Loc: Puerto Sandino
Acc: Hilleberg Allak tent
Dist: 30,7 km
Start: 06:00 End: 12:35
It is already dark when at seven o’clock, a flashlight shines on my tent. I am still awake, open quickly the flyscreen on one side and shine back with my own strong flashlight. It is only a young man making his way home from work on a bicycle along the beach, likely the only path, and the local ‘highway’. He is probably as curious about who is camping there as I am who is shining on my tent. The Navy boat anchoring just behind the surf break adds some ‘warning’ flashes. He passes without any more action, and I am wondering if we are both a bit worried about what is going on here in darkness?
The same happens at ten o’clock, I am thankfully again briefly awake. This time it is two guys pushing their bikes, as the higher tidal water does not give enough solid wet sand to ride their simple vehicles. Though nothing happens, I do not enjoy people shining their lights on my tent, and the Navy guys, though anchoring not far away, would be of limited help. They could rush with their boat on the flat beach through the low surf, if necessary, but not sure if they would do.
Anyway, I do get some reasonable sleep, pack as usual in darkness, when once more, a person with bicycle flashes on my tent around five-thirty. I must admit the regular night watch in El Salvador was very helpful for a peaceful sleep, though I found it funny at that time, being guarded every night by six well-armed policemen.
I launch through the low surf, paddle up to my escort boat, and first thank them for chasing that nasty boat away yesterday. I am also announcing I would urgently need to refill my water bags once reaching the small port of Puerto Sandino.
The paddle is just a boring punch against twelve to fifteen knots headwind, then it has some longer periods of twenty knots. All days the same, not really fun, and only doable with lying on the front deck. I still make four-and-a-half kilometers per hour, so progress is there as the sea stays reasonably low. But at the final kilometers, I have to aim strongly to the coast as not to get blown offshore too much when I slightly aim to cut the wide bay around the mouth of Rio Tamarindo. At least also here, the sea stays low, with no breakers at the entrance.
If I would not have the firm goal to reach this sheltered small port and to refill water there, I might have called it a day already after twenty kilometers. But I make again thirty today, but my body feels worn.
In the river mouth, two boats are lurking and are rushing out when I pass. Thankfully they are only two Navy boats, who finally can send the old boat back to their home in Corinto. It seems like they have another station here and are swapping duty.
I pass the old tiny industrial port, it does not look like anyone uses it anymore, but who knows, I do not stick my head in there. I enter the new port walls, I assumed it was a private place from the energy company, but the Navy guys say I have permission to land here and camp. Thanks!
The six Navy guys help to haul my gear and kayak up and over the hot sandy beach to a shady camp spot with a tree and a wobbly tin roof. What a luxurious place! One does not need much to improve a camp on a long afternoon on a hot beach, just some additional shade and even some wooden makeshift benches to be able to sit like a human. I first do my calls to Germany before changing or even setting camp, as daytime is running short with the time difference to Europe.
Only later in the afternoon, I decide I need a physical and mental rest day tomorrow, just here, in this relatively comfortable spot. I paddled now six days in a row. I have extra shade – and feel safe in this small private port, guarded with a solid wall and barb wire fence to the public beach to the south. There is not much a human needs to improve camping on the beach. I climb the rocky harbor wall at the last daylight hour for an unfenced view of the public beach and realize anyone could do the same here from the other side if someone would like to enter this private port. But no one does, nothing of interest is in here besides a pipeline station. And a Navy boat stays also on the beach. I sleep deep and sound, enjoying my wise decision to have taken a day off tomorrow. Still, it is hot and humid on a calm night, with no breeze going through my bug net mesh.