Thursday, May 04, 2006

New Richie Sowa Spiral Island web site

Blogger is a great blogging tool, but it was time for a dedicated website to host Richie Sowa's Spiral Island information and history of his island wonder. The new website is based on Joomla, the ever popular open-source content management system.

To access the new Richie Sowa Spiral Island web site click this link below:

Richie Sowa's Spiral Island webportal

See previous post for more details on this new Richie Sowa Spiral Island webportal.

Randy Mac

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Link to New Spiral Island webportal

As of May 3, 2006 I have been busy developing a new webportal for Richie Sowa's Spiral Island to maintain the history of my friend Richie Sowa's island wonder, and to allow for more flexibility of adding content and features to the site.

Last year, I moved back to Canada after an illness that kept me sidelined, and I did not feel well enough to maintain the Spiral Island blog site on Blogger. But in the past few months, my health has improved considerably, and I decided to start on this new webportal project after learning more about the many capabilities of the Joomla CMS (content management system) for creating a powerful webportal.

Well, after one day of busy bee work, I am pleased to announce that the new Richie Sowa Spiral Island webportal site is up and running.

The URL for this new Richie Sowa Spiral Island webportal is at this location:

Richie Sowa's Spiral Island webportal

And this time, I do not plan to get sick again, so my goal is to populate this site with Spiral Island content and history, and I vow to make sure that this new site will be kept up to date, rather than sadly dwindle like the blog did when I moved to Switzerland.

May 4th, 2006

Late tonight, I have been busy sorting through the thousands of photos of my Yucatan adventure photos, and many of these pictures are of my time spent on Spiral Island during 2001 with Richie Sowa, Kenny Coleman, Carlos Yuescas, and others.

I will be adding many stories of my adventures, experiences on Spiral Island, and of my friendship with Richie, Kenny Coleman, Carlos Yuescas, and many other people that I met when I lived in the Yucatan in late 2000-01.

The URL for this new Richie Sowa Spiral Island webportal is at this location:

Richie Sowa's Spiral Island webportal

This old blog site will be maintained until the new site get ranked at the top of the search engines.

I hope that you will visit the new Richie Sowa Spiral Island webportal.

Randy McCallum

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

In the process of moving to Switzerland

I'm in the process of moving to Switzerland to take on a new job after taking 5 years time off from the rat race.

I guess I'm joining back up, but this time on my terms, and of course, I've always wanted to visit Switzerland and other parts of Europe, so taking the job offer was a no brainer.

I will be adding more photos and stories to the Spiral Island Journal site in early February 2005, shortly after I get settled into my new surroundings in Switzerland.


Answering Jame's recent Spiral Island Questions. Plus: Is there a SPIRAL ISLAND BOOK in the works?

I received an email from James recently and I thought it was time to fill Spiral Island enthusiasts in on some pressing questions that should be answered to help site visitors to better understand Spiral Island and the man who envisioned creating it and did so, allowing us all a chance to bask in its' ecological beauty.

This blog will hopefully answer all of Jame’s questions about Spiral Island, and I will answer that pressing question as to whether there is a Spiral Island book in the works?

RANDYMAC: YES there is a Spiral Island book in the works. I have been working on a book for a few years, and there are three chapters in the book that deal directly with my adventure travels to the Yucatan, how I met Richie ‘Reishie’ Sowa and his side kick at the time, Kenny Coleman, and many of Richie’s other friends that I continue to stay in touch with over the years.

How did I come to learn so much about Richie and Spiral Island? I was introduced to Richie back in early 2001 by Burger McDougall of Vancouver Canada. I fast became friends with Richie, Kenny and many other island frequenters, and I guess I was designated the photo archive guy as I took thousands of photos and hours of digital video of building and moving the island from January 2001 through May 2001. I promised to create a Spiral Island web site for Reishie before I left the Yucatan to head back to my home country of Canada, and I was the Spiral Island webmaster for a few years, helping to promote and expose Reishie's island vision to the world through the power of the web.

Rather than bury these few chapters in my book, entitled 'Wound Too Tight', I decided to create a new book specific to and dedicated to my friend Richie 'Reishie' Sowa and his wonderful Spiral Island. It's an adventure story and photo journal history of the island, and has been in process for some time and I hope to have a draft version of this new book available for preview later this spring.

To answer Jame's questions:

JAMES: I have some questions, about Spiral Island, I was wondering if you could answer for me.

RANYMAC: No problem James, I am pleased to answer your questions to the best of my recollection and ability.

JAMES: 1) Has Richie Sowa put out a book about building spiral Island? If not, are there any plans for one?

RANDYMAC: No, Richie has not put out a Spiral Island book at this time, but I have had a Spiral Island book in the works for the past year, (see above) and hope to make a draft available for preview in the late spring of 2005. It's about time that a Spiral Island book is made available to the public to showcase this true man-made wonder of the world built but such a visionary and thoughtful person who truly cares about mother earth. My goal is to help Reishie spread the word about his Spiral Island vision, and I hope the book will share the history of the island and help to answer the many questions that have been asked about the island, including it's history, construction, it's survival through major storms and hurricanes, and how Reishie never gave up on his dream to rebuilt the island to the wonder and beauty that it is today in 2005.

JAMES: 2) Did he have help in building it or is it mostly self-built?

RANDYMAC: Richie Reishie Sowa is the chief architect, inspiration, and visionary of Spiral Island and the island is his baby, and has been built by Reisie over the past 7 years, but he will be the first to tell everyone that he has had help from many many people. Reishie has many friends and I am proud to be his friend. There have been many people that have helped Richie over the years, and I can think of a few that spent many hours in the early days back in 1999 and 2000, 2001. A local school teen used to help Richie work on the construction of the island back in 1999 and 2000, and I will try to find a photo of Richie and his side kick school age helper so someone can identify him and send me his name.

Richie also received help from Kenny Coleman on many occasions. Kenny Coleman, our good friend passed away in 2002, and he was quite the guy. He loved to work hard to keep in shape at his 70 years of age, and I called him Chief bottle tucker as Kenny could be seen on many occasions pushing the bags of plastic bottles into fisherman's nets and then he would stuff them down through a 5 foot open donut hole in the middle of Spiral Island, and this helped to give the island more buoyancy. While Kenny was busy stuffing bouancy bags, you could usually find Richie and I and many other visitors that there on many occasions helping to make other island repairs and improvements at Richie's direction. The mainly task was cleaning the island and tying the fishermen's net bags and bottles up under the island that had come loose over-time.

In the spring of 2001, many of my friends and I helped Richie periodically on island repairs, and one of the most memorable was the planning of the big move of the island from Puerto Aventuras to a lagoon just south of Puerto. To name a few, there were the likes of Kenny Coleman, Burger McDougall, Thomas Heller, the Maclellan family from Nova Scotia Canada, and so many others whose names I forget. I'll be posting a story and many photos of this adventure soon. The island truly is the labour of love of Richie 'Reishie' Sowa, the Chief Dreamer, Visionary, Designer, Architect and Chief Implementer and I look forward to seeing Reishie and how far his island vision has progressed since I left the Yucatan.

JAMES: 3) How much actual time was put into its construction?

I do believe over 7 years went into the construction of Spiral Island from its' incepetion to how it sits in the lagoon of Puerto Aventuras today in January 18, 2005. I'm in the process of gathering more accurate information from Reishie about the actual time involved from his original vision back in Europe in the late 90's, through the prototypes, to the present island as it sits today in 2005.

JAMES: 4) How much money did he invest into building it?

Spiral Island has been a labour of love for Reishie and I would have to ask him more specifics for a ballpark cost in $$. I don’t have the specific dollar amounts, but I do believe the main costs have been an investment of Reishie’s time and elbow grease efforts to gather the materials, and then construction of the island. If you include the time others helped Reishie with the island, I’m sure it would be many many man years in the making. And it would be hard to put a dollar cost figure to the construction of Spiral Island. Off course there have been many expenses over the years and Reishie has received a number of small donations to assist him with his cause.

JAMES: 5) The plants/ trees ............................many appear to be mangroves. I assume that their roots go all the way down to sea-water. Is this true? What other plants/ tress does he have growing on the island? How are they set up to be protected from salt in sea- water? How often does he water the non-mangroves?

RANDYMAC: From what Reishie told me, the mangroves came from shoots that he gathered from the banks of the lagoon in the back of Puerto Aventuras. He planted the mangroves on top of the over 20 tons of clear white beach sand that he gathered from a nearby beach. The beach sand sat on top of a plywood frame that sits on top of the bags of plastic bottles that are all tied together. Richie drilled holes in the plywood frame that covered the island, and this allowed for drainage, and also allowed the mangrove routes to find their way down through the sand, to entangle themselves into the plastic bottles into the sea-water. The mangrove roots are all intertwined under the island within the plastic bottles and fisherman net bags, and this helps to give the island its’ natural structural integrity. I’ve snorkeled under the island many times to repair the nets, and it’s a real eco system under there. You should see all the ocean creatures tat make their home under Spiral Island. It’s a whole chapter or two unto itself.

One day a small barracuda swam just off the island, and it would dart under the island and grab some of the small fish that strayed to close to the edge. It was quite the site to witness.

I will have to ask Reishie what other type of plants and tress that he has growing on his island. Since the Yucatan gets it's fair share of rainfall throughout the year, I think Richie leaves it up to nature to water the mangroves and plants.

JAMES: 6) Do you have any plans or sketches that you could share?

RANDYMAC: There are a few sketches made by newspapers that have written stories about Richie, or 'Reishie as he now likes to be called, and I am in the process of obtaining permission to post these images to this site. I also plan to create my own sketches of how I remember the island based on my own experience and that gathered from my many conversations with Reishie as he described the construction of Spiral Island when visitors arrived to tour his island.

JAMES: 7) I read that Sowa plans on attaching some sails and a motor...................has he already attached a motor? At what speed does the island move?

RANDYMAC: Yes, Reishie discussed his many future plans for the island back in 2001, and in late January 2001, I donated a new 9.9 Mercury outboard motor to Reishie back in late February 2001 and we attached it to the back of Spiral Island and it moved the island up and down the lagoon before Richie decided to move the island th lagoon just south of Puerto Aventuras. The 9.9 worked hard to move the island, and the speed was probably a whopping 2 kms per hour, and that's screaming for an island that probably weighs in excess of 60 tons, or 120,000 pounds. It probably weighs more by now. As for adding sails, keep in mind that Reishie is a dreamer and visionary, and if there is a will, Reishie will find a way to add sails and make it all work.

JAMES: Obviously a book of details needs to be put out.

RANDYMAC: Yes, I have received so many requests to get Richie to write a book, but he is so busy with the Island, so I have taken it upon myself to started on a Spiral Island history book. I have been contacting Reishie and our many friends for input into the book and as I said earlier, I hope to have a draft Spiral Island book available in the late spring 2005.

JAMES: I would very much appreciate whatever technical info you could give me. I have been inspired to try it myself.....................

RANDYMAC: This is one of the main reasons that I decided to create this new Spiral Island Blog. Back in 2001 and 2002, and early 2003, I managed the official Spiral Island web site that I promised to create for Reishie, and it was very popular for a few years and then I had to take it down, as I was not pleased with the limitations of Apple's .mac web site service or the costs. I recently created this Spiral Island blog site, and my goal is to add a message board and a photo area soon, and build the Spiral Island site out and encourage other contributors to write stories and post photos and messages about the island, Richie, ideas for other islands, etc, but the book is a priority for me right now. It's slow going, but it's coming together, and I am always encouraged when I receive questions from people such as you. I very much appreciate your questions as it will help others to better understand Reishie’s vision.

Reishie had always mentioned that Spiral Island was the MotherShip, and he hoped it would spawn other Spiral Islands to inspire people from all walks of life throughout the globe to care for the planet that gives us all life.

I hope I have answered some of your questions James. And please check back, as I will be adding many photos and stories throughout the spring and through the rest of 2005. And I hope you become a contributor to this Spiral Island blog, as it would be great to receive some help from someone such as yourself.

RandyMac -- January 18, 2005

Friday, December 24, 2004

Sam Barcroft's photos of Spiral Island

Just a note on XMas eve to let you know that Sam Barcroft has some excellent photos of Richie's Spiral Island on is professional photography site; Please check them out at :

Thanks for posting the the awesome SI shots Sam.


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Richie steers the island

Richie steers the island
Originally uploaded by RandyMac.

There were many doubters that day, but after Richie and I got the 9.9 Mercury outboard motor attached to the island, Richie was all smiles as he wathced his island move, ever so slowly. He was so pleased that he was finally in a position to move the island. On this day in February Richie took the island out for a small spin around the lagoon at Puerto Aventuras.


My first view of Spiral Island

My first view of Spiral Island
Originally uploaded by RandyMac.

Shortly after meeting Richie Sowa at a Puerto Aventuras restaurant cafe' on January 12, 2001 I made my way over to Spiral Island.

Some friends from Germany and I swam over to the island and spent the afternoon with Richie as he gave us the royal treatment and tour of Spiral Island. This was the beginning of a great friendsip with Richie, and an incredible experience as I spent the next 4 months helping Richie at various times to move his island and make repairs.

More photos later, now that I have learned how to post photos to Blogger.



Originally uploaded by RandyMac.

RandyMac and Richie Sowa do the famous Spiral Handshake

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Spiral Island First Day RandyMac meets Richie Sowa

In early January 12, 2001, about one month after moving to Paamul, 3 kms north of Puerto Aventuras Mexico, my friend Burger told me of this cool floating island just down the road. Burger was learning to play guitar and Richie Sowa was his new music mentor. Later that day I decided to check this man made wonder out first hand.

I drove my little 4x4 down the road, turned into the Puerto Aventuras private resort, and met with Richie Sowa at one of the local cafes. Later that day, I made my way around the back of the resort using Richie's directions, and finally had my first viewing of Richie's incredible Spiral Island. Richie waved me over, so my friends and I made our way over to the island the eay way. We jumped into the lagoon for a swim and stroked our way over to this tennis court size man made eco island.

Richie was an incredible host, and it was soon obvious that he exuded a rare passion for ecology and the surrounding natural settings.

More later....



Tis is one of the many news stories posted on the web that informs the public about Richie Sowa and his floating island. I hope more visitors contribute links to other news stories.

OTTAWA NEWS: Date: 2001

Man-made island paradise floats on 250,000 plastic bottles

More impressive than Robinson Crusoe's abode, Spiral Island boasts three beaches, a garden and a two-bedroom house with a toilet and shower. Many people who dream of escaping to a desert island will never get further than the travel agent's, but Richie Sowa has proved that he's got more bottle than most.

In fact, he's got 250,000 of them -- and they've been used to create his very own paradise, just south of Cancun in Mexico...

To view the complete Ottawa news story click the link title above with the little green arrow.


new Spiral Island Blogging site is up an running: 1st Day

THE REAL SPIRAL ISLAND WEB SITE HISTORY: From November 2001 to August 2003 I created and maintained the Real Spiral Island web site for my good friend Richie Sowa. In September 2003 I decided to no longer maintain the site on Apple's .Mac domain server due to costs and limited editing flexibility. Over the past year I have been searching for the best delivery method to make Richie's island wonder more accessible to visitors, and finally decided that a weblog or Blog was the best format.

DECEMBER 22, 2004: The Real Spiral Island Blogger is the start of a new web journal allowing the curious fans and many friends of Richie Sowa to make comments and publish stories about their visits to the island, to keep abreast of Richie's progress on the island.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SPIRAL ISLAND: Spiral Island composed of over 250,000 discarded plastic bottles held together within fishermans netting, and is covered with old sheets and scap pieces of plywood, over 10 tons of pearl white beach sand, and includes mangrove trees and various native vegetation that grows atop this buoyant sea mat consisting of plant roots or other organic detritus.

The area beneath this floating sea mat is exceptionally rich in aquatic lifeforms and is feed from the surrounding vegetation that has grown on the island.

The island's buoyancy is maintained as a result of a combination of the air tight plastic bottles aided by the oxygen generated naturally in the island's root mass ffrom the surrounding vegetation for support to retain their top-side-up orientation.

Spiral Island has been featured on an episode of the popular Ripley's Believe it or Not television programme, and was also featured on various other media outlets including the Spanish TeleMondo channel.

As promised to Richie, I am now getting around to designing, maintaining and republishing the real Richie Sowa Spiral Island web site to allow family, friends and curious web visitors to post their comments so many more adventure travellers who are planning a vacation to the Maya Riviera have a chance to visit this man-made wonder.

Over the next few weeks and months I will be posting photos of Richie's floating paradise to assist in gaining popularity. as there is no other site that has the depth of information on Richie's Spiral Island.

I met Richie Sowa, a unique expatriate British street musican and street mural artist in early January 2001 during my 8 months in the Yucatan peninsula from Oct 2000 to May 2001.
I ventured to many maya ruin sites, including out of the way ruins and all the tourista sites. I carried my digital camera and digital video camera to every location and documented most every unique site. Spiral Island holds special memories for myself and many people.

I've seen about one episode of SURVIVOR and haven't watched since. It's popular, but it pales in comparison to the 5 days in January 2001 that saw 20 friends and tourists help Richie Sowa to move his large tennis court sized floating tropical wonder from it's safe location in a canal in the south corner of Puerto Aventuras to a new location 1/2 km down the coast. A few weeeks later Richie and friend Kenny Coleman moved Spiral Island back to it's original home in a back channel of Puerto Aventuras.

I will never forget the day that we helped Richie move Spiral Island out the channel towards the ocean, and then into the choppy waves of the Caribbean, where we were drift towards Cuba for an hour before a parasail boat rescued us and towed us into the location of choice 1/2 km south of Puerto Aventuras.

If you are planning to visit the Yucatan peninsula, then a visit to Spiral Island is a must see. Spiral Island is located in the lagoon of Puerto Aventuras about 90 minutes south of Cancun or 25 minutes south of Playa Del Carmen, or 15 minutes nort of Tulum. To visit Richie Sowa and his island wonder, you can most likely find him at one of the street cafes in the Puerto Aventuras village where he might be playing his popular street musician music to appreciative guests. All the locals know Richie. If you visit is floating island bring him a bottle of water. He'll really appreciate it.

Please come back to this site as it will be updated regularly by myself, and hopefully as a result of contributions from those who enjoy and want to add to this Spiral Island adventure story.

RandyMac - (Randy McCallum, Trail, BC, Canada)