Sat 01/10-2011 Day 33

My campsite before the storm came

Pos: here
Loc: 3 km before Faro Segunda Barranca
Acc: tent
Dist: 30 km
Start: 7:15 End: 11:15

Yesterday I was happy to be able to buy some fresh veggies and fruit in the small villagae shop – nice strawberries, avocados, sweet corn on the cob. Apples and bananas anyway. Fresh things we mostly have plenty in our huge supermarkets, seem to be quite rare here – or not in demand. The strawberries I swallowed instantly, and the corn on the cob was a raw snack. Delicious for me! But still – “One apple a day, keeps the doctor away!” works for me on a trip. At home I rarely eat apples…

I had to knock at the Prefectura door to wake to guys from the night shift, and a sleepy officer opened and helped me to carry my boat out of the garage to the steep cobble shore. Thanks for storing my boat!

The water was calm, and I was almost tempted to do a seal launch downhill…but rather not with my long heavy boat.
I noticed the very strong current out of the bay on ebbing tide – I easily paddled 10 km/hr with no effort! This is the time when I enjoyed my breakfast on the water – easy gained km without even paddling! 🙂

Eventually the Prefectura boat showed up again as promised – they wanted to “escort” me to the end of Bahia San Blas, for one as it seemed to be the end of their jurisdiction area, for two as they announced me “rough water” where the two tides meet.

A tidal race – nice fun! Just that the race goes from about 50 m inshore some few km offshore – the Prefectura boat was almost out of sight, probably expecting me to do the same detour, and avoising the waves themselves.

But I leisurely paddled along 2 m close to the beach in calm water, enjoying the strong current into the right direction…no bothering with the roughish waters of the tidal race. Nice to be a kayak!

The ugly stuff came much later – for a while, there was a reef break about 2 km off shore, which calmed down the surf inshore to almost nothing.
But when the reef was finished, the swell came up to a scary level! When you see a HUGE massive wall of water rising besides you, you just pray that it doesn’t break. When it doesn’t, it’s just fun. But the line is sometimes very fine…

I put on my PFD, hoping the breaker didn’t start as last time paddling offshore in big unexpected breakers where I even hooked myself to the boat. It didn’t, but I still had to mind the wind and wave forecast, both rising for the day.

I hurried to pass an area with a wide river mouth tidal flats – same stuff where I was stuck last time working hard to get in and out.

Although again I still made great progress with 9-10km/h, I decided on a seemingly less surfy spot with dunes reasonable close to go in, as it could only get bigger, I assumed…there were even a few fisher men cars on the beach. Good to have people close on scary landings…

Later on th beach I saw I picked exactly the right spot between areas with wider surf – but still – THIS TIME IT CAUGHT ME!
I made it in through probably 5 lines of breakers or such, with no problem – until the last BIG one I could not avoid.
Why the last one was so strong, very close to shore – only Neptun knows. I saw it coming from the side and behind me, no chance to sprint or stop any more. It crashed on my back deck, with me lying under the fat shower on the back deck as well, as lying back may prevent pitch poling.
But it “just” crashed on me, no pitch poling, but it threw me. I was safely locked in, but *that* force of nature brought me away from the idea to perform a roll.
I thought I saw myself lying on the side floating with PFD and dry suit almost able to breathe – but just not up fully in the foamy water. I had to dive under again and to set up properly, which I eventually decided it was not worth the effort, as I must be close to shore on that last one breaking. Maybe without that much flotation it would have been easier…no idea.
So I simply bailed out, as I had to do a couple of times in Australia as well in FAT surf, and could walk to the beach through strong side current.

I could not hold on to my boat (Aha! Would have been good to bee hooked to it if things may have happened off shore!), but my baby simply swam to the shore as well through the last low surf, without being more trashed.

I calmed myself down: “It’s all ok, Freya! You’re all right, the boat is all right, no gear lost!” – well, I had to fish for my breakfast box…

I carefully turned the fully flooded boat to the side to empty the water, dragged it up, and caught some more breath.

My rudder with the broken stump...

And then I saw the *”$(?*+# SHIT *§//%§#/?!!!! My rudder fin was broken off…it never, really never broke so far around Australia on all my similar trashy landings, it always retracts itself into the pivoting stern, even on thousands of broachings and side surfings and whatever abuse I had to do…but now it was simply broken off.
I don’t know when it happened, on the throwing, or on the floating to shore fully flooded or even on emptying my boat – all situations I had dozens of times and nothing happened.

This is why the epic rudder is the one and only rudder I’d take on an expedition – any other over stern rudder would have broken 100 times already. Ok, I have to replace the fin…which I had a spare, but was so clever to leave at least in Buenos Aires, as I thought I’ll never need to replace it…
Alejandro sends me the one spare I have with the bus arriving on Monday to Viedma/ Balneario El Condor – thanks Alejandro, what would I do without your local support!!! And epic kayaks will hopefully soon send me a few new ones to Buenos Aires, just in case…

A friend of Alejandro will provide me a beach house accomodation in Balneario El Condor. Now I just need to paddle 60 km with the pivoting stern rudder only…could be worse.

This beach had black sand, maybe to celebrate my “black” landing…a flat part of 30 m or so, and then a 45 degrees steep edge, where I preferred to retire myself on to the “Bel Etage”, including boat. The surf looks just smaller from above…so when you want to judge it right, always go as close to the water’s edge as possible…

Whilst I was walking to shore after the bail out and my kayak floating about 20 meter besides me, a car was passing by – not stopping, as it seems to be the most normal thing in the world that a kayak was landing here without the paddler, and the paddler walked behind it to the beach…I’m quite sure I’m only the fourth person paddling this stretch after the three young lads making all of the Argentine coast some time ago. Find “Facing the Wind” expedition, I don’t have a link here…

But probably the same guys were walking later from the distance almost past my kayak, and I hurried to made them helping to push and drag my boat up the “Bel Etage”…but sorry again, no Spanish speaking…those were probably simply Estancia workers enjoying their Saturday off going fishing.

The wind breezed up to the forecasted 20-30 knots with a nice thunder storm, but still in north easterly following winds…this must have been quite a ride out there! The wind direction changed eventually after the thunder storm calmed down to low south easterlies.

Well, when your tent becomes sandblasted on the *inner* tent and not only on the outer tent, it’s time to close all zippers carefully…and still have a layer of sand on every thing inside afterwards…

I’m camping just besides two old fashioned wind wheels pumping water out of the ground into bassins – I tried the water, it tastes quite salty…maybe I’m just spoiled.

That was this day of the “so easy” expedition compared to Australia…see what tomorrow brings 🙂 – still thinking positive! It could come worse.

I’m thinking some times as this continent has no crocodiles, no overnight crossings, no 180 km long cliffs to offer, people think this one is a walk in the park…hahaha, I never had so much open beach surf to negotiate as here…Australia seems now in hind sight to be a piece of cake regarding the surf…as there was way more often a hook in the beach where you could hide and safely land. If it was 80 mile or 90 mile beach, or the Corong beach, it was at some point finished as well and the coast line changed. I’m looking forward to a stretch further south with lots of small bays and head lands. This straight open beach is simply HORRIBLE! And boring…

Here’s just sand, sand, sand and dunes, dunes, dunes, or not even dunes at all. Just 80 m or 100 m wide surf belts to chose from, with 8 lines of breakers or with 10 lines. To go or not to go, and if you’re out and conditions rise, to make the scary ride in. Or if you want to go out to paddle in nice following winds, the more than once scary ride out. But there have been dead calm stretches as well…but I never landed in a safe river mouth, harbor or behind a shelter in the surf for the night…

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Don Hebel

This boring part of the journey tests your resolve, Freya. Soon it will change … with more challenges… and rewards. You are equal to the challenges and will reap your rewards. Keep a smile on your face, little Ge
rman girl!


And now for the bright side: NO mud in sight! Try and stay on the straight and narrow! 😉


Paddling without your rudder will be a test of strength, but just another of the many tests you’ve passed already Freya. May the winds drop and the surf smooth out, at least until you have your new rudder.

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