Loc: somewhere on the water
Acc: open Navy boat
Dist: 47,3 km
Start: 6:35 End: 17:30
Tomorrow’s estimated landing: Bahia Solano
The night was full of electricity, with flashes all the time, some bright as sunshine, and coming every 10 sec when I was awake early morning. But no thunder to be heard, and only little rain – yet.
As soon as I was settled on the water, the rain slowly started – increasing to a real tropical “power shower”! It was amazing to hear it approaching, but fortunately the sea stayed reasonable calm and the wind also quite low. So no big deal, just wet, which I was to be anyway.
It must have been the electricity in the air and the upcoming heavy rain squall making the sea snakes float in the morning on the surface almost petrified, as I was running over *seven* of them before the rain started! Later I didn’t see any any more. Again beautiful black and yellow, but probably deadly venomous. Fortunately I didn’t flip any of them up with my paddle into my open cockpit…
The sky was amazing to watch with the heavy rain, black to white in all shades. The clouds were as low as they could be, and I almost felt like being in outer space!
I continued my direction from yesterday, planning to hug the coast in this large bay. Now it is time to see beautiful Colombia!!! Not only open sea and muddy rivers with possibly dangerous places and people and battalions of heavily armed soldiers…
The scenery really has changed, it is now as beautiful as it can be. As much has may safety feeling changed to the better. Also my coastguard guys were not hunting any more after every boat here, as most of them were small harmless fishing boats anyway. I passed Nuqui with it’s small airport and cell phone antenna, and probably quite some houses and even maybe hotels. Still it looked like a tiny village, being hidden mostly in the jungle.
I was heading to Punta Jurubidá with it’s line of offshore islands, where the really beautiful coastline started. I was paddling into three most remote bays with sandy beaches. The first was wild and uninhabited, perfect to camp…the second had one roof hidden in the jungle with some palm trees and green grass, and the third was with a hidden house and a small motorboat, quite nice to see, and another beach with some indigenous people and dugout canoes. There were two people walking the beach, and I came close to see if they maybe Gringo tourists – but they were just teenagers.
I think my watch dog boat had lost me at some point, as I know a small boat is very hard to spot paddling close to the rocks! The were speeding twice up and down without stopping…well, if they have to be so far offshore! Somehow it’s nice to have a lot of space to myself, somehow I felt sorry for the guys not being able to see the beautiful coastline close by. But not sure if they’d have an eye for it anyway…
They were supposed to change crew already since Cabo Corriente as they told me, and were obviously quite keen on getting rid of the boring job of escorting me. Last night they said they need urgently to drive to Bahia Solano tonight after my day’s paddling – why??? It will still be a 60+ km drive…I don’t feel like I need that after a full day’s paddling! And then driving the same way back next morning…They said they were low on fuel…what is the difference of driving tonight or tomorrow? I assumed the poor guys were rather a bit under equipped for escorting me so long…not enough food or water? Or having the small boat fever not able to go to land for so long? No idea…
Water came down enough this morning, and catching it would have been an easy job – if they remembered they had those bunch of brand new not inflated fenders making perfect huge sinks. Carlos was washing himself with the water collected by chance in one of them last night! I’d have also stripped on the boat in that heavy rain for a free long shower…and for the food? They had dealt with the local fishermen almost every night so far for fish and rice…but some shopping before the trip would have been easier not to have to live those days on army ration bags only …
Ok, all good, as at 4.10 pm the long awaited exchange crew from Bahia Solano came, and they could go! Sure I saw and heard both boats, as I was paddling only about 500 m ahead. Still I heard a loud whistle noise – the same whistle Jonathan used yesterday to stop the poor old English Gentleman paddler on his sit on top kayak and to make him coming close. He didn’t react for a while, probably being already a bit deaf and low on energy and balance, and as a motorboat has it so easy to come close, different to a kayak. Also he obviously didn’t feel like a chased drug runner caught in the act…I didn’t feel like paddling back to the boats on hearing the whistle noise either, as a fingertip on the gas handle would make both boats moving quite easily up to *me*! Such a whistle sound may be good for calling your dog on the run…
But apart from this last small faux pas I was just smiling about, the guys did a patient great job on being with me for so unexpected long time! Imagine to have to live and to sleep on a small boat all those days, and on riding it is just bumpy and wet. A boat which has only hammock space for two, barely three, a floor space for one, and four high small seats. And on rain, only one hammock stayed dry under the open roof. The other three then had to squeeze on the seats, trying to stay dry and to catch some sleep. The tiny dry bow compartment they reserved for me…thanks, guys!
I kept on paddling until 5.30 pm further along the coast, and admired the beautiful shore line once again and again. Caves, blow holes, arches, waterfalls, beaches, lush vegetation, the whole program! I was stopping in front of a long sandy calm beach, knowing this would be a perfect anchorage. But it turned out this boat, unlike the other one, had no anchor… unlike the other two, it also had no tiny bow compartment, and not even a floor space on top of the petrol barrels. It basically had no flat surface to sleep on!!! Not to talk about rain shelter… Well, besides it had one tiny just one-man wide flat floor space just behind the wheel, the rest of the guys had to make do with their hammocks swinging right over the stinky and smeary petrol barrels.
I occupied the floor space, as I am really not used to sleeping in a hammock…sorry! And again, I have to perform nicely physically tomorrow, and onlyone of the guys is driving this boat slowly after me, while the other three are relaxing in their hammocks! As for the possible rain tonight…chances are low after the heavy rain this morning, still I have my tent fly handy to throw over me and the wheel, hoping this will work for a while. It will all work for one night, but in Bahia Solano tomorrow we will need to find a new solution. Either going with a different boat, or I will sleep on the beach. Maybe now I know why the other relatively comfortable boat had to stay with me longer than we all expected?
The guys wanted to drive into the Ensenada Utria, although I suggested to anchor in front of this or that sandy beach After I found out they had no anchor I was asking why we would drive so far? So just floating offshore enough on the calm sea not to come close to the coast does the job, and this is what we did, after almost an hour fiddling around. The sleeping arrangements took their time also, thank goodness it was not raining…but it will do for this one night!
Adventure paddling in Colombia