Loc: Chugungo Caleta Cruz Grande beach
Dist: 23,5 km
Start: 8:20 End: 13:30
Estimated landing: Isla Damas
Estimated starting time: Right after sunrise
Estimated landing time: Well before sunset
We slept pretty well in our “garbage corner” of the harbor, despite it was Saturday night, only the noise of the surf was our company.
This morning we had a careful look at the sea, but surely in the bay it was calm, just the landing ramp swell may have been a tad bit more than yesterday. But most important, the wind was very low, and was not really supposed to go close to even only 15 knots all day.
We decided to do the short hop to Chugungo harbor, as more than 50 km in over 4 m of swell we didn’t dare to do today.
Launching went all right in the big swell, we each slid down the launching ramp (mostly) on the logs, and tried to avoid grinding on the concrete by pushing in on a higher swell running up the ramp. Peter went in first with my help, as he had the more heavy kayak with a load of fresh water. For my launch, suddenly one of the fishermen spectators appeared for possible help – they probably didn’t expect the woman launching second . But I made it in easily by myself.
The swell was big, but with the low wind it was no problem at all. One fishing boat seemed to be our company for a while, but left us when we were paddling inside Isla Tilgo. The gap was wide enough, but still the entrance looked quite foamy on the swell. The island had a long jutting out into the gap rocky shallow beach, were eventually the waves came fro both sides up and created quite a clapotis where we better stayed off! But all was on the safe side. We paddled for a while in the shelter, and soon the next island came up at Punta Tortoralilo.
I decided to also go through the gap, but this one was a bit more narrow with fat backwash from both sides breating clapotis waves in the narrow reasonable safe channel in the middle. Peter didn’t really like it in there, and I blamed myself to have taken him through there… It was really marginal. But we arrived safely in the sheltered water of the Caleta, where a bunch of fishing boats were afloat, and men were obviously working on a sheltered launching ramp.
But our destination was the so safe looking harbor of Chugungo! As it was fully rectangular on Google Earth, I assumed it must have been created somehow artificially, and we soon spotted the concrete wall to one sides and the artificial dam connecting the existing light house island with the mainland.
I was already sensing it seeing the high walls…this damn safe harbor didn’t have any launching ramp for small boats! All fishing boats were launched via cranes…there was only one halfway flat corner right at the beginning, but it had big rocks, and still some swell.
So we opted to have a look at the beach, which we remembered to be calm looking on Google Earth. Another small bay behind the harbor had a launching ramp, but it was very narrow, looked like concrete only, and the swell went up and down quite nasty. So the beach for landing was the last option…it was still 4 swell which reaches in the last so called sheltered corner!
It had some surf, and a few rocks, but also some narrow strip of sand…we better donned our helmets! I was going in first, as I probably had a better sense of the beach situation. It was low tide, and one breaker was rolling out on sand just before the main rocky edge. I timed it right, landed ok, but just had a tad bit of a problem to drag the heavy boat out of the surge over a steep rocky edge.
Then I already saw Peter paddling in…actually, he didn’t really paddle in, he got forced in…he made the same mistake as I did recently on Punta Lingua, when I came too close to the beach on waiting for the right low swell, got caught by a high one and had to side broach in.
Peter saw one big one piling up behind him, back paddled and went over the top. But then he was already on a spot where he shouldn’t be – too close to the beach for waiting for lower swell rolling in. Another big one came, where he had only the option to sprint forward, as back paddling was too late. The fat one broke behind him, he decided to go sideways in expecting a fat broach, threw himself into the just broken wave, got washed toward the beach, but the wash was too fat and he capsized…he rolled up again being already close to the dry sand, got further washed in toward some nasty bigger rocks and close to me holding my own heavy kayak in an immobile position. No good…
I shouted at him “Jump out! Jump out!” as he needed to get control over his kayak again as soon as possible by reaching for the toggle. He did, held the toggle, and dragged the boat somehow out of the last wash and back surge and away from bigger rocks. Just about…
So far for the expected “dead safe harbor landing” on 4 m+ swell…
We spent all afternoon on gear check up and small repairs. It’s so nice to be a test pilot! ;<) And so nice to have a half day off…
And then the same old story, but late at 8 pm: A local navy guy or harbor master or whatever – he was without uniform -came to ask about our where abouts…same old questions, but this time Peter was so patient to answer. Yes, we have a website, updated regularly every night!!!