sole. They can be popped out to wear the shell as a shower shoe that will drain and dry faster, but together I would have no problem using these for a shallow stream crossing situation.

The tread feels very secure, gives good traction, and the two layers in the sole make it far more soft and comfortable than the Crocks style ones I have tried on.


As I said, I got a 11US/44cm… I would have been fine with a size smaller, but these will have room for socks later in the season.

No name/ no brand, these are extrusion molded of something like a heavy CCF [closed cell foam]. The cutouts seem to be shaped well enough that they will not encourage tearing except under duress. These “Aqua Shoes” feel as sturdy as any pair of Crocks, and they slip on-and-off very easily, which is important to me getting in and out of my hammock as often as I do. I have been wearing them around the house and yard for the last few days. They are nice enough that I don’t miss my Teva brand “Pajaro” sandals which are my go-to all summer. I may have more thoughts as time wears on and these have a chance to show their true mettle and how well the soles hold up to wear, but for now I am really pleased.

Link>> “Aqua Shoes”

It Ain’t the Ghost Whisperer!

However, at $17.28 including shipping from ShamSuiPo, I, for one, am not going to be arguing. The GW goes for $319.

When I was at a hang this Spring with my friend Iuri, I admired the jacket he had on assuming it to be a Ghost Whisperer… he’s a hip, young, upwardly mobile kind of guy who has the money for that type of thing. He said, “no, China”. So, when we were getting blown around by the lake winds up at the kayak hang recently, and I really wished I had some kind of a lightweight, but warm coat, I thought enviously of Iuri’s. When I got back, I looked ’em up on ALiBaba and ordered one. I don’t think I could’ve been happier even if I had the opportunity to actually try it on. For my needs, and at my kind of the price, it’s perfect… light, comfortable, warm, sufficiently wind-proof. I love the color, too. [much more a darker, blue-black than the photo shows] It’s the perfect thing to toss on just after dawn and before the day warms up, or once the evening shadows creep in and the temps drop.

Now… in fairness to the GW it reputedly has more down, and of a kind that is specially treated for loft and water repellency. But it also is only “stitch-thru” construction. $319 is a whole lot of money for a coat that isn’t even baffle-channeled. True, it is designed for layering, with an “active fit” for “climbing in the alpine, long-haul backpacking trips, and peak-bagging bids, where packing light and moving fast is key to reaching your objective”…. I have tried one on and found the fit restrictive on my less-than-fit, sixty-seven year-old body.

Specs~~ GW vs. “Joobox” branded:

  • 7D x 10D ripstop nylon / Polyester
  • claimed garment weight 7 oz / weighed @9.7 oz w/sack
  • down~ Q.Shield 800 fill-down / 90% white duck [no fill rating… seems like 650/700]
  • fill weight~2.6 oz / 2.5 oz
  • no hood on compared models
  • GW is designed to self-stuff into a pocket / Joobox came with a stuff sack
  • Joobox has two zippered slash hand pockets at the side-seams and two large interior, flat, “bag” pockets / GW~unspecified, but does have an adjustable, drawstring hem that the Joobox lacks

These don’t seem like a lot of differences to account for the $300 price differential. However, I don’t own a Ghost Whisperer jacket so I can’t pretend to do any real, considered, comparison here. There might very well be other differences that I am not aware of. That said, the Joobox jacket is my 90%/50% kind of deal [actually for only 5% in this case].

While it is simply specified to be a generic polyester material, I really like the “hand” to the fabric used on the Joobox. Nice and soft to the touch, easy to slide on the sleeves, soft around the neck and under the chin. Maybe it will prove to wear quickly or something. Due to the very large variations between Chinese and Western size charts, I ordered an XXL… while I have never bought anything in XXL before in my life, this was a perfect fit. [It is what I would expect in a men’s “Large” from someplace like Cabelas or L.L. Bean]. It is also roomy enough not to bind, and to allow for layering.

The Joobox’s one odd feature is that it came with the front zipper reversed… I expect to hold the pull in my right hand, and feed the little tang into it with my left. I am not certain, but I believe that women’s fashions may have the zipper reversed like this. This one was listed under “Men’s Wear”, was most definitely shown on a bearded male model, and is definitely not cut for a woman’s figure… Again, at this price I am not complaining. Oh, and in the stuff sack, it goes down to the size of a 12oz soda. I’ll give the bag a silicon/hydrophobic treatment with Atsko spray and be good to go. I also plan on spraying the entire jacket [exterior] with the Permethrin semi-permanent insect repellent to help keep the lil’ buggers at bay.

>> Good Deal / Highly Recommended <<

Got A New ‘Mock~~ not a camo… a Chameleon

I tried a couple times over the past few months to sell two of my hammock rigs. [Stop laughing! A lot of people I know I have at least 6 to 8 different hammocks]. I’m not sure I ever got around to putting up a post about either of these. They were both full setups… Hammock, net, tarp, suspensions. I liked them both. The thing was, that I didn’t really need either of them. I LOVE my Amok Draumr. Anyway, I put them both back up for sale a couple of weeks ago, and they both sold within 36 hours. I made a bit more back than I had in them.

My friend Dutch, of Dutchware, had just finished a $15,000 Kickstarter offering for another new style hammock. He ended up with over $200,000 in orders. I missed out on those early bird KS deals, but I was very much interested in getting one of his new “Chameleons”. I saw a couple of them back at the end of April down in Ashby, Massachusetts at a NEHHA Hang. He managed to get a lot of truly great features from a lot of other really great hammocks all condensed down into one unit. They are just a regular “banana” hammock, just really nicely kitted out. The only problem was, Dutch had so many orders already in hand that he isn’t ready to sell any Chameleons at retail yet.

Typical of so many people over on Hammock Forums, one guy ended up getting a KS Chameleon, saw a second great deal on a different hammock that he had really wanted for a long time, and decided to sell the Chameleon ASAP. I got it, together with an under quilt for an outrageously good price because he is already saved a bunch by getting in on the Kickstarter early. [He was in a hurry to make a deal to get his 2nd deal, so I ended up only paying about 70% of the retail for both the ‘mock and the UQ, plus this guy tossed in free shipping. The UQ is also brand-new, an untouchable deal even at its full retail, and something I had contemplated buying anyway. 20°F rated… he had gotten into go with the Chameleon]. I got what I wanted, he got what he wanted.

I had it shipped down to North Carolina instead of Maine because I knew I would be away for two weeks, and would be too excited to wait to see it. I had hoped to do a first hang up along the Blue Ridge Pkwy, or in the Great Smoky Mountains Park. However, it was too damp and drizzly most of the time we were up there. It never came out of the car trunk.  I did get a chance to set it up over at Morrow Mountain State Park, outside of Albemarle NC, over Memorial Day weekend. We were up at the top of the mountain, and the right-hand end there is pointing out to a 30 mile view.

I won’t bore you with details, you can look them up by checking out >> the Dutchware Kickstarter <<… Suffice it to say, it’s quite awesome.

[Oh, yeah. I had $.16 left on the dealz, and I fell asleep within 5 minutes]





Everybody Hate’s ‘Em….

Everybody brags about their’s!






“Who you gonna call….?”




Mini zzzZZapper !

PETA certified [People for the Electrical Termination of Annoyances]

My own personal choice is the MINI ZAPPER Electric Bug Eliminator from Yankee Trader. Yeah… mine comes from down at the Fell-Off-A-Truck Stop, SoSorry. No link. But only $3.99 for the mini & $5.99 for a full sized one.

[Plenty of others out there to choose from…]

The “Mini” is 16 inches long, that’s about four inches shorter than the full-size unit. Both of them run on two AA batteries… Not Included of course. And both of them seem to deliver the same 3200 V of  ‘skeeter blasting, blue light flashing,  ZzzZap!!-ing power.

I had grabbed one of the grey, full-sized units last summer. It does do exactly what it’s advertised to, and when I saw the mini version that would be a little easier to stick into my camping tote, I snatched it up last week. Doesn’t hurt to have an extra unit to pass around the fire circle.

My original was a great hit each time I took it out group camping last summer. Our first hammock hang was in late May, and last year, both the mosquito and the blackfly populations were vicious. Everybody wanted to borrow it…

I do not actually have any particular problem with bugs biting me. They are attracted to certain blood types, and to certain pheromones [Chemical trace scents that are unique to individuals]. My own whiffy package seems to be on the less desirable end of their scale. I get swarmed by the blackflies swirling in my face and crawling under  my collar just as badly as anybody else, but I don’t get bitten or have any sort of allergic reaction.  And the high-pitched buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz as a mosquito homes in on you as just as annoying to me as to others.

But, regardless of your own desirability to the bugs, these “zappers” are really great to have around the campfire during the worst of bug season. They are not only efficient but there’s a fairly high level of entertainment value as well.  There is just nothing like hearing the hummmm of a mosquito back behind your ear, pushing the button, swinging the racket alongside your head, and hearing the rewarding “fffzzzZAP!” as that particular little bugger bites the dust…. everyone else in the circle gets rewarded by seeing the sparkling flash blue light as the critter goes to meet its maker in a sizzling whiff of burned hair stink. With the blackflies especially, sometimes a single swing can take as many as five or eight to a crackling doom.

Now if we could just come up with something to take care of the ticks….