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July 13, 2005

Got Glue?

DAY: 29
LOCATION: Flores Island - NE Coast
LATITUDE : 08 degs,13.68'S
LONGITUDE: 122 degs,44.43'E

We're pretty remote out here. If something goes seriously wrong, or some vital piece of equipment is damaged beyond repair, it's a LONG way to get help or source materials. This became all the more clear to me yesterday when upon arriving at the beach after the hellish paddle up from Larantuka (that April described in the last update), I found the front compartment of my kayak completely filled with water. On the underside of the bow I found a 4 inch rip where the fibreglass had been opened up like a tin of beans.

The damage was done earlier in the day when I'd gone in to an isolated beach to scout it out for a possible landing for the others to rest and more specifically for April to get off and recover from her seasickness. All along the coastline for 12 odd miles it had been impossible to land. After the strong winds of the previous day and the resulting swell over the ensuing 24 hours, the waves along that exposed NE coast were too big and too dangerous to mess with. Rounding the first headland of the day however (Tg. Karangwutun) we'd noticed a short section that looked a possibility. It was rocky, but these kayaks are built for tough work.

It's hard to get a clear picture of how waves are breaking on a beach until you're actually 'going in', by which time it's too late to change your mind of course. So I found myself thinking just this, that it was in fact 'a bad idea to try and land on this beach', just as a huge wave picked up my kayak and hurling it forward like a surfboard. The nose took a terrible crunch at speed on the rocky shore. But my priority was then turning the boat around and trying to get back to the others, back through the surf, before the wind got any stronger and the conditions worsened. It's a testament to the design of the boat that I was able to paddle for another 4 hours without noticing anything wrong. The watertight bulkhead separating the waterlogged front compartment from the centre cockpit section held, and I suppose there's so much weight in the kayak anyway (around 750lbs) that an extra 20 odd gallons of seawater didn't make any difference.

So yesterday was spent effecting an emergency repair, which Chris did using the last of the epoxy resin and some homemade paint brushes made from the inside fibres of dried coconut shells lying on the beach. We decided to wait until this morning before continuing to allow the glue as long as possible to cure.

So we have no more epoxy. Hopefully they'll have something in Maumere where we'll be in 3-days time. But getting back to the original point, although these amazing Current Design kayaks are the very best that the western world has to offer to execute such an ambitious expedition like this, they're somewhat compromised purely by the remoteness of the part of the world we find ourselves in. If we were paddling dugouts, indigenous to this area, we'd have no problems making as many repairs along the way (and finding the local knowledge and hands to do them) as we might need.

Posted on July 13, 2005 12:56 PM


Thanks for your continued updates, they are wonderful to read and informative. I've been following this trip since Hawaii (I was living on Oahu when Moksha landed on the Big Island), but just lurking. Reaching this goal of yours has become practically a way of life now, and a great way to live. Best wishes,


Posted by: Craig at July 14, 2005 8:34 PM