Saturday, the day things come together. The pipes were all mounted, lashed on and ready. The list of things to do had shrunk to smaller details, important nonetheless, including cutting hatches for stowing, getting oars cut and thole pins mounted so we could row. Andrew Galpin, who heard about the project and was so enthused that he turned up with gear and Begeisterung (enthusiasm, but more so) in tow, joined us with some paint and proceeded to give the sail a Balinese-influenced logo. He was a signwriter in his past life, and jumped at the chance to get his paints out again. Without a proper wall, his knees took a beating and perhaps it will be a while again before the paints come out!
Meanwhile we had been working on all sorts of bits. The paddles are simply shaped flat wood, a handle at one end. Once we have test rowed, we will carve them or add more blade: many traditional Greek and south-ear Asian oars are little more than slightly shaped poles, Giacomo from Man on the River has used some simple pole oars to get from London to Budapest so far.
To hold the oars on the boat, we have said no to rowlocks, as they are expensive and can go missing. We initially thought about Thole Pins, a very traditional system where the oar is held in place with one or two hardwood pins stuck in a socket on the gunwhale.
With no hardwood for the pins, we also decided against this, preferring the simplicity of screwed on wedges made of the same over heavy pergola material. These are also widely used in fishing communities, like the image below from Haiti.
So with propulsion, stowage and all sorts of construction sorted out, we thought it was time for the launch.
Afterwards, we sent the following email to one of our journey partners from Magnificent Revolution.
today was almost the launching of the Subak II. As we moved it down to the water, Pix and I holding up the stern (it is remarkably ill-proportioned) a strangely wet Adelaide storm came through. Rain, wind. As someone commented, very Shakespearen. We got the boat down to touch the water, rain lashing us, arms still holding up the rear end of this remarkable raft. We undid the painter holding it onto the trailer, and started letting it roll off. The line wasn’t quite straight. The keel was no longer centred on the trailer and as the rear hit the water, it floated up, pushing the side of the bow into the top roller. A horrible sound of splintering plywood. A hole around the size of a roller, 20x30cm.
Tomorrow we will repair the hole, and add some strengthening to prevent something like that happening again. An extra layer of plywood each side of the keel, some rubbing strakes to hold bad things away and a keel guard of aluminium to reduce rubbing on the shores will be added.
So with all likelihood the departure date of 31 Jan can no longer be upheld.
In the storminess we did not get many photos. This one seems to capture the moment when everything went a bit pear-shaped.
We do not have any imagery of the hole – yet. Stay tuned for updates.
So what happens now? We need to patch the hole. The 125 is a racing dinghy with 5mm plywood planking. Too weak to be used butting up against roots on the edge of the Murray. So we will add another layer of 5mm ply after we have repaired the hole, plus some rubbing strakes and an aluminium strip along the keel as a protector.
This should happen tonight and tomorrow, hopefully we can test float the vessel on Monday evening. Tuesday departure will not happen, let’s see if we only lose one day. The Squadron has been extremely kind to us, but we do not want to stretch our welcome to breaking point.