Loc: lonely beach
Dist: 47,9 km
Start: 7:55 End: 16:05
Tomorrow’s estimated landing: Punta Gararchine
This morning it was the very first time I managed spill half of my night’s pee pot inside my tent…yahoo! Yummy! My fluffy fleece blanket got quite soaked on one edge, but the rest was ok. The potty is the only comfortable option camping in weird public places if you have to go once or twice at night…emptying it in the morning somewhere reasonably decent outside is usually no problem.
I was ready to go as planned the night before at 6.30 pm, but we are in South America…the guys have all time in the world. They didn’t know I had to paddle more than 50 km today to the probably one and only beach…and that I’d need to go early to land safely in daylight! Who knows if the dreaded headwind would come in again, stronger or less…though the forecast was calm for today.
Eventually two guys looked as if they were the responsible crew for my drive out the river mouth, and we loaded my kayak first then my bags which I now stored as usual inside my boat, to be ready to go independently again once out in the open sea!
The exit looked even worse than yesterday, HUGE massive breakers…but my boat driver was confisent. And at least they had padded my kayak with two PFD’s on the benches…
He drove out at high speed, diagonally also, but managed to catch two fat breakers with two fat jumps – I was crying for my boat, and for my back, as I didn’t really see the jumps coming…my poor baby! The driver noticed he should be a bit more careful, and managed to go slower over the next piles of water. But a motor boat can also get trashed in these conditions… eventually we were out.
It was late in the morning, too late for me to feel I could safely make the over 50 km to the only safe landing site… so I “cheated” a bit on about 5 or 6 km, driving not fully back to my take out spot last night, but just out of the river mouth into the open sea. Someone want to blame me? I am just happy to eventually be able to navigate by myself again, and if it would have been me only, I’d have started on time in first light!
My first beach landing since Ecuador! I almost forgot how this feels…and I felt I kind of lost contact with nature the other weeks! As if I had not experienced the whole country, but just seen it in passing on wide screen TV…
I soon noticed that yesterday’s swell had even increased, something I haven’t counted on at all coming closer to Panama City! The rocky shore breaks were quite foamy white high splashing, a bad sign… but at least the wind was at the beginning even pushing, and later not there at all, so I made good speed. I may have even managed to paddle the additionally 6 km, but who knew in advance about the real conditions?
One single lovely beach showed up about 10 km earlier before the one I was planning to land on, but I refused the temptation…it already had quite some surf going, but with lulls. The beach I was planning to land on, and which the second officer pointed out to me on the map, turned out to be not the inhabited one which was just a few km further, but this one I could not refuse the temptation… he said the beaches are safe now, and the least thing I’d like to see tonight were soldiers, no Navy, no Army, no Police, no uniforms, not Colombia’s and not Panama’s! I wanted my peace on a remote beach to myself, as I am in need of and used to and most happy to camp.
I got closer, and saw the surf was BIG…but I also saw chances to run in safe and quick. I took my chance after a moderate size one, hoping the one after me would be not HUGE, paddled in like hell, and just made it out of the breaking zone of the next one. Still I had to side broach in the massive foam coming in quickly behind me, twice, lying nicely on the side in a high brace, but it didn’t throw me. And who cares of getting even wetter… I could still do it!
As usual, the look back for the possible exit didn’t really cheer me up for tomorrow…but usually the surf is lower in the morning, and it *was* possible with good timing…the big one were just so massive…
I just landed, when I saw the promised Army boat out there checking on my being safe…yes, you see I am! Standing here on my two legs, waving with my two arms, with my kayak right up in one piece also pointing uphill. They were waving, but also pointing to the side where the other inhabited beach was…no way, my place for tonight would be here! Right here! By myself, no people.
I made camp high and dry on a small almost flat sandy area, but noticed the boat still driving up and down, as if it was trying to land. A motorboat in these conditions? Better not…but possible. But what for? Just to tell me this is not the inhabited beach?
My tent was just erected and my gear stored inside, and I was ready for a shower and change and well deserved rest, when I saw the boat starting a maneuver coming close to he beach on a lull, where two guys were jumping out into the shallows and started to swim to the beach. Here comes my very welcomed company for tonight! Arghhhhh…..
I smiled at the soaking wet guys, said something like “good stunt!”, and they soon tried to tell me I should pack and land on the other beach…or to swim out to the boat with them…hahaha! NO WAY! THIS is my beach and home for tonight! They tried to scare me with peligroso here and peligroso there, but I just said “finito peligroso” now! They also tried to become a little bit bossy, but I was just laughing, pointing at “dangerous” crabs, frogs and some small animal footprints. not a single human footprint, and the check on the empty small hut at the river mouth showed also here is really nobody around. The chance that the very distant in the mountains close to the boarder located guerilla come just tonight just to this beach were 0,0%…
Eventually the guys agreed, and tried to swim back to a line where the boat could safely pick them up in a lull…this was not working too well! The boat had twice to turn out again at high speed, as massive waves came in soon, and was once jumping so high and steep over a wave crest I really thought they’d flip over…this would not have been good but worth a picture! On another attempt, they had to turn toward the shore after getting trapped in the next line, the only chance I saw anyway to pick the two guys up! They worked a bit to get the boat back afloat, but all five eventually jumped in, and drove out without more jumping. I got my urgent rest only about an hour and half later… unfortunately with a blanket smelly with pee and a tent smelling of fuel, as that fuel smell last night came from me camping on just that fuel soaked spot on the dust…why the heck didn’t I notice in the darkness???
But I can sleep in a bit tomorrow morning, launching after the highest tide around 7 am, and having to paddle only 25 km…