Update: Yellowbrick™ ‘YB3’ Tracking Device training with Nick Farrell…followed by lunch by the Swanwick Marina with Matt Smith (The Gambia Experience)

    'YB3' - Yellowbrick Tracking Device. Image © Jason Florio

‘YB3’– Our Yellowbrick Tracking Device. Image © Jason Florio

Update: 6th October 2012

We’re in the process of setting up the our YBlog – where you can go and see the tracking map of where we’ll be on our River Gambia Expedition. We’ll be pinging our location on a very regular basis, down in West Africa, thanks to the iridium technology that Yellowbrick Tracking Devices use

‘The Science bit…

The Iridium constellation has more satellites than any other commercial constellation. The 66 Iridium satellites are in a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 485 miles (780 km). They fly in formation in six orbital planes, each comprising 11 satellites, evenly spaced around the planet. Each Iridium satellite completely circles the Earth once every 100 minutes, traveling at 16,832 miles per hour, traveling from horizon to horizon across the sky in about ten minutes.’

Here’s the link to our YBlog – in the early stages, but we’ll be tracking our journey as soon as we get on the way, from the 16th October:

Yellowbrick 'YB3' Tracking Device - follow our (almost) every move on the expedition

Tracking coming soon – but please check out the blog in the meantime

Wednesday 12th September

We headed out of Surrey early this morning for the drive down to Southampton, to meet with Nick Farrell from Yellowbrick Tracking Devices. After frustratingly slow progress, in the rush hour traffic to get to the M3, we eventually made it down there with still enough time to spare to have breakfast at the huge Swanwick Marina in Old Burlesdon, on the Hamble Estuary – the rural and extremely photogenic village, where Nick lives, just outside of Southampton itself,



As we approached the gate to Nick’s cottage, we were greeted by ‘Charlie’ – his large, affable and incredibly bouncy, Labradoodle. After introductions, and mugs of tea made, we settled down to get the low down on the YB3 Tracking Device that Nick and the guys at Yellowbrick have very kindly sponsored us with, for our River Gambia Expedition.

Nick Farrell - Yellowbrick Tracking

Nick Farrell – Yellowbrick Tracking

And, as stated on the website, the YB3 most certainly ‘packs a punch’. We can do all manner of things with this small, extremely lightweight (just over 300grams), robust, waterproof, global tracking device:


  • 4-button keypad plus specific ‘alert’ button
  • Bright OLED screen for information display
  • Full 2-way communication system
  • Over-the-air reconfiguration of key parameters
  • USB connection for charging and for data transfer
  • Truly Global Operation, using the Iridium satellite network
  • Long battery life (over 2000 transmissions on a single charge)

We even get our very own Yellowbrick blog, which will be linked to ours, so that anyone who wants to can follow us can see where we are, through tracking wey-points on our route map, uploaded from the YB3 on a regular basis (to as little or often as we want to set this feature) – along with any images we choose to upload too – as we make our way over 1000kms, via canoeing on the River Gambia and trekking, through the Highlands of Guinea, Niokolo National Park, Senegal and The Republic of The Gambia, West Africa.

Example of one of the rowing teams route maps who Yellowbrick also sponsor

Example of one of the rowing teams route maps who Yellowbrick also sponsor

We can text message; tweet; update the blog; and, the feature that we hope we don’t ever have to press on the expedition is the red ‘Alert Button’. Before we leave, we will preset this feature with email addresses and phone numbers of people (family/friends) we choose to be contacted in the event of an emergency – with a capitalised message: ‘COME AND GET US!’!!

The 'Alert Button'

The ‘Alert Button’

After Nick’s very eloquent and precise instructions on using the YB3 (video footage coming soon), we walked the short distance, up the hill, towards the old part of the village to meet Matt Smith – the smart and articulate wordsman of The Gambia Blog. Matt works for The Gambia Experience  – the company who have specialised in travel to West Africa for over 25 years and who have very kindly sponsored our return flights down to The Gambia.

Matt, Jenny Adams (Gambia Experience’s PR guru) and the guys have always been a big support in what we’ve been doing over the years. In fact, The Gambia Experience sponsored our flights in 2009 for our first West Africa expedition: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’.

Matt Smith at The Jolly Sailor, Old Burlesdon

It was a pleasure to take some time to sit and converse with Matt – engaged and engaging conversation abounded – over a spot of lunch at The Jolly Sailor. Between him and Jenny, they have helped to spur us on with ideas, advice and continuous press coverage for our adventures over the last few years – which is always very much appreciated.

You don’t see many of these in downtown Manhattan. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Reluctantly, bidding farewell to Matt (I think all three of us wished it was Friday afternoon – and not a mid-week ‘school day’ – when we could happily have carried on yakking over a couple of pints), we made our way back to Surrey, via Southampton and ‘Blacks’, where we managed to tick off  a couple of Karrimor sleeping bags from our camping equipment list – for our Gambian team mates – in the very-end-of-season-sale.

Another productive day, indeed. Big thanks to Nick Farrell for the invaluable YB3 training – and, of course, for the device for our forthcoming River Gambia Expedition. I think we’ll be spending this weekend setting up the Yellowbrick blog and testing out tracking co-ordinates on the Wey Navigation (or even on The Thames – if our sponsored Crewsaver Buoyancy Aids arrive today!).

More updates coming soon…particularly one involving our actual leaving date for West Africa. Bring it on!

The Florios (H & Flo)

P.S. Watch Flo on Vimeo, talking all things River Gambia Expedition and how you can get involved and receive one of his limited edition fine art photography prints, from a series of images he will take on our forthcoming expedition, in ‘An Exchange’

Please click on the image to view


About River Gambia Expedition 2012

Jason Florio, FRGS: award-winning photojournalist. Helen Jones-Florio: expedition & photography producer. 2009: The couple co-led the West Africa expedition 'A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - a 930km African odyssey' - the first circumnavigation of the small West African country, by foot, with two donkeys and a cart. Resulting in the award-winning series of portraits of Gambian village chiefs (Alkalo's) www.floriophoto.com (under 'Projects') http://930kmafricanodyssey.tumblr.com/ 2012-13: The couple co-led their second West Africa expedition - 'River Gambia Expedition - 1000km source-sea Africa odyssey' over-landing for 400km and canoeing the River Gambia for 720km https://rivergambiaexpedition2012.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Adventure, Carbon footprint, Culture, Documentary, Environmental, Expedition, Fundraising, Guinea, Photography, photography, Photojournalism, Portraits, River Gambia, Senegal, Sponsorship, The Gambia, tradition, Travel, Vimeo, West Africa and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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