a watery saigon – 3

Móc ngang sông phau phau làn trắng,
Nước in trời loang loáng vẻ xanh.
Buông theo chiếc lá lênh đênh,
Đè muôn đợt sóng mông mênh cõi ngoài.

ome more updates for the A – Watery – Saigon photo album, some miscellaneous thoughts. I’m no real photographer to say anything insight about photography, most of the time, I have the camera in automatic mode and make quite random shots just to show I’ve been there, done that… For the last few years, I’ve been watching many young Vietnamese ‘professional photographers’ who made great efforts in capturing landscape pictures, e.g: waiting for multiple days on a mountain top to catch the right moment, etc…

And they showed me their photos, ‘really beautiful’ I must say (compared to my well – under – average images, and I do wish my pictures could be like that, technically): perfect color and arrangement, unique point of view, etc… But let me get this straight, and don’t get me wrong on the topic: they lack a spirit, a sense of movement, a sense of selfness, they are just plain boring! In order to become great photographer, you should stop taking photos and do something else, see the world through your eyes first, before seeing it through those expensively distortional lenses!


Xác vờ gởi mặc kiền khôn,
Tẻo teo hạt thóc trong cồn bể xanh.
Thoáng một chốc kiếp sinh là mấy?
Khen con sông nước chảy khôn cùng!

on’t expect myself to become a marquetry craftsman & artist, but decided to try anyhow. The first reason: to decorate my upcoming boat with some mother – of – pearl inlays, the second reason: to train myself the patience and detail – oriented characters which I apparently quite lack of, the third reason: just for the beauty of the extremely fine art of wood marquetry. It’s too early to say at the moment if I can produce good results, but let just try and see!

First, some preparations need to be made, tools and materials. Image 1: metal working files, compasses, and the thickness gauges. Image 2: some woodworking chisels and carving tools. Image 3: the extremely sharp Tamiya knives. Image 4: the jewelry jig saw, with 4 blade sizes, the smallest being as thin as a thread of hair. Image 5: three different types of mother – of – pearl, or the like, with 3 shades of color: white, reddish and jade. Image 6: my marquetry workbench.

my workshop – 1

lmost finished with upgrading my woodworking workshop, just some more painting, fitting and cleaning up jobs needed! This would be a “well – equipped, well – organized” place to carry out my upcoming projects, which is getting more and more sophisticated! Several assets showed below, including my new Makita MLT100 table saw, the Dremel power tools and other wood carving tools, the Maktec MT362 router and its home – brew routing table, the air compressor and nail gun, a dozen types of chemicals for epoxying and painting, etc… basic things for what could be called a boat – building – workshop! 😀

Drawers for storing various hand held power tools, all these tools need proper care and maintenance.

Makita MLT100 table saw, with this, I can cut wood to the desired sizes, without having to have them cut at the wood mill nearby.

Dremel’s MultiTool and MotoSaw, suitable for small wood working. These are intended for some marquetry works later on.

Maktec MT362 router and its being – built routing table. I used the router itself to install the steel center plate holding the machine underneath.

Various chemicals, the excellent Titebond II wood glue, the 511 epoxy putty, wood carving tools, air compressor, the new Bosch circular saw.

Some more shots around my workshop. Sooner or later, I would need a dust collecting system, or maybe just a vacuum cleaner.


Tôi đang đi, đi trên sông chở đầy nắng hồng.
Đêm nay nghe tiếng sóng biển Đông,
Tôi đang nghe, tôi đang nghe..

ften, I’m not quite pleased with my boat building products, it’s not up to the quality level I’m expecting. And quite regularly, I’m in a dilemma situation that I don’t know what I should improve on: my craftsmanship or my seamanship. (Well, I know, all sound big bold words: craftsmanship & seamanship, but let use them anyhow). The fact is that I’ve just turned to woodworking and boat building for around a year, there’re lots of things still to learn and to improve.

I’ve decided to invest on improving my ‘craftsmanship’. Many hours spent on reading documents and browsing woodworking, boatbuilding forums. Also decided to upgrade my small workshop with more professional tools: a table saw, jig table saw, router and a routing table, air compressor and nail gun, etc… I’m in the preparation process of building Hello World – 3, my next boat, a boat I can trust my life on in the upcoming journeys, and I want to do it as good as I can.

As for Hello World – 3, there’ll be no fixed schedule. All boat designs and boat buildings is kind of compromisation, there’s no such thing as “ultimate perfection”, but I’ll do it until it’s good enough, with no pressure on a launch day, and as my free times permit. There would be lots of new things built into this Hello World – 3: electric pump, battery, electronics, and solar charging system, etc… That’s still a long way to go, concentrate on the basic task of building woodworking tools for now!

It looks like that I’m turning into a cabinet maker for now 😀, of the 3 pieces of “cabinet”, one will be the pedestal for my new Makita MT100 table saw, one would be a routing table (to be fitted with the Maktec MT362 router), and the other table will be used for small cutting and carving tasks with the Dremel’s MultiTool and MotoSaw. I’m adding more and more into my tool collection: Bosch (and it’s subsidiaries Dremel & Skil), Makita (and it’s subsidiary Maktec) and Fein.

These ‘furnitures’ are really basic things built with plywood, some wooden frames, and all painted, so I put ‘aesthetics’ aside and focus on usability. One day, I’ll build all my wooden household objects in finer quality myself, but for now, just these simple woodworking facilities, which I need to complete within this month. The plan is to have Hello World – 3 building started somewhere next month, a huge pile of planned works to be done before the rainy season returns the next year…

Additional assets for the workshop, a small coffee table and 4 chairs, for taking a beverage in the hot tropical afternoon. All built from cheap plywood, and painted with wood color, this is also to test my new idea of painting and color pigment mixing, all takes only a day to complete, a quick and dirty job indeed. Building fine and good looking furniture, like building a good boat, takes lots of time and labour, so I’m pleased with these crude but functional things for now.


ver thought that the Golden Age of Great Explorers was long over!? Think twice, it’s not quite so indeed. There’re lots of great adventurers out there still nowadays going on redisconvering old things in new ways, in finding the meanings for their lives. Below are just a few of them… men, women; teenagers, middle ages, old ages; paddlers, rowers, sailors… all in a very long list of figures which I follow closely and passionately along their adventurous paths. Read their stories thoroughly to understand their thoughts and attitudes toward life.

Aleksander Doba

The Polish adventurer turned 67 years old as he paddled his 21′ specially – designed kayak across the Atlantic, making more than 6500 miles in 6 months. Departed from Lisbon, Portugal on October 5th, 2013, when landed in Florida, May 23rd, 2014, the man finished a journey believed to be the longest open – water crossing ever made by a kayak in history. It’s not until 40 years old that Aleksander Doba started with kayaking and paddling, he’s been living by the motto: It’s better to live one day as a lion than a thousand years as a lamb.

Sandy Robson

An Australian kayaking instructor with lots of feats under her belt (including a 6000 km journey along the Australian coastline). In 2011, she started out for a trip from Germany to… Australia in an effort to retrace that of Oskar Speck, the legendary German kayaker who made that 50,000 km voyage in seven years from 1932 to 1939. Sandy Robson has finished the 4224 km 1st phase and the 2260 km 2nd phase, and is currently on the 3rd stage of her great journey, cruising Sri Lanka and the India east coast. For more details, follow her website here.

Roz Savage

An English ocean rower who crossed the Atlantic in 2006 in 103 days, Roz Savage then finished the 4811 km crossing from California to Hawaii in 99 days in 2008, after a previous failed attempt in 2007. Two additional legs from Hawaii to Tarawa, and from Tarawa to Papua New Guinea were made in 2009 and 2010, finishing the conquest of the largest ocean. Roz Savage successfully completed her Indian ocean crossing on 4th October 2011 in 154 days, becoming the first woman to solo row the “Big Three”: Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.

Chris Duff

An American sea kayaker notable for his large scale projects and world – record breaking attempts, having kayaked over 14,000 miles since 1983 in various endurance expeditions: the circumnavigations of Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand and Great Britain. I really like his saying: there are very few times in our busy lives where we have the luxury of true solitude. I love the simple focus of these journeys; the physical challenges of the sea balanced by the inner calm which comes from living purposefully and so simply.

Laura Dekker

The 14 years old girl, the youngest ever to circumnavigate the globe. Born on a boat, fought the Dutch government intervention and attempt to block her from going out to sea, and sailed the two – year – long, 27,000 miles trip around the world, alone! A stunning record that would stand for many years to come. I remember a few years back, watching her news and updates along the voyage in the 11.4 m boat Guppy at lauradekker.com. Let see also Maidentrip, a 82 minute documentary about the journey around the world, and into adulthood!

Matt Rutherford

Matt sailed a 27,077 nautical mile lap around North America and South America continents, in 309 days, on his 27′ boat St. Brendan, an incredible feat includes rounding the treacherous Cape Horn and the icy, dangerous Northwest Passage. North of the equator, in a 50 – knot squall on his April 6th birthday, everything broke, once and for all: the engine was toast, the wind generator was finished, there were no lights or power, nothing. Happy birthday, Matt!. For more information, read his website: solotheamericas.org.

Capucine Trochet

Suffered from a genetic disease (the Ehlers–Danlos syndrome) that kept her in wheelchair for months, Capucine decided to fight and to win, and I had an irresistible urge to go, to get back to sea, to the sea…, J’ai éprouvé un vrai sentiment de plénitude… (I’ve enjoyed a real sense of fullness). Behind the pretty face of great sweetness, this young French woman hides an iron will, with which she sailed across the Atlantic in 2012 and 2013 aboard her Tara Tari, a Bangladesh traditional style fishing boat. Follow her stories at whereistaratari.blogspot.com.

fortitudine vincimus

etting a bit more serious in paddle exercising day after day. I start to carry a 15kg (of brick and stone) load onto my kayak, and would gradually increase the load. Also, resting time between each paddling legs is reduced to the minimum possible. Sunny or rainy, until today, a 20 km paddling path is just like a gentle promenade to me, I should be more aggressing and demanding on myself.

But practicing hard won’t stop me to relax and have some nice picture shot occasionally along the way. Whenever I’m tired or feeling down, there’re always the nice sceneries, and the motto (on this post title) to put my mood into order again! For more on the Latin motto, read about Ernest Shackleton, his polar explorations, and his incredible voyage on the 21 foot open boat James Caird!

boating books

ome very worth reading books on boating. Some are very well – known novels that I’ve read already (a few of them in multiple times), some are new documents that I’m reading or plan to. According to my categorization, they fall into the following 3 groups: Fiction, purely imaginary, although not real, they’re highly inspirational, Non – fiction, real accounts of real peoples and their adventures, Technical, the fundamental details that help building those archivements. My 3 simplified, consecutive steps of a self – actualization process… All these books are available in public domain, I collected and compiled into PDF format, click on each titles to download.


Twenty thousand leagues under the sea – Jules Verne

Sea wolf – Jack London

Treasure island – Robert Louis Stevenson

Moby dick – Herman Melville, my all – time favorite, a piece of hard to read, highly metaphoric literature


A thousand miles in a Rob Roy canoe – J. Macgregor

Voyage of the paper canoe – Nathaniel Bishop

Alone in the Caribbean – Frederic Fenger

Sailing alone around the world – Joshua Slocum, my favorite, another neo – classical Ahap captain!


The dory book – John Gardner

Small boat building – H.W. Patterson

Canoe and boat building for amateurs – W.P. Stephens

The Gougeon brothers on boat construction, a very helpful, thorough book on wood working and epoxy.

the call

We’re all following a strange melody.
We’re all summoned by a tune…
And we dance beneath the moon!

The piper remixed - ABBA 

eally busy lately, can’t even find some little time slots for going paddling! For many time I’ve been hearing it, the tune sounds like Enya’s Orinoco Flow (a.k.a: Sail away), and I know, it’s calling, it’s calling me. I just have to “Slide to answer”, but pressing “Remind me” is my only option right now! 😢 Surely won’t miss your next call again!

folding bike

new toy, a “towing platform” for the kayak, a GIANT tiny folding bike that can be carried on the boat through the waterways! Steel frame, 20 inches wheels, 6 speeds derailleur gears, and weighted at 15 kg, this is the best balance I can find: small enough to be folded and transported on the kayak, while still large enough to be able to attain some speed while towing the kayak in return on long roads! To be used in my upcoming trips! 😀


Once we were standing still in time,
Chasing the fantasies that filled our minds.
…Now looking back at all we’ve planned,
We let so many dreams just slip through our hands.

Do you know where you're going to - Diana Ross 

his has been added into my intermediate – term TODO list, a promise to return to Côn Đảo made earlier last year, in a different way, not by way of air of course. Don’t really know if I could make this, cause it’s really a tough (and adventurous) target to conquer, and there’re lots of things I also wanted and planned to do, too many of them indeed, but let just set the milestone there!