Charles Daly

Freelance copywriter specializing in long-form B2B content

Category: Adventure (page 2 of 3)

Hemingway Collection at the JFK Library

Ernest Hemingway didn’t travel light. His baggage included a modern art collection, books, drinking accessories, an impressive gun collection, and the heads and pelts of his hunting kills. Always on the move, he schlepped it all through three wars, four marriages, two plane crashes, and many homes. His writing style itself left a tremendous paper-trail as everything he wrote went through dozens of drafts. The last page of A Farewell to Arms was rewritten 49 times. Fortunately for future generations, Hemingway never threw anything away.

“Courage is grace under pressure.” President Kennedy used Hemingway’s definition of courage as the epigraph to his own book Profiles in Courage.

The final home for much of Hemingway’s stuff and 90% of his papers is the JFK Presidential Library in Boston Massachusetts. Some of the collection is on display (at least until December 31st, 2016) in an exhibit, Hemingway Between Two Wars, while the rest is in the Hemingway Collection, a wing of the Library archives.

Last month, I was lucky enough to visit both.

 Check out my visit to the JFK Library’s Hemingway Collection on Medium. 

A Guide to Kayak Camping — DD Hammocks

My first kayak camping trip was a disaster – a brilliant disaster that got me hooked on the sport for life. Three of us (kids at the time) set out on a bay in the southwest of Ireland, to see how far we could go. Our gear was loaded in bin bags; our pillows took up half the storage space. For food we packed crisps and biscuits. This was ‘backyard camping goes to sea’.

We soon found out that bin bags are not waterproof and our overnight was, in a word, soggy. But the sunrise was incredible, and so was the feeling of having the entire bay to ourselves at dawn.

In the years since, I’ve done most of my exploring in a kayak; I’ve invested in a few dry bags, and gained some knowledge that keeps me dry, safe, and happy. Here are a few tips for planning your own kayaking expedition.

Continued at DD Hammocks Adventure Blog.



Gear Review: UDT Fins

UDT stands for Underwater Demolition Team. These are the fins used by the frogmen of the 50s and 60s who preceded the Navy SEALS. UDT fins were state of the art in their day, and although the Navy has since upgraded their technology, the original UTDs remain a coveted piece of kit for bodysurfers and divers in the civilian world. I recently picked up a pair of my own.




In World War II, the Allies achieved victory through a series of beach landings in France, Italy, and the Pacific Islands. These landings were made possible, in part, by a small unit of frogmen who swam ashore ahead of the invasion to scout the beachheads and clear obstacles with explosives. They were armed with K-Bar knives and dynamite. Their losses on D-Day are estimated at 50%


The frogmen of WWII wore short rubber fins, similar to those worn by bodyboarders today. A  statue of a frogman at the Navy SEAL Museum, dubbed ‘the Naked Warrior,’ holds a pair of these fins.


After the war, the Navy developed the UDT fin for their elite divers. These were more powerful and better suited for use with SCUBA, which had just been invented. Around this time, surplus fins and civilian replicas became popular with bodysurfers in southern California. Legend has it that when the Navy discontinued UDT fins in favor of the Aqualung Rocket, an Orange County bodysurfer by the name of Dr. Greg Deets got his hands on the original molds and started making them himself.



UDTs are either loved or hated by bodysurfers. You could say that the entire evolution of swim fin technology over the past 50 years has been an effort to develop something lighter, more practical, and easier on the legs. But for those who swear by them, UDTs offer Poseidon-like power that more ergonomic designs simply can’t match. These are a must for big-wave riders.



I unboxed mine at Windansea (above) and jumped right in. El Niño was pushing a swell of decent size, not the conditions I would have chosen to try out new gear. Immediately, I had to adjust my kick for the added length of blade. The weight on my feet gave me plenty of downward momentum when I put my toes to the sky to duck-dive.

When it comes to catching waves, there’s a lag between the time you start kicking and when the fins engage, but once you get moving you can catch anything.

UDTs are now my go-to in the big stuff. But their length makes pushing off the bottom into fun-sized shore-break a little awkward. If you’re an occasional bodysurfer or live somewhere with modest swell, I’d go with a pair of DaFins or Vipers.



On a recent trip to Ireland, I wore them snorkeling. They were great for cruising along the surface, but when I dove to about ten meters, it became clear that fins have come a long way since the Truman administration. Much of the power the UDTs deliver comes from their stiffness, but that power comes at a price. Kicking with a stiff fin is exhausting and taxes your oxygen supply. Modern free diving fins have largely solved this problem and the new records in that sport speak for themselves.

An alternative to the latest gear is modifying the old stuff. Some divers customize their UDTs for free diving and spearfishing. They sand down the thick rails that give the fins their stiffness or cut the blades into a ‘V’ shape. The DIY approach is not only an act of recycling but a tribute to the legacy of the frogmen who earned their reputation by making do.

Voit UDTs retail for $60. I picked up mine at Mitch’s Surf Shop in La Jolla, California. You can also find them at Sea Craft Supply Co.

Images: Navy SEAL Museum,  SaeahLee Photography

How to Get Fit When You’re Broke (or in Prison)

Summer’s just around the corner. If you live somewhere other than foggy, body-positive San Francisco, that means beach weather and the pressure to do something about your muffin-top or chicken-legs or man-boobs. If fitness isn’t already a part of your life, you might think a gym is the only place to find it.

But the truth is, you don’t need state-of-the-art equipment and a smoothie bar and trainers who look more like Apple Store Geniuses–COUGH COUGH Equinox–to get in shape. Your own body is the best piece of workout equipment there is. From Sparta to San Quentin, some of the toughest badasses in history have gotten in shape using primitive bodyweight exercises.

Here are a few free (or really cheap) alternatives to the gym to get fit in time for summer.

Read on at Broke-Ass Stuart.

November Swimming — Cape Cod, MA

It’s a special feeling to see yourself doing the thing that makes you the happiest. I had never seen myself swim until Saeah Lee  came along to test out a new 400mm lens on a chilly dip in the North Atlantic this November. The swim was a short one, just under 1k (against the current,) to acclimate for longer swims in colder water.
Saeah was also acting as team medic and lifeguard for the swim. She met me at the dock/ finish line and asked me a series of simple questions to check for mental confusion, one of the first signs of hypothermia:
What’s your mobile phone number?
What’s 8 x 4?
What’s your girlfriend’s name?
I have a feeling she’d have pushed me back in if I’d have gotten that one wrong.



Chatham, MA, USA



Adventures of Justin, the Most Interesting Man on Instagram

I’m on the phone with Justin Alexander. He’s calling from the roof of a Mexican restaurant where he’s bivouacking (sleeping under the stars) somewhere in the American Southwest. He explains that rooftops are ideal for urban camping. They provide safety and concealment and tend to pick up free wifi–tonight he’s getting his from the chain hotel next door.

This rooftop is as much Justin’s home as anywhere. He prefers ‘home free’ to ‘homeless.’ He’s not mentally ill or a junky, but rather clean cut and Facebook friends with his mom. Justin is a nomad, adventurer, survivalist, and self described ‘modern day ninja.’ He gets my vote for the most interesting person on Instagram.

Continue reading at Broke-Ass Stuart. 


Gear Review: WaterFi Waterproof iPod

Waterfi is the solution for anyone who gets bored swimming. Read my review at Action Life Magazine.



San Diego Bodysurfing Guide

Whether you’re trying to make the most of summer blackball rules, or you just look good walking backwards in fins and a speedo: here are the best spots to get womped in San Diego County, from South to North.

Read more at Action Life Magazine


That’s me in the barell

6 Epic True Adventure Movies — And Vertical Limit

As you probably know, REI will be closing for Black Friday this year. They want customers and their own employees to get outdoors rather than spend the day shopping. Inspired by #optoutside, the state of California will waive all park admission fees on Friday. Good news if you’d rather camp in the woods than outside of Best Buy.

But what if you can’t get away from your family and holiday obligations? What if you’d rather #optinside and maintain the Thanksgiving tradition of binge viewing and movie marathons while you digest? Action Life has got you covered with the six greatest adventure movies based on true stories. These primal dramas of man vs. nature could inspire you to get off the couch and #optoutside with the good people of REI. Or you might just relate since being home feels like wilderness survival.

Check out my top 6 adventure movies based on true stories over at Action Life Magazine. I also make the case for Vertical Limit.



INTERVIEW: Kimberley Chambers Swims from Farallons to SF

When Kimberly Chambers set out to attempt her epic swim, her crew received some ominous news: a freshly decapitated seal carcass had been spotted out at the Farallons, near her starting point. This confirmed what she and her support crew already knew: she would be sharing the water with great white sharks.

At 11:10pm that night (August 7th,) she stepped over the side of her support boat and settled into a front crawl stroke. Her destination was the Golden Gate Bridge, thirty miles away. She stared down into the black Pacific, through her goggles, and reminded herself that sharks don’t feed at night.
Seventeen hours and twelve minutes later, she emerged from the Bay immortal.
To put her achievement into perspective:Kimberley--Chambers--swims--farallons--to--golden--gate--bridge
4,000 men and women have summited Mt. Everest.
1,979 have swum the English Channel.
12 men have walked on the moon.
Only 5 people have swum from the Farallons to San Francisco. Kimberley is the first woman. There’s only one Kimberly Chambers.

After taking some time to process her accomplishment, Kim told me her story.

Read the interview at Broke-Ass Stuart.

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