Acc: Navy room
Dist: 51,2 km
Start: 6:45 End: 17:45
No paddling tomorrow
My plans for the night was to cuddle next to my kayak on top of the deck. It didn’t really look like rain tonight and it was warm anyway, so just my sleeping pad and blanket would be good enough. On the open boat was one small covered spot in the bow with one mattress lying diagonal in there, where I didn’t really wanted to take the one and only real sleeping place away from the boys. I was anyway wondering who will stay the night where and how…
I was cooking my dinner – cheap square package Chinese style noodle soup tonight – on my small camp stove out of the wind on the bottom of the boat. The boys had to go with cold Colombian soldier ration packs…similar to those we had been presented in Peru made in the USA, minus the heating pack. A lot of wrapping for little food!
If I’d had known my kayak and my sleeping place were on top of maybe twelve big petrol barrels, I may have been more careful with lightening a stove…I was actually wondering about the constant petrol smell all night, in any direction the wind was blowing from the engines or not. It was one thing which kept me from having a great rest.
The next was the rolling of the boat tonight in not totally calm water with winds blowing still around 15 knots. It was so much I was constantly sliding on my sleeping pad from one side to the other. Or like someone is slowly shaking you awake, rolling you back and forth. I eventually wedged myself under my kayak’s side, until on a big wave it got lose and started to roll itself. Not really great, but I was sure the wind would go down and the sea would be calmer soon.
The boys did better, being surely not tired from 50 km paddling. They stayed awake chatting in the stern area at the cockpit as long as the boat was rolling so heavily. Eventually, when it got calmer, Felipe took the small covered sleeping place in the bow on the one mattress, and the other three guys? I couldn’t really figure out how and where they made themselves comfortable at the stern, no one really (dared to ?) took the free double space beside me, and at least one of them was still occasionally driving, keeping the boat off the coast. This was no calm anchorage! This was a relatively bumpy and windy headland area!
In between short sessions of something like sleep, I watched the few stars, the different lights on the shore, and eventually also the magnificent bio luminescence, thrown up by the waves. I barely heard the one guy heavily snoring through my earplugs…
At about 3 am, it started to rain! I woke from the noise of one guy digging for rain gear in their waterproof barrels, and as I had none and really needed more sleep, I knocked on the sheltered bow compartment if there was some space for me left.
Felipe came out, and left the space for me alone, though there was just about room for two mattresses! Thanks, but no need to be so polite…the guys put up a multi functional sun – rain cover in the stern, and seemed to be ok with that for the rest of the night. The sleep in the small bow compartment was surely much better, not only dry, but also being low on the ground the boat was way less rolling. I knew that!
All day’s paddling I surely was quite tired, and I thought I really shouldn’t have been so polite not to ask from the beginning on for the best sleeping spot – I had to *paddle* all next day, and the guys could sleep deeply in shifts during the day while driving slowly behind me…which they obviously did, as I didn’t see four heads at the same time.
I was fighting sleep, boredom, river currents and later a light headwind from the north again, and my pace today was really slow. But as long as I’d arrive in Tumaco before sunset I was all right. The scenery was first just green lush forest with a small stripe of beach, but which is covered on high tide almost full. No great campsites on the sand, and who would know who would be coming out of the bush behind you? The southern area of beautiful Colombia’s Pacific coast is well known for it’s drug plantations and criminal problems. I was really happy to have the coastguard guys besides me!
Around the cape at the beginning there were quite a few boats, later none again until a small village came up. From the many boats passing us one was touched me deeply, passing at high speed, waving at me friendly. It said in big letters: “Medicos without Frontiers”. Good great guys, driving to the remote bush spots to help…
A bunch of shallow river entrances where the waves were piling up were forcing me to paddle more off shore, and turning eventually right around the corner to the islands of Tumaco there was a big area of tidal waves again. It was a zig zag race to find the right line, but eventually *out* was the only option.
There was some happy beach life on Tumaco’s small rocky headland beach, and I had to paddle around a beautiful, covered with a lot of steep lush rain forest, island to find the Navy harbour. This was the beginning of “real” rain forest! Ecuador’s green forest was already nice to see, but this was better! But the beach below was littered with a LOT of trash flooded from the city…
The Navy village covers besides the airport most of Tumaco’s outer beautiful island, and is a city on it’s own, like I saw in Esmeraldas and Puerto Bolivar. This area had to be safe and had almost European standards, the rest of the city with the mostly locals looks a bit different… I am glad to be hosted by the Navy!
There were two yachts anchored in the bay, after Bahia Caraquez in Ecuador the second yacht spot. And truly, I got greeted by the same friendly Colombian guy in his small rubber dinghy coming from his fancy catamaran who already wished me well paddling out of Bahia Caraquez! Just that I took a bit longer to get here…
A bunch of Navy guys also greeted me at the jetty, and Teniente Dario guided me to an officer’s room just between his own and Felipe’s. Thanks for looking after me so nicely! I also got connected on the phone to Capitán de Fregata Carlos Delgado in Buenaventura, who is responsible for all this nice treatment in Colombia. Thanks!
Just sorry I obviously had to kick the two other officers out, whose room it was…but thanks anyway! I will sleep great tonight! The accommodations here looks all quite new and modern, with good quality furniture and beds, air condition, TV, fridge and a nice bathroom. I have seen now eventually different Navy officer’s quarter standards in South America! This was truly one of the best! Just the wifi was missing…I will have to get a Colombian sim card tomorrow for my phone. No problem. Compared to beach camping or my boat stay last night this is luxury! I really like the contrasts on this trip, as I appreciate as much an adventurous place to sleep as sleeping in luxury!
I will stay for two days, as after five days of paddling, my body needs a rest again. I will look for a Colombian entry stamp into my passport, have to change money and will get that sim card and some fresh fruit tomorrow!