Aug 25, 2018, D-minus-26

Slow Boat Down the Ganges Update 2

This is the first of the (daily?) blog posts that I will be writing on and about A Slow Boat Down the Ganges. It is exactly 26 days to go before the canoe hits the waters near Haridwar and starts the journey down the holy Ganges, to end about 2,500km and two months later, where she meets the Bay of Bengal at Sagar Island. This incredible journey will be the most ambitious that I have undertaken and I am really looking forward to it.

The plan is to launch from Mittal Ghat, Kankhal, as early as I can, and head down the river. The first day is always the toughest in any expedition, and this one is something that is in a whole different league from what I have ever done before. My first day is likely to be short, about 20km, from Haridwar to Bhogpur. This will also provide me with some experience, and given that I will still be close to shouting distance of some well-wishers, there is a possibility of some course correction in terms of gear, packing, equipment, etc. Post the first day, everyone would have left, and I will be left to me and myself.

This expedition is entirely self-supported and self-sustained. Everything that I will need for the next two months will have to be carried with me on the canoe. Including food that I will be carrying. Well, raw materials that I will cook in the evening. Essentially the awesome recipe of rice and dal, every day. I am also planning to dehydrate some potatoes, tomatoes and onions. The pickle and ghee will add some spice and taste. And, ah yes, salt. For the day, as a snack, I am making some high energy chocolate bars, carrying some trail mix, and a whole bunch of eclairs. These will keep me salivating and satiating the hunger pangs. Breakfast will be coffee.

In terms of equipment, I have a bit of a problem. My trusted Goal Zero Yeti150 inverter is misbehaving. I took it apart yesterday to find that the battery was bloated up. Got the battery changed, but that did not solve the problem. It is just not charging. Without the inverter, I will have a problem charging my batteries through the day. If the Goal Zero does not get repaired, and I cannot find an alternative, I will have to invest in multiple Powerbanks and SD cards. I will be filming this expedition extensively, and I need to charge the camera batteries. More importantly, I need to be able to transfer the day’s footage to a hard disk. Electricity is a must. If I cannot innovate a solution, I will have to look for a friendly neighbourhood street vendor and use his electricity. Not ideal, but that is the fall back.

The next few days will be spent in going over the equipment, checking and rechecking, packing and repacking. I need to know that I have everything that I need for two months, and that I can find everything that I need, when I need it. Different things get into individual dry bags, and the dry bags go into larger dry bags. Once the packing is done, I will have to distribute the weight evenly in the canoe. A lopsided canoe is a horrible idea.

With decent rains, I expect the water volume to be fair and hope to get more than a bit of help from the current. With a daily target of 50km, I need all the help I can get. With a day’s paddling, then looking for a camp site, setting up camp, cooking, eating, cleaning, and then sleeping, I do not expect it to be easy.

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