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In March 1864, Sir Samuel Baker and Lady Florence
Baker set off northwards from near Buhuka on Lake Albert in two
dug-out canoes rowed by a succession of local oarsmen. Their aim
was to confirm that the Victoria Nile flowed into Lake Albert
and that the Nile then flowed north out of Lake Albert on its
long journey to Egypt. It took them 12 days to make the journey
along the East shore of Lake Albert, stopping frequently to change
oarsmen and to take on provisions.
Sam writes “I selected for ourselves a
dug-out canoe of twenty-six feet. Fortunately I had purchased
at Khartoum an English screw auger; I now bored holes in the gunwale
of the canoe. I spanned them in arches across the boat and lashed
them to the auger holes, concluding by thatching the framework
while over the thatch I stretched ox-hides well drawn and lashed,
so as to render our roof waterproof. This arrangement formed a
tortoise-like protection that would be proof against sun and rain.
In this rough vessel we embarked on a calm morning, when hardly
a ripple moved the even surface of the lake. Each canoe had four
rowers, two at either end. Their paddles were beautifully shaped,
hewn from one piece of wood, the blade being rather wider than
that of an ordinary spade, but concave in the inner side, so as
to give the rower a great hold upon the water.”
As they progressed up the shoreline, they suddenly
faced “Several bursts of thunder and vivid lightning followed
by a tremendous gale before which we were obliged to run for the
shore. In a short space of time a most dangerous sea arose, and
on several occasions the waves broke against the arched covering
of the canoe, which happily protected my wife in a slight degree,
although we were drenched with water.” They were eventually
driven onto a sandy shore somewhere near where Buseruka is now.
Recovering from this they progressed up the lake towards Butiaba.