Loc: Isla Santa Catalina
Acc: Hilleberg Allak tent
Dist: 48,2 km
Start: 5:25 End: 16:25
The last paradise sandy beach was infested with those tiny sandflies which seem to crwl even through my fly mesh of the tent. This gravel beach is almost free of those, thank goodness. When I wake early to pack and open my tent, I am not diving into one of those swarms like last time. But I hear the tide coming in, and like last evening, it reaches close to my tent. So I better pack and am ready to leave my gravel camp with first light. I cross via the anchoring sailboat, peep briefly to the tiny stripe of sandy beach across and think this would be likely also not suitable for a camp at hight tide.
When I leave the island tip, I am once more amazed about the current developing here, thankfully in my direction. But as also quite a headwind blows, wind against current creates unexpected choppy seas. But when moving along with seven to eight kilometers per hours, there are no complaints. Just my breakfast on the water is delayed until the current and water calm down.
Soon, I am on the on the main land coast again, and feel happy to be off the open water. What is too much is too much, now it is time to enjoy Panama’s beautiful rocky coastline. The sea close to shore is as calm as it can be, and I enjoy sticking my nose into three caves, but leave others not directly on my way aside. The fist one lets me in for about twenty meters, and I enjoy a drumming concert I have never heard in my extensive sea caving career. The reflecting waves at the narrow end create an unbelievable variation of all kinds of drumming sounds, and I wish I would be able to record this. It is not the only dark noisy clashing sound when the waves come in, but the retracting water sucks through a variation of pipes which is hard to describe. It is ne of those lonely moments in sea kayaking you know you are likely the only one enjoying this natural phenomenon. I feel priviledged.
The second cave is on a small headland, long, five meters wide and ten meters high. The tube seems to be endless, maybe fifty meters, until it narrows to display its boulder end. Light swell tells me where to stop, and I am doing right, as wit a larger swell, it breaks not far away from me and I carefully backpaddle to glide out safely. Thank you, cave, this was another wonderful moment!
The third cave is also wide and deep, but has a large hole in the roof. All three caves, I entered through a veil of drippings from the vegetation above, but here, it also rains inside. It feels somehow eerie that things might also fall from above, and I back out soon again. It is wonderful nature here! I cannot land and camp on all inviting sandy beaches, but they are eye candy. It is another tropical paradise, but this time I can et so close to everything due to the calm seas. A bunch of boats is likely transporting from Santa Catalina happy snorkeling tourists to the rocks around the many small boulder islands. Two of them notice me and wave. Only one boat is doing the fishing job, likely selling directly to the upcoming hotels. Since Puerto Armuells, I have not been talking to anyone.
Before Santa Catalina, I talk to my man on the phone if there would be a suitable accommodation with airconditin available in the village, but coming closer, all seems to be too much effort to get there. I only need to refill my water bags, and can keep going for another week or more. I still have enough food and battery power. I contemplate where to ask for water, as there are few houses in sight on the beach. I follow the tourist boats into the easily accessible rivermouth, and find a fleet of maybe three dozen boats tied up in the river. A small camp sits on the left side, the meeting point of the boating people. From a noisy large speaker setup, the play a song from the old German rockband Scorpions. This is my place to ask for water! A bunch of leisurely hanging out guys in hammocks curiously look at me landing my kayak at the river bank and approaching with my empty bags. They have enough freshwater and are happy to refill, thanks! I pass my card, and, as always, I earn respectful looks. Who knows what it is good for, at least these boat drivers will not bother me on the water.
I contemplate where to camp, but decide against the city shores, it might be too noisy and too many people. I decide to cross to Isla Santa Catalina, where another sailboat s anchoring upfront. Maybe they are keen for a chat? The boast looks, like the other one upfront Isla afuerita, like a world traveler, but amazingly, I see on nne of them any flag or boat name. I pass in a distance, and let them be.
The last boat load of Sunday afternoon tourists leaves the island soon after I land and find my spot to camp. Only a last lnely couple from a double sit-on-top kayak is still exploring the wreck to my right. They leave soon, and the island is mine. It feels great to settle down and to know to have off the next day, I deserveit after nine days of paddling without a break. I will also recover enough on the beach, as it seems like temperatures are a bit less meanwhile. Or is it just the humidity which is less due to the lack of rain? At least, I felt comfortable today paddling in my fleece shirt and not in my thin lycra shirt. It seems like my body raised its temperature the last days, being wet all day, and now, while I was waiting in the early morning in my wet thin shirt for the sun to raise, my decision was right to put a thicker layer on. The wind was blowing almost all day, first against me and cooling my chest that much I even put on a jacket. After a small lull, it turned to following wind, but I was still happy being dressed warm. The least thing I need is another cold or even lung infection, and it feels I am close, sneezing occasionally. At night, I am the first time happy to slide into my blanket bag instead of lying on top and covering only with a towel. Despite my raised body temperature, it feels good and I know I am not sick. I just need a rest day to get back into balance.