A Slow Boat Around Sri Lanka

The Packing Kit

I have learnt to pack light. It was not always so. In fact, on the Ganges I had to offload a whole lot of gear progressively. By the time I reached the end of the journey more than 2,000 km downstream, there were still things in my kit that I never even touched. I have learnt immensely from that experience and I am going minimalistic with a vengeance for the two month long Sri Lanka circumnavigation. What is complicating matters a little bit is that the company I was corresponding with for the past few weeks for sponsorship of a road support vehicle, sent an email today stating their inability to associate. Which means that all luggage, mine as well as Timm’s, will have to be carried on the canoe. Minimalistic it will have to be.

Here is my packing list as of today:

Boat and accessoriesSea Eagle TC16 canoe, Pump, Kayak paddle, Canoe paddle, Life jacket,
Splash suit, Wind paddle, Paddling gloves, Paddling shoes, Repair kit, Duct tape roll, Skeg, Assorted straps and carabiners, Dry bags
Camping gearAqua Quest Hooped Bivy, Camping stove, Muela knife, Victorinox Swiss tool, Scissors, LifeSaver bottle, Folding shovel, Camp chair, Head net, Flashlight, Headlamp, 1.5L water bottle, Hydrobag bladder 2L, Water storage bags 10L, Cook kit, Metal mug, Paracord, Toilet paper roll
Food and comfort products Tobacco, Lighters, Protein bars, Chocolate cubes
Navigation/CommunicationsBaofeng VHF Radio, Garmin GPS (78S, 60CSx, eTrex20), Strobe, Whistle, Camenga Tritium lenasatic compass, Ulefone Armor 6E phone, Brunton ADC
VideographySJCAM 5000 camera, GoPro Hero 7 Black camera, Sony audio recorder, Camera batteries with chargers, Assorted camera mounts, 32GB Micro SD cards
ElectronicsPowerFilm 60W Solar panel, Solar inverter, Lenovo laptop, 2TB external hard disk, Assorted cables, AA and AAA batteries, Card reader, Powerbank
MedicinesBand Aid, Crepe bandage, Cotton roll, Hand sanitiser, Odomos, Otrivin nasal drop, Vaseline, Inhaler, Nail cutter, Medical tape, Foot powder, Nivea, Dettol, Volini spray, Citzin, Crocin, Imodium, Mobizox, Avomine
ClothesCap, Patka, Shemagh, Shorts, Cargos, T-shirt, Floaters, Sun glasses, Toiletry kit, Suunto wrist watch, Survival bracelet

Chances are that this list will undergo some changes over the next 30 odd days before I step into an aircraft for Colombo. Some things might get added, while others may be dropped. As you will notice there is no food that I am carrying except protein bars and chocolate cubes. I do have a camping stove that I might use to make some coffee … much cheaper than that available at a coffee shop! I will complete the entire journey with just two pairs of shorts, two trousers and six T-shirts. Fortunately the weather is hot and humid, negating the need for warm clothes, sleeping bag, mattress, etc. Frankly I do not know why I am carrying a tent, despite the fact it is quite small. If I have to camp out, I can very easily sleep in the canoe itself. I have done it in the past and it is entirely comfortable. I might indeed drop the tent.

I have a feeling that all this stuff will fit into a single 62 litre dry bag. But I will not do that … all my eggs in one dry bag and all that. I think I will divide the stuff into the following bags:

Dry bag 1: Canoe accessories
Dry bag 2: Solar panel and inverter
Dry bag 3: Laptop
Dry bag 4: Clothes, camping gear, and medicines
Dry bag 5: Camera gear and accessories plus power banks

None of these bags need to be larger than 20 litres capacity, in fact most of them will be 10 litres. And double packed, meaning one dry bag inside another to further waterproof the contents. When on shore, all these bags can go into a single 80 litre dry bag for transport to the camp site. One advantage will be that many of the navigation and communication equipment will be clipped on to my PFD … radio, GPS, compass, whistle, weather station, etc. I will have a small bag that will be easily accessible during the paddle and will carry snacks, sun screen, camera batteries, maybe a power bank, and my smokes.

With multiple smaller bags the weight of each individual bag will obviously be reduced. And each of these bags will be tethered to a paracord that runs along the inside of the canoe. In case of a capsize the D-rings on which the paracord is attached will not come under too much stress, and the weight can be better distributed throughout the length of the canoe.

The water storage bags will be the heaviest. I am planning on carrying two 10-litre water bags. The bags itself weigh next to nothing, but once filled will end up weighing around 10 kg each. Additionally I am carrying two metal water bottles that hold 1.5 litres each and another 2 litre hydrobag. Just the weight of fresh water will be close to 25 kgs! All the rest of the stuff put together will be another 15 odd kgs.

I will certainly have an issue if I am expected to be dressed a little formally. I do not have any clothes that are even remotely close to being labelled “formal”. But this in an expedition I am going on and I do not plan on attending any formal gathering.

So this is my packing list for an expedition that is extreme, out in the open sea, without access to either hotels or a road support vehicle. Maybe things will change in the next few weeks and find the funds to invest in a road support vehicle. Also, sleeping on a comfortable bed, at least for some days, will be immensely gratifying. These things are currently labelled under the head “bonus”. What is important is the expedition and all the associated challenges that come with it.

Wish us God speed.



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