A Slow Boat Around Sri Lanka

Hunger is awesome

When people hear about the Sri Lanka circumnavigation expedition, almost always they ask me questions related directly to the effort itself.

“How tough is it going to be?”
“What about sea conditions?”
“How far into the sea will you be?”
“Where will you sleep?”
“What if you get lost?”
“What about food?”

All these are legitimate questions that people might want answers to. After all this is a unique expedition, something that not many people may not have been exposed to, much less know someone who is about to undertake it. The curiosity can be pretty easily aroused and they want to know as much as possible about the degrees of difficulty and how I plan to mitigate the risks.

However, I have found that the expedition itself can be far less stressful than the process of putting it together. One tries to find out all the possible challenges that might be expected en route and takes whatever steps to answer those challenges. But once on the water, it is just the paddler against the elements. I have never been paddling in the sea and there is no way I can prepare for it until I actually launch the boat and head out. Once out I will have to deal with whatever the sea and Nature throws at me, without the need to conquer anything, but just to ride the waves and takes it one paddlestroke at a time.

Life will be much easier once I am on the water compared to the days, weeks and months spent preparing for that eventual day.

Everything that needs to be accomplished in the days leading up to the expedition is far more stressful, at least for me. And this has much less to do with the figuring out the logistics of putting an expedition of this nature together, than it has to do with finding the funds to ensure that all necessary logistics are in place. And all that ultimately boils down to the amount of funding that can be generated to make that happen. And that brings me to hunger.

I am hungry to get this expedition going and I will do anything in my power to ensure that it takes off.

Inadequate funding means that some cost heads that would otherwise be intrinsic to a long and arduous expedition might have to be compromised. A comfortable bed to sleep in after a hard day’s paddle, for instance. Even if I stay in a backpacker’s hostel, it will cost around a thousand rupees a night. Looking at a two month journey we are looking at Rs 60,000 to Rs 75,000 just for a comfortable bed each night. Money that had to be generated. Paddling the open sea can be strenuous, needing nutrition replenishment to be able to have enough energy to undertake an effort such as this. I will be carrying some chocolates and protein bars, but some food is also welcome. Food that will have to be bought locally. Even if we look at an average of Rs 300 per meal and two meals a day (breakfast and dinner), over 60 days, we are looking at Rs 36,000. I will also need to be in Colombo at least a week prior to the start of the expedition. That will certainly mean hotel and food costs for the duration.

Just for food and stay, one requires at least Rs 100,000. To me that is secondary!

Another cost head that is ideal but can be pushed down the priority list due to hunger is the cost of a road support vehicle. Hiring a vehicle for the duration of the expedition will cost in the region of Rs 200,000. Money that I do not have. If I can manage to find the funds I will invest in a road support vehicle ahead of hotels. I can always camp out on the various beaches, but the benefits of a vehicle provides so many advantages.

But like I said, I first need to find the funds to cater to the very basic necessities. Are you starting to see what I mean by hunger?

Travel from New Delhi to Colombo and back, for instance. Add to that the fact that my luggage along with the boat weighs nearly a hundred kilos. This will certainly entail excess baggage charges. The other expense is towards the phone and internet. This is essential. Fortunately this cost is not phenomenal thanks to fairly affordable packages that are available. I am sure there will be some miscellaneous expenses along the way that needs to be budgeted for. These are costs that I need to find the funds for.

According to calculations, I need to generate at least Rs 150,000 to meet these needs.

With an additional Rs 200,000 I can afford a road support vehicle. With Rs 100,000 over and above that, I can promise myself a good night’s sleep on a comfortable bed. A total of Rs 500,000 will make for a comfortable expedition, without the hunger. But the stages to that figure leads through the pangs of hunger. It is up to me to decide how hungry I am willing to be to ensure that I end up living the dream of circumnavigating the island nation of Sri Lanka. Or do I find myself giving up without being able to take the hunger any more? That ain’t happening and my boat is all ready for the expedition, despite all compromises … even if I remain hungry.

I have been absolutely shameless in trying to generate the funds. Multiple requests have gone out to friends, relations, acquaintances, well-wishers, even some people who I have not talked to for ages. The request is for Rs 5,000 each. A hundred supporters will ensure that I meet my target. Things are looking good so far, at least in meeting the basic budget of Rs 150,000. The rest, if and when it comes in, will be dessert.

You have reached the end of this post. If it has moved you even a little bit and you would like to support this dream of the first Indian and Asian to circumnavigate Sri Lanka in a canoe, please visit this page and make your contribution and receive my eternal gratitude.



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