Archives for posts with tag: guide


My friend, Greg, over at gadmachine passed a couple of handy sites onto me the other day. The first one is a wheel bolt pattern database, from Roadkill Customs, through which you can cross reference and compare bolt patterns from any car or truck.

Don’t know if those wheels from your Land Cruiser fit your Montero? No problem, you can look up the specs. The site gives you year, make, model, bolt pattern (in standard and metric), OEM wheel size, stud size, hub center bore, and offset (if applicable). It’s a great resource.

Another handy link is a company called Wheels and Caps, which sells NATO-style steel wheels in various sizes. Not sure if they’ll fit your truck? Use the bolt pattern database!

Wheel Bolt Pattern Database
NATO steel wheels

About a month ago, we bought a mid-sized sailboat, an Aloha 32 named Carmana and sailed her down from Friday Harbor to Seattle for our first shake-down cruise. We’ve been moored here for the last couple of weeks, hanging out in Ballard (Seattle’s version of Brooklyn), and getting to know the local marine suppliers as we address mechanical, safety, and comfort issues before we head out again: a new chart plotter, battery charger, a new pump for the head, some stuff to keep the holding tank from smelling (Go Noflex Digester! That stuff works.) new fenders, stern anchor… You get the idea.

Despite all of the little projects, we’re really happy with the boat. She’s roomy for a 32-footer, sails well, and gets admiring looks up and down the dock. And she makes a good home for Natalie and I.

That’s the quick low down on the boat. We’ll be up here exploring all summer and give you the low down on the places we visit. Also, if you’d like to read and see pictures of our trip in more detail, Natalie’s blogging about it over at her site, The West County Bramble. Check it out!

OK, here’s the low down. For in-depth low down, we’ve been using the Waggoner Cruising Guide. Not only does it cover everything about every harbor we’ll ever visit, it’s a primer on Northwest cruising. I wished I’d bought it before I even bought the boat as it would have informed some of my choices.

Here’s our take on things though. Every town has been cuter, cooler, and more scenic than the last.
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Here’s an informative video on 4×4-based desert survival, including tips and tricks for sand driving. It also tells the tales of others that have been trapped in the desert and made it out alive, and others that weren’t so lucky.

Thanks for the tip, Greg!

On a recent trip it became clear to me just how limited GMRS radios are in the back country. As soon as we were out of visual range of our friend Greg’s truck, and around a bend or two, we couldn’t communicate. I haven’t bothered with CB because, from what I’ve experienced, it’s just as bad.

For serious off-road communication, HAM is the way to go. Even if you’re out of radio-to-radio range (known as simplex communication), odds are you’ll still be able to communicate through a local repeater. To find a repeater near you, check this map. Radios can be handheld or truck-mounted. And high-end units can even offer GPS functionality.

To get started you’ll need a HAM radio license, something I still need to do. If you’re like me though, and want to get started, check out this excellent beginners guide to HAM radio that Chazz Layne, from Overland Journal, posted on Expedition Portal.

We just got back from Southeast Asia. Our entry and exit point was Bangkok—what a city. Old, new, fashionable, and traditional, all mix together in this city on the move. Street vendors can be found everywhere selling anything from pad Thai and grilled chicken skewers to knock-off, Spongebob Squarepants carry-on luggage. Whole restaurants pop-up, makeshift-style, down random alleys. We even saw women at sewing machines, doing tailoring, right there on the sidewalk. Throw in some grit, a few stray dogs, boats speeding up and down canals in a black fog of diesel fumes, and you’ll have a pretty good picture of Bangkok.

Oh, don’t forget the heat. It’s hot, hot, hot, and humid. We averaged three to four showers a day and—I’m sorry to say—my deodorant still couldn’t keep up. That said, I think Bangkok is fantastic. It’s one of the most vibrant, engaging cities I’ve ever seen. Here are a few tips, if you go.

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