Mon 30/04-2012 Day 245

Mercedes with Loreta in her great kitchen, cooking delicious fresh food.

Pos: here
Loc: Puerto San Antonio
Acc: Lloreta’s house
Dist: 58,6 km
Start: 7:40 End: 16:45

I woke at 6 am, and was enjoying my breakfast oats still in my warm sleeping bag, as it was quite a chilly morning. I needed to have my headlamp on, as it was also still pitch dark!

This seemed to be the sign for my probably new set of two “watchdogs” allowing themselves to knock on my tent door to ask again the same three questions: “When do I plan to launch? Where is my destination for today? When do I plan to land?” All at *6.20 am*…did they sleep in the car besides my tent??? See you later then…

I saw the surf this morning, and knew it would be tough to get out. It got much worse than yesterday’s reasonable easy landing. But it was still possible. I packed without talking much to my watchdogs, but they probably noticed my nervousness. Secretely, I was hoping one of the five parked on the beach fishing boats would started to prepare themselves to get out, and I may have been able to ask for a ride out…but nothing was offered, and I didn’t ask. Later, I saw two of them just launched…

Eventually I was done packing, and I told my officers: “This is not going to be easy, but doable. I may capsize, may roll or not, and may have to swim back to shore…” – and then one officer started to tell me how to do it…at least he gave it some thoughts!

There were three lines of breakers, the last outer one the worst. I got afloat past the first one with no problem, launched my rudder fin, and was able to steer straight over the just broken waves. I had to wait before the last fat breaker line for about 10-12 waves crashing just in front of me, and I had to paddle backward twice a bit. But each time I needed to paddle hard over the foam, to stay where I already was. Just not too far, without realizing if there is another one piling up or not!

It all worked all right – just one broken wave foam was so heavy rolling in I somehow couldn’t stay straight, got washed back sideways surfed backward and capsized in style. I had the guts to take my time to set up properly under water, and to wait until the foamy water above me became solid again – otherwise the roll attempt would not grab solid water, but just air. It worked well, I rolled back up nicely, and got the boat straight again. All just for my Navy spectators! I even got almost no water under my helmet, bandanas and dry suit hood. There is nothing more ugly on a chilly morning than to start the day with wet hair!

I cleaned my nose, and soon spotted a lull in the last line of breakers. I thought I did…there was another fat wave piling up! But I was already speeded up, and got over the just unbroken pile of water by jumping about two meters down the wave crest with a heavy crash. But I kept on sprinting, and was eventually free! Thank goodness!

The water offshore was on the move and definitively not as calm any more like yesterday! But still no problem. But before Punta Toro, I had to remember how scary HUGE swell is, as it was eventually piling up high, and liked to break here and there on the already increasing wind. And also there, a most certainly Navy plane liked to fly around my head, and on the last circle that low, I could almost feel it’s wind…just at Punta Toro, the waves had a bit more space to roll out into the bay, and I had a bit of time to relax, eat and pee.

But soon on crossing to San Antonio, the wind increased that much, that the now moderate swell was breaking quite frequently, and the whole bay was white capped. I had to concentrate and to look over my left shoulder constantly! Not a really unscary ride, but I rode fast toward the safe port entrance, and I made almost 60 km today!

I was really expecting a Navy boat coming out of the port to escort me in today, but either I was just that 1/2 hr too early, or they were scared to come out in those conditions 😉

I was calling them one hour before my earlier arrival, but soon I noticed my VHF batteries showed minimum capacity again, wtf are they discharging themselves all the time? So I left it with a one way note, and I was too busy with myself and my boat in these conditions anyway to talk longer or to even change batteries!

I eventually paddled into the port with no traffic, and not a single boat was going in or out all the time! And this was Chile’s most busy cargo port? There were three huge freighters anchoring outside, and two huge ones I saw inside busy loading.

Still big swell going into the harbor...are those containers not going to fall off???

It was obvious where to land a small boat once inside the port, and I slowly approached, getting used to the city buzz, and enjoying the many huge seals floating around. A few of them were resting on a round big buoy, no idea how they got up there! They were not scared of me at all, and obviously used to people around them.

And about a minute before I was landing, a small Navy zodiac boat spotted me and “escorted” me in…

Arriving in San Antonio harbor

I landed on a small beach with a small dumper, and already saw *my* Navy officers…I’m feeling a bit haunted! I was fighting a little to get my boat up the steep beach, and was thinking *now* they would jump to help me drag the boat uphill out of the back surge, but no, they rather took pictures.

No idea how those fat civilized guys are making it up there!

Rodrigo, my host, came soon with his wife Paula to “rescue” me out of the piling crowd attracted by the “importance” of the TV crew filming my arrival. Thanks for looking after me! I was also invited to stay with the Navy guys, thanks, but at some point they are simply too many men…

We drove a bit south to Santo Domingo, a fancy suburb, where I got hosted by Lloreta in her beautiful round wooden house, hosting not only a big family, but also a small bed and breakfast.

Mercedes, a friend of Lloreta and Rodrigo, was preparing a superb fresh veggie dinner, and I was digging in heavily, filling up on vitamins.Thanks a lot!

We were looking online for the forecast, and that night it was almost looking I’d have to take five or even six days off before I could continue…frustrating! It was either heavy swell or heavy headwinds! The port was warning to close out in the afternoon due to huge swells and winds, but Rodrigo drove the same night after dinner to the Navy to ask about their weather advice. It would be ok until early afternoon, as it was until then almost no wind on still reasonable swell. I’d need only 5,5 hrs to Algarrobo! This will work! I’ll paddle tomorrow! Bedtime soon…but too late to get sufficient sleep….well…


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