Water!..Walter..water...

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Water!..Walter..water...

Post by Who2 »

A short story by Robert Twigger {a nutter} and a mate....:cool:

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of the Little Prince, and famed 1930s flyer, once crashed in the Sahara desert and spent four days on half a flask of coffee and an orange. Instead of heading towards the coast, or west, which is the way they believed lay Cairo, he walked East, ‘because it felt right’. Just as he and his companion were about to expire they were rescued by a lone Bedouin fortuitously in exactly the right place.

He was lucky. The crash site was reportedly in Wadi Natrun, which is now on a major highway from Cairo to Alexandria. Then it was far more remote, but still not more than 100km from a branch of the Nile. It was also midwinter- which in the desert makes a big difference. He and his mechanic Prevot successfully garnered two quarts of dew from stretched out parachutes- but spoiled it by storing it in an old fuel can. After walking around a lot by day and vacillating they headed East and were rescued.

He was lucky. You should aim to be more prepared. For a start: take at least two oranges, if not twenty litres of water as an emergency back-up. Even in the hot summer, if you do nothing by day and walk by night, you can survive on three litres a day for seven days. You will be very dry but you’ll live. During the first battle of Alamein, which was in august and the hottest time in the desert, the allied ‘desert rats’ were allowed five pints perday for cooking and drinking. That’s about three litres. But they were active by day. You’ll be hunkered down hopefully in the shade of some handy rock- even in the flattest part of the desert you’ll usually find some kind of shade. If not, dig a shallow pit and arrange a tent or coat as a shade protector. To lie all day in the summer sun without shade is asking for a death in a two or three days.

If you are stranded in winter then the desert will be much much cooler. By night you may even get a frost. You’ll certainly need blankets and a warm hat. By day it may get up to the late twenties. So by adopting the night walking or at least early morning and evening walking strategy you can get by on the same liquid as you would drink at home- a litre a day will suffice.

How far can you walk in a night? Sand walking is a killer, or can be. The sand causes blisters, both by getting into your socks and by making each step you take the same, and therefore rubbing the same spot without the variation you get when walking over pebbles and broken ground. The best footwear is sandals, but if you are wearing boots make sure you keep them clear of sand. If you are fearful of dying it is a great incentive. You should expect to manage, unladen, 30km a night for seven nights: so you will, if fit and prepared, manage a 200 km hike.

But what about carrying the water? One of the great unsung pioneers of desert safety was General Popski who managed to persuade Churchill to finance his private army during world war II. Whenever Popski travelled in the Sahara in his jeep he carried a simple trolley made of bicycle wheels. On this, if his car faltered, he could escape carrying over 80 litres of water and supplies. The desert is mostly flat and dunes can often be circumvented so a trolley works very well. Eighty litres will last you comfortably for three weeks…

Without your trolley you’re down to carrying the water. 20 litres weighs 20 kg or 44lbs. That’s heavy and it’ll make you sweat- losing more water. If you are in condition you might expect to make 15-20km the first few nights and then more as the weight gets less.

Knowing which way to walk is almost the easiest part, as long as you know where you are. Saint-Exupery’s big problem was that he didn’t. Without a GPS its hard but you can get a fix on latitude by sticking a stick in the sand and measuring the angle between the end of the shadow and the stick’s top at midday. This will give you your latitude- once you adjust for the time of year. To measure your longitude is possible if you have an accurate watch and know the exact time the sun rises in the nearest city. You can then work out how far you are by the difference.

Far better is to have a basic knowledge of the terrain and where you have come from. If Saint-Exupery had known that east of Cairo the desert is rocky and hilly and quite unlike the western desert where he landed he would have been far better off. Keep in your mind what you will do if there is an accident. The desert is not a labyrinth waiting to snare and confuse you. It is more like a giant sea and the direction, once you know roughly where you are, is usually obvious. Find north by night by looking for the great bear, lining the the outer two stars on the edge of the ‘saucepan’ bit and then sight up to the slightly dimmer pole star. You know it’s the right one as it’s the only star that doesn’t move all night. Mark in the sand the direction and keep walking, checking every so often with the pole star. If you sight up using other stars recheck every 20 minutes with the pole star to allow for a change of position.

By day you can find due south at 12 midday- when the sun is at its highest it is also pointing south. At sunrise and sunset you also have perfect indications of direction. And most likely there will be no clouds sufficient to cover up the sun’s movement.

Should you find yourself lost and in a sandstorm or dust storm your best bet is to sit it out while visibility is nil. They rarely last more than a few days and often at night calm down enough for you to glimpse the night sky and get a pole star fix.

Before setting off on any desert trip memorise the main features. Most desert have huge escarpments and straight endless roads that border the wilderness. These are the things to aim for- features you cannot miss even if you are off by twenty degrees in your walking.

Light travels far at night- you can see the lights of a medium sized town 100 km away in the desert. As for attracting others- if you choose to stay put then burn a tyre- the column of black smoke can be seen 60 km away and will always attract other desert travellers.

The usual advice is to stay with you vehicle- but if you are travelling in only one vehicle then you’re already taking a big risk. If you have told people where you are going and when you’ll be back- stay with the car and burn the tyres. If no one knows where you are and you are confident- walk. Think about that half-flask of coffee and that orange.
http://www.roberttwigger.com/journal/20 ... m=facebook


"The Salvation of Mankind lies in making everything the responsibility of All"
Sophocles.

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Re: Water!..Walter..water...

Post by Bullet Magnet »

A Cut-out and keep desert survival guide... Nice... :cool:

PS Chewing gum will stave off the initial feelings of thirst and combat a dry mouth for a while.. :cg
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Re: Water!..Walter..water...

Post by Dusak »

I always chew gum when outside here especially in summer. Its surprising how little water you feel you need. Of course, you could always suck a small pebble to keep your mouth moist, but I would probably end up swallowing it and choking to death, thus negating the attempted fight for survival.
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Re: Water!..Walter..water...

Post by Bullet Magnet »

On the bright side, a better and somewhat faster way to die than dying of thirst I would guess Dusak... :up

Of course, If I were Bear Grylls ... :br <------ No, that isnt Stella, similar, if not a tad warmer... ;)
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Re: Water!..Walter..water...

Post by Dusak »

Bear Grylls, now he is the man for such unexpected events. Give him a rubber band, four dry twigs two shoe laces and a cloverleaf and he could create hotel heaven in a day with food aplenty. :up
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Re: Water!..Walter..water...

Post by Bullet Magnet »

Dusak wrote:Bear Grylls, now he is the man for such unexpected events. Give him a rubber band, four dry twigs two shoe laces and a cloverleaf and he could create hotel heaven in a day with food aplenty. :up
Yeah, but he wont sleep in it. :td He will go to the W.P, get up early then start the morning filming from his makeshift hotel... :urm:

It's in the Daily Mail, so it must be true... :cool:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... otels.html

Born Survivor, my backside... :cg
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Re: Water!..Walter..water...

Post by Bullet Magnet »

Then there's that other Guy, Ray "chubby" Mears !!! . :tk


Stranded on some desert island he say's.... "Not to worry", " All you need to survive, is a 21" machette that I carry around all the time" . :cg


Ray, baby! .. let's pretend that when I turned up at Liverpool airport with MY 21" Machette, that the Security peoples took it away from me before I boarded the flight... :urm:
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Re: Water!..Walter..water...

Post by Brian Yare »

Robert Twigger was not (imho) a nutter. His 2008 book about the cave of the swimmers in SW Egypt is excellent.

Lost Oasis: Adventures in and out of the Egyptian Desert.

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Re: Water!..Walter..water...

Post by Who2 »

Brian Yare wrote:Robert Twigger was not (imho) a nutter. His 2008 book about the cave of the swimmers in SW Egypt is excellent.
Lost Oasis: Adventures in and out of the Egyptian Desert.
IMHO you have to have been in the desert with him for 6 weeks, and I use 'nutter not in a derogatory sense...:cool:
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Re: Water!..Walter..water...

Post by Bullet Magnet »

You have to be a bit crazy to survive this world... But, be a complete nutcase, and the World is your oyster... :cg
Actually, I hate Oysters, :sk

so the world is my Bacon and Black Pudding Butty, :cool:

the nice weather is the HP Sauce.. :up
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Re: Water!..Walter..water...

Post by Chocolate Eclair »

Never heard of Walter Water though..

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