Sun 18/09-2011 Day 20

FAT whale fluke!

Pos: here
Loc: behind Balneario San Cayetano
Acc: tent
Dist: 40 km
Start: 8:45 End: 17:30


What a day…!!!

When I still had doubts last night if Alejandro and Virginia would really make it driving 680 km (one way) just to see me, pass on a GPS map and a few small things and to have a day’s paddle with me (quite a drive for all those reasons!!!) – I had to learn how nice (and crazy…) Argentineans are…

I woke as usual at 6 am on a freezing cold wet morning, dressed quickly and walked up my “office hill” to check  a text message for where they are and to have a look if I could see a car with a kayak on the roof! As it was a “normal” car, I assumed they didn’t drive quite down to the beach on a sandy track.

No incoming text message, no answer to my sent one, no car to be seen…so what to do now? I was just kneeling down to relax my sore back, trying to read my messages on my sat phone, as out of the nothing Alejandro appeared in front of me on my “office hill” – I was scared to death by the sudden surprise! He couldn’t find me inside my tent, and found me here…he actually already left a message in the sand last night, arriving 2.30 am…”Ale was here!”, but I didn’t see it in this foggy early morning…so all good! They made it! Virginia was still napping inside the car.

We crawled in my tent, and Alejandro unpacked his laptop to download his GPS chart on my GPS, but after an hour or so fiddling in the Argentinean way to copy the chart on my GPS chip we unfortunately had no success and ran out of his laptop batterie…well…his chart chip didn’t work in my GPS, but he eventually left his GPS with me including chip and I gave him mine to take back home to try again. Or to take up the friendly sponsorship offer from a Garmin dealer he asked me if I’d like it…what a question! Hope this will work out and I can soon use my own GPS again with the original all-South American East Coast chip! Thanks!

Ale then told me he has lost his cell phone on the way here and unfortunately thinks he couldn’t paddle today with me…very sorry! Driving that far, and missing out the best – yes, the best paddling day I had so far in Argentina!

It started with a late launch through quite some seizable surf – at least it was sunny that moment after the fog had gone  – for now…launch was all right, waited long for the right moment, and got only one breaker in the face for a morning wake-up…

Next were three zodiacs with four guys giving themselves a Sunday morning race – but at least they stopped, signaled me if I’d be ok (as I was just not paddling but eating a snack…) and if I’d need some Fanta drink…thanks, but no thanks! I was fully fine! Just that some thick fog came down again soon…quite eerie to paddle just outside the surf zone, but not be able to see the beach…well, it lasted only half an hour or such. Then it was the most beautiful warmish day!

I was passing two quite impressive detached double-story beach houses, standing lonely in the desert…must be the summer houses of some quite well-off Estancias in the back country! I even saw some life in both of them! Sunday visit…

If it was quiet with no beach drivers until 2pm (Argentineans sleep long on Sunday mornings…), it then started quickly – and massively! At some point I was counting 30 different vehicles at once in my sight…but I think they didn’t only enjoy the drive, but the occasional whale watching stop as well!

A looooong guy...

Whales were out there today countless…not worth to mention the 10-15 way off shore (yawn, another whale…), but worth to mention the six guys together on one spot I was paddling right into!!!


They are two!

I could make out two single guys and two couples performing what I was thinking was a “love dance” or such…yes, I think it’s mating time!

Scary triangle fin...but it´s "just" a whale...

The two singles (probably males…) were probably waiting for their chance! But I couldn’t see any sign of splitting up of the two couples – they were so busy with each other, close to each other and myself, that I couldn’t really decide where to look first!


BIG back...

Eventually I was right in the middle of each couple – this means less than 5-10 m away! At some point I could have touched their backs or fins, if I’d not have backed up carefully a little…



The spouting sounded like some guy was blowing an over sized snorkel or a half water filled trumpet- just that those snorkels or trumpets were built in the whales!

NO ZOOM! I was so close...

I was literally eye in eye with each couple, eventually decided to rather follow one couple only – for about half an hour…my best and closest whale encounter in my life! Even the Australian whales didn’t perform better and closer for me…

BIG (hump)back!

Their “love dancing” movements where smooth and gentle, wriggling around each other like a love sick couple in a water bed (I used to have one…) – just that this water bed was the open ocean!
I kept eye contact with both heads – and they kept eye contact with me – making sure they didn’t hit me or come to close to me…though I was so close I could touch them with my paddle if I’d wanted!
I was very sure they wouldn’t attack me or surface right underneath me or such – they are just gentle giants! Still a bit scary to be so close and alone with six of those floating giants – I was estimating them to be 12-15 meters each!

the BIG one chasing the other?

Eventually I was realizing the six whales caught some attraction form the beach drivers on shore as well – about 20 vehicles were stopping that kilometer inshore and watching the whales – and probably *me* as well, being right in the middle! I’m sure most of them were expecting another Moby Dick story or such – kayakista swallowed by a whale…hahaha! I saw them standing on their roofs, and surely some of them had good binoculars to watch *us* dancing!


A BIG guy

But even the most beautiful “love making” voyeurism becomes boring on the long run – rather make love myself! :-))
So I decided to paddle on my last planned 10 km into the low calm headwinds – I spent already 30 min on taking videos and pics out there! And I launched late…

Barnecles grow nicely on the back...

If this keeps on going with the whales now all day – why do I need to look forward to the two Peninsula Valdez bays where whales should be floating around en masse? I had my intense encounter today – so I thought until I spotted another couple close to my landing point. They were a bit more roughish with each other, flapping their fins frequently on the water like a canon shot. Must be young ones…and I spent another 10 min on videoing…can’t get enough of whale voyeurism! 🙂


Paddling past the busy Balneario San Cayetano, I was seeking some private beach spot a few km down the coast. And please – without reef!
I decided to go in just before the next longer reef appeared to show up in the distance – who knows how long it is??
The least swell and surf was at the Balneario, but that spot was too busy for me…all those cars…no privacy on camping…
But I may have better gone in there? I noticed the surf went up the longer I paddled away from the Balneario, but it still looked doable as usually – just wait, watch and take the right moment to go in.

Be patient – which I was NOT this time!

As the icing on the cake’s day, I caught a higher breaker, dug my bow into the shallow water (luckily on sand…), just barely could manage *not* to fully pitch pole, but I was half capsizing on the side – no, it must have been fully, my hair was wet!
But I rolled up again perfectly on the left side…what are you thinking under the water in that situation? This MUST work on the first try! I don’t want to swim! And I saw my helmet dangling off his net, almost losing my breakfast box which is usually stored underneath – the two only objects which are not hooked to my boat! Why? Because am thinking when I’m going in or out and may catch a fat breaker and capsize, I should have it on (not the breakfast box…) from now on I’ll do! The rocky reef was quite close…In Australia I always put it on – must have been more rocky reefs there…The same reason I’m putting my PFD on on launching and landing, as it may be dangling off the back deck being washed sideways by a breaker…this one I always put on! As rolling up may be tough with a flooded PFD handing to the wrong side on a relatively lose bungee…
As I saw it coming, I at least had my knees locked under the cockpit rim…as I’m used to paddle them centered unlocked.
Well – my first roll on this continent! Actually quite good, as I was already seizable surf-landing and launching only since I left the mud bay! all open beach…no nook or cranny to hide…

Florencia greeted me on the beach with some fruit and freh water. Thanks!

Putting up tent, a nice young couple stopped in their beach car, and as I couldn’t talk to them in Spanish, my Spanish promo card had to do it…they seemed to be impressed, took pictures, and – the nicest thing – they came back half an hour later to present me with five apples, a bunch of bananas and a fresh water bottle! THANKS! I had almost forgotten how freshly bottled water tasted…being used to “tap water bag taste” covered with fruity Tang drink powder…

Florencia's friend

Enough for today! Need to have some dinner! 🙂

10 comments on “Sun 18/09-2011 Day 20


mucha fuerza mental!!! segui adelante
te vi con las ballenas
el sabado te vi en bahia san blas

mucho exito



Freya, here is what Diego wrote, translated: (GRACIAS DIEGO !)
“..HiFreya. I live in Tres Arroyos, the next beach you will be passing through. First you will see Orense, then Claromeco. Please take into account in Claromeco, the students will be celebrating SPRING and students day, so, the beach will be pretty crouded these days, (they celebrate all week, not onlt 21st. haha ). I live 70 kms from Claromeco, so, if you need anything else, just let me know. Diego. …”

Hola Freya. Vivo en la Ciudad de Tres Arroyos, el próximo balneario por el que vas a pasar es Orense y el siguiente es Claromecó, tené en cuenta que en este último, los jovenes de la ciudad estan festejando el día de la primavera (que dura una semana, jaja), por lo que va a estar algo concurrido. Espero que algún amigo que sepa inglés te pueda traducir. Si necesitás algo, avisame. Vivo a 70 kms de Claromecó. Diego



Thank you for taking the time to write about your adventures and friends. You give us hope that the world is not such a terrible place and that there is more good than bad out there. You are so funny too. I hope we can see some photos and/or videos of the whales soon. It sounds incredable and majestic. Warm regards, Laura Jager, Morris, Illinois, USA

Meike Michalik

das muss ein tolles Erlebnis sein. Bin gespannt auf eine Bilder. Weiterhin viel Spass


You are so lucky to have such good griends helping you out. Many thanks to Alejandro and Virginia, you are GREAT!!!
Can’t wait to see some piccies and video if you ever get to broadband access.


Hola Freya. Vivo en la Ciudad de Tres Arroyos, el próximo balneario por el que vas a pasar es Orense y el siguiente es Claromecó, tené en cuenta que en este último, los jovenes de la ciudad estan festejando el día de la primavera (que dura una semana, jaja), por lo que va a estar algo concurrido. Espero que algún amigo que sepa inglés te pueda traducir. Si necesitás algo, avisame. Vivo a 70 kms de Claromecó. Diego

Don Hebel

What a trip!! Whales galore and people showing how they care. It doesn’t get better than that! Be careful on your landings.

Jorge Poletilo

That’s an experience!!! What a day. I will talk to Alejandro how he manages to do this sort of actions with his wifes support. That’s the real argentinean miracle! Hals und Bein Bruch!!

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