17-Aug-2003 -- It all started on holiday in July 03 when I was searching the internet for information on coordinate systems (I'm a minerals surveyor) when I came across references to the Project. Living in Ayutthaya, Thailand, I thought that it would be easy to see what Confluences I could achieve that were nearby, but this didn't work because most local ones had already been visited. Anyway, after my short leave was over, I was going back to work in Ghana, so I thought I might as well check and see what was close to my jobsite (the Keta Sea Defence Project).
Anyway, 6N 1E was within a few klicks of my office, so patiently flying back to work and hoping that no one would get there first, I planned a few possible routes to the Confluence and decided that with the assistance of a few good friends (and colleagues) (Sam Johnson, Montana, USA, Kofi Gadzekpo, Vodza, Ghana, Boafo Evans, Tumasi, Ghana, and myself Richard Lloyd, Neath, UK), my friends and I could all try and see what we could achieve. My only fears were that the site would be within the Keta lagoon and extremely difficult to reach.
The Keta Lagoon is a brackish/freshwater lake in the Volta Region of Ghana (close to Togo), which is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a small thin wedge of beach. It's named after Keta, which is a former slaving and colonial port. The lake itself extends over an area of 1200 km². My friends and I are all working as Engineers/Surveyors on an $84 million Project which has been involved with the reclamation of 300 ha of land from the sea, construction of 13 km of roads across the lake, transporting 1.2 million tons of stone 50 km from a local quarry, dredging of 10 million m³ of material from the lake, and building 7 bird habitat islands in the Lake. It's a large job and we've all been in the area for 3½ years (except Kofi, he lives 3 km from Keta).
So on to the planning, on the 17th August 2003, we all turned up for work as normal. As it was a Sunday (we all work a 7 day week) and quiet, we decided that by mid-morning we would have a try reaching the Confluence. Not sure where it was exactly, we made plans so that we could borrow a backup vehicle, really not wanting to walk through lots of soft mud to get there, we chose a Rolligon (soft terrain vehicle) just in case. We then checked satellite availability before we left and this was the best period in the day.
As days go it was a typical hot and sunny day next to the coast with a nice sea breeze cooling us to a pleasant 30-35° centigrade. We decided that we would use a Garmin e-map handheld and a Trimble RTK backpack and TSC1 handheld controller to give us some idea of positions. Plugging the values in to the handhelds, we realized that we were much closer than we expected. Taking a chance (that it wasn't on an island or in the lake) we decided to try using two wrangler jeeps to get close to the Confluence. We set off and after about 1 km realized that we might as well have walked from our office! Ho hum…
So leaving the vehicles at the side of the road, we set off across the low-lying ground. It's mostly sandy soils with some knee-high vegetation and with a few low muddy areas, which are used in dry weather as saltpans. Walking quickly we approached to within 200 m of the Confluence and a small (1 m high) hill which was just high enough with vegetation to obscure visibility of the lake edge and the Confluence. We didn't know if we were going to get muddy and wet or if we'd be lucky and stay dry.
Standing on the hillock we could see that we would be very close to the water's edge, taking photographs of the undisturbed area, we were all curious to see where we'd end up, so with both handhelds we proceeded to walk to the Confluence. We were lucky, and with both handhelds giving slightly different positions 2 m apart, we figured that the Trimble would give a more accurate position.
Standing there, we took the obligatory photos and decided that this, as our first Confluence would not be our last! Walking quickly back, we soon returned to the vehicles and were all back in the office within 2 hours of our departure.