Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stuff Everywhere

The house is starting to get really messy with only 4 weekends left to prepare for the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge (EC). Sailing, paddling, and fitness training will continue, but now I also have to start focusing on the tasks of preparing for an expedition.

Though the EC is an unusual event, it is an expedition, and requires the same careful planning and preparation that any paddling expedition would. Detailed equipment lists must be prepared and checked, packing plans (including practicing packing the boat), food and water storage, making kits (signalling, first-aid, personal hygiene, hypothermia, and repair). Lots and lots to do. Luckily I've done this a few times, so now it's more about fine tuning.

The WaterTribe posts a required and suggested equipment list for all participants here. More specific details can also be found in some of the excellent articles on the WaterTribe Magazine, including 'The WaterTribe Kit', 'Make a Hypothermia Kit', 'Fueling the Fire'. And there are many other excellent articles written by previous participants about their Challenge experiences that include discussion on their food and shelter preferences.

February's Sea Kayaker Magazine had a very interesting and useful article, 'Compact Packing for Expeditions' by Brian Day. This is well worth the read for anyone planning an overnight, weekend, or expedition length paddling trip.

About a month before a Challenge, my paddle training is with a fully loaded boat (often just dry bags haphazardly filled with stuff, to create bulk and weight, no real planning here). This helps me get adjust to paddling, maneuvering and steering a fully loaded boat. I'll also include some rescue practices fully loaded. This is something I highly recommend to all paddlers, regardless of the length of trip they plan.

Once I've got all my gear figured out and collected, I plan a simulation weekend. I pack the boat as I plan to during the Challenge, and spend at least one weekend, paddling and camping as I would during the Challenge. Do not underestimate the importance of practicing packing. The beach, ready to start, is not the time to find out that the dry-bag you packed your sleeping bag in, will not fit through your hatch.

The simulation weekend allows me to work on boat packing and weight distribution for paddling, practice setting up my hammock tent, simulate and practice setting up for camping in the boat, both on shore and anchored in shallow water (as I had to do last year in the WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge). This weekend also helps me to make sure everything I might need while on water is readily accessible. There is no time to stop along the way for chores, remember, "when you aren't paddling, you aren't moving", quote by Verlen Kruger.

The key is ease and efficiency. If you have kayak camped before, you likely have experienced the effort it can take to set up and break down camp. In a Challenge such as this, all your energy must be used in forward movement towards the finish line, everything else you do must be done as effortlessly and efficiently as possible.

So, time to find all my gear, possibly get a new bigger dry bag, and get ready for a simulation weekend or two. This year, packing the Kruger SeaWind brings a new challenge. It has no bulkheads, and lots of open space. I'll likely pack everything in a few large dry-bags (no longer needing the many smaller ones to fit 8" and 10" kayak hatches). So some additional practice and experimenting will be needed. Hoping for a warmer weekend soon for my simulation.

Next I'll post on how I approach navigation and route planning.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Great post, Dawn. You must be getting excited!