One Man, One Row Boat, and 2,485 Miles of Ocean: The Colin Sanders Interview

Posted by Dave Taylor

Oct 19, 2018 1:32:04 PM

Nite Ize Field Team member Colin Sanders accomplished a feat most would consider impossible when he rowed for 83 days straight to cross the Atlantic, alone, in a rowboat. We were able to talk to him about his adventures, struggles, and triumphs -- and about how this massive goal was fueled by wanting to help others.

 

Q: Hi Colin! First off, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into ultra long distance rowing?

About four years ago I decided I needed a grand adventure, something that would challenge me physically, mentally, emotionally and even financially. I spent a lot of time skiing in the mountains when I was younger and always suffered from the altitude. Climbing Everest was out. To be honest, climbing Everest seemed mundane in some ways anyway, since thousands of people have summited at this point.


Solo rowing the Atlantic was different and definitely more unusual. Few have done it and it fit my personality better. When people ask me why I rowed across the Atlantic Ocean my answer is typically “ego and self-gratification”. Sometimes I wish there was a more profound motivation but at age 64 I think I had something to prove to myself, that I could take on something incredibly tough and succeed.

Q: How does a multi-week rowing journey work? Do you row for 8+ hours a day and rest the other 16? Heck, don’t you drift while you're not rowing? 

I rowed for 10-14 hours each day. At the beginning of the trip I had a routine where I rowed for three hours then took 15 minutes off. Again and again. As I got further across the ocean and started to wear down physically I had to shorten the shifts and take more frequent breaks.

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I would usually start just as the sun was rising because rowing in the dark just isn’t fun, particularly when the seas are rough.

When I stowed the oars at night I just drifted. Depending on how big and steep the waves were that evening, I had to decide whether to drift free, put a warp off the stern or para anchor.

Note: A “warp” is a thick line that provides drag and some directional stability downwind and a para anchor, also called a drogue, is about the size of a bushel basket and gives the boat enough drag to produce excellent downwind stability.

It was always a fine line because I always wanted to pick up as much free distance as possible by drifting and the MRE drag I had, the less I would drift. Insufficient directional stability downwind could end up turning the boat sideways to the wind and waves and even end up with the boat capsizing.

And capsize it did. New Year’s Eve while the boat was on the warp. She got hit by a large wave as it broke and ended up rolling over and over several times. Anything not locked down flew everywhere, including a liter of olive oil!

The boat righted itself but after composing myself I had to go on deck in the pitch dark - in a really choppy sea with big waves - to pull the warp in and set the drogue. Setting the drogue isn’t easy even in the smoothest of waters because it uses a bridle attached to each side of the stern, but in big waves, high wind and darkness? It was very tough.

Q: How do you train for a rowing marathon like you did? You just rowed across the Atlantic Ocean! How on Earth did you prep for that?

I had a really great trainer. It was a partly strength in the upper body, but a lot more about core strength and flexibility. We spent a lot of time on stretching to ensure that my back and core were the strongest possible. I actually spent very little time with an indoor rowing machine because it has little in common with ocean rowing when you often only have one oar in the water at any given time. 

Q: Your Trans-Atlantic journey was from Puerto de Mogan in the Canary Islands to English Harbour in Antigua. How did you choose that route and did you ever run afoul of whales, sharks or enormous cargo ships en route?

Actually, that particular route is the classic course to get across the Atlantic Ocean. Originally, I was going to head for Barbados, but I just couldn’t get far enough south to make that a viable destination. Halfway across Stokey my UK-based navigator said, “You’re going to Antigua, mate!”.

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I did see the odd cargo ship but really not that many ships at all. Part of that is the vastness of the ocean: They could have been passing within five miles and I would have never known. In terms of wildlife, I remember seeing one pilot whale, lots of dolphins and several swordfish but no sharks at all.

Q: What’s one aspect of the row that was the toughest?

The emotional and mental side of the journey was the most difficult. Being completely alone for 83 days was hard, especially in tough sea conditions. The loss of my music 28 days out was a real blow to my emotional state too: I had spent a year curating downloads on Spotify, never realizing that you have to sign in every 30 days to keep the downloads active. I didn’t know that and one month into the trip suddenly had no music at all. I ended up giving monologues and speeches on a wide variety of subjects that I knew something about, singing songs, coming up with thought experiments, and trying not to go crazy out there in the middle of the ocean. It wasn’t easy, but I made it! 

Q: What's your favorite Nite Ize product and why?

I started out with a lot of Nite Ize gear, but to be honest, it wasn’t until I was doing the actual row that I realized the excellent quality of all the products. The Gear Ties I used every single day. It was typically so rough at sea that it was critical that they quickly and easily secured equipment on the deck. I also used the S-Biner Marine to secure equipment that I viewed as “mission critical”, including my multitools and water bottles. They were on deck every single day and at the end of the journey none of them had a single spot of rust. I could hardly believe it, because so many other tools or pieces of my kit rusted or corroded with the constant salt water exposure. The Nite Ize equipment never, ever corroded!

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Q: Are you ready to circumnavigate the entire Earth in your boat now? What is your next grand adventure?

Ummmm no. The Atlantic was enough at 4000 km (2485 miles). Not sure what my next adventure will be, but it’ll be something. I have lots of living to do yet!

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your charity A Million Possibilities?

I raised about $150K for Community Living Ontario. Community Living supports people like my son Jeff, who has intellectual disabilities. We came up with the name “A Million Possibilities” hoping to raise $1 for each stroke I took crossing the Atlantic. Ultimately, we didn’t raise a million dollars but we were still very happy with the results. 

Congrats on your remarkable achievement, Colin. We look forward to hearing about your next adventure!

 

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Topics: Adventure, Field Team, outdoors

Nighttime Flying Disc Adventures with Flashflight

Posted by Dave Taylor

Jul 31, 2018 2:32:12 PM

Growing up in Southern California, many of my best childhood memories are tied to being at the beach. Whether it was Santa Monica beach, if we wanted to be down by the pier, or Zuma and Malibu beaches, which were the two just down the canyon from our neighborhood.

FFD_Feature_01_lIf you’ve never grown up near a beach community, you don’t know that high schools have designated lifeguard stations, too. On Zuma beach, my local high school had our station and it was a fun way both to find friends and avoid the kids from the rival cross-town school. 

While we occasionally just lay on our towels and listened to music on our boom boxes, mostly everyone was up and about, walking around, playing football, body surfing, splashing in the water, or swimming. Hands down one of the most popular activities, though, was throwing a flying disc back and forth. For hours and hours.

Back then, flying discs were just lumps of plastic without much going for them. So we all had a stack in our cars, so that the loss of a disc in the surf wasn’t going to stop the show. Still, once the sun started to set, that game was over because you can’t play when you can’t see the disc zipping towards you!

That’s why the Flashflight from Nite Ize is so incredibly fun: It’s a well balanced and easy to throw flying disc that lights up, making it perfect for nighttime play! For those of you that measure discs by weight, it’s a 185g disc, so it’s got some heft to it. This means you can throw it further and catch it easily as it has a nice, deep lip.

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But it’s the colors that make the Flashflight so darn fun. When I headed out to the street one evening with my kids to try out the color-changing Disc-O Flashflight, we all instantly became fans of this great flying disc. You can watch it transition from one color of the rainbow to another, even as it’s zipping from person to person. 

The tech is also a lot more sophisticated than it appears at first glance: the Flashflight is built around a patented LED and fiber optic system that makes the light-up disc look somewhat like a psychedelic jellyfish. It’s also quite durable - skittering along the road didn’t ding or scratch up the disc - and it’s also water resistant and floats!

Where was this when I was on the beach every day? My kids have been playing with the Flashflight quite a bit and now are insistent that it travel with them to Hawaii for their summer vacation. There’s no doubt about it, the Flashflight will be absolutely perfect for play on the beach once one of those glorious Hawaiian sunsets wrap up.

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Nite Ize Flashflight

Extremely durable 185g plastic flying disc
LED + Fiber Optic illumination system, with user-replaceable batteries
Available in a rainbow of fun colors

Learn-More

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Topics: Adventure, Fun & Games, Flashflight, outdoors, Flying Disc

Nite Ize Coworkers Come Together After Catastrophe

Posted by Kelly Richardson

Oct 5, 2017 4:23:00 PM

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It was called the “100-year flood.” In September 2013, the Colorado Front Range saw an uncharacteristic downpour that drenched, damaged, and devastated communities across roughly 150 miles – a scene reminiscent of the ones in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico this past month. Almost overnight, the rising waters of the St. Vrain Creek – a tributary of the South Platte River that flows through Longmont, Colorado – overflowed, turning asphalt roadways into raging rivers that quickly saturated homes, leveled businesses, totaled vehicles, and claimed victims.


Jen and Daughter.jpgFour years later, the effects are still felt by the Longmont community and surrounding areas. Many employees at Nite Ize, a Boulder-based manufacturer, are among those that call Longmont home and the grim memories of this unprecedented event still linger.

“Because a large percentage of our employee base lives in Longmont, deciding to work with American Rivers on a company cleanup event in our backyard was important,” Nite Ize Director of Marketing Brenda Isaac said. “We believe in the mission of American Rivers and, as an official supporter of the organization, we were excited to celebrate our partnership with an event that really meant something to our employees and their families.”

Last year, Nite Ize launched a new corporate giving initiative called The Brite Side and chose American Rivers as the first official program partner. “The Brite Side is about focusing on what we want to see in the world around us and working together with organizations that support that vision,” Nite Ize Founder and CEO Rick Case says. “It’s about doing good things, with good people, and always looking for The Brite Side.”

With that mission in mind, 55 volunteers collected 1,500 pounds of trash from roughly 1.5 miles along the St. Vrain Creek and Golden Ponds Park area this past August. Some of the more unusual debris found included a horse from a children’s rocking horse toy set, a University of Colorado letterman jacket, couch cushions, and a silver bracelet with a love note.

These items have a story that many will never know – but more than likely they were washed upon the shores of the St. Vrain during the flood and have remained half hidden and forever forgotten. American Rivers works hard to restore damaged rivers like the St. Vrain to conserve clean water for people and nature. Removing trash and debris from waterways and disposing of it properly is an important part of ongoing flood restoration for the City of Longmont and a task that both Nite Ize and American Rivers were not only dedicated to, but enthusiastic about.

Clearly, it takes many years and mny hands to help restore and heal a community after a disaster like this. For all those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria hang in there. There is a long road ahead, but with the help of friends, family, neighbors, and millions of others around the country, you will endure this.

For more information about our Brite Side progam, click here.

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Topics: clean water, endangered rivers, take action, outdoors

Because Size, and Lumens, Matter.

Posted by MJ Smoot

Apr 1, 2017 10:13:12 AM


We all have that friend. That guy in our crew that has every piece of gear he could ever possibly need but that continues to buy the newest, most light weight and high tech gear he can find. You know the type. He's the same guy that's always bragging about the new 50 lumens, 1 gram, 20 setting headlamp that he bought for $200 just before your last camping trip. Well I got news for you, bro. Size matters!

T10 Headband1_SQ.jpgThat's why I stopped playing around with all of those little, kid colored, not bright enough headlamps and stepped my game up to the Mega Headband Flashlight Holder with the Inova T10R Tactical Flashlight + Power BankAt an impressive 3500 lumens with a 6 hour run time, I'm sure to have the brightest, biggest, and most bad ass headlamp on my next camping trip with the guys. 

I know what you're thinking, and no, it's not the lightest or least expensive option out there. But I own a YETI cooler and if I can't keep my beer cold for 30 days or light up the entire campground with my headlamp, then what's the point of camping?

As a wise man once said, "If you're not first, you're last!" So stop playing around with those impractical headlamps that fit in your pack, and be the envy of all your friends by hanging the Mega Headband with T10R off your pack. Because size matters, and you're a big deal!

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Happy April Fool's Day!

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Topics: LED Flashlights, outdoors

Do You Believe In Luck?

Posted by Field Team Member Gareth Leah

Mar 17, 2017 10:56:01 AM

Photo Credit Cut Media/Adidas TerrexWe've all heard the phrase, "Good Luck!" It's the message delivered by friends and loved ones when you set out to try something new. The dictionary defines it as "success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions," but I don't agree. I think luck is made.

Learning from everyday events, we discover things about our environment and the nuances that contribute to both success, and failure in our life. Whether it's winning big on race day or watching someone slip on ice, we increase our success probability through knowledge and experience. 

Whenever i'm climbing big walls, I try to think of every possible turn of events that could unfold before I even leave the ground. This is the experience gained through such events as continuously falling off a ledge in the night, trying to poop into a small brown paper bag without a headlamp, and catching a large rock with my face, amongst many others. These events have taught me that being prepared, rather than fortuitous, leaves the odds stacked in your favor. 

For me, being prepared often comes down to what I pack. With big wall climbing, I must take with me everything I will need to survive on a wall for extended periods of time. It could be for a night, a week, or much longer. Once off the ground, I will need food, water, cooking equipment, sleeping equipment, a portaledge (packable hanging bed), a first aid kit, climbing equipment and of course, a backup plan. 

Photo Credit Cut Media/Adidas TerrexPhoto Credit Cut Media/Adidas Terrex

With so much gear to cram into such a small space, I often take dual purpose items. A simple change from a standard 3 piece cutlery set to a plastic spork will only save me a few grams, and switching out my inflatable sleeping mat for a foam one only saves a little space, but it soon adds up when you apply this critical thinking to all of your preparations. One of the pieces of gear that I took with me to Pico Cão Grande which came in particularly useful was the Gear Line. Due to the tropical storms that pounded the island, keeping everything dry was a daily battle. With limited anchor points and space on the ledge, I would use the gear line to help organize our gear and to keep it out of the rain. When it wasn't being used as a drying rack, I would use the Gear Line to hang solar panels from the cliff wall or to organize our gear rack. 

These micro adjustments in packing can make or break the outcome of a big wall climb. So rather than "hoping" something might work out, plan ahead. With a little preparation and forethought you'll be able to create your own "luck."

Gareth (Gaz) Leah is a British adventurer, climbing developer, writer and photographer who has been obsessed with climbing since 1987. Gaz has been a Nite Ize Ambassador since 2016 and also works with Adidas OutdoorAdventure Medical KitsRevo SunglassesMad Rock ClimbingHanchorDMM ClimbingMaxim RopesVoltaic SystemsClimbers Against CancerEscalando FronterasPro Climbers International (PCI), Acceso PanAm, and Adventure 4 Good.  

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Topics: Emergency Preparedness, Adventure, outdoors

What's Hot at the 2017 Outdoor Retailer Winter Show

Posted by MJ Smoot

Jan 25, 2017 11:00:24 AM

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast then you already know that the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, Utah is the place to be for new releases of the latest and greatest outdoor gear. Taking place twice a year during the winter and summer (January and August in 2017), the OR Show is a gathering place for outdoor equipment and apparel brands, both large and small, to showcase their product lines to retailers and members of the media. It’s also one of the shows where we, Nite Ize, release our newest products.

While this year’s OR Winter Market seemed to be a little quieter than last year’s show, new product releases from manufacturers kept the crowd buzzing with enthusiasm. When I had a chance to wander from the Nite Ize booth, I discovered a wide range of new products, some not so noticeable to the naked eye, that really caught my attention. Here are some of the items that I found most interesting.

  1. CM-EVA-Snowshoe.jpgCrescent Moon EVA—Gone are the days of flat, framed snowshoes. The new EVA foam snowshoe with a rockered platform from Crescent Moon is lightweight, easy to maneuver, and does not require a hinge under the foot thanks to the rockered shape design. For someone like myself who is a “weekend warrior” when it comes to snowshoeing (you won’t catch me doing any winter backpacking), the Crescent Moon EVA provides a great solution to get outside and play in the snow. Look for them in the fall of 2017.

  2. Goal Zero’s Yeti Fuel—When I think of Goal Zero, solar panels and lithium power cells is generally what comes to mind. The new Yeti Fuel, a gas power generator, stands apart from this traditional way of thinking while boasting a claim of being “20 times more efficient” than other similar generators, according to Goal Zero. For anyone who doesn’t drive a Sprinter van with solar panels on the roof, the Yeti Fuel is a great option for keeping devices charged and ready to go at basecamp, or for use during Nite Ize’s events where a battery cell won’t quite provide enough juice.

  3. Goal Zero-Yeti Fuel.jpggoTenna Mesh—For those of us that take our smartphones into the backcountry, the goTenna Mesh will help keep us connected by providing a private off-grid network that allows connection with other goTenna users through the goTenna app. While the device won’t connect you with non-goTenna users, it’s a great way to stay connected with other parties in your group when your paths take you in different directions or to use when traveling to foreign countries where you don’t have cell phone service.

  4. Patagonia’s Hyper Das Insulation—While the new Hyper Das Insulation from Patagonia is not something that you’ll be able to see, you’ll surely feel the warmth when wearing it. Boasted as Patagonia’s warmest synthetic insulation, the accordion like construction is very puffy and compressible making it great as an alternative to the classic down insulation. As someone who loves down jackets, the new synthetic insulations coming to the market are catching my attention by providing as much warmth as down, compressing into small packable sizes, and having the ability to quickly dry or keep you warm when wet. Keep an eye out for the new Hyper Das insulation that will be available in jackets from Patagonia this fall.

  5. Nite Ize’s Dual CamJam Tie Down System—I couldn’t write this post without talking about the new Dual CamJam as it received quite a bit of attention during the show. The new Dual CamJam Tie Down System has people rethinking how they get their gear from point A to point B. Unlike traditional tie down straps, the Dual CamJam Webbing Tensioner (ie. the buckle) is not attached to the webbing allowing it to create an anchor point anywhere along the length of the strap. This results in a more versatile tie down system that is easy to setup, allows you to use the full length of the webbing in your rigging, and is compatible with most 1” wide flat or tubular webbing. But my favorite feature, you can use it to rig a hammock!

Even after three full days on the show floor, I couldn’t quite cover everything that was new or exciting at the show and I’d love to hear from you if there was something that caught your eye. If there was something that jumped out at you, then please let me know by posting a comment below.

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. I was not compensated in any additional way for this review, and have used images provided by the retailers to help compile this review. I’ll also note that my personal interests skew towards backpacking, snowboarding, climbing, hiking, trail running, traveling, photography, and mountain biking.

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Topics: Outdoor Retailer Show, outdoors, OR Winter Market, Tradeshows

Willi's Nite Ize Picks - Guest Blog Post by Pure Hunting's Willi Schmidt

Posted by Field Team Member Willi Schmidt

Sep 22, 2016 1:53:43 PM

Willi-Pure_Hunting.jpgAs an avid hunter and outdoorsman, I am always looking for gear that is useful in the field. One company that makes a ton of great gear, but is not known as an "outdoor" or "hunting" company is Nite Ize. There are several products of theirs that I never go into the field without.

Most outdoorsmen need lighting when they head into the field. Nite Ize makes several great options. The INOVA STS Headlamp has 142 lumens on the white, high setting and gives me plenty of light when hiking in the dark or setting up camp. It also has a red option, which is ideal when heading out in the morning and typically doesn't spook game like a white light does. It is a great design and the "Swipe-To-Shine" technology is unique and easy to turn the light on and off. They have an INOVA X5 UV - Ultraviolet LED Flashlight, which is always in my pack as well. The UV light allows you to follow a blood trail, even in the dark.

Nite Ize has a family of cool gadgets too, which I have come to rely on. Their S-Biners are double-gated carabiners that have a ton of uses. I keep several clipped to my backpack all the time, which gives me the ability to clip a water bottle and any other accessory to the outside of my pack easily. I use them inside my tent to clip on a light or hang clothing to dry. Anything clips in easily and stays secure. They are very light weight, come in a ton of sizes, both in plastic and metal and some can even lock, preventing any accidental opening and losing gear.

I also keep several different sizes of Gear Ties in my pack. These cool, plastic coated ties have unlimited uses. I have used the larger sizes to keep my sleeping pad rolled up, hang gear from a tree, strap my elk bugle or rattling antlers to my pack and the smaller sizes are perfect for keeping charging cords organized and untangled. They are quiet, will not damage gear and are waterproof. They come in a ton of different sizes and colors and truly do have unlimited uses.


Another of my favorite products is the Steelie. Although this doesn't have an "in the field" use, I use it while getting to my adventures to secure my phone to the dash of my car. The Steelie allows me to see my screen to follow directions and easily turn it from portrait to landscape. If I need to grab my phone, the magnet makes it easy without having to unsnap or unclip the phone like other phone holders. Everyone in my family has one in their car and we’ve even put on in our golf cart.

Although these are some of my favorite products, it's a very small sample of the products that Nite Ize makes. They also make products like unique key chains, all kinds of electronic holsters and cases, lighted bike and dog accessories and the list goes on and on. Most of their products solve problems you don't even know you have. Be sure to check them out at NiteIze.com to see the full array of products and I am confident that like me, you will find many products you won't be want to head into the field without.
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Topics: hunting, outdoors

Thoughts on Innovation, the Nite Ize way.

We have over 400 innovative problem/solution based products that appeal to anyone who has ever faced a daily frustration and found that perfect product to solve their problem. Whether you are into the latest tech products, love to walk your dog, enjoy hunting & fishing, biking with your family, or just love a helpful gadget, we hope that you will find a Nite Ize product that makes your life easier, safer and more fun – night and day! We love to share stories & ideas with our friends and customers. Enjoy!

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