Aug 29, 2018, D-minus-22

Slow Boat Down the Ganges Update 6

The onions are taking forever to dehydrate. It has already been more than twenty hours and they are still moist. I need them bone dry and flaky, to prevent them from going rancid. Another four or five hours I think, before they are well and truly done. With onions taking this long I wonder how long the tomatoes will take. Tomatoes have way more water contained in them compared to onions and I  think dehydrating tomatoes will take well over two days. I still need to dehydrate a couple of more kilos of potatoes. This will be followed chicken cubes, and then the ready-to-eat meals. The energy bars require a visit to the market to pick up some chocolate compound, as well as the dry fruits. Maybe tomorrow. The next week or so will go into finalising and preparing the food kit.

It has been grey and gloomy all day. And it has been drizzling off and on. The neighbouring city of Gurgaon saw a lot of rain in the last two days and large parts of the city are either waterlogged or entirely submerged. Last night I received news of a lot of rain in the Haridwar region. There are reports of landslides and of vehicles being washed away. I hope that this is the last of the fury that the current monsoon season is unleashing and that it will quieten down in the next week or so. I still have just over three weeks to launch, and the rains at this time, unseasonal since it should have died out by now, might be a good idea as far as the expedition is concerned. The Ganges is woefully short of water, and the rains till almost the day of launch will mean a fair volume of water. What will also help me is the current. All this volume of water has to flow downstream and this current will enable me to exert less in terms of physical paddling. Given that, I am no swift water paddler, and I do not wish for choppy waters. In any case, the choppiness, if any, will be in the first couple of days, till the canoe meets up with the main channel of the Ganges. My launch will be from one of the many canals near Haridwar.

My worries on the inverter continue. Goal Zero has requested for a couple of days to come back with a solution. But deep down, I am worried. I do not think that the Goal Zero is user-serviceable, and I do not want to start becoming an electrical engineer on an item that is an absolutely essential piece of equipment. I have done a fair bit of research on the alternative inverter I found and am almost finalised on. This is a Chinese product, and it is sold to various dealers around the world who rebrand it. From all the reviews I have seen and read, it seems to be exactly what I need. And at less than 2kg weight, it makes a lot of sense. I will wait till tomorrow before I place the order. Once the order is placed, I expect it to be with me in the early days of next week. Meanwhile, if the Goal Zero can get rectified, I will carry that too as a backup.

I started packing my gear and equipment. Essentially they are broken up into:

  • Bag 1: canoe,
  • Bag 2: canoe accessories,
  • Bag 3: camping gear and equipment,
  • Bag 4: food and clothes,
  • Bag 5: camera gear, and
  • Bag 6: miscellaneous essentials.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that all my camping gear and cooking gear fit into about half a 62 litre dry bag. My clothes will almost certainly fit into the same dry bag, but I am planning to use a second 62 litre dry bag to pack my clothes and food in, more to distribute the weight across two bags ... one my back and on the canoe. The canoe accessories are in a duffel bag, but almost the entire content will be put to use on the water, thus emptying that bag. One 20 litre dry bag will fit all my camera gear. I will have another 20 litre dry bag for essentials that I will need during the day - compass, GPS, cap, hydrobag, water bottle, etc. Again, this bag will be empty when on the water. I have not weighed the items except the canoe which is about 35 kilos. I suspect everything put together will come to about 50 to 60 kilos or thereabouts.

While browsing YouTube, I just came across a video produced by NDTV and TERI. The team travelled the entire length collecting and testing the waters along its course. As the reporter mentions, my prediction too is that the Ganga might be taking its last breaths and might disappear in the next couple of decades. Here is the video…

Just finished waterproofing the PVC mounts for the camera. The frames were assembled a few weeks ago, I just had to waterproof them. The process took much longer than I had anticipated. First, I had to take each frame apart, apply PVC cement, and then put them together again. Next, and not wanting to take any chances, I duct taped all the frames, all the way around. Even around the PVC pipes that did not have any joints.

There are a total of eight mounts, though I guess I will really need only two, one at the bow and one at the stern. But I thought I might as well place two more, so that I have two mounts each, front and back. All I will have to do is to unclamp the camera from the mount and place it on another frame, instead of having to take out the frame and reattach it where I want it. Once I was paddling and I lost one of the frames while removing it for replacement … it sank … and I could not find the elbows in the market. I do not want to go through that possibility again, and therefore, I have also four extra mounts. They hardly weigh anything at all, and can remain in the accessory bag till such time they are called for duty, which I hope will never happen.

I have another frame and that will be used on the water and towed behind the boat. This to hopefully get some shots of the entire boat, albeit from the rear, and maybe the side. The camera will be mounted on this frame and tied to the canoe with a length of cord.

This is an expedition of a lifetime and I so wish that I had the resources to invest in a camera crew. That would provide a whole different perspective to the film, aerial coverage and all. As things stand now, I will have to be doing all the filming myself. And I really do not see myself going to great lengths to capture that awesome shot, given the fatigue, the paddling, the urgency to reach the next camping spot, hunger, and everything else. But, I hope to do enough justice to the footage to make an interesting film. But a crew would have made things so much easier and nicer. Maybe next time.

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