Sorry I haven't been very active here lately, but I'm currently working on some new content and updating my site. Forgive me for any pages that aren't functioning properly.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nusa Tenggara Part II

After scoring the biggest day of the swell upon arrival at our destination, we enjoyed another three days of fun surf before two boats full of surfers set anchor nearby. The swell also faded quickly, so we were ready to make our way back to Bali; there were still solid overhead sets the second day but it continued to drop until it was nearly flat upon departure.
I always enjoy exploring new places, particularly in a country as diverse as Indonesia. There are so many different cultures and landscapes that provide such beautiful experiences.
Bali is a worldwide tourist destination and such an amazing place. Nonetheless, Indonesia is so much more; I think it's a shame that so many people come here and don't explore other parts of the country, maybe even just staying in Kuta and partying their whole trip. I guess to each their own.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nusa Tenggara

The region of Indonesia that lies east of the Wallace Line, the boundary dividing the Asian and Wallacean ecozones, is referred to as Nusa Tenggara. This region of Indonesia is quite different than the western islands of Bali, Java, and Sumatra; lush tropical forests are not the norm here, replaced by desert-like terrain and a rather arid climate.One thing they still have in common is volcanoes, and Lombok's Gunung Rinjani (pictured below) is Indonesia's second tallest volcano and one of its most active (there was a major eruption here in 1995).
After watching the maps for a few days, my friend Chad and I made the call to head eastward from Bali to chase swell last week; a few ferry rides and hours on motorbikes later, we finally arrived at our destination, exhausted and ready to go straight to sleep. Still, we paddled out for a fun evening session to prepare for the swell's peak the following day. The next morning, the swell had well and truly filled in, and we waxed up the big boards for the long paddle out. It was hard to tell how big the surf truly was as we made our way across the dry, low-tide reef and made the 15-minute paddle out the channel into the empty lineup.
We quickly discovered it was rather solid. Chad got a good idea after his first wave; it sectioned too fast, broke on his head, provided a solid hold down, and ripped his wetsuit jacket clear off before stranding him in knee-deep water on the reef (below, pre-impact)!
Nevertheless, he re-joined the lineup after gathering himself and we surfed for a few hours, sharing well overhead waves with only four other surfers. After hearing a lot of stories about how heavy this break is, I can say that it lives up to its namesake though I gladly didn't get to experience it firsthand (notice the boils in front of me on the wave below; the inside section sucks dry and exposes a rather scary looking corral reef).
After surviving our morning session, we had lunch before motoring forty minutes south to another break, where we had another pumping, overhead session shared with a solid handful of surfers including Dane Reynolds and a few other professional surfers. All in a day's swell chasing I guess.

Continue on to Part II.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Successful Wine Fermentation - Selecting the Right Yeast

Successful fermentation is largely dependent on the yeast strain used. Modern winemakers are fortunate to have a myriad of yeast strains commercially available from several different companies (Lalvin and Anchor are couple popular ones). These companies isolate yeast from the world's great wine regions, along with creating new strains via hybridization, giving winemakers more stylistic control over fermentation. Strains have widely varying fermentation kinetics and nutrient requirements, and impact wine aromas and flavors differently. 
Historically, winemakers relied solely on indigenous yeast strains (often referred to as wild yeast strains), allowing fermentation to begin naturally. This technique is still widely utilized today and many argue wild yeast provides more unique flavors and mouthfeel unobtainable with commercial strains. The major issue with wild yeast is the increased risk of a problem fermentation as these strains are more prone to off-flavor production and poor sugar:alcohol conversion. Now, commercial companies are producing "commercial wild strains", hybrid strains that are meant to provide the positive benefits of wild yeast without the risk factors. Wine fermented with "commercial wild strains" and wild yeast are often used in conjunction with several commercial strains to provide further complexity to a final blend and as a precautionary measure to ensure one bad strain or ferment doesn't ruin all of the wine. It is not uncommon for a finished bottle of wine to be a mix of five or six lots fermented with different strains. The table below shows some parameters used when selecting a yeast strain for fermentation (click here to continue to Part II).

Low volatile sulphur and acetaldehyde producer
Oxygen and nitrogen demand
TA production or reduction
Malolactic fermentation compatibility
Color extraction/stability
SOproduction and sensitivity
Weak vs. competitive fermentation capabilities
Glycerol and polysaccharide production
Alcohol tolerance & occurrence of stuck fermentation
Slow vs. rapid fermentation rate
Wine to be produced and the desired aroma/flavour
Foaming and flocculation

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back in Bali Again

I arrived back in Bali around 2 AM this morning after a 14-hour journey by motorbike and ferry. Though our mission was a bit shorter than planned, my friend Chad and I got some really good waves and made the most of the short-lived swell (I'll post about the trip soon). Flat surf today allows a needed day of rest before another swell begins filling in tomorrow and lasting through the week.
I was given the photographs shown here by Robert Walywn. He was out shooting at Bingin the evening of the Padang Cup while I was surfing (see more here); he's a great photographer, check out the colors. Cheers Robert.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Road Trip to Java

My motorbike journey from Bali to Java was pretty eventful, despite the lack of pumping waves upon arrival, the quick turnaround the following afternoon, and the soreness of my behind from sitting on the back of a motorbike for so long. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable experience that I may never do again!
It's currently Ramadan, the most important month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims around the world fast in the name of Allah in a quest to learn patience and foster spirituality. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, something that is more than apparent in Java; we frequently passed mosques like the one below on our journey.
I paddled out for one long surf session in Java the morning we arrived, though it was pretty much 5-6 foot closeouts. I still had a really fun surf, enjoying the beautifully clean water and the empty lineup.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Successful Wine Fermentation - Introduction

Fermentation is defined as a form of anaerobic respiration, a process that breaks down carbon-containing compounds while producing energy. Alcoholic fermentation is a process in which yeast (or bacteria) convert sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. I'll be writing a series of follow-up posts focusing specifically on wine, though the principles discussed will be widely applicable to other products including beer, mead, and spirits.
A successful fermentation can be defined as one that proceeds at a desired temperature, achieves the desired sugar-to-alcohol conversion and concentration, and produces desired sensory qualities (appropriate balance, varietal character, and no undesirable aromas or flavors). Problem fermentations are those that have undesirable yeasts and/or bacteria present and active, too low or too high of temperatures, do not ferment to the desired sugar-to-alcohol concentration, and/or develop undersiable sensory qualities (spoilage, sulphides, and/or lack of fruitiness and complexity). Several factors affect how well a ferment proceeds, shown in the table below (continue on to 'Selecting the Right Yeast' or 'Preparing Juice/Must for Inoculation').

Vineyard practices and pesticide residues
Non-soluble solids and sedimentation
Potassium ion: hydrogen ion ratio
Wild yeast/bacteria
Must pH
Oxygen and SO2
CO2, sugar, and alcohol toxicity
Glucose: fructose ratio
Yeast hulls
Fermentation rate and temperature
Yeast preparation, strain, and population
Nutrient and vitamin additions and their timing

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bali's Last Swell

A short-lived swell last week allowed the Padang Cup, Indonesia's most prestigious surfing contest, to be held. While there were good waves coming through, I was told it was pretty inconsistent and not preforming to the standards Padang-Padang is renowned for (check out the action yourself here).
I unfortunately missed out on the festivities and didn't get any photographs to share, but I did manage to take a handful of shots where I was surfing in between sessions. I spent a good seven or eight hours surfing that day; the swell was lining up perfect and seemed to be significantly more consistent here than the footage I saw from Padang-Padang.
There were some amazing waves coming through yesterday. After over a month of over-hyped swells, yesterday was a pleasant surprise and provide waves far bigger than predicted so it was another 8-hour surf day for me. Now, I'm making plans to head out of Bali tomorrow, preparing for another large swell set to begin filling in Tuesday, peaking Wednesday, and slowly fading through Friday. Hopefully this mission will be more successful than my last mission to Java.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back on the Bukit

Well, I was a bit shattered after discovering poor waves in Java on my adventure. I forgot one of the first lessons I learned in Bali years ago; never trust people you don't know when it comes to surf and conditions. That being said, my trip was cut short and I made it back to Bali for the second and larger of the two swells. Though it was somewhat short-lived, I'm happy to say I got in a good 6-7 hours in the water yesterday and another 5 today; I'll have some photos for you in a couple days.
The evenings in Bali are always a treat. While the hustle and bustle of Kuta is always exciting, I rather enjoy quiet nights on the Bukit, especially with the beautiful scenery. Uluwatu is one of Bali's most renowned surfing destinations, but is also well known as the home of Bali's most important temple; it is also a spot of great beauty and its infamous and iconic cave is a great place to enjoy the sunset.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fishbait Finger in Bali

After my enjoyable misadventures in New Zealand, I was keen to attack fish in Indonesian waters. As mentioned, Indonesia's reefs are teeming with fish. I made a rudimentary dropper rig based off a setup Blakey showed me; easy to make, effective, and cheap. I think everybody at the beach thought I was a little bit crazy when I paddled out for a surf armed with a 1-liter bottle attached to a piece of coral. I set it past the lineup and then proceeded to surf until I realized my bottle was gone. After tracking it down 500 meters out to sea, there was no bait and no fish. Oh well, at least there were some good waves right?
After finishing my surf session, I decided to re-bait my line, walk out on the reef 20 meters, and set it again. I grabbed a Bintang and watched from the warung's balcony, but there wasn't any action. I finally decided it was time to have a look, and found that my coral sinker had somehow gotten wedged in a hole in the reef. At least that was my first thought; I gently tried to work it out for a few minutes to no avail, then suddenly felt a solid yank on the other end. So, I yanked back and out come a lindung (eel); first Indonesian fishing adventure successful (you can see my coral sinker in the picture below). My friend Willie and I cleaned it and ate it for lunch the next day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back in a Week?

After sorting out my visa extension this week, I'm heading off with a couple friends tonight to chase swell elsewhere. I'm confident we're going to find some good, uncrowded waves. That being said, I may be away from here for a week or so, but I'll have some new adventures to surf upon return.