In the last couple of days I had started to feel that paddling my boat was damn harder than it had ever been. The most plausible reason for this, I thought, was fatigue, so I have been imagining small adjustments to make my raft more seaworthy. Today, as I reached a small village, the first thing I did was ask the owner of a boat workshop for some help. Who better to give me expert advice?
My idea was to apply two aluminium cones to the boat’s two bins. This would transform them into two rocket shapes so that they would penetrate the water more easily. However, after some talk and exchange of ideas, I had to surrender to the man’s announcement that he would not have time to do the job. So it was only through pure chance that I wanted to pull the boat out of the river and therefore noticed that one of the bins was half-flooded with water. With the help of some men we tilted the raft and within a couple of minutes it was emptied of at least 20 litres. I did not make the changes I was hoping for, but I’m sure the raft will be much lighter. Even faster, too, because by the end of the day I had begun to feel the strength of the tide which will now start to dictate the rhythms of navigation.
Once my boat had been sorted, we entered the narrow streets of the village and what a surprise the place gave us – a charm and peace we have rarely encountered on this long journey. I treated myself to some fried lentil balls.