Our goal is for the team to portage the dam at Tolyatti tomorrow. It's, apparently, a very large dam that will take West and Jeff some time to get across.
As planned, the team got an early start to take advantage of the calmer water. At 1:15 a.m. (10:15 Russia), I received a call that they were okay, but were going to stop for a few hours because the waves had picked up, creating white caps. Once the waves died down, they would start again. If you are watching the Spot Tracker you will have seen this break and now you know why. This plan actually worked great. They paddled 44.8 miles (total) today.
Once they passed the island (see the spot tracker map) they started to see a lot more recreational sports on the water. There was a large influx of kite surfers. The kites were beautiful. After having gone a distance without seeing any beaches, they are now seeing beautiful, clean, white beaches. Large dirt cliffs lead down to the beaches. Lots of people out picnic-ing, playing on the beaches. The came across a man jogging (about 70 years old). He was in great shape and, despite not speaking English, understood what West and Jeff were doing and was pleased he ran into them...no pun intended. Just so you know, West and Jeff took their own personal phrase book. Marat (see team on main page) translated certain phrases that are quick to access. One of the phrases is an explanation of what they are doing.
The houses they are seeing are higher upon the cliffs. There aren't really at the river level. They are, also, seeing a ton of cliff swallow nests. Lots of swallows flying in and out.
In Ulyanovsk, West and Jeff were told the river starts to move faster after the dam at Tolyatti. We are hoping this is the case and the team can make up some time. We are working on our contacts in Samara, at this time. If the river is moving and the guys feel good (as they seem to be), they may just do a quick water purchase and move on. We'll make that decision as soon as they leave Tolyatti.
PS. Paula, they laughed when I read your comment to them...