Dist: 33,8 km
Start: 8:45 End: 14:20
It was an advanced start! Surely – what else to expect on 3,5 m of swell combined with 15-20 knots of following wind…
We started from Cristian’s home early at 7 am, after we managed to pack and load all gear with the help of our reliable friend Mark Peloquin from Bluewater Kayak Works. He was yesterday busy all day to instal electrical pumps in both of our kayak in his usual precise way. It’s nice to have them as a safety back up! Thanks for your help, Mark!
Cristian also showed up, a bit sleepy, and obviously already a bit surprised we were loaded and ready to go at clock 7 am – hey, we are all not on South American time (yet…)! 🙂 Cristian and Ignacia – a BIG thanks to your hospitality!
The Navy guys let us into the guarded harbor area, just at the same spot where I arrived on May 2nd! We had to carry the kayaks down a steep staircase in the harbor wall to be able to reach first a small 2 x 2 m wooden square pontoon, and then a longer floating plastic one which was a great packing area without damaging the brand new kayaks too much!
The Navy was present with about 4 men, plus a few more on the staircase. Good morning! Load master Freya did her usual precise packing job, while brain powered Peter was getting a bit nervous about so much male attention already on the first pack job!
Eventually all was magically disappearing in the kayaks, and we were ready for the compulsory Navy gear check. The officer was running down his list, but as he was asking for a wind meter I pointed at my wet finger in the air :-). I think we are all set and fully equipped!
The kayaks got an easy push down the plastic floating pontoon, and without much swell in this protected harbor corner, we placed our backsides also inside. We were afloat!
Finally afloat! In two brand new shiny kayaks, specially designed for me by Magnus de Brito, lovingly handmade by Point 65 of Sweden, and outfitted with my miles long paddling experience. They are carrying my name as the model name, and I am paddling now side by side with my “old” kayak teacher and guide from 8 years ago!
A Navy boat was escorting us out of the harbor, and I was assuming they will turn around once we were clearing the harbor area…but they seemed to be keen on an offshore job today! But oh well, who can blame them for an opportunity to play with their toys…I just don’t want them to think they need to spend tax money on me…
At about 12 am, the first boat ran out of steam, or maybe the crew got sea sick, as it became already quite lumpy out here! A second, smaller, but also zodiac style boat with a small cabin on top, took over, with a fresh crew of Navy men. I just had to tell them with a few gestures where to drive – NOT behind me with their exhaust blowing right into my nose…
We eventually constantly had to watch the waves, as it was already breaking quite nasty here and there out of almost 20 knots wind on top of the fat 3,5 m swell. My face was continuously pointing to the left, watching Peter paddling a bit diagonal upfront me, plus watching the upcoming breakers. Not sure what was more exciting to watch…
Paddling side by side in these conditions would be quite dangerous, as more than once a fat wash on Peter’s back deck surfed him along with over 20 km/h.
The new kayaks felt great, the rudder gripped very well! But I felt the difference in the hull – this one is fully round and quite maximum fast, but a bit less stable than my old trustworthy 18x sport. I may compare it to rather the 18x hull.
Anyway, fully loaded and with enough experience,this kayak was a pleasure to paddle! The seat position was perfect, the rudder pedals worked well, it responded to each tap of the tip toes, despite being heavily loaded!
Still, these conditions were quite challenging, especially on the first day! Physically, and even more mentally. We made good speed, but decided to go into Quintero at least for a break. It was a relief to eventually turn in, and to be off the swell and breakers! I was proud of Peter, having paddled such stuff already, but not for such distance. It is mentally quite draining.
Just when I started to turn in, but way before it was getting calm, our Navy watch dog boat probably decided they needed to tell us that this bay was not Zapallar yet, where were were originally planning to go! Hey guys, we have maps and a GPS with a chart and a brain and sorry, we actually also don’t really need a babysitter..and then were crossing right in front of my bow, and decided to stop the engine just there and started to shout something, while I was lifted up in my paddling speed by another swell wave and was surfing almost right into that f…… boat in front of my nose! Sorry about my angry shouting, but this was not really an elegant maneuver to stop a kayak in the middle of a bloody lumpy sea!
They seemed to get it, and I was able to turn off just in time. Now they had Peter as a communication target, but I think he also had as the priority on his mind to get about 500 m further in into a bit of lee shelter of the headland. Eventually it was calmer! Yahoo, what an exciting first day! Actually, a challenging pleasure to paddle, but we decided anyway to land on a lurking beach just around the head land.
Now an easy communication with the Navy boat was no problem, and we told them our obvious intention.
The beach was looking calm and easy, but my sixth sense told me to approach it carefully and to sit there and watch…
Ok, one fat dumper, with a bit of a high back surge…with good timing, it should be all right.
I released my paddle leash, and told Peter to wait until I landed safely. the gap between the rocks was about 20 m wide, with a nasty side surge in one corner.
With good timing, I made it in easily, threw my paddle released from the leash high up the beach off the back surge, jumped out very quickly, and with some effort I dragged my kayak out of the back surge zone.
Now it was Peter’s turn! He came in also nicely, threw his paddle up the beach, but his long legs didn’t get out of the kayak as quickly as they needed, and he got caught by a low back surge. He had to eventually stand waist deep in the water, and caught some inside his pants…well…bad luck… 🙂
The beach was a white beauty between high rocks, with amazingly very few people in the after noon sunshine, well, apart from three Navy men coming instantly down the cliffs soon to look after us…are we ok? The boat must have notified them of our landing…thanks for the attention, but we are fully ok, don’t need water or food on the first night, and see you tomorrow morning 7 am! 🙂 We obviously decided to stay, and to already call it a day on the first paddling day in those conditions.
It was a good decision, we got a bit of sunshine to dry out Peters pants and socks, and to slowly settle into the camp routine. And, also to have time for a lengthy update! Am I boring you?
Some frog concert on top of one fat rock, right besides three other tents on a hill, made us fall asleep very soon. The stress from the preparation days and the rough first day’s paddling conditions payed their toll! It will be easier tomorrow, lower swell, and less wind. Good night!