Mon 15/12-2014 Day 720

A beautiful handcrafted decoration canoe at a house in Sitio


Highlights: Me and my kayak survived this landing in one piece
Lowlights: A scary feeling all day where and how to land
Launch: One kilometer wide surf belt,from low to trashy
Landing: Bad ugly huge surf on a soft reef just after many rocks
Pos: here
Loc: Sitio
Acc: tent
Dist: 51,8km
Start: 4:45 End: 13:00

My first concern this morning was how to get out of this wide river mouth.Basically, it didn’t look too bad, as if the surf would stay low until I would be out…hahaha…it was extremely shallow at this southern edge of the river, so the surf was really easy on starting. I kind of saw a diagonal line as the shortest way out behind the surf belt, but what you see is not always where you paddle. Gradually, the dozens of breaker lines got higher, though less frequent and less wide.So at the end it was once more the dreaded minefield where you can make it if you take extremely care and judge the piling up waves right with stopping and sprinting. Still I was jumping over a high crest with my poor kayak trashing hard on the other side from maybe 2 meters height. It’s not only the poor kayak, all my electronics including laptop probably don’t like these kind of jumps also. But all ok after some tough minutes.

I had one smaller river mouth as a landing option after maybe 35 km, which I thought was way too early, and this river had an ugly breaking bar also. Still kind of one fat breaker only and you’d be in calmer waters, but I opted to keep on going. My satellite images showed from now on less surf, which basically looked like two breaking lines, manageable with luck and timing. I had marked several easy looking spots, but before those came up, something else came up: ROCKS! Many of them,a whole rocky reef was eventually fringing the sandy beach. No way to go in here…something I couldn’t make out on my sat images in my zoom level I has saved. Oh well, I saw myself already either trashed on a rocky reef on an attempt to go in, or to stay out all night, neither of that was an option.

So just keep on paddling, and see what may be changing. These kind of beaches tend to get better on lower tide, high tide was at 11 am. Two hours after high tide, I saw a village coming up, with two fishing boats anchoring offshore and a bunch of them on the beach under palm tree huts.This must be a spot where the rocks are ending and a small boat can go in and out! Well, basically yes, on lower tide it looked eventually doable later when I was already safe on the beach. When I decided to have a look, it sometimes happens when you sneak close too carefully that the decision is taken for you…and you are just getting trashed in. Actually, I just decided this would be too risky to land, the rocks were just finished, but there was something like a black flat reef fringing the whole beach now. A thing you may be able to land on safely with not too many breakers throwing you on it. How else would be the fishing boats going in and out?

The ugly reef break at Sitio beach


I was not having low breakers when I was that close the decision was taken for me. I sneaked close with relative calm water, but way too slow. Then the fat ones came…the first one broke fortunately behind me, but I had to brace hard into the horrible many foamy water washing me close up on the black flat reef thing on the beach. I had to stay upright, or this would be even worse. I was also just about 70 meters to early, what I saw later. The next breaker foam didn’t trash me either, but I was surfed just on this black flat beach reef,and a smaller third one lifted me right on the edge, thank goodness, not against the edge…and thank goodness, this black stuff was a relatively soft baby shell bed on sand.It probably saved me a lot of damage just in case this would have been solid rocks, though flat…

The black reef beach in Sitio
The black flat stuff are actually just baby shells on sand and quite soft

I quickly jumped out, and stood there for probably some minutes quite startled, thanking god for being all in one piece still, looking at the now really horrible surf. How would I get out there tomorrow? There is only one hope – on low tide early morning it would be calm enough to make it. Or I would be trapped here. I’d have to move about 70 meters to the right where it is more shallow behind the beach reef and a little less breaking. Oh my god!! Maybe I should have simple kept on paddling and been waiting for low tide? But on a risky landing, I rather opt to do so close to people…just in case…and this was an option.

Shady camp at a fishermen's hut in Sitio

Maybe one more tricky landing like this, and I will land in Praia do Forte on Wednesday, a safe reef shelter.


3 comments on “Mon 15/12-2014 Day 720

Hi Freya, your narrow escapes amaze me, indeed! 🙂

Hope you have somebody waiting for you in Salvador, if you need any help let me know.

Good luck.

Randall Lackey

As most always you’ve still got it.That great ability to read what you’re facing a.d deal with it ,with some luck and Grace of God.Good luck on getting out and carrying on.Safe Paddling

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