Loc: La Tola
Acc: Reten Naval
Dist: 50,3 km
Start: 8:10 End: 18:55
Tomorrow’s estimated landing: Cabo Manglares in Colombia
I thought I agreed yesterday with my Navy guy who escorted me into town about a pickup at 6.30 am…it sounded like he understood and would be organizing it. But the language barrier obviously made him thinking the escort boat should be ready at 6.30 am, but hey, I was sitting high and dry up there in the city hotel with my kayak! Sure *I* was expecting a pickup with the truck which brought me up from the beach yesterday first back tothe beach!
So this morning, I was waiting until 7 am, and not a single person showed up, and no car. I had to go very soon, as a longish paddling day to La Tola was waiting for me! I needed to get active myself, and eventually agreed with the hotel owner who just got up to ask one of those small motor bike trucks to transport me down to the beach. It worked well, my kayak was pushed length wise on top of some bars in the sitting area, strapped tight at the stern in the front.
I loaded my bags and jumped on myself, holding also tight to the boat and hoping the bike driver didn’t take too tight turns hitting my overhanging bow somewhere.
All went well on the short ride, but briefly before the beach, the shit happened – one narrow wooden log he had simply put vertical to support the bow hanging to the rear fell flat, and the stern was pushed up and squeezedbetween two bars that I could hear the gel coat cracking on both sides…FUCK! I was cussing quite loud, and I wonder what my driver washinking, as he thought he did the best job to store my kayak on his vehicle…
Some guy fortunately came and quickly supported the bow that it was not cracking more and more on the stern area…thanks! We unloaded, and I checked the damage…quite some gel coat areas were split away on both sides of the stern. Not that serious, and I can repair it with my quick two components epoxy, but I am late this morning anyway!!!
I payed the driver his earned dollar, and I bet next time I will check even more how my kayak is loaded…I always said I am most scared about my boat on other people’s vehicles!
I got many curious male eyes about how I’d be handling the repair…but basically that was easy. A bit cleaning, a bit sanding, mixing the two components, putting it on carefully and waiting for about twenty minutes to harden sufficiently. There were not many similar spots like this on my kayak until today…
Eventually I dared to turn it over to start loading it, as the side repairs won’t touch the ground anyway, and I noticed the cracks showed up also from the inside…so the same job again, waiting this time only 15 minutes, loaded the rest of the bags, and GO!!!
It was 8.10 already, but I figured I could still make it before sunset. My escort boat was waiting outside the river entrance, seeing me paddling cool over the low waves out of the bumpy area, and were wondering probably why I
was so late and why I was still looking a bit angry…They decided to disappear at 11.30 am, after feeling bored following me and having no other boats to chase any more, and I saw another Navy boat with five guys on board coming up eventually at 1.30 pm, but only for 10 min. Then they probably got bored after I asked them to keep a little distance,
and they were gone for the rest of the day.
I was wondering why about four “fishing” boats came across directly from Colombia??? I didn’t think they had been fishing out there…two of them were chased by my escort boat, one stopped the other one went on, and my guys came back and obviously remembered their real job for today….
Sure after a few dead calm hours with good progress the dreaded north wind came up again with 10-15 knots, me paddling to east north east feeling it as a headwind. I also thought the ebbing current was against me, so I eventually had a hard time to keep my GPS over 5km/h. My ETA became later and later…but I could still make it! Just about…depends on how tricky the next river entrance into La Tola would be! I decided to simply ignore the tidal
waves, and actually they were smaller than in yesterday’s entrance. I decided to stick as close to the shore as I had water, but it became more and more shallow, and then I had to decide to go out again and around a sand bank, or in where I saw a fishing boat in action. I went in, and saw too late the fishing boat was sitting dry…I was eventually walking for about 10 min, until I was really stuck in 10 cm of water with my heavy boat.
I called the single nearby fisherman to ask for help, as it was very soon getting dark, and fortunately he came across and together we dragged my boat into a bit more deep water, maybe only 100 meters or so. But it would have been
a real slog by myself! I thanked the guy, who didn’t say a single word to my broken Spanish conversation attempts. He probably just thought what is this stupid gringa doing here in my waters, and then she is even getting stuck in the shallows…
I had to walk about another 500 m, trying again and again to paddle, and was stuck again and again. But I still could drag my boat. Eventually, I was fully afloat in deeper water, and I hurried to paddle up to the well visible antenna of the Reten Naval station I could spot already in the distance where the river was deeper.
I disembarked now in complete darkness on a concrete lit staircase where many other fishing boats were parked, and was walking up to the station. Two Navy guys were helping me to unload, and the kayak was carried up by
the locals. Thanks!
I got greeted by my Mentor, the chief of the station for this night, and got a nice room to myself with shower, air condition, bug net and internet! What else do I need…yes, sleep and rest for my very sore body…very soon as
it is late!