Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nineteen days to the Start.

We did another long trial paddle last Saturday, from Taren Point Bridge, up the Georges River to Liverpool, where we were stopped by the weir. The main purpose of the day was to check how long it took us to set up camp for the night and pull it back down and pack it in the kayaks.

We have a compulsory stop of 6 hours each night. We want to use that to sleep. The river runs at an average speed of 8 kilometers per hour, so starting 15 minutes late in the morning is a whole kilometer lost even drifting.

We have to have our food and cooking about 100 meters from where we sleep, to keep the bears away, so one of us will set up the tents and the other start cooking. I have a super-light hiking tent I bought many years ago for $30.00 from Target, it has served me very well. Steve has a 2second tent, that he takes out of the bag and throws in the air and it comes down pitched. Sometimes even the right way up. It takes a little longer to put back in its bag. On our Micro Stoves we can cook a pasta meal in 9 minutes. So total camp set up time about 25 minutes, kayak to sleeping bag. A little less to put it back in the morning as we will be sleeping in the next days paddling gear.

I am wearing Skins against my skin as muscle support and to wick off sweat, then 100% wool thermals from New Zealand via Mountain Designs. I am also using a Mountain Designs -15 sleeping bag.

Steve is paddling a boat from Eliot Kayaks and I am paddling a Horizon Flyer with a larger hatch fitted. We have tested a number of boats but found the Australian designed and built boats are far superior to any international  design.

Out of interest I am using a Bennet / Epic split adjustable wing paddle, with a Fenn split paddle as a back up.
The river in places is very complex, with multiple channels, many of which are dead ends, so accurate navigation is important. There are very good river maps by Mike Rourke, down to Circle, but the last 400 kilometers is where the river is most complex and no accurate maps. We are relying on Google Earth for this section of the river. This gives us accurate way points at critical sections.

Both Steve and I will have Garmin Foretrex 401 GPS's. We put these way points into the GPS and they give us a direction to the next point.

So our training is tapering off from 20 to 30 plus ks per day. I picked up essential paddling techniques from Dean Garder's and Yanda Nossiter's squad from Ocean Paddler and I Paddle. While they focus on ocean paddling, we have to traverse the 50 km Lake Laberge, which can get very rough. Using the wave bounce of the Eastern Shore cliffs, picked me up as much as half an hour in the shorter Yukon River Quest in previous years.

So I we are down to fitting all the gear in bags including spares. Roger at Blue Earth gave me a spare rudder, but I have to fit in a hatch the seat I have been training in, Canadian Coast Guard approved  Salus PFD.

We fly out V Australia late Sunday Week.

I will keep you posted.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting ready for the Yukon 1000 Canoe and Kayak Race

27 Days to go to race start and counting down. Lists of things to do are growing rather than getting shorter. The biggest urgent item is getting the river maps right. We have very accurate maps Whitehorse to Circle, but Circle to the finish there are no river maps and the river is very complex, with hundreds of island and gravel banks. I am going to attempt to draw a set of maps, combining Google earth and the Top maps.
The river is very fast at about 6 kilometers per hour, so we do not want to waste time on the bank. We have 6 hours compulsory stop each night and that time we want to spend sleeping, so this weekend we are going to do a long paddle up the Georges River and have a break in the middle and practice setting up camp quickly and boiling a billy. Timing is everything so we know when to get out of our sleeping bags in the morning.