Loc: San Pablo
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 29,8 km
Start: 7:50 End: 12:30
Fylkir felt better, and we decided to paddle today. Karel’s forecast was for the morning northwest 12 to 13 knots gusts 18 knots, afternoon 14 to 16 knots gusts 20 with seas 1,50 m. It should be a slight bit more wind in the morning, and 50 cm higher seas than yesterday. But no threatening 27 knots wind the afternoon. For me, the paddling conditions sounded fine, but it was noticeable bigger seas on launching than yesterday morning. It was unfortunately also an hour before high tide, and the waves came in occasionally quite violently and washed up the gravel. No sandy soup zone on this tide level.
The best way to launch Fylkir was to get him sitting in the kayak with the deck closed on kind of a steep gravel slope reaching over two ledges. He could only sit down when his seat was on the gravel on not in the air, or the kayak would possibly break in two halves…We planned to do a seal launch with the heavy loaded kayak. Not necessarily good for the hull of the carbon kayak, but good for Fylkir’s timing to hit the lull on me pushing him quickly downhill to paddle out of the danger zone as quick as possible. It worked well for him, and he was safely out.
I took my time to get my kayak in a similar position, but I could not sit in already with sliding downhill uncontrolled. I was planning to do a speed launch with getting the bum in with my legs still out and to paddle away like hell on the right lull. I was waiting out a huge set of nasty breakers, each time I was worried it would suck my kayak downhill too early. But I could keep it in place until I thought my very own lull was coming. I pushed in and jumped on and could paddle towards the outer break even with getting the legs in quickly, but I had to jump over a steep crest with the open deck. I could not get over the next one after, a moderate breaker, and surfed backward with a now a cockpit full of water, straight to the steep gravel beach.
SHIT! Thank goodness I managed to stay straight on the 10 km/h backward surf and decided to better jump out and to secure the kayak before it got out of control. I threw the paddle on the first gravel ledge and managed to at least half-empty my cockpit with tilting the heavy boat. But as I had grabbed my stern, it was not possible to empty the kayak fully and more breakers washed the bow up sideways repeatedly. Shitty situation for a weak woman…I barely could hold on to my stern, each wave washed the bow sideways and I had to let go a bit and was wandering sideways slowly but surely without getting the heavy kayak neither vertical again, nor high and dry up.
And – my paddle which I threw up the first gravel leg got further and further out of my reach…in kind of a lull, my kayak still 45 degrees sideways, I dared to let go of the stern toggle and to sprint to pick my paddle. It worked without my kayak moving and getting out of my control and reach. With some extraordinary effort and on another lull, I managed to get the kayak vertical downhill again, and I decided “now or never” to push in with the cockpit half flooded. I paddled frantically out of the reach of the shore breaker, but had no rudder control yet…paddling diagonally, sweep stroked did not work enough, I had to find the outer breaker line. It was scary for those few meters longer to get to the outer breaker line, and I prayed please stay down…and it did until with a few wider sweep strokes, I managed to paddle straight out and to find Fylkir to help me pump out my cockpit.
Thank goodness…this was not one of my best steep gravel beach launches…usually, one has only one chance before things get out of control…it almost did. But only “almost”…
We decided to re-install some electrical pumps in all my kayaks, what for do I have an Electrician by my side…it really does well for any necessary bailing situations. To pull the bow over the lap of the other kayak is impossible with those heavy loaded long boats.
The sea offshore was calm, the wind was not much over 10 knots, but the swell was up to 1,50 m as forecasted. I watched Fylkir when over the next hours he was looking a bit unhappy, and I was asking him if he might feel seasick? “I never get seasick!” he replied…ok…but how do you know what sea sickness symptoms are if you have never been seasick…? There is always a first time for a Pacific newbie…cool down, drink a lot, and focus the mountains or at least the horizon as we were quite offshore. I had taken my jacket off already a while ago as the sun was shining warmly meanwhile, and asked Fylkir to do the same as overheating is bad for seasickness…he refused but poured a lot of water over his Buff and drank a lot. I told him seasickness is no weakness, even an Icelandic fisherman’s descent can get seasick at some point…and if he needed to throw up, he should just do, and things would get better.
The wind stayed down with those moderate swells until we hit the mountains before the headland. I said we should go in as there it would be calmer, and we did. But “calmer” was meant for me less rolling swell, but sure the reflecting waves of the rocky coast came now into action. It kept Fylkir busier and he forgot about being seasick and paddled concentrated and strong. Not that we were likely to be capsized, as there were still very few breakers even in the by now 17-19 knots following winds, but it was lumpy and messy. Conditions which might give a Pacific newbie a lot of respect. Fylkir handled everything fine, and we were quite relieved to have reached the first headland with a blue house. The sea got a bit less rough, and the second headland was not far away before we finally turned fully east into the sheltered bay of San Pablo.
Well done, my man! Can you sense now how little you knew about what you do not know yet about the “real” sea kayaking? LOL! The Baltic Sea is just a mill pond…You’re doing great in the Pacific! My best student!
We checked on a slightly wider landing than the official narrow village landing just behind, but it looked less sheltered and we turned to paddle back. We landed easily on low swell on a rocky beach between two fishing boats. We had waved at a man up the cliffs a bit ago, and Fernando came down with his truck and his dog. He is the one and only current and temporary inhabitant of this fishing shack “village” with five active houses in the lobster season from September to February, and the same amount completely inactive houses.
I passed on my card, and Fernando watched us set camp just down at the rock beach on a small ledge. He had invited us to stay in one of the houses, but we were too lazy to carry all our gear uphill, even with the help of his truck. Close to the water is fine! Fernando invited us for a barbecue up at his house, and we agreed happily. He had loads of chicken leg meat, cut out the bones for the dog and put the rest on his “asado” barbecue, made from an old oil drum. He had stocked up on some firewood, which is rare here in Mexico Bahia California. But Fernando is an asado lover, and soon the marinated chicken pieces gave a nice smell on the fire pit. He also heated tortillas and opened a can of salsa. No Mexican asado without tortillas and salsa…thanks for the pollo asado tacos, Fernando! Very delicious!
We chatted in “Spanglish” with a lot of body language, and at some point, as men are, it came to the fishing and hunting subject including the matching boy’s toys. He got out his 22calibre shotgun, and each of us sent a few shots to a makeshift goal of a fender and plastic lid. FUN! Mexican afternoon life of its best – pollo asado tacos, sunshine, a perfect sea view over stunning cliffs, and shotgun play…life could be worse after an exciting paddle!
fe could be worse after an exciting paddle!