Tha banya

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4 February 2007

Le banya

Having spent a great part of his life in Siberia, Gamet wished to have us sample this tradition coming from the Great North. After checking on the wood stock remaining on board, Gamet put himself to work on a huge enterprise: to build a sauna on the boat’s deck by temperatures ranging between minus 30° to 40°. He had to dismantle metallic structures, unsolder them then weld them again so as to make room for a 2,50m by 2m hut that is 1,90m high. Then he had to slice and regrind the planks, find and put isolating material, install an electric radiator etc. The building of the banya took a month. Sometimes Gamet was helped by Hervé but more often he worked alone with determination.

The banya was inaugurated just after Nico’s birthday on the first week in December. It is a full success of Russian technology. Stones are disposed on the powerful electric radiator and when they are hot, one just needs to pour water for this little room to fill up with intensive humid heat. After consulting with the commissioner of energy on board we have decided to grant ourselves two weekly banya sessions: on Thursday and Sunday.

At first, we found it a bit hard to get accustomed to the change from minus 30° outdoors to 70° inside the banya. Now, it is a pleasure that nobody misses.

The banya provides us with deep relaxation and makes our cells sing as if to remind them of the sun that we have been missing for five months. We have noticed that after a banya session, we sleep more deeply and we find it easier to stand the cold. During the banya, we sometimes go outside naked by minus 35° and scrub ourselves with snow for a few minutes before coming back into the overheated hut.

We understand now a bit better the craze of the Northerners for saunas or for sudation huts. Many thanks to Gamet for offering us this wonderful present that makes our drift a bit more comfortable.

Bruno