The Discovery Weekend: January 21 – 22
The crew and I decided we should dedicate a weekend to test our craft and equipment. Do we have all we need to comfortably undertake the trip? Will we float with all of our gear on board? Will there be enough room in the fridge for food after a generous allocation of liquid refreshments?
Fully loaded we transported our trusty Trailcraft to Blanchetown. After launching we headed downstream towards Swan Reach. At 4500 rpm we sat nicely on the plane and skimmed along at a comfortable 40km/hr. A short distance in we moored for lunch. King George Whiting washed down with a crisp Barossa Riesling.
A quick stop at Swan Reach allowed us to see the sights and chat to a couple of guys riding some classic European motorcycles. Nice guys – we enjoyed the chat. Would have been wrong to not support local business, so we tasted the Pale Ale at ‘the local’ on the cliff top.
We camped the night near the shack of one of Middy’s old mates from back in the days when he cycled professionally for team “Let’s get there quickly – I’m thirsty”. Roast dinner, a few cold Coronas and plenty of laughter sealed the deal on a successful day. Entertainment was provided by Peter running repeatedly to the bell ringing on his fishing rod. Too energetic for me! Swags provided comfortable accommodation for the evening.
We went all out the next morning and tested the remaining gear packed. An impressive hot shower refreshed for the day ahead. Unfortunately our newly acquired toilet seat failed to live up to expectations. Unable to support even our lean figures, it would collapse without notice, which unfortunately, but hilariously, left one the party seriously ‘in the poo’. Some improvements in design will be required before we sail in March!
We cruised back into Blanchetown confident that we’re good to go for our up-and-coming adventure. We enjoyed the ‘taste’ of river attractions we experienced – old infrastructure, dilapidated dwellings and the friendly waves of passers-by.
Bring it on!
Discovery Weekend Two
Some great news. Good mates Peter (Wally) and Kev have decided to join us for one week of our adventure. Wally has a great little runabout that he purchased from the Apostle Peter when he’d finished skipping around the Sea of Galilee fishing with Jesus. The Johnson 50Hp runs as sweet now as it did back then.
Prior to their Discovery Weekend, Wally and Kev worked on the ‘SS Minnow’ for a couple of weeks and she’s certainly come up a treat. Their collective problem solving and mathematical brilliance ensured loading all their gear into a small space provided nothing more than a small challenge.
I met the boys at Blanchetown and we cruised the River to Morgan. The SS did well. It floated! I’m aware that the last time the SS carried such a load was when Jesus instructed Peter to… “Cast his net over to the other side.” And we know that could have sunk the old girl!! The boys reported that fuel consumption was up, but I guess you’ve got to expect that.
We headed back toward Blanchetown and Wally and Kev found a nice place to camp for the night while I headed on home.
Catching up with the guys a few days later I inquired as to how the Discovery Weekend concluded. I had little doubt that Kev’s meticulous attention to detail and Wally’s creativity could have only spelt success. They confirmed this to be the case with just one exception. The SS Minnow did take on a disturbing amount of water. Back in the shed, the post mortem revealed no less that 12 holes in the hull. A spot or 12 of welding will be required. Easy!
A lack of water in NSW has forced a change of plan. The original 2000km odyssey (Yarrawonga to Goolwa) has been reduced to 1000km following the advice of many upstream.
February 27: Trailer the Trailcraft to Mildura February 28 – March 3: Upstream from Mildura to 1000km mark and return March 4 – March 10: Mildura to Renmark (Wally and Kev to join us for this leg) March 11 – 17: Renmark to Goolwa March 17 Trailer boat home
The plan is not to rush, but to take time to smell the roses! Travelling the mornings and enjoying the afternoons will be the general rule.
The boat I’m taking:
- 5 metre aluminium Trailcraft runabout, 90 HP 4 stroke, 120 litre under floor fuel
The equipment I’m taking:
- River Murray Charts
- additional shelter / tarpaulin
- deck chairs
- car fridge
- deep cycle battery
- solar panel
- inverter (for charging phones etc)
- UHF Radio
- mobile phone
- depth sounder
- first aid kit
- weber baby Q
- gas bottle
- cutlery, crockery, cooking equip
- fishing rods
- yabby nets
- jerry cans and funnel
- spade and seat!
- camera / video / laptop / camera mounts / tripod
- change of underwear!
Possible stops for refuel and supplies
Old Customs House (Border): 194 km
Overland Corner: 62km
Walkers Flat: 62km
Estimated fuel cost: $500 (At this stage working on an estimated 3 km per litre downstream, fuel at around $1.50 per litre.
Estimated cruise speed (where appropriate): 35 – 40km/hr
Other needs: NSW fishing licence