The Inside Peak – What Makes Guiones Tick?

Posted by & filed under Surfing, The Inside Peak, Uncategorized.

It’s a blustery afternoon here in Guiones. After some excellent waves this morning we are all waiting for the wind to fade and the tide to rise so that we can head back out for the afternoon wave feast.

With waves on my mind, I think this is as good an opportunity as any to take some time to investigate the surf break that is Playa Guiones in this mini Inside Peak.  In case you hadn’t realised, the stretch of beach on which we run our lessons produces some of the most consistent, best quality conditions a surfer could dream of. It works when the waves are big or small; messy or clean; high tide or low.Yep, Playa Guiones is about as reliable a wave you can get – if you had the time, you could be pretty much guaranteed to get a surfable wave here 365 days a year.

But the greatest thing about this beach is that it caters for everybody, from the first time surfer to the life time pro. Why is this so? What makes the waves of Guiones stand out from the rest? Let’s take a look.

Fetch
No, I’m not talking about the local pooches down at the beach chasing after sticks. In surfing, fetch refers to the amount of swell (i.e. surf) that a coastline is exposed to. Good swells are produced by winds blowing across long, unbroken stretches of water – the longer they can blow uninterrupted, the better the swell. Surf spots along the Gulf of Mexico, for instance, have minimal fetch due to small, enclosed nature of the body of water on which they reside. Hence their (generally) crappy waves. However, take out a map and look at the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and you will see that there is pretty much no land between it and the Philippines, thousands of miles across the other side of the ocean. Combine it with the fact that it receives swells from both the North and South Pacific, depending on the season, and you end up with a hell of a lot of fetch – which equals a hell of a lot of waves.

A swell window open to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres equals waves all year long.

A swell window open to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres equals waves all year long.

Bomboras
This is an Australian term (guilty as charged) which refers to outlying crops of rocks or reef that lie just beyond the breakers. These ‘bombies’ play a number of roles: they provide a nice home for fish, serpents and mermaids; a hazard for passing pirates / Spanish galleons; and a buena vista for daring divers. But, most importantly for us, the shallow water surrounding the bombies helps to prematurely refract and mould incoming swell. Stand on the beach on a big day at Guiones and look out towards the horizon, and you are sure to see peaking (or almost breaking) swells way, way out the back. This is the bombies weaving their magic, ensuring that by the time the waves reach us surfers they have been broken up into nice clean peaks which provide both left and right hand rides. If it weren’t for the bombies these swells would more likely arrive in one big long wall and close out the beach all at once. And there’s nothing surfers hate more than a close out.

Swell refraction in action.

Swell refraction in action.

Ocean Floor
The contours of the sea bed immediately below the impact zone of a wave plays the most important role in a wave’s final form. Sudden, shallow platforms of sand or reef rising rapidly from deep water will cause intense, powerful waves which can be incredibly dangerous: think Pipeline in Hawaii or Teahupoo in Tahiti.

This is not Guiones, thankfully.

This is not Guiones, thankfully.

Conversely, if there is no real rise at all most swells will simply lap or crash directly onto the shore, providing no chance to be ridden.

What we get at Guiones, however, is a perfect combination of elements. Beginning half a mile or so out to sea (right out near the bombies, as you can see in the earlier photo showing the swell refraction) the ocean floor rises in a gentle, even gradient as it approaches the shore line. This allows the incoming swells plenty of time to build, slowing down their speed while increasing their size as the water grows shallower beneath them. By the time they reach the first line of surfers, they have developed into the quintessential Guiones peaks, offering a great rippable wall – and even the odd barrel – for the more advanced surfers, while still breaking easily enough for beginners and intermediates to hone their skills on the open face. And once they’ve finally broken, the waves then transform into a broken wall of foam, rolling in for 40 yards or more before they reach the shore. It’s on these ‘foamies’ that countless individuals, ever since Tim and Tyler guided the first Safari Surf School student to their feet back in 1999, have taken the first steps of their surfing lives.

Of course, these aren’t the ONLY factors that make Guiones so great. The waves are still fun in pretty much any wind conditions, there are no big riptides or sweeps to wash you out to sea (however that’s not to say it can’t be dangerous – the ocean should ALWAYS be treated with caution and respect) and the water is as  warm as you could want it. And of course, you get to share this all with the most outgoing and friendliest people in the world (this is an actual scientific fact) who will go out of their way to ensure get the true Pura Vida experience.

All in all, you would be pretty hard stretched to find a more agreeable piece of coastline in the world for our surfing purposes.And it’s this simple fact that will keep us coming back to Playa Guiones, time and time again.

PS Oh yeah, and we forgot to mention the sunsets.
sunset

Innovative Biodiesel Project: Week 3

Posted by & filed under Sustainability, The Sustainable Swell.

We have a roof over our heads and we’re ready to make biodiesel! Read on to see what the IBP team accomplished this past week in paradise.

Previous posts: Week 1 & Week 2

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We collected grease from the Casa Tucan and Beach Dog Cafe… bringing our total to 22 gallons on Monday.

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Rigo putting the finishing touches to the frame before laying our tin roof.

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Leveled the space where our door will be.

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Ryan prepping our beach cruiser for the grease pump.

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We collected some ash from a fire pit, which we will purify with boiling water and our homemade ethanol to make lye so we won’t have to buy “potasa” (potassium/lye) from the store.

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Rigo starting the roof.

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One side done.

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We were able to start the other side, but we didn’t finish it before our meeting that afternoon.

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Nosara Sostenible Presentation at Giardino Tropicale (thanks for hosting us Marcel!).

We presented our project to Nosara Sostenible – a committee of like minded individuals (business owners, teachers, etc) in the community who are dedicated to making Nosara a model for sustainable development for the rest of Costa Rica. A couple more restaurants are interested in joining the program and Jessica (teacher from the Del Mar Academy) will include our project in her talks to the community about the new recycling center and to include their used cooking grease when collecting/sorting their waste! Tuesday was hectic at the Casa Tucan. Channel 7 News, one of Costa Rica’s national tv channels, filmed their latest story about the thievery issue in Playa Pelada (Nosara) at the Tucan and tons of people from the community came to be interviewed. There was also a major plumbing issue at the hotel so Rigo and Ivan couldn’t help with the construction of the shelter. Ryan and I went to the hardware store and purchased two clear 50 gallon drums (one for ethanol storage, one for biodiesel storage) and a 120 gallon wash tank (the last step in filtering the biodiesel by washing the remaining particulates out of the fuel).

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Channel 7 News

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They were selling baby chickens outside the hardware store… couldn’t think of a way to justify buying one for our project, but we really wanted one.

Wednesday was a productive day: we finished the roof; started the ethanol fermentation; collected more grease; received our biochar stove; and made the greywater filtration system.

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The last piece and…

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…the techo is finished!

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Ethanol tank was 1/2 full with fruit so we added water and yeast and sealed her up – we’ll have homemade ethanol in 2 weeks!

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Ryan put a braided hose into a water jug to collect the CO2 produced from the fermentation process to make algae (green color at the bottom), which we can use in our greywater filtration system and to produce more biodiesel.

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Ryan, fitted for greasin’.

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We use an old surfboard leash to tie down all the WVO we collect.

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Ryan found the cleanest grease we’ve collected so far just sitting at a dump near the town center. We are working to spread the message to all the restaurants in town that they don’t need to throw away their grease… we can use it for fuel!

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Me adding the last bit of grease we picked up, bringing our total to 37 gallons of WVO.

I made our greywater filtration system, which is fairly easy. This is where the water from the wash tank will be deposited after its been used to filter out the last of the particulates in the biodiesel:

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Dug a trench and used two pieces of pipe that were just laying around Tyler’s property.

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Drilled small holes throughout the pipe and placed rocks underneath (Tyler had a pile of rocks on his property as well).

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Put the two pieces of pipe together and filled the rest of the trench with rocks…

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…filled it with dirt and its good to go.

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Our biochar stove arrived from Art Donnelly at SeaChange here in Costa Rica so we tested it out. Click here for Art’s photo gallery of how he makes his stoves.

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Our first batch of biochar…we’ll set up the heat transfer system to the WVO tank next week.

Tyler flew to San Jose to have surgery on his knee Thursday so we watched his house for a few days.

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Not too shabby.

Rigo and Ivan worked on the garden at the Tucan so Ryan and I made a trip to the hardware store to buy copper tubing for the biochar heat transfer system and the bubble coil in the wash tank. I began permanently securing all the pieces of the system into the ground with rebar and cinder blocks (we only had to buy a few more cinder blocks, the rest were old ones we collected from the Tucan and on Tyler’s property). Friday, we finished stabilizing all the parts of the system with rebar and cinder blocks while Ryan continued to work on the pump with the water heater, the methoxide tank, and the WVO tank.

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Securing the wash tank and six other tanks/drums.

Rigo built a desk and a shelf with all the scrap wood lying around Tyler’s property and what was leftover from the construction of the shelter.

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We used biodiesel from our “Fanta” test batch to treat the wood and stain it – looks better doesn’t it?

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Our recycled side table, which will hold the ethoxide (ethanol and sodium hydroxide) tank.

We dug the trench for the underground copper tube that will transfer heat from the biochar stove to the WVO tank through a coil system. innovative-biodiesel-project-week-3-(31) On Saturday, Ryan said he a needed a day to himself without any distractions (construction, hardware store visits, miscellaneous hotel issues) to finish testing and making the first batch of biodiesel the old fashioned way before we start to add the “innovative” parts to the system. Ryan tested the water heater and the pump with a 5 gallon pechinga of WVO and wrote 5, 10, 15…30 gallon marks on the tube that feeds into the water heater tank so we know how much WVO is being mixed with the ethoxide before we start pedaling the greasercycle.

We went to the rodeo that night in Garza (one beach town south of Playa Guiones) to experience the local cowboy culture and have a break from work. Check out Safari Surf’s new blog series “Inside the Peak” for more photos and stories from the past week thanks to our new social media man behind the scenes, Nick.

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View from atop the fence around the ring…had a few close calls with the bulls – yeeew!

We woke up to destruction Sunday morning as unprecedented gale-force winds had ripped through Nosara. The Casa Tucan had a few fallen trees and the power was out so I walked down to the beach to see what the offshore winds were doing to the waves.

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This tree was completely uprooted and in the Casa Tucan pool, but it was cleaned up a couple hours later no problem.

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All the sand was being stripped off the beach and engraved in my calves. Waves looked good, but impossible to ride…until later that afternoon when it glassed off and the water temp dropped down to 68 degrees (brrr).

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This green sea turtle laid her eggs and was struggling to get back to the water with the windblown sand in her face…one guy eventually picked her up and brought her to the shore.

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Salvation… it was a relief for all of us watching.

That afternoon, the wind died down a little bit and two clients that had booked the voluntourism package I created for Safari Surf, called the Sustainable Surfer Package, wanted to see the “Innovative Biodiesel Project” and Ryan and I wanted to make sure it was still there! innovative-biodiesel-project-week-3-(42) Megan and Lauren were impressed and Ryan and I were relieved to see that everything was still in tact – it was just covered in branches and leaves thankfully. If our shelter and biodiesel system can withstand the strongest winds to ever hit Nosara, then we are in good shape. However, the news says this wind storm will be here for two more days and we have a lot to get done so hopefully it doesn’t slow us down too much. Ryan’s batch of biodiesel that he started to make Saturday has been pushed back another day due to the harsh winds on Sunday and the Harbor Freight drill pump failing to pump the methoxide into the water heater (even though the pump is supposed to be resistant to chemicals, it seized up so we’ll have to use the red hand pump). Come back next week to see the “Innovative Biodiesel Project” complete! Rigo’s friend who is a welder is helping us put together the greasercycle system. We have 7th graders from the Del Mar Academy coming on Tuesday to learn about the whole process. We will finish enclosing the shelter with a fence and a door and the appropriate safety signs and we are tossing around ideas for the plaque so we’ll have that up this week as well. (People expecting post cards as a “perk” for donating – you should have them in the next week or so!)

Jump to “Week 4.”

The Inside Peak – Weekly Wrap Up 03.03.13

Posted by & filed under Community, Events, Surfing, The Inside Peak, Travel.

Flying bulls, flying trees and flying surfers? No, it’s not the plot for a 1970s acid movie, but instead just some of the highlights from another wild and wonderful week at Safari Surf School in this week’s Inside Peak. There has been no shortage of excitement here in the last few days – which is exactly how we like it!

So, where to begin?

The last week of Tico Summer* saw some promising signs on the surfing front. A steadily building swell peaked on Friday with some solid overhead sets. Lessons ran non stop throughout the week, with our current team of students making some great progress on their skills.

Nick catches a nice one as instructor Nico looks on jealously.

Nick catches a nice one as instructor Nico looks on jealously.

Megan showing some style.

Megan showing some style.

While the swell has eased off somewhat, we are expecting a new south swell to hit early next week and then stick around for a few days at least.

Some big developments were also made on our biodiesel project, thanks to Carl, Ryan and their team. Look out for a more detailed blog post on that tomorrow.

While Safari Surf School students and instructors cruised through the mid-week waves, Saturday and Sunday saw a real kick-up in pace.  First off, a big group of new guests arrived at the Tucan on Saturday, instantly enhancing the already vibing atmosphere with their obvious stoke on arriving in Paradise.

After being greeted by the ever-smiling Peter and Jasmin in the Tucan office, many of the newcomers headed down to the beach to check out the action at the Nosara Triple Crown of Surfing. This three-stage team event was in its final leg at Guiones and the host beach did not disappoint, churning out quality waves all day long. The usual onshore wind that hits during the day at this time of year did not eventuate, ensuring that the competitors had excellent conditions over the whole period. The level of surfing was outstanding, as you can see in the following shots:

A massive air in the freesurfing section.
A high-pressure floater.
A tweaked-out air reverse.

Once the competition finished up, attention turned to the nearby town of Garza which was hosting the local fiesta / rodeo. These events are held once every few months during the dry season and are attended by, well, just about everybody. Never ones to miss out on the action, the Safari crew (piloted by SSS instructor Alonso) took a busload of Tucan guests to the rodeo to sample this entertaining slice of local culture. The action in the ring was intense, and thankfully the only injuries sustained on our team were some bruised egos (PS I swear I’ll get in the ring next time, I just didn’t have my lucky red shirt last night).

"This wasn't worth the free bottle of Cacique!"
No bull.

And finally, as if we hadn’t had enough action for the weekend, early Sunday morning Guiones was hit by gale-force winds that upended a tree straight into the Casa Tucan pool. A free six pack to the first guest to get out there and clear it.**

Crazy winds!

Crazy winds!

*Costa Ricans refer to the dry season, December through February, as their Summer.
**Just kidding, we had the tree cleared and the pool and surrounding area cleaned immediately.

 

 

 

The Inside Peak – Weekly Wrap Up 02.27.13

Posted by & filed under Community, Surfing, The Inside Peak, Travel.

You will usually find me around the Tucan pool and bar of a morning, post-surf. It's a pretty tough office to work from but hopefully I will get by. If you do see me around, hola.

You will usually find me around the Tucan pool and bar of a morning, post-surf. It’s a pretty tough office to work from but hopefully I will get by. If you do see me around, hola.

Buenos dias Safari Surf crew, and welcome to the Inside Peak, our brand-new Safari Surf School blog.

My name is Nick Kachel and I am SSS’s social media / PR / communications / board waxer / pool cleaner guy. Starting from today I’ll be providing regular updates via this blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on all the latest happenings in the Safari Surf School world.

As the “man on the ground” in Guiones I want to provide a real insight into what being a guest of Safari is all about. I’ll be blogging about anything and everything to do with the triple S, from important surf tips to guest profiles to lesson updates. If one of our students catches the wave of the week, you’re going to see it here. If one of our instructors gets a crazy new haircut, you’ll have a photo within the hour. We want to make this blog so close to the real thing that you’ll need to be wearing sun block to read it.*

I’m really looking forward to giving you all the insider’s view of our beautiful little world – and I hope to see you down here in person soon!

Cheers

Nick

*Not to be taken literally. Sun block can harm your keyboard, kids!

Innovative Biodiesel Project: Week 2

Posted by & filed under Sustainability, The Sustainable Swell.

Our second week was extremely productive! Ryan started to feel a lot better on Monday thanks to the antibiotics and we organized a work schedule with Tyler’s gardeners, Rigo and Ivan. From Tuesday to Friday, we would start working at 7am and finish at 5 or 5:30pm. Ryan and I have been able to surf at sunset everyday, which is perfect for washing off all the dirt and grime. See our progress throughout this past week by scrolling through the photos. In case you missed the update from Week 1, click here. We picked up more construction materials on Monday and laid out our plans for the week. This is what the project site looked like before we began construction: innovative-biodiesel-project-week-2-(1) On Tuesday, we measured the size of the shelter and began digging the 2 foot deep post holes.

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Me playing in the dirt.

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Ryan cleaning and repurposing the old water heater. We flushed it with water and small amounts of muriatic acid, then we used some of the biodiesel from out little Fanta bottle to finish the job.

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Tyler’s guard dog and our construction site companion, Fiddie.

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We have been collecting fruit scraps from the Casa Tucan and Kaya Sol daily for ethanol fermentation.

Wednesday, Rigo brought all the teak we needed for the shelter, which is sustainably harvested from a local plantation in Nosara (apparently teak grows like a weed here – 2 out of the 3 species of teak are endangered, but not the one we are using). First we had to de-bark all the teak, which is no joke – you smack the bark until it becomes loose and then pull it off. My hands were done at the end of the day:

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Before

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After

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Smack, smack, smack.

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We will let all the bark dry completely and then use it for biochar.

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IMAG0105 After placing the six teak posts in the ground and securing them by compressing dirt and rocks in each hole, Ryan and I went to Kaya Sol to collect 15 gallons of used cooking grease! Thanks Jorge and everyone at Kaya Sol!

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Ryan using a Harbor Freight hand-pump to pump the grease out of Kaya Sol’s 50 gallon drum into a 5 gallon “pechinga.” The restaurants receive their fry oil in these pechingas and we reuse them for WVO collection.

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Pouring WVO through the metal screen filter into our 450 liter collection tank to catch all the crud we don’t want.

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The aftermath… these scraps are used in our compost pile.

innovative-biodiesel-project-week-2-(26) Our little bottle of “Fanta” biodiesel from last week is now completely settled and crystal clear with the glycerine byproduct settled at the bottom (click here or on the image to read Ryan’s DIY instructions for making biodiesel at home). Glycerine has been on my mind a lot lately… let me explain. Seeing local schoolchildren and families smothered by dust when cars zoom by bothers me immensely, and after talking to some of the surf instructors and other locals, I’m not the only one who feels this way. I was reminded of this problem Thursday morning when I saw molasses being poured all over the road (see image below), which is how the town currently keeps the dust to a minimum. However, this process is expensive, smelly and sticky (pieces of it are launched from car tires that drive by – my legs were covered). We want to use glycerine instead because it is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. When mixed with water, we can spray it on the roads to keep the dust down without leaving pungent odors and gooey textures. Since glycerine is a natural byproduct of producing biodiesel, its significantly cheaper than molasses. We know this solution is not available right now, but in the near future we want to collect glycerine in mass amounts and use it to solve this health issue for the community.

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Molasses… not for long!

Thursday, we began building the framework for the roof of the shelter and Ryan continued to prepare the water heater for the “greasercycle” pump.

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Securing the tin sheets for our roof to Rigo’s truck.

We were hoping to use the old tin sheets that make up the fence separating the Casa Tucan from this hideous apartment complex that has been sitting unfinished for six years, but the tin is rusty and littered with holes. The group who purchased the Casa Tucan also purchased this space and is tearing down the complex completely (see image below): innovative-biodiesel-project-week-2-(23)

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The beginnings of the roof.

We finished the structure for the roof on Friday and we will install the tin sheets on Monday. innovative-biodiesel-project-week-2-(27)

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Rigo securing the lateral posts with metal wire… he’s 50 and killing it.

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Without him and Ivan, the shelter would have taken another week.

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Ivan will most likely be our trainee for producing biodiesel.

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Almost there…

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Ryan decided that the “Apple Turnover” design would be most appropriate for our water heater because there is too much space between the valve and the bottom of the tank – some of the biodiesel would be stuck at the bottom. Its basically just an inverted Appleseed system. Click here to learn more about the benefits of this system.

Additionally, we are testing a smaller, cheaper and easier to use pump (see image below) than the traditional 1.5 horsepower electric water pump ($90) that you connect to a bicycle to mix the chemicals and grease to make biodiesel. Ryan installed a drill chuck on to a heavy duty drill bit pump (Harbor Freight – $15) that we can hook up to Tyler’s beach cruiser (we’ll test our new design Monday or Tuesday).

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New pump with drill chuck attached.

See what other cool things people are doing with bicycle pumps all over the world (click closed captioning “CC” for subtitles):

I had sent out an email earlier in the week to all the restaurants in Nosara explaining our project and that we would like to start collecting their grease and fruit scraps. Beach Dog Cafe and Cafe de Paris have joined the program and it looks like we’ll have Rancho Tico as well. On Saturday, I went to collect grease and fruit from Beach Dog Cafe and the owner, Mike, was really helpful. Fabian from Cafe de Paris, will notify us when he has more grease because he currently has less than a liter. Thanks for the support! The methanol and lye arrived on Saturday as well. After collecting all the fruit from the past week, we will be ready to start ethanol fermentation on Monday. Once the 120 gallon drum is half full with fruit, we fill it with water to 3/4 full and add yeast – let it sit for two weeks and then we’ll have ethanol! We should have the roof finished tomorrow as well as the other parts to the biodiesel system… we will be ready for production by mid-week! Ryan and I are presenting at Nosara Sostenible’s weekly meeting tomorrow to talk about our project and hopefully rally more support from the local businesses who are passionate about sustainability. See you next week!

Jump to “Week 3.”

Innovative Biodiesel Project: Ryan’s DIY Kit

Posted by & filed under Sustainability, The Sustainable Swell.

If you’re interested in learning how to make your own biodiesel the first steps are simple and easy; don’t jump right into building a processor, titrating waste oil, processing big batches, and risking producing poor quality biodiesel. Start out with a 1 liter “test batch” using new vegetable oil to learn the basic chemistry – there’s little risk and you’re almost certain to end up with good results! Familiarize yourself with this tutorial so when we publish our designs and instructions for the “Innovative Biodiesel Project,” you’ll be good to go! – Ryan King.

Safety first:

Your 2 primary reagents are lye and methanol – learn how to store, handle, and work with these chemicals in small amounts before moving on to large quantities.

KOH and NaOH (both referred to as lye) are caustic and must be handled with gloves. Breathing masks are recommended when handling large amounts of lye – if the dust is inhaled, it can burn the nasal passageway and respiratory system. Lye reacts with aluminum, tin and zinc. Use HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) or #2 plastic, glass, enamel or stainless steel containers for lye and methoxide. Lye is also hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. Care must be maintained during storage and weighing to avoid prolonged exposure to open air. Lye containers must be airtight, and weighing should be performed quickly in a dry, safe location.

Methanol is also hygroscopic and must be stored in air tight containers. Methanol has a high toxicity in humans. If as little as 10 mL of pure methanol is ingested it can break down into formic acid, which can cause permanent blindness. As little as 30 ml of ingested methanol is potentially fatal. The initial symptoms of methanol intoxication include: central nervous system depression, headache, dizziness, nausea, lack of coordination, and confusion. Sufficiently large doses can cause unconsciousness and death. The initial symptoms of methanol exposure are usually less severe than the symptoms resulting from the ingestion of a similar quantity of ethanol. Once the initial symptoms have passed, a second set of symptoms arises, 10 to as many as 30 hours after the initial exposure to methanol, including blurring or complete loss of vision. Methanol ingestion, absorption through the skin or inhalation of fumes can be treated with ethanol, which acts as a competitive inhibitor of the hepatic enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, preventing methanol’s conversion to toxic by-products.

Getting started:

Buy about a liter of new vegetable oil (canola, soy, sunflower or corn oil) at the grocery store. New, unused oil will not need to be dewatered or filtered. Pick up a few hundred milliliters of 99% or higher purity methanol (most automotive stores sell HEET brand antifreeze – the yellow container is pure enough for biodiesel production), and pick up some lye from a grocery or hardware store (make sure to get pure lye without coloring or added drain cleaners).

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New Vegetable Oil

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Heet – methanol

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Store bought lye

Making Biodiesel!

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Finished product.

Start warming up your new vegetable oil on an electric stove or with passive solar (no open flames!) to a temperature of around 120-132 degrees Fahrenheit. If the oil is too hot, the methanol will start evaporating and the reaction won’t perform as well. The average amount of lye needed to fully convert 1 liter of new oil is about 3.5 grams of NaOH or about 4.9 grams of KOH. In a separate container, mix either 3.5 grams of NaOH or 4.9 grams of KOH into 200 ml of methanol until fully dissolved – use a safe container made of HDPE plastic. This is the methoxide mix – the combination of the reagent and catalyst that will break the triglycerides of the vegetable oil into individual fatty acid methyl esters (also known as “biodiesel) and a layer of settled out byproduct consisting mostly of glycerin (which you can use to make soap!). When the oil is up to temperature, carefully pour in the methoxide, close the container and shake vigorously for about 3-5 minutes. You will notice a color change, indicating the reaction is occurring. After shaking, allow the byproduct to settle out – it usually takes about 10 to 20 minutes to start noticing the separation, then a few hours for substantial byproduct to precipitate.

 

Here’s a short video that Make Magazine put together for a DIY biodiesel project:

Check out http://journeytoforever.org/biodiesel_make.html for more details on biodiesel test batches, and let us know if you have questions!

Innovative Biodiesel Project

Posted by & filed under Sustainability, The Sustainable Swell.

I launched our fundraising campaign for the Innovative Biodiesel Project on IndieGogo last week and we have already raised 56% of our $5,000 goal!

Please watch the video below and if you believe in the project, surf over to our campaign page to make a pledge and share it with your friends, family and coworkers using the sharing tools right below the video: http://igg.me/p/287334/x/1838244


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Innovative Biodiesel Project: Week 1

Posted by & filed under Community, Sustainability, The Sustainable Swell.

The “Innovative Biodiesel Project” has begun!

Welcome, I am Safari Surf’s Sustainability Director, Carl Kish, and together with biodiesel expert, Ryan King, we will be posting updates on our progress every week during the 4 weeks that we are here in beautiful Nosara, Costa Rica. Follow our progress as we create the world’s first small-scale biodiesel production system that is closed-loop (zero waste), energy independent (off-grid), and carbon negative. Our project was successfully funded on Feb 6th on the crowdfunding website, Indiegogo – view our campaign page for more information: http://www.indiegogo.com/nosara-biodiesel.

We are eternally grateful to the following people (and to those who wish to remain anonymous) who made this possible:


Maegan Badham
Tim Marsh
Alexander Vinson
Stephen Kish
Jayne Kerry- Chandler
David Thibeault
Steve Scagliotti
John Anderson
Carl Graziani
Janet Davidson
Dominic Graziani
David Mahony
Peter McConnell
Marian Lim
Linus Eriksson
Hilda Hardy
Keith Mello
Courtney Keller
Sam Evans
John Dobleman
Andrius- Kavaliunas
Andrew Oliveira
Bob Balch
Prudence and Marianne Carter
Debra Takami
Jess Ponting
Alfred Padula
Marcy Siskind
Rosie Roberts
Harry Luce
Deborah Dobbins
Cara Hoffman
Sarah Lowry
Aaron Wong
Sarah Bexell
Rhett Butler
Kevin Mello
Jenny Mei
James Hake
Nick Glasco
Leah Bremer
Justine Schmidt
Vernon Badham
Hector Bertrand
Joyce McAfee
Dylan Fish
David Perault
Jennifer Willcott
Olivier Lejade
Diane Tran
Travis Heacock
Rebecca Needens
Dawn Kinney
Fredrico
Vincent Graham
James Ebrahimi
Matt Carlucci
Kevin Davidson
John Bowling
Jennifer- Stojanovich
Joseph Walsh
Kathleen Kish
Sherry Smith-Witcraft
Amelia Scott
Megan Brown
Jenna Black
Tobias Haller

Week 1

Ryan and I landed in San Jose Tuesday morning, and our driver Miguel was there to shuttle us 250 km back to Nosara.

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My new Tico name.

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Costa Rican Countryside

We stopped at a few places in Nicoya to pick up materials and get prices for the larger pieces of our system so we could budget our funds accordingly. Six hours later, we arrived at the Hotel Casa Tucan in Playa Guiones at four in the afternoon, hungry and jetlagged.

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Gnarliest bull in Nosara – apparently its killed two matador’s already.

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I missed this… nachos con pollo y Segua (Costa Rica Craft Brewing Co)

Exhausted from all the travelling, we dropped off our bags, and then went to relax on the beach. We walked to the north end of Guiones to see the defunct palace that has been empty for years… still a cool place with a nice view:

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“Mis Amores” Horseback Tours

That night we calculated our expenses and laid out the entire project budget for the next four weeks… then we passed out.

Next day (Wednesday), Ryan woke up with some sort of bug and he still hasn’t shaken it off (its now Sunday). He’s been a trooper though – still working all day with a few breaks here and there, but hopefully he fully recovers before we begin construction tomorrow.

We placed an order for methanol and lye with Arvi Chemicals in Cartago, which was more difficult than I had expected because we needed to find our own transportation to bring it to Nosara (driving with flammable chemicals… most of our contacts weren’t willing), but we eventually found someone and they will be here Wednesday. Now some of you may be thinking “Wait, I thought you guys were using homemade ethanol instead of methanol?!” Well unfortunately, we have to use some methanol for the first batch of biodiesel because it is the control variable against which we test all other variables. This includes testing the purity of our homemade ethanol. Therefore, if we encounter any problems as we add our unique aspects to the traditional Appleseed Biodiesel System, we will be able to identify which variable caused the issue and fix it. Once all the testing is done, we will use our homemade ethanol for biodiesel production instead of methanol.

We are collecting fruit scraps from the Casa Tucan kitchen as well as a local restaurant/hotel, Kaya Sol, who have been generous enough to provide us with their fruit scraps daily! The sugar from the fruit, mixed with yeast and water, will produce ethanol in 2 to 3 weeks. We have a small test batch of ethanol in a 5 gallon bucket while Ryan and I are here, but we are collecting fruit scraps to fill our 120 gallon tank so that by the time we leave, we can begin the fermentation process on a larger scale.  It is ideal to produce as much ethanol as possible because by the time we collect enough waste oil to make a batch of biodiesel, the ethanol fermentation tank will be full and will last for several batches (giving us enough time to fill the 120 gallon drum with fruit again). Just to give you an idea – the amount of ethanol used in each batch of biodiesel averages to about 30% of the volume of waste oil.

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Ryan and I went to the landfill on Thursday to see if we could repurpose any of the trash, luckily we were able to find one plastic jug that was still clean and wasn’t cracked. This will be our methoxide tank (methanol and potassium hydroxide), which we mix with the grease to make biodiesel. We also were very lucky to find an old 50 gallon water heater behind the Hotel Casa Tucan, which is in working order (we just need to clean it up a bit). That will save us about $500!

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I really wanted to see the new Recycling Center the town is building, which is part of the landfill. I have been following their progress on this blog: http://www.nosara.hollerarchitecture.com/ and I was stoked to see in person how large it is and how far they have come – its truly impressive:

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Now, there has been a sudden development, and the Hotel Casa Tucan has been purchased. While unfortunate, this does not affect our program, it actually enhances it because we are designing the system to be portable – all the parts can be disassembled and reassembled at their new location. Just because the location changed, does not mean our goal is any different – we are still creating a sustainable method for small-scale fuel production and sharing the designs online for free. This was just a minor setback and Safari Surf School will be moving out of the Hotel Casa Tucan this September when their lease is up. As a result, Tyler Marsh (co-owner of Safari Surf), has been so kind as to let us build the system on his property temporarily, until we are ready to transfer the system to Safari Surf’s new headquarters (yet to be determined). We surveyed Tyler’s property on Friday and picked a perfect location for the time being. Tyler’s gardener is also going to help us construct the shelter, which is a huge bonus. We are going to the Ferreteria in Nosara (hardware store) Monday morning to purchase all the necessary supplies.

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New Project Site

One of Safari Surf’s surf instructors, Enrique, had 5 gallons of methanol left over from when Ryan was in Nosara three years ago! Ryan tested the methanol to make sure it was still in tact – we bought some cooking oil from the market and made a small test batch of biodiesel in a Fanta bottle so I could be more familiar with the whole process (its really easy!):

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Fanta’s new flavor. [Orange stuff settled at the bottom is glycerine, which we use to make soap]

Tomorrow is a big day – we will purchase all the construction materials for the shelter and then we will break ground. Tonight is Karaoke night at the Casa Tucan, should be fun! Thanks for reading! Pura vida!

Jump to “Week 2.”

 

Business in “Pura Vida-Ville”: Destiny?

Posted by & filed under Business, Business In "Pura Vida-Ville".

One afternoon I got up from my desk to take a stroll over to the local “food court” to get some lunch as I always did every day…day in and day out. As I walked across the street passing by the local gas station en route to shove food down my face, I heard a loud booming voice from the gas station, “HEY TIM…HEY TIMMY!” I looked over to see a long time friend, Pat Weber, whom I had known from days in Ventura, CA. I hadn’t seen him in years. He was gassing up a van with about 10 surfboards on top of the van and another 10 inside. I got over there and gave him the “what’s what and what” about all the boards. He proceeded to tell me that he had started up a surfing school and was just killing it! He told me that he was so stoked; he was doing what he loved (surfing), meeting cool new people, and making good money on top of it! Wow I thought to myself, how cool! Of course I had to tell him I was doing great and making money hand over fist etc. just to save a little face, but inside I was jealous immediately. Not really jealous of him personally, but just jealous of his new “lifestyle.” Pat told me to keep in touch and threw me a t-shirt with his company logo and jumped in the van and took off.

I walked over to assume my position at the “food court,” stunned by what just transpired. Having replayed all the things Pat told me over and over in my mind, my lunch didn’t taste very good.

Now for people that are close to me and know me well, I’m sure they could attest to the fact that I am a pretty jovial person all the time. Always laughing, joking, and having fun. I can tell you I do not suffer from depression and really do not have any understanding of how a depressed person must feel. However, I can say with some certainty that after that “chance” meeting with Pat, I slipped into a funk – a depressed state – I was not the same person for the next 2 weeks or so. I began to “hate” my job, hate my work surroundings, and hate everything about the mortgage business. I was having trouble smiling and for me that just isn’t right. I had officially become depressed about what I was doing with my life – sitting in this cubicle, talking to people thousands of miles away that I didn’t even know or really care about. Everything sucked it seemed like, except my gorgeous family. My wife and kid definitely helped make things easier to swallow in those trying times for me.

One day sitting at my desk staring at the phone waiting for it to ring, I was in one of my daydream states again, thinking about Costa Rica and all the things I missed so much about it. Thinking about traveling and surfing exotic lands…when all of the sudden it hit me, like a ton of bricks, like the biggest head rush ever. What took me so damn long to figure this out?!!! “WHY NOT DO A SURF SCHOOL IN COSTA RICA!” Genius!!!

I had all the connections I had made in my time living there. My brother Tyler was still there and struggling to make a living. He had all kinds of contacts…damn, it made so much sense it hurt! You ever just have a light bulb go on and you know whatever it is, it’s right as rain? I had that moment that day in my cubicle.

It was game on. I had the idea, but there was A LOT of work to do to even think about getting this thing off the ground. First and most importantly, I had to see what my brother thought about the idea. I called Tyler and gave him my “pitch” and before I had all the details out of my mouth, he was all over it,”Yeah it sounds unreal!”
The idea was born…now how the hell am I going to put this together???

Business in “Pura Vida-Ville”: Reality Check

Posted by & filed under Business, Business In "Pura Vida-Ville".

Coming back to the US and the fast paced lifestyle was certainly a shock to both Marsi and I. We had really become accustomed to the “pura vida” vibe so the transition back into reality was anything but smooth at first…sounds weird to say but we were going through a “culture shock!”

Now to understand my current work situation (or lack thereof), I guess you should understand a bit of my work “background.” I did a couple years of college taking courses that I was into, but college just didn’t ring my bell. I had visions of being a Real Estate mogul. I have always been quick with the tongue and a pretty extroverted sort so I had been mainly in some form of “sales” for the majority of my young adult life. When I moved to Ventura, California in the early 80’s I found work as a painter’s apprentice (house painter). I moved to San Diego in the late 80’s where I began my own paint company called “Paint By Design”. I also met my future wife Marsi in SD as well. I went from door to door with flyer’s to ten years later having a successful paint contracting business with eight employees and commercial and residential contracts. I was an excellent painter, but what set my company apart from others was my professional approach that focused on customer service (more on that trait later!).

Having been self employed most of my young adult life afforded me time to travel and surf the corners of the globe. But also, having been a painter for so long I also contracted “work related” asthma. So it was not difficult for me to hang up the painting career and sell everything I had to move to Costa Rica at all. In fact, it was a life choice…meaning I chose to live a long life instead of breathing in crap paint fumes!

Bringing this all together, upon my return from Costa Rica I was forced to jump back into the painting industry and got a job as a lead painter. I did it because we (Marsi, I, and the baby) needed to. But I quickly became sick of the painting routine and Marsi and I sat down one night and decided to write down a few things that I might be interested in doing as a “career.” I narrowed it down to 3 things: 1 – a Real Estage Agent; 2 – a stock broker; 3 – a loan officer (mortgages). I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to work on the weekends so RE was out. I sure as hell wasn’t going to be up at 3 am looking up a freakin’ ticker tape so Stock Broker was out…it looked like the mortgage biz had my name on it.

My sister was a loan processor for a company and had good relations with the owner. She got me an interview and of course I BS’d my way through that, telling the person I had experience and was a great asset to their company blah blah blah. I was hired and started doing second mortgage loans. This was back when people were doing mortgages for 125% of the value of homes! It’s no wonder we all took a dump there a few years ago.

Anyway, within a couple of months Marsi and I had gotten our own apartment and within a year we had bought a house and were driving a range rover (la dee dah). In short, I was making more money than I ever had in my life. Selling loans was my thing. Helping people with their finances was my calling. I was good at it and the paychecks certainly reflected that. I bounced around to a couple different mortgage companies over the next 18 months or so. I seemed to be looking for the “perfect” situation which for me was less time in the office and more time in the ocean while still trying to make my sales “quota.”

It was early 1999 and I had everything I thought I needed…a gorgeous wife and new kiddo, a nice car and a nice house…I had it all right? Well all that was going to change.
I must admit I was certainly restless in my new profession, having been a self employed soul for so long, it was like caging up a cougar…keeping me in a cubicle with my desk, my phone and not letting me be free! I was deep inside, feeling like I should be elsewhere. My day dreaming became ever present again just like in the classroom when I was in grade school.