Jet Boil Review: Cooking at sea

All my cooking will be done with boiling water. I will have no need to fry, bake or the likes.

Jetboil stoves are brilliant. The Jetboil is far and away the best system I’ve used. Fast, compact and efficient. I will take a number of spare lighters, because the ignition unit is a major weak point in a salty environment.

The Jetboil only uses 5g of gas to boil 500ml of water. Allowing for some waste I should only need to take as little as 2.5kg of gas. As with every system on board I will have a backup plan. My alternative cooker is due to arrive on Tuesday so I will do a review of it after I have thoroughly tested it.

I will make my freeze-dried meal in a thermos mug and not in the bag that it comes in. If I make it in the bag, I have smelly rubbish to keep someplace (all plastics will be audited before and after).  The thermos mug is washable, and also means I can allow the meal longer to rehydrate fully without it going cold.

I will need to make a gimbal system for the cooker so if there are any engineers who have some time on their hand and would like to do this for me it would be much appreciated.

Jetboil Review at Sea:



hands of an ocean paddler

Grampa hands, gunwale bum and slow roasting

My body and mind are going to be pushed to the extreme during crossing my from Cape Town to Salvador in Brazil, and one aspect that people don’t realise is the constant exposure that my skin has to deal with.

Skin problems like buttock irritation, hand scaling and sunburn are the most common issues that ocean-faring adventurers suffer from. You can see from the graph below after a 24-day transatlantic yacht race what skin ailments the competitors developed. Keep in mind these sailors can stand and walk around.

I can’t!

skin lesions


Grampa hands

Scaling is peeling or flaking skin and it’s an unavoidable issue when your hands and feet are wet for extended periods. Paddlers’ hands tend to lose their natural oils from being soaking wet and with the constant squeezing action of gripping the paddle shaft on each stroke. After a while, the skin can form friction blisters as the oils in the skin no longer act as a lubricant between the layers.

The trick to try to limit the loss of natural oils is to pre-oil my hands. Typically, I apply the likes of petroleum jelly or “Dubbin” – a leather oil that was the only way to waterproof those old leather rugby balls – before a paddling race that gets absorbed into the skin. You must allow time for it to soak into the skin or the paddle will behave like a slippery eel in your hands.


hands of an ocean paddler

(Pic above) The hands of an ocean rower.

I will also use gloves to reduce the build-up of blisters but the drawback of gloves is that my hands remain wet when the gloves get wet, so it’s a careful management of the tools to limit hand-scaling and blistering.

Gunwale Bum

The dreaded “gunwale bum” is the one I am most concerned about – for obvious reasons! There are many names for this skin ailment, but the medical term is Folliculitis, which affects the hair follicles of the skin.


gunwale bum

(Pic above) Mild folliculitis (TMI??)

Folliculitis occurs when hair follicles become clogged and infected with bacteria, leading to red bumps and pus-filled follicles. These bacteria usually live on the skin without incident but under the strain of constantly sitting (friction) in salty damp (sweaty) conditions, the bacteria get clogged and irritate the hair follicles – causing bumps that look like pimples. It can range from mildly irritating to completely debilitating, but if left unchecked they can turn into abscess or boils. Should this occur it would be very difficult to sit, let alone paddle!

So how do I combat or limit this painful issue? My first defence is regular washing to keep the follicles clean by removing dirt, oil, and sweat. The problem here is that water is a very scarce resource. I have considered using baby wipes, but they are not ideal as they can be a little harsh on the skin and keeping used baby wipes around for 80 days is not very appealing!

Another method is a barrier cream with an anti-fungal component. As a keen cyclist I use this type of cream on the chamois of my shorts. So, could these creams work for paddling? I won’t have chamois in my paddling shorts and I won’t be wearing shorts (eek!) most of the time, so I would apply directly to my skin.

I have been doing some testing for some time now and these are the products on my test sheet.

barrier creams

(Pic above) Sudocrem, Ass Magic, Madaji Milking cream, Squirt Barrier Balm, Dubbin

The testing ensures I don’t have any negative reaction to the cream, and I can evaluate how they hold up to the wetter conditions of kayaking and how easy they are to wash off.

Sudocrem, Ass Magic, Madaji Milking cream, Squirt Barrier Balm, Dubbin

(Pic above) Sudocrem, Ass Magic, Madaji Milking cream, Squirt Barrier Balm, Dubbin

I have placed them in order of their viscosity. The thickest on the right being Dubbin, which will be only used on my hands.

  • Sudocrem : Nappy rash cream.  Antibacterial/fungal = Zinc Oxide
  • Ass Magic : Chamois cream. Antibacterial/fungal = Zinc Oxide and Tea Tree Oil
  • Madaji Milking cream: Udder cream for cows (also marketed for humans),
  • Antiseptic = Chlorhexidine
  • Squirt Barrier Balm: Chamois cream, Antibacterial = Tea Tree Oil

A big “thank you” to the team from Squirt Cycling Products who arranged a bunch of goodies from their product range for me to test. It’s inspiring and really lekker to have support from local Proudly South African companies. Testing will continue over the next few months before I settle on my favourite.

Sun Protection

My final skincare thought process goes to sun protection. The kayak stroke does not lend itself to an awning for sun protection. While paddling during the day I will be under the powerful rays of the sun. There is literally no place to hide from its relentless force, and not only from directly above but also from its harmful reflection off the water.

The first bit of the crossing, while it’s cooler, I will wear a long sleeve top – like a rash vest. But as I get more into the tropics, where the water is 28 degrees Celsius and the outside temperature – sitting in the sun – gets well into the 30s, a rash vest too will get unbearably hot.

Sunscreen will be my final defence. I favour a spray-on light cream with an SP factor 50 that is also waterproof. I will have to apply the sunscreen multiple times a day, as sweat and water eventually reduces its effectiveness.

For face protection I always wear a wide-brimmed hat, and better yet, I hope to get something like this hat (see pic below) that will shield the relentless and uncompromising glare of the sun from the water off my face.

wide brimmed hat

If you have had any similar experiences or ideas that you would like to share, please feel free to do exactly that.

Hit me up on Social Media Facebook and Instagram @RichardKohlerAdventures or email [email protected]

Keep paddling!


Safety at sea

Navigating my way across the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Town to Salvador in Brazil is no mean feat, and in order to achieve my heady task I will need a few gadgets and safety essentials to ensure my Ocean X journey goes according to plan.

Here is some of the safety items I will need to paddle on this mammoth adventure:

Life Raft

First and foremost, this is a lifesaving essential that I hope to get my hands on soon. It’s a Switlik Inflatable Single Person Life Raft (ISPLR) and they are mostly used in the aviation industry. It’s compact and lightweight (2.8kg) – the only option for a craft as small as mine. But they come with a hefty price tag, so if anyone has one that they are not using for a few months I would be most appreciative.


There will be an EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) and a 2 x PLB (personal locating beacon). Both work in similar ways but the EPIRB will transmit for a longer time (48hrs) due to its battery size.

An EPIRB is a safety device to alert search and rescue services, allowing them to quickly locate you in the event of an emergency. When activated it transmits a coded message (GPS position – Boats or Persons details etc) on the 406 MHz distress frequency, which is monitored by the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system. The alert is then relayed via an earth station to the nearest Rescue Coordination Centre. The satellites are in a polar orbit, so they offer true global coverage.


ABOVE: How an EPIRB works

A PLB is a specific type of EPIRB that is typically smaller, has a shorter battery life, and unlike a proper EPIRB is registered to a person rather than a vessel. With a PLB you can summon help wherever you are on the planet, no matter how remote.

Epirb and PLB

ABOVE: Example of an EPIRB & PLB


Satellite Telecommunications

I will have an Inmarsat Satellite phone that will enable voice calls depending on the need like radio interviews, advice on repairing a piece of equipment or emergency services.

Inmarsat Coverage map

The Iridium Go allows me to make voice calls and text messaging via a smartphone. It also has other capabilities like a basic email service and will be used to receive my weather updates. It is one of the three tracking units on board.

GPS Tracker

There will be another two dedicated GPS trackers on board that will transmit my position, direction and speed to my shore team at defined intervals. These intervals are set depending on the likes of power consumption. My track will be automatically uploaded to my webpage for everyone to follow in real time.


The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a digital VHF radio-based transponder system that can prevent collisions, and more importantly, protect me from being run down by a huge, fast-moving ship!

Picture a radar-chart plotter display, with overlaid electronic chart data, that includes an icon for every significant ship within VHF radio range, each showing that vessel’s speed and heading. Each ship icon reflects the actual size of the ship, with positions accurate to GPS precision. By “clicking” on a ship mark, I can learn the ship’s name, course and speed, classification, call sign, MMSI, and other information.

The system’s range is like that of your VHF radio, essentially depending on the height of the antenna. AIS information is not degraded by rain-clutter like radar, so it works the same in all weather. AIS is extremely valuable, especially at night or at times when there is restricted visibility.

View a vessel online 

AIS Display

Body Leash

When outside I will always be attached to the kayak by a 10 ft body leash. I will use either a waist or leg leash depending on what I am doing.

leg leashWaist leash

ABOVE:  Leg Leash (left), Waist Leash (right)

Life jacket

I will have an inflatable life jacket seen in the image below. My second PLB will be permanently attached to the jacket.

life jacket


I will carry various signal flares in the form of a hand-held, rocket and smoke flare. Each type of flare is used for a specific purpose. Their purpose is to attract attention when immediate danger exists. They are only useful if someone is close enough to see them, so I need to use my good judgement when using as they are single use.

See the diagram below to understand each types range

flare range

handheld flareflares

Fire Extinguisher

One small unit will be on board. Always a standard precaution!

fire extinguisher

Medical Kit

A comprehensive medical kit will be put together to cover all possible scenarios, which I find are always needed at any time.

VHF Radio

There will be two VHF radios on board, the main and most important one will be a fixed unit inside and the other a handheld unit. The fixed one has a greater transmitting power (25W) and thus a longer range than the handheld (5W).

VHF RadioVHF radio

Radar Reflector

The kayak will give a very poor echo on a ship’s radar, especially in rough seas as it is so small and made of fibreglass. A tube radar reflector is simply an arrangement of metal elements crossed at several 90-degree angles in a plastic casing to reflect energy from the radars and thus enhancing the signal of the vessel.

radar reflector


I am being optimistic, I hopefully won’t need to use half of the above…but always be safe rather than sorry, the ocean can be a dangerous place.

Thank you to Graeme Taylor from Seaport Supply in Cape Town who will be assisting me with supplying all my safety equipment I will need for my journey. If you need any boating or marine equipment pop into their shop in Paarden Eiland and chat to a great bunch of guys.