Mon 08/12-2014 Day 713

Leftover of the Hindu festival...

Highlights: A bit of everything!
Lowlights: Missed my beach date
Launch: Sheltered river beach
Landing: Sheltered river beach
Pos: here
Loc: Gunga beach
Acc: tent
Dist: 54,5 km
Start: 4:35 End: 16:00

I had neighbors all night, some people having a night party at a fire. I was already wondering why a guy came in last light starting to build something looking like a hut, but it was only a wind shelter made out of sticks and palm tree leaves for the planned fire. The people cam in darkness armed with many flash lights, kids and adults, probably a whole family celebrating a youngsters birthday or such with a scary night walk to a mysterious fireplace. Amazingly they were quite quiet, no music, and besides some whispering voices I heard nothing. But those until I started to get up at 3.30 am! Strange…fortunately the fire smoke went into some other direction, and I simply put earplugs in and slept well. Maybe I have missed the witches dancing on their broom around the fire?

Today was reef paddling for beginners *and* advanced…it started by some unprotected coast with patchy reefs breaking here and there. I opted to stay close in, but had to deal with many fishing netting pole systems I didn’t really like.You don’t always see the poles clearly, some times some old broken ones are just submerged. Up to Maceio, the sea slowly calmed down until a real reef with no problem to enter was surrounding the big city.

Lighthouse and fishing net poles at the headland of Maceio
Maceio headland pavillon - unfortunately a bit out of shape


Maceio came up friendly with a beach front on this side having apartment buildings, but only half the height of the regular city skyscrapers. The beach promenade was busy with runners, power walkers, bikers and whatever early morning exercises people, fitness comes big here! A soccer team had put up small netted goals on the quickly made up field on the waterline at the beach, some kilometers further north the goals still have been sticks or simply two coconuts. But the joy of a bearded guy would be country wide the same when he made a goal:”El Matador!” he shouted happily and hugged each teammate of the shirtless team. The other one simply had shirts on for the difference. This must be the reason women’s beach soccer is not really popular…barefoot were all.

Women rather show up in their bikinis, mostly with string tangas, worn byall ages and shapes, and what they show is what they have, in very various shapes. But no lady nowhere runs topless here, and barely in a one piece swim suit giving more mercy to some bodies. I eventually for myself rather prefer shorts and t-shirt on the beach and have my occasional afternoon swim simply in my long sleeve paddling pants and shirt…:-))

Temperatures slowly are going down from a horrible to an acceptable heat for me, and early morning fitness is popular in hot countries. Not in Germany though…I even saw some sport swimmers in the water. Everything nicely decorated with large x-mas figures, (probably melting) snowmen, (seating) rendeers and bearded well dressed (probably overheated) Santas. The worldwide x-mas industry makes no temperature difference!

The beach workers were preparing for the day’s business, putting up umbrellas and sun chairs, here already the more fancy models with a soft hanging mesh pieces in a fold able frame, not the in the north ever present simple plastic chairs only. They were even raking the beach from the night’s high water sea weed here and there in their areas. Still the northers beach side is not as fancy as the southern one where I had to turn around a sharp headland.

Some colorful Hindu festival at Maceio beach
One more leftover of the Hindu festival - unfortunately with plastic wrapping


I was already wondering this morning about occasional small groups of dressed in white wide nightgowns (or such…) groups of people, obviously doing some religious acts on the beach. Now here on this southern beach of Maceio I realized they were Hindus (I think), obviously celebrating an important festivity of their religion on this day. They shoot off occasional fireworks, the ladies sprayed perfume on themselves and whole bottles into the water, they sacrifices small plastic dolls and bundles of flowers into the sea and everywhere you heard the fascinating strange noise of their drums. No other music anywhere, people seem to respect this day. Some family groups set out on quite a bunch of the Jandaga sailing fishing boats to the open sea, where they probably did the same. I was eventually paddling over a sea of flowers (unfortunately mostly wrapped in plastic…), with smelling strangely sweet perfumed sea water, as I assumed most families did their religious jobs already earlier in the morning. But the rests what I saw was really fascinating! Was I in Brazil or in India?? Really amazing…

The huge cruise ship anchoring at the portof Maceio


The most colorful reef was eventually at the tip of the beach where I rounded to the harbor, beautiful! A huge cruise ship was in the harbor, earlier this morning I guessed it was an island when it just approached Maceio…

Now it was crossing an open bay with big seas to the point where I marked the entrance of a 10 km long river reef. Surely I liked to be inside there! The surf was breaking heavily on the beach, and it was not hard to find the point where the outer reef started, as it had some rocks at the entrance, but then the reef was only a breaking sandbar. It was rather hard to stay inside until the wide river mouth, as the unbroken part was quite narrow, and I had to suffer heavy surf noise to the right *and* left with some occasional soft breakers in between. No escape here, neither landing nor going back out.

Some tourist boat anchoring at the Portais do Frances reef


At the river mouth, the shelter became better and it was dead calm after I had passed some criss cross current mix waves. A small sports motorboat was stuck in the shallows, but another flat bottom boat with four guys just arrived to help and I left the guys to their business. I paddled around a large sandbank in shallow low tide water, to reach another long rocky reef inside the outer now unbroken also rocky reef where I had the choice to go left or right.I did not remember that one from the sat images, but my instinct said the new right one was a dead end one, though I saw many boats and jet skis going in and out. I was correct! I paddled eventually for about 5 more kilometers in probably the longest natural pool in the world, rocky reef to the right and left.

Frances beach reef break
At a lower part ofthe beach the reef break is coming inside.The Brazilian flag doesn't look like it's calm all year!
Frances beach reef from inside



It ended up with the right reef eventually turning into a sandy beach on a probably very popular holiday place named Frances Beach, which position I unfortunately wrongly gave to André, a paddled who had arranged a contact person to stay for the night here. Very sorry, I meant the position of the next reef! I realized too late, when I was already landed at the next river reef. Very sorry to miss you and your efforts have been in vain!

I enjoyed watching the beach buzz, with every possible amusement for the people sitting packed close by under their umbrellas. A few plastic sit on top kayaks were there, SUP’s, water tows, jet skis, snorkeling, reef tours with any kind of boats,renting inflatable toys of all kinds and so on. One very cute little girl was sitting in the middle of an inflatable ring with a very sleek swan neck in her own swan lake…cute! Honestly, in hindsight, I was glad I didn’t have to stop here, this place was just simply too packed with people…

The very populated Frances beach

When I paddled out of this over sized long pool, the surfers found instantly their playground as the suddenly unsheltered swell was creating a huge shore break.Just stay out..but it felt really quite vulnerable being suddenly so quickly back to the open sea with no sheltered landing! I put my PFD on, and was wondering about the next river reef entrance…when the other one was already a bit tricky, how would this one be? I remember the entrance looked even narrower on the sat images, and it was half raising tide now…

And yes, after 7 km on the open coast, no relieving reef entrance offered itself. The beach surf seemed to go seamless into the outer rocky reef break, I had already my helmet on, but didn’t dare to go in and in between anywhere. Probably a good decision…the other option was to keep on going 5 km along the outer side of the sheltered rocky reef, to go in in the southern entrance which I remember was looking better. This would include probably quite some bumpy reflecting waves paddle along this solid rocky wall. But I had no other choice, was just praying when I arrived at highest tide the entry would be looking good and not too scary. High tide probably made the waves also less reflecting as the water was washing mostly over the reef and I was occasionally tempted to just get flooded over it with a large wave.But this would have been probably the end of my kayak and maybe my life as you never know how wide the reef is and what really happens.

I was patient, paddled on on relatively reasonable water, waited for the break to stop and spotted so many boats inside I really felt like an outlaw prisoner out here, guarded by electrical barb wire fence. But finally, eventually I spotted some unbroken, but still rough water, and dared to go in with all care. It worked…MUST have worked…maybe this first reef gap was not the best, but close to tte sandy beach would have been a better spot, but would the shore break have already closed this one? No idea, I was safely inside, and once more thanked god for guiding me into a safe harbor.

Here, I stopped at the main boat launch first , asking people about Frances beach and they confirmed what I was already sensing for a while- this was the beach at the exit of the last long reef…so no civilization stop with a nice host tonight…

I chose a spot to camp a bit away from all the beach restaurants, just out on the sandy entrance spit. No one bothered me here, just an old fisherman dared to ask friendly about me and my where abouts. No curious tourists…thank goodness. I think the tourists simply have no idea about the sea and my small kayak and what I may be doing out there…but fishermen may know their sea!

Although I was hoping to have tomorrow off for being on a reasonable wifi internet to dig a bit more into my “World Paddling Award” voting campaign, I still decided I need a physical rest day and see what I can write here with bad call phone internet connection only. My body simply needs a rest day!


2 comments on “Mon 08/12-2014 Day 713

Randall Lackey

Sounds like a nice day,people watching is fun sometimes to break the boredom.Enjoy your day off,Looks like the days may be tougher with all open waters ahead.Safe paddling.

Good job, Freya. From now on you’ll only have open sea southwards, and not so crowded beaches to rest. You’ll occasionally come across some dolphins passing by, just to break monotony. 🙂

Take care

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