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Guyana Expedition, a bit of knife action for you...

Stuart Mitchell May 8, 2015

  1. Stuart Mitchell

    Stuart Mitchell knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    A few weeks ago I was chatting with a mate/client of mine, he's a mountain and expedition guide by trade, he mentioned that he has off to Guyana for a couple of weeks, leading an expedition there, I naturally asked of he'd like to take along a Secare and SecareX, to put them through their paces, to the limit, I just got his report, it is all copied and pasted below, with the photos, stand by, it's a good one...

    The Tumuk Humak mountains in the southern part of the country near the border of Brazil are not easily accessible. We had planned on using light shallow draft boats to the Oyapock river, but the weather did not cooperate and the rivers were unsafe to travel on. We had to use a helicopter to get to Tumucumaque and from there on we travelled on foot and by several makeshift rafts to the research area of the French National Museum of Natural History (MNHN). Accompanied by two local Wayana jungle guides (both confusingly named Jose ) and 4 MNHN biodiversity specialists, the trip would take nearly 3 weeks in the Guyana rainforest...

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    It is the rainy season, so the temperatures were in the 30 degree C range with about 80% humidity. Not too uncomfortable, but enough to sap your energy pretty quickly. The researchers were fresh off the plane from Paris and not in the best of shape, so the trip took a bit longer than anticipated. I had asked for their physical condition before they arrived, but I think that all but 3 of them thought they were about 15 years younger than their passports said! To keep up the pace, they gladly agreed to being subjected to raft taxis down the river...

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    The kitlist was similar to the one in Part 1, albeit a more waterproof setup. Everything gets wet in the jungle and it is very difficult to get it dry afterwards. Stu Mitchell was kind enough to loan me a set of his Secare knives, the standard non bolstered version and also a bigger Secare chopper, both in SF100 (stainless of course) steel and with fitted kydex sheaths, a Maxpedition pouch and a firesteel, which nicely matched the knives. He wanted to know how they would hold up under use and I was happy to give them a go. The big chopper was in fact not the best choice for a jungle outing, but it did everything I needed it to do. In a world where you need to hack and slash your way forward, a lighter, longer, thinner and more flexible knife, like a machete, would definitely have been the better choice...

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    The abundance of green bamboo (the kind that can be as thick as a man's leg) was a decent challenge for the big Secare, but it dealt with it rather well. After building a covered raised bed platform, cutting a crab trap and hacking bamboo into various useful bits, the edge was still sharp enough to shave arm hair, which I found quite impressive for such a thick blade. I do not have calipers handy but I think the thickness of the steel is probably 5mm or so. Nice angular spines on both of them, which was sharp enough to take a chunk off of my left index finger when I scraped the firesteel for the first time...

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    That lesson learned, I used the firesteel on every occasion where I had the chance to light dry tinder. Not just because that was nice to try, but also to save the butane fuel in the jetlighter, which I keep wrapped in a piece of rubber bicycle inner tube.As I already told Stu, the only thing that I wanted different on the big Secare was a more flexible beltloop. When you are reasonably thin, (do you call that an hourglass figure? ) the rigid kydex loop makes the entire sheath stick out and away from your hip. Some of the inner tube came in handy to replace the loop for more comfortable wear with the knife staying flat against my thigh. Cutting wise, the only other tools that I brought were a SwissBianco bushcrafter (blade, awl and saw) as well as two green wood replacement 24" Bahco saw blades. When needed, there was a good choice of wood available to make a handle. Afterwards, you can roll up the blade and store it in a cooking pot. Credit for that goes to Ray Mears of course...

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    I carried a Medium/Fine DMT diafold hone and an awl in the Maxpedition pouch. After some trial and error, I removed the pouch from the sheath and kept it in my pack, preferring the flatter profile. Fewer things to get snagged on.The rations were supplemented by whatever we managed to catch or despatch along the way, mostly in the form of birds, some as fat and big as turkey, and marine life from the river, mostly crab and crayfish. We spotted a number of Agoutis (a delicacy with the locals that looks like a cross between a giant rat and a giant guinea pig) but we did not have the arsenal to hunt one down and I have become very apprehensive of their fleas, which also enjoy humans, if not more so than Agoutis...

    Wild ginger root was dug up for tea, flavouring, to rub on small cuts and as mosquito repellent...


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    All in all, we got there pretty much on schedule and enjoyed some R&R in the camp and swimming before returning to civilization. There are some really scary holes in the ground here that are extremely deep. This mini "cenote" was at least 20 meters deep and that is a conservative estimation...

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    My trip isn't over yet though and from here (Cayenne) I am again off on another job further north and west. Stu has agreed to extend the loan by another few weeks before I will be sad to see them return to Sheffield. This time they will be more at home, in proper forest and ravines, where there are lots of things to chop and carve. Here's the pair back in the hotel after a little clean up, just so he doesn't worry...

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    Thanks for reading this and I hope you enjoy the pictures.

    Some trip eh..?

    :ross:
     
  2. Clydetz

    Clydetz Forever straight and true Brigade Member

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    Super travelogue! :thumbsup:
     
  3. Stuart Mitchell

    Stuart Mitchell knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    Great, isn't it... :thumbsup:
     
  4. Mpsecare

    Mpsecare Owl Man

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    Legit!

    :devilzeek

    Great post!
     
  5. DarkenTheSky

    DarkenTheSky AdamPerry added me! JDBA Official Member

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    Wow! Wicked :thumbsup:
    Makes me want to travel there one day
     
  6. Stuart Mitchell

    Stuart Mitchell knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    One thing that was mentioned to me after this was that a very localised area of corrosion had developed on the SecareX blade, then yesterday I received this...

    Cheers Stu. Packing up my gear today, I caught a whiff of something decaying... Upon closer inspection, I found a dead leech that had somehow found its way into the big Secare sheath and got mushed in there when the blade was put back in. That explains the strange "corrosion" I found on the SF100... But the smell...pretty damn disgusting.

    :madaddy:
     
  7. Berkley

    Berkley Ancient Life Form Brigade Member

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    Great thread, thanks for posting.:thumbsup:
    A testimonial for the knives in actual hard use, beyond what most folks will ever experience!
     
  8. jimmyjo

    jimmyjo Brigade Member Brigade Member

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    Thanks for the post very cool!
     

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