Canoe Stories

Sep 07, 2018, D-minus-24

Canoe Stories

Slow Boat Down the Ganges Update 14

Over the last couple of days I’m straddling two boats ... pun unintended. The first boat, of course, is the slow boat, while the second is the wilderness survival Course starting in three days. All my bags were packed keeping A SLOW BOAT ON THE GANGES in mind. The gear and equipment for the two activities are very different and I had to unpack and repack. Not that I mind. Gives me a relook at all the items.

It is still raining and I expect it to rain at camp too. The last time I carried my stuff in a “regular” rucksack and it got wet. All the contents were within dry bags, so those were protected, but the rucksack became heavy (heavier) when it became wet. This time I am packing everything in a 62 litre dry sack. Come on rain, show me what you got.

This also gives me an opportunity to test a couple of things. First, the dryness factor of the bag. While on the Ganges, all my bags will be constantly wet, and I will have to ensure stuff packed in those bags stay dry. Second, I need to check the buoyancy of the bag ... with stuff inside. Just in case the boat capsizes. Camp being located right next to the river, it gives me an opportunity to see how much stuff can be packed into the bag and yet retain its buoyancy.

Let me get back to the Ganges preparations for a bit. And back to my solar charging kit. I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I am with the inverter. It is near perfect. I met up with a friend from who I had picked up my solar panel a few years ago. He knows way more than me and unlike me, knows the difference between watts and amps and watt hours, and similar stuff. He looked at the specifications of the inverter and was pleasantly satisfied with what he read. “A good deal,” were his exact words.

However, his diagnosis about the Goal Zero is that it went kaput due to the fluctuating voltage supplied through a solar panel. This because of the differing intensity of sunlight throughout the day. He suggested a solar charge controller between the panel and the inverter. If I did not use this, chances of this inverter going bad increased. I bowed to his superior knowledge and agreed to buy one from him.

The second worry I have while on the water is that my 60W solar panel is too wide to be used on the canoe. I was planning on folding it in half, making it a 30W panel and secure it with cordage. However, there are no grommets on the panel except at the corners, and he dissuaded me vehemently against punching holes into the panel. His contention is that the internal wires might get cut or broken in the process. I agree, that will not be a good thing.

He offered a 30W panel to me at a substantial discount. I now need to find the money to buy the charge controller and the solar panel. I require an additional Rs 30,000 to make that happen. Since I will be dependent on solar power throughout the duration of the expedition, it certainly does not make sense to compromise on gear. I can compromise on a few meals, though.

I can to an epiphany moment. I needed to generate Rs 30,000, and I went ahead on social media and offered to handcraft survival bracelets for my friends. I have made many of these and they come out quite well. In a couple of hours, I got orders for about a dozen. I need to make and sell about 50 of these to find the money to buy the charge controller and the solar panel. I am sure friends will step up and I will be able to reach the 50 piece target. Fingers crossed.

Hunger does make one innovative ... and shameless!

Sanjay Tiwari’s contribution of protein powder and rehydration salts arrived. These will be very very useful during the trip. And it is so easy. Just mix the requisite amount of protein powder into water, drink it, and the body has the requisite calories till lunch. The bucket he has sent me has 60 portions, which to me means 60 breakfasts. My morning are sorted. The protein powder and a cup of coffee (or two) and I am good to go. Actually, the protein powder is also in coffee flavour, so lots of coffee to keep me awake, alert and raring to go.

I am hoping to find some vegetable vendors along the way, on the beaches, to enable me to buy some fresh potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, etc. Fresh veggies will certainly taste better than dehydrated ones.
Delhi and North India is seeing surprising weather. I do not remember Delhi being so dark and gloomy for a long time, particularly in September. The rains should have been over by now, but it seems to be here for now. I am sure by October it will be gone.

People advising me on the launch date veer on two opposite ends of the spectrum. Some say, just go for it. Others tell me, postponing is a good decision. I think postponing is a good idea. I do not want to be fighting a reality of swirling waters and eddies, in addition to everything else that this expedition will throw at me. In any case, the decision has been made to launch on Oct 2, and that stays ... at least as of now permitting.

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