Fri 16/12-2011 Day 109

I haven't seen such a large river for a long time! The refuge hut at bahia Thetis in the middle.

Pos: here
Loc: Bahia Thetis
Acc: tent
Dist: 38,5 km
Start: 9:00 End: 15:30

Looking out of my tent window at 4 am to get an early start,  I saw: Nothing, for the second time. Fog, dense as it can be, and the tent was accordingly soaking wet.

I closed my eyes again, and looked out around 5 am – yeah! I could see the headland besides me, and some horizon! Ok, time to go, it can only get better…

I packed all up, jumped in my still damp fleece underwear and still wet dry suit, yuck! The advantage of having the scenery green again gives the disadvantage of not drying the clothes that fast, especially not when you landed late!

I was not in the greatest mood to go, as getting just the dry bags outside made everything wet with fog…and, I was just in the middle of taking the tent down, it fully closed up again that so I could barely see the end of the reef…

No, these  aren’t conditions I’d like to navigate through reefs and around two headlands today, with a horrible amount of tidal rips on the chart…all in seas forecast up to 2,50 m. Bigger than yesterday.

Glad I hadn’t stuffed in the soaking tent yet, it was still flat on the ground. I quickly put the poles back into position, and reversed my packing until I was back in my dry and warm sleeping bag…it took a while to get warm feet, but I decided I had to wait until the fog would be really lifting!

I texted Karel, my weather man, if he could see anything on the forecast about the fog, and his answer came just then when I woke for the third time looking out of the window, at 8 am. He said it would be lifting around noon, but when I looked outside it was pretty good already! For sure I was scared it could close up again, but oh well…the winds were so good low NW in the morning and noon! The afternoon was supposed to get 15-20 kn south easterlies, and I was hoping to be already in either Bahia Thetis or around the corner in one of the Caletsa or Bahias there.

My nice calm slalom path reef landing was flooded at 8 am, and the waves were rolling and crashing quite ugly over the rocky ledge and on to the not very steep beach. But I should be able to get out!

I was as usual too impatient, got the cockpit full of water, a full breaker in the face, but paddled out eventually. Thank goodness forthe electrical pump, it makes things so much easier…

But I had to jump into the water again, to free my stuck rudder…as I was wet anyway, who cares…

The cockpit free of water eventually, the rudder free, my sandals free of gravel, I could see the sea was a tad bit bigger than yesterday, but I had paddled bigger stuff…

Having breakfast in 2-3 m swell is not everybody’s cup of tea, but when the swell is not breaking, the loaded kayak is rock stable. I can put my paddle away, and do my oats…

I stayed quite off shore, as close in there was not much to see, and I headed directly to the point before Caleta Poliocarpo. Seals were making noise, but I rather stayed out to avoid the point break.

Up to then, visibility was quite clear, but the horizon got darker again…right in the middle of the wide bay of the Caleta, the fog came in fully again, and it was 11.45 h already!

I was happy to have my GPS!  The sea was quite big, and now the shoreline had cliffs reaching into the water without the usual small beach, which meant the big seas were reflecting from those steep walls directly back, creating clapotis waves of quite some size! Not really my most favorite stuff, but it is actually quite harmless. It just goes up and down like hell, and in dense fog where you can’t see the cliffs, and only just about hear them, it is simply ugly.

But I had no choice than to push on. I assume it would be cliffs all along the way until the narrow entrance of the Caleta Falsa, as the clapotis water kept on coming. I kind of hand railed along the cliffs, seeing more or less the cliff break, but at some point I spotted some wide white breakers, and knew I had to point out to sea very fast as I was nearing the entrance break!

What was happening at that entrance, I couldn’t really tell, but clapotis, reef break and huge swell was mixing some water which I rather stayed away from! It came from all sides…and all in dense fog! I pointed directly out to sea, away from that stuff, and made it eventually in slightly calmer conditions. My GPS told me I was not pointing out to sea, but just into the right direction…good.

The short spell of slightly calmer water didn’t last long, I assumed this was the direct entrance way, and the fat clapotis stuff kept on going…10 km left to turn around the first major headland of the day, Cabo San Vincente, and to reach calmer waters. Keep your nerves, Freya…at least the wind was not strong, and basically it was not dangerous, no breakers, it was just BIG swell and clapotis stuff, and literally a blind flight.I already expected my sea sickness to kick in but nothing happened, thanks!

It was a reasonable temperature and I made good progress with the current. I started singing the fog away, and look! The sun came out again! After 1,5 hrs digging in BIG rough seas in FAT fog, I could sea the cliffs again! Yeah!  Beautiful, green cliffs! STill big seas and clapotis, but what a difference it makes when you can see…5 km left to Cabo San Vincente.

Somehow I expected this cape to be worse than the main one, Cabo San Diego, and coming closer, I saw the point break reaching far out, merging directly into the tidal race announced on the chart… Glad it was ebbing tide and the current went my way!         But this tidal race was the biggest I have ever been in…it was not really fast and strong or wide, just MASSIVE! I think the wave lengh and period makes the difference…and this was a slow, but big one.

When I was paddling in up to 3-4 m seas so far, these waves were probably 5-6 m…it scares the shit out of you…but staying away from the point break, those tidal race waves didn’t break, and I just had to go through…concentrated, fast, and soon the waves got back to “normal” 2-3 m again…yeah, job done, next one!

I pointed my bow directly to the next Cape, about 8 km away,to avoid the kelp area on my chart close to shore. After 2 km into the bay, the forecast south east wind set in, stronger than I could stand after that paddle today. It was about 15-20 kn, and I realized I was not ready for another headland in those conditions, plus if I made it around, the headwind would be directly against me, and who knows how the seas were there, and it looked already gray from where the wind came…so I decided to turn into Bahi Thetis and to call it a day. Tomorrow  the forecast was for moderate NE wind, so once those 9 km getting around the cape were complete, I had a nice following breeze…

Getting into the bay was a bit of work, though only 3 km…but the ebbing tide and strong southerly didn’t make it easier. Eventually I spotted a house in the bay, and decided to take that beach, which was already fully sheltered. It feels good when the swell gradually calms down heading into a sheltered bay…

It was an hour before low tide, and though the tidal range was “only” 3 m here any more, the bay had a long exposed sand flat in front of that house I was aiming for. Oh well, as long as I land safe…

This refuge hut in Bahia Thetis was in a reasonable shape, and in the state of rebuilding
Inside the refuge hut at BahiaThetis

I walked up to the beach with the first heavy load of gear, about 200 m, just to notice on the left side of the bay where I spotted another house with an old jetty and still some water with just a narrow strip of no water…ok, I dropped my load on the beach, walked back, and paddled around the reef to the landing site in front of the other house where I could drag the kayak easy over an exposed bed of sea weed.

Old jetty at the shallow bay at Bahia Thetis

I walked up to my other pile of gear on the other side of the bay, hoping to get changed already there and to maybe have a wash in the river, but forgot my shoes in the kayak…shit.

One more old broken building at Bahia Thetis

I grabbed the bags, walked to my kayak, and eventually changed with a tiny fresh water shower in nice sunshine! I put up my tent rather on gravel than on the meadow littered with cow, horse, sheep and goose shit…by the way, I was glad the cows I spotted from the water already retreated…

After putting up the tent, I had to work on my stuck rudder, and noticed one stuck pebble, plus the replacement locking notch I modeled in Rio Grande broke off and was also stuck…no wonder…how I hate those tiny rocks! But camping on gravel is nice and clean…

I eventually fitted my last spare fin, and decided I could glue the notch on again with my special epoxy two components steel resin…hard in 4 min!

The old houses at Bahia Thetis

I was ready to explore the houses, and saw the right one where I first landed was in reasonable shape with a guest book showing visitors just a week ago!  Did they came via horse back expedition, on sailboats, or for foto trips, hiking? I was already thinking earlier this must be a great coastal hike here! They were even working on extending the hut.

Sign at the left old house at Bahia Thetis
Sign of the seal factory in the right old house

The other two buildings were ancient houses with signs of a “Factoria de Lobos” 1946 – 1952, and “Prefectura Bahia Thetis” 1889 – 1895. One fully broken down shed contained a huge amount of old seal skins, piled up like carpets for sale, now dry and stuck together and partially shredded by animals, but would they have been once used and prepared well, they would probably have been worth a fortune! Seems a sealer did a great job – until he gave up…a shame about the seal skins rotting in the broken down shed.

This is the sad old rotten pile of hundreds of fresh seal skins, ready to tan at the old seal factory, stacked like carpets in a shop...

I loved the view of a beautiful river, the water was teal color, but if I’d not been spotting a big fox and all those cow, it would probably be drinkable, at least after cooking. But I’m not short of water after 4 days yet…even afforded already two tiny showers.

A green meadow and a river...a pleasant view after being in deserts only for weeks!

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¡Otra ves se trabó ese timón! La culpa no es de las piedras…
Siguiendo tu relato las olas me sacuden. Esta vez casi me mareo. Que lugares maravillosos y duros. Espero las fotos. Saludos, C.


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