In order to have a final shakedown of everything, I am headed out on a quick overnight camping trip today. Nothing big or pushy, just traveling several miles while loaded to see how all the camping and paddling gear works together in the wind in rain. It is one last chance to catch any small details and change them before heading out on the expedition.
While getting ready yesterday I packed all my gear for the first time. Everything went into dry bags and then was slowly packed into the boat. It felt good to have all I need assembled in one place for the first time: all I needed to paddle, eat, sleep, and stay warm over the next couple months. The trip was once again getting more real, with only two weeks until the launch date.
There is a certain patience you have to embrace in order to pack a sea kayak with this much gear; you have to be meticulous when you are trying to fit so many bags together in just the right places with no empty spaces. It always seems to take a few tries in order to get it right. You have to accept that after spending half an hour carefully placing, shoving, and adjusting the numerous dry bags you’ll get to the end and realize that there only enough space for one bag, but you still have two to put in! At that point you sigh, shake your head, and start pulling things out in order to try again.
Figuring this out now will help immensely while I am on the trip. Each morning I will have to load my boat by headlamp, hampered by cold fingers and rain trying to fill up my hatches. That will not be an ideal time to figure out where everything goes. And so I am figuring it out now in the dry workshop floor. On the trip I don’t want to have to think about the hundred little things each day, just the few big ones.
After the first few tries I was feeling pretty good: there was about 3 dry bags worth of space left in the front hatch. Plenty of room for food! On top of that, I had not even put anything near my feet in the cockpit, so I had some extra space if needed. This was great news: it was all going to work after all. I went upstairs to celebrate this small victory with a relaxing evening, excited to start dreaming up what luxury items I would be able to bring with all that extra space.
I was eating dinner and feeling pretty good about it all when my girlfriend said, “That is great news,” and then offhandedly asked, “did you remember to pack your boots?” The mental celebration parade stopped immediately. No, I had not remembered to pack the rubber boots that would keep my feet warm and dry in camp each day. And they are not small items. So much for having space for the luxury items!
After dinner I put my jacket and hat back on and headed back down to the workshop. I sighed, shook my head, and started pulling bags out to start over again.