Loc: Caleta Hornos
Dist: 43 km
Start: 8:20 End: 17:15
Estimated landing: We have to see the swell tomorrow. Either a short day to Chungungo, or a longer day to Isla Damas, or nothing at all due to high swell!.
Estimated starting time: Right after sunrise
Estimated landing time: Well before sunset
Same old story this morning, despite the nice visit of our understanding Coquimbo Navy officer Esteban Avila, who seem to have had the power to keep the Navy visits at bay in his area of Coquimbo, two other officers came this morning to ask again the same old questions what we already published yesterday as usual on my website.
Some dogs were barking again all night, but the sun was shining this morning! It was fore casted low winds from the south, but some increasing swell. We did notice a little increasing, but it was all easy going! We played at some headlands with the foam of the sea, which was beaten up a lot especially at two corners. A stinky, but funny “foam bath”!
And then – a local blog reader was fore casting it already yesterday on a comment – after 10 days of paddling with not a single dolphin fin to be seen – we got them with a huge splash!!! A massive school of probably over hundred of big gray sparkled dolphins, a species I have not seen on my trips before, were coming right up to us! We were literally bathing in dolphins!
Peter had never seen any dolphins before, so this first encounter, for me it was the largest school of dolphin of all my trips so far, was spoiling him for good! When they came up to us, I saw him becoming almost petrified, while I was enthusiastically pointing at the fins…and then he asked this one and only question with which I’ll tease him on all our next dolphin encounters: “Are you sure they are not sharks???” Well, as this species was new for me also, I also may have had to look twice …but I have not heard of “schools of sharks” yet…
We were indulging for a while in dolphin watching, admired them turning upside down after an elegant jump and showing their white bellies, jumping high out of the water and landing with a loud banging noise, and displaying their almost whale-like tail flukes when they were diving down vertically. Just beautiful! And all in bright sun shine!
The high mountains on the coast were all mostly visible today, fringed by the highway, some of them just stuck their pointy top out of a narrow cloud line. We turned around the last headland to paddle into Caleta Hornos for landing. From the distance, and on Google Earth, it looked like a wide sandy beach, but on coming closer,it was unfortunately all rocks! The high swell created a breaker making a landing on the rocky beach unpleasant, so we opted for the concrete landing ramp of the fishermen in the most sheltered corner, which had a few wooden logs across inside the concrete, making it a bit easier and better for the boats to be pulled up after landing.
We had to carefully watch the swell, as even on this sheltered ramp landing was not that simple. peter went in first, timed it right, jumped out quickly, and manged to drag up his boat via the logs. I came second, and my timing was also good, mutually we were dragging my boat up, and his even higher also.
Despite there were about 30 fishing boats ashore, and maybe 15 afloat in that corner, not a single helpful soul showed up just when you may think the person who lands first may need it…but no problem.
We found a camp space behind the last fishing boats resting on land, a bit out of sight of the village people, and hopefully out of hearing distance of any barking dogs tonight…actually, the sound of the swell crashing on the beach covers all! Our corner is a bit littered with garbage, as you may find it in most fishing harbors not only in South America, but I had camped worse…
It is over 4 m of swell fore casted for tomorrow, with light to moderate wind, so we’ll see how it looks! We may not go at all, or just take a quick hop to the very safe harbor of Chungungo, or we may make it to the sheltered beautiful beach of Isla Damas. There is no safe landing in between.