Dist: 51,9 km
Start: 6:45 End: 18:35
No paddling tomorrow
Last night, surely, I got checked by the local policemen, two guys in uniform and one “special agent” in civillian clothes. Nothing unusual here, but I was certainly tired and half asleep and “no hablamos muchos espanol”. They obviously thought now I am a suspicious object, despite me showing my card and several contact emails from Navy people. Maybe they were just curious, as they thought they needed to search my boat. Not much in there though…but before it came to searching my tent I could convince them I’m harmless and have nothing to do with those many obviously hippy tourists they should better go to for a search for drugs.
Despite that, the night was reasonable quiet. Still I didn’t feel comfortable on this spot…
The officer in civvies came back in the morning just after I got up, I assume more out of personal curiosity than anything else. He was then actually a very nice and interesting guy, with his tiny “special agent” camera and devices…on the other hand he was very interested in my high tech gear.
When it came to launching, I assumed I could handle it like any other single dumper with some washed up water in front – just get afloat, wait for a low one to pass, and then sprint over the white just broken foam and you are out. Wrong this time…was it because there were spectators?
I noticed already the wash water up the shore was not really deep enough to stay afloat before the breaker, and I was already fighting to stay straight in the shallows. When I was afloat, the surge back to sea was so strong, I obviously came too close to the just broken big waves to wait there safely for a lower one. A fat foam wash washed me up the beach again and again, and trashed me twice upside down.
I was quite cussing, felt embarrassed with the guys watching me, but started over and over again, emptying my boat of sand water, trying to keeping it straight in starting position. Eventually Mario, the officer, was stripping to the underpants to try to help me, but due to lack of communication and inexperience as a starting helper he gave up soon again. Maybeit was better he did, as a trashed boat can hit you quite hard!
Eventually being washed sideways quite a way, I thought I’d better drag the boat through the shallows over the breaker line, which eventually worked. Why didn’t I do it earlier??? Sometimes shit happens.
I quite cracked my neck on one trashy roll, but it looked like I could paddle despite a bit of pain in my neck. Also a bad mistake. I need to bend forward more once getting rolled in shallows…and also a bad mistake I underestimated the coast of Ecuador and assumed I could go this leg without helmet…not sure if it would have prevented the neck injury though.
As I eventually was afloat, it took me a while to get settled again, and I felt quite worn and upset with myself. What an embarrassing shitty launch…like a beginner…and then this neck pain…my fault.
The coast was eventually very beautiful as I paddled along, green hills with many small villages and single houses in the lush forest. Also two sets of steep cliffs with secluded beaches, very nice!
I was e-mailing Andrés this morning, the officer from Salinas, to please make contact with the Capitania in Machalilla that I’d arrive tonight and would love to stay there in safety. Better being in a city in safety than camping with the risk of being disturbed by a police check at night or drug(ged) consumers, dealers or growers popping out of the bush behind you…
As I didn’t receive an answer for a long time (I didn’t know Andrés was already on holiday…), and it was already way past 4 pm with some ugly head winds, I decided rather than having the risk to meet no one in the Capitania and to sit in a city with no host, I better go in at a very remote river mouth behind a small island for a beach camp, just 4 km before Machalilla. Actually an ideal spot…
I landed all right in a bit of wash, unloaded, and then go the idea to better check my e-mail again…and there was Andrés mail: the guys at the Capitania were waiting for me…
Hmmmm, as I saw many footprints and horse apples also at this so “remote” river mouth, I may be a bit spooked right now about the security of beach camps here in this area…and quickly packed again, launched all right, and battled another hour into a heavy headwind.
I arrived just before night fall around 6.30 pm in the wide bay of Machalilla, and had no idea where to find the Capitania…no boat out there to get me in.
But I spotted a huge antenna, and so far Capitanias always had huge antennas…I also asked a fisherman in his boat, and I was right.
Just that the anticipated easy calm beach landing in this bay had a steep beach with a fat dumper…usually no problem, but it was not my day today…I timed it wrong, saw the fat broken wave was too close behind me, and I rode it heavily in in a deep high brace on a side broach. all good, until the last meter…laid almost on my back deck anyway, the last bit rolled me over up the steep beach, tucking my face and body deeply into the sand, with the almost 100 kg of boat on top of me.
Yuck! I got up again, but was full of sand like a wild boar after a mud bath. When I cleared my sinuses, it was the first time I spit sand water instead of salt water only…
Two guys from the coast guard spotted me soon, after I initially climbed up the beach and rang the door bell in vain. With the help of a bunch of local kids we managed to get the gear and kayak up to the Capitania, where I had my well deserved cleansing shower!
It was a nice, clean place, and the two young officers Jimmy and Jamie, were kindly offering me a room to myself, even a towel for the shower and invited me for dinner! That we had to drive for that to the 12 km away Puerto Lopéz which had a better infrastructure didn’t really matter…well, if Jamie wouldn’t have been driving like a young rally driver through the night on windy mountain roads…
The restaurant was local with a quite tasty roasted chicken dish. Thanks for looking after me so nicely, guys!