Fri 02/12-2011 Day 95

The kayak club around José Jaramillo to my right, sending me off at 5 am from Rio Gallegos. Thanks!

Pos: here
Loc: beach
Acc: tent
Dist: 70,3 km
Start: 5:10 End: 17:35

The early start was just perfect timing for the high tide at 3.30 am! I was surprised that José Jarmarillo came up at that time with about 8 youngsters and a friend to escort me out in their kayaks! Thanks! Very nice!

Horatio and Mariela weant to the beach as well, plus two wives with kids, and the very necessary three Prefectura guys showed up. So it was quite a small crowd this early morning 5 am!

I packed as usual, supervised by the people. It must be fascinating that all fits in the kayak, and even without bursting the freshly glued seam!

Eventually I was ready, the obligatory posing for pictures, and an easy sliding the kayak down the gravel beach. The launch site was just before a metal jetty on a bunch of round leg-thick pillars. I assumed the current would be quite strong, and well stayed away from the pillars on organizing my feet and spray deck.

When I wanted to turn in downstream I thought I can easily hop through the gap of a pair of pillars like most of the youngsters did, but unfortunately one pair of pillars had a horizontal solid bar just under the waterline which I did realize too late and couldn’t just slide over…it turned me sideways, and squeezed my bow between two pillars…autch! I could hear a quiet cracking noise…- hey, I just repaired my kayak! But I finally could back out, but then almost capsized getting pressed against the horizontal bar, but eventually got free…how embarrassing!

I noticed as well on youngster was swimming already, he probably had less luck with the pillars…I should better do more river paddling in strong currents!  Not that I don’t know about the possibility of getting washed sideways in strong current to a tree or whatever lies across a river, and then inevitably capsizing…(Peter? Treene? :-)) )

The escort was quite small, only José in a double with a friend paddled about a km, but the youngsters rather turned around soon due to the strong current and dealing with the early morning swimmer.

I eventually enjoyed paddling east all alone into the bright sun on a clear morning on a nice current! I made 11 km/h withouzt much effort, until I turned around the corner into the ea again.

I was passing the petrol loading station at Punta Loyola, the take out and put back in spot if I’d arrived as planned.

This ship obviously mixed up water and land...

A big old rusty shipwreck was decorating the ever long gravel beach! Actually, I was expecting to see high cliffs again on this last leg on the mainland of South America, but niente! Only gravel beach, gravel beach, gravel beach, really NOTHING else! Moderate steep, easy to land on at any time with the calm sea. Not that I’d call that boring…

The helicopter with Horatio flying in my honor

I was paddling along half asleep, when a bopbopbopbopbop sound behind me woke me up! A helicopter? Where is he? I leaned back on my aft deck, searching the sky for the noise. Nothing to see…but the noise came nearer! I turned around, and now saw the black helicopter flying 10 m just over the gravel beach, coming directly toward me!

The helicopter with Horatio flying in my honor

I had experienced prop washes on the water for fun on rescue practices on sea, and they can be quite strong! I was not sure if the pilot of this one was aware of that matter affecting a kayak…?

He flew past, but the prop wash was not strong and didn’t reach me. I had my camera already out, and was happy to get no splashes on my lens!

He soon turned around, and came the same way and as close as before back, staying even a short while in the air just besides me! For sure this must be Horatio and his team from the army! I saw a guy waving frantically out of the cockpit – nice to see you again!

This “exercise flight” was actually quite an honor, as a helicopter operating hour is not really for free…thanks, guys! Next time you can exercise winching me up out of my boat, and the Prefectura takes care of my kayak! But only for exercise…no real rescue y any time please!

I did that rescue practice getting winched up once in Iceland and watched others a couple of times. Nice game! As an ex-skydiver the air is not really unknown to me either! Jumping out of helicopters was always a preferred drop!

The rest of the paddling day was rather uneventful, two people on the top of the beach, leaving just before I arrived…is a kayak along here such a common sight that they won’t stay to wave? And at some point a metal robot elevated himself behind the beach – again and again, until I realized it must be an oil pump…four abandoned fishing rods, no people to see, and two beach huts along the way, that was all to tell. Only, gravel, gravel, gravel…at the end a few bushes and very low baby cliff with plenty of beach in front of it.

The beach was a nicely sloping 30 degrees, no sea ground to be seen on low tide. It was not really lowest tide of the month, but the level goes back here to 9 m “only” any way. So I could even land around low tide with no problem, those few meters dragging on gravel are easy!

I was aiming for at least 60 km to paddle, half the distance to Punta Dungeness, but I added another 10 km in this nice weather with following wind for the easy gained first river stream km, to have at least once again 70 km on my account, and a mere 50 km left for tomorrow. Sunday weather looks still nice, so I still can cross the Magellan Strait without waiting for a weather window!

Opening my day hatch after landing, I realized my repair job obviously was not perfect yet – it had a liter of water in there…way too much! I mixed a last spoonful of my epoxy resin and sealed the edge of the seam again which seemed not to be perfect…if that doesn’t help, I can’t help myself until Rio Grande and have to live with that for now…no resin left! Hope Alejandro sends me some from Buenos Aires! It must be still the bulkhead then as I had a wave of water in my cockpit on landing…but oh well, I’m floating and can paddle! Thanks to my great Seal Line Nimbus dry bags…

6 comments on “Fri 02/12-2011 Day 95


Parabens Freya,acompanho a tua expedição no face book e no teu blog,sou de Pelotas no sul do Brasil,quando passares por aqui estamos preparando apoio1 Abçs1

Ismael Segovia

Hi Freya! greetings from Spain ,here many kayakers follows your adventure!
A council to ensure that your kayak don,t flying out again..
Cristian Donoso in his Transpatagonica expedition did it.
He tied his kayak to a stake nailed in the ground with a single rope so the kayak always pointed to the wind.
Good crossin of the Magellan Strait!

Meike Michalik

70 km , wie macht man das? Ich kann sehen, ich muss ordentlich trainieren. Schaffe man gerade knapp 40 km. Wünsche dir gutes Wetter und eine leichte Brise von hinten damit du gut in Tierra del Fuego ankommst. Pass gut auf dich auf.

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