Sun 23/10-2011 Day 55

Bye bye to Prefectura Camarones!

Pos: here
Loc: coast across Isla Sola
Acc: tent
Dist: 39,5 km
Start: 7:10 End: 17:00

Forecasted was a dead calm, sunny, and so it was.I agreed with the Prefectura to start loading my gear at 6.30 am, and they were up and there, ready to go. Thanks very much!

I fell asleep very late at 1.30 am with all the hospitalities of the Prefectura and my online chores, plus after the late dinner I did some picture editing as long as could be plugged in to save batteries.

Thanks to Prefectura Camarones! The could need a THULE roof rack 🙂

But I really enjoyed starting my day into the dead calm, sunny sea, and crossed about 9 km over to a point where the beach stopped and the cliffs started to look interesting. A dolphin was crossing my way, which is always a good sign and my “guardian angel” – more later…

I saw a house there from the distance, and it proved to be one of the most beautiful housing locations for an Estancia I have ever seen. Private beaches, rocks, grassy land, cliffs…all there. This must be a dream spot to live! Well, if you don’t have my gypsy genes…my house at home is not as beautifully located, but I call it my “base camp” – when I’m not traveling. It could be located anywhere, as I consider “the world is my playground” :-). Ok, I’m kind of tied as well with my shops and my son living there…

I continued to follow the coast line, paddling literally into every bay and cliff gap to have a curious look. It was all so beautiful! Every bay seemed to have something different to offer – first the beautiful housing location. The next one had a few grazing horses (some new animals for me to see from the water in this area! 🙂 ), and the next one had two long fishing nets with about 50 floating white canisters to hold it, but they seemed to be abandoned and were full of weed instead of being well-used. What a pity!

The abandoned fish net

I paddled into the next bay, Caleta Carolina, and saw two cars and a small motorboat was coming close, not the most exiting sight for me on such a day.I was gone quickly.

This was NOT the German yacht in Caleta Sara

The next bay, Caleta Sara, had a hidden mast behind a rock – a sailboat? The Prefectura told me when I left this morning there was German sailboat anchored in a bay, but about 30 km further down south. Were they on their way up north already? I forgot to ask which way they were heading…
But when I came closer, yes, it was a sailboat, but very obviously not a German one and not much in use either. It must belong to the house around the corner, moored in the bay all year round. Not much sign of life there,neither on the sailboat nor at the house. But three flamingos were feeding at the very dead shallow muddy end of the bay! Nice view.

Isla Moreno came closer, and I enjoyed the stinky smell of another large sea lion colony, mixed with many birds. I was even thinking of doing a rock landing in a very calm bay to visit, but all suitable rocks were alraedy occupied by seals, and the non-occupied ones were not suitable for a rock landing without damaging my heavy loaded boat. Ok…leave them their peace. I’m having hundreds of sea lion pics and videos already any way…

Cabo Dos Bahias had plenty of rip tides marked on my chart, and as it was two hours before high tide I expected the worst…well armed with PFD and helmet, I slowly approached the tip of the pointy rocky headland, and saw a long line of steep high waves with whitecaps stretching out to the north east. The water close to the rocks was moving up and down in the swell, but as tidal races are, between the main race and the rocky headland there is always a narrow “chicken run” for a daring paddler in a sea kayak, with a bit less strong current, and less waves.

I was closely watching my speed on my GPS, and as soon as I hit the current with my bow behind the rock, I dug in, sharply turned right and paddled the hell out of my body and kayak. The whole thing was worse than Punta Atlas a few days ago, but still, I made headway and after a few minutes I could turn into the eddy behind the rock and into calmer water. That was it! Thank goodness…!
If you are not able to dig in hard when necessary and keep the direction you want to go (thank goodness for my rudder!), you are lost on such corner…and are getting swept into the main race, which was quite scary. I had to watch over my shoulder the waves coming from the face of the race, but luckily I was faster gone than the main waves arriving to keep me on the spot…

Just beautiful orange colored rocks

Then it was pure pleasure paddling again…calm, sunny sea kayaking of the finest! I was checking out every bay, and was amazed by the rock color turning into bright orange in the sunlight at some spots. Dead calm sea lakes changed with rough headlands to negotiate, and again each dead calm bay had it’s pair of ducks floating around…cute!

This was actually an impressive beautiful colored overhang - hard to see on the pic!

I got out of my kayak once to climb the rocks and to take pictures and felt sorry not to be able to stay a night in each inviting bay…but my goal was to circumnavigate South America! I already took way more time in this most beautiful area than I was used to do, normally paddling from headland to headland. But this was not the place and time to do so! This was the fillet piece of the whole Argentinian steak, and I savor it every minute. I am about in the middle of the Argentinean coastline, as this area is definitively the highlight!

I MUST paddle into those bays...

In most bays, there was more or less a forest- under water…through the crystal clear water, you could see probably 4-5 m deep, you could spot huge kelp plants with thick leather like leaves and solid branches lurking to catch you with your propeller of a motor boat – if I’d have one…I had no problem paddling over it, just occasionally got a fright when my paddle hit a plant when I didn’t expect it. I’d love to take a few under water videos of those massive plant trees in the crystal clear water, growing on sandy ground…

A duck couple ducking away

The chart showed a large island close to the mainland, and I tried to find the gap…but even on high tide, there was only a small rocky gully with a rock small beach at the end, where you could see the other side which was even worse. No way to drag the boat over, but I was curious to find where it may be!

I MUST paddle into those bays...

So paddling around the large island was a pleasure as well, and I again found my Blue Chart was lacking some accuracy in the location of the rocks and reefs…my Australian version was way better and more precise! My GPS track led more than once over land…but I’m happy I have learnt how at the end of the day the *real* paddled km, which is quite different today as the crow flies…but who cares? I’m not on my “Race around South America”…whoever may come after me may chase the pace I’m setting now. Have fun! 🙂

The secenery was amazing!

I eventually felt my lack of sleep last night, and was looking forward to have a few strawberries for dinner desert this night which I was able to purchase in a shop in Camarones. I was just wondering in what state they may be coming out of my kayak…

This bay would have given a nice campsite as well

Eventually at 5pm I already decided to call it a day and found my dream bay right around the corner of a wider bay, which I was not keen on any more, neither to cross nor to paddle out. It was a sandy bay, and hopefully not displaying more reefy rocks when it would be even lower tide tomorrow morning on launching…

I felt like having landed in paradise, and was thinking back to my days in Australia…stripping the dry suit and the rest in the warm sun was the first thing after landing in a sheltered rocky corner of the soft sandy beach. The last time I was landing on sand was in El Condor! But unloading the kayak in this bare way was a bit chilly, and I had to get dressed soon. It is still not yet summer! I am wondering if the southern summer will be ever warm enough with me going further south day by day…but I’m sure I won’t lack hot summer beaches and swimming on the rest of the trip further north!!! So for now, the crystal clear water with maybe 13-14 degrees C has to wait for some rare occasional brief dipping….

This time two dolphins greeted my in my own private bay…now I called them my double “guardian angel”…why? Yes, I forgot to mention while describing this beautiful calm paddling day, jut before Isla Moreno I got caught…totally out of the blue…

I paddled along the edge of the small reef break as usual, not too close, but still close enough to enjoy watching the movement of the low swell on the rocky coast line. It is not the first time I paddled along outside reef breaks, and I am very wary about getting caught.

In New Zealand and Australia, some times it was breaking so heavily over a reef I didn’t even dare to look, just judging by the sound of the crash the much larger swell created…and I was always well away from the danger line. I knew about something they called in Australia “bombies” though…

Today was a dead calm quiet day, but a small swell on the almost oily sea was creating small breaks on the reefs. You can easily see where the rocks start, judging by the color and movement of the water on top. Most of the time, each swell movement creates a more or less crashing breaker on the shallow spot.You look far ahead, and you can estimate where you should paddle and where better not.

“Never take your eyes off the sea!” and “If in doubt – stay out” – those guidelines are on my mind when ever I paddle close to rocks.
The swell is unpredictable, and where there has been only a small movement on top of a rock , there may be suddenly a large breaker piling up besides you and wants to crash right on that area which a moment ago was not really dangerous looking. Occasional sprints to get past or over the piling breakers are almost normal – when you see them coming.

I am not a person who enjoys the game of “rock hopping”, a practice preferred by some groups around Anglesey, out paddling well protected with helmets they may damage their kayaks on timing the swell wrong and suddenly sit high and dry on a rock. It happens, but is still a game people like to play for the pure thrill and skill building. If I’m by myself, I always tell myself “If in doubt, stay out!” and take really no risk.

Today I was very sure as usual that I was paddling very well on the safe side, having no PFD or helmet on. My PFD strapped loose to the back deck as usual, my helmet was stuffed under it’s netting spot unsecured. Those loose ways of carrying those important items remind me to put them on rather earlier than later…which I force myself to do. But today even my dry suit hood was down on that sunny day, and I was quite sure I kept my eyes  on the sea all the time!

Still, out of the dead calm low swelly sea, a narrow but steep breaker developed right out of the very nothing on the left next to me, which I was simply not able to sprint away from. No idea where it came from…I was quite sure there had been nothing breaking or lurking with dark color or slight movements before. I am always looking  far ahead to spot those areas!

I saw it, but it still threw me out of the blue, fully unprepared and unprotected as I was…right toward the reef to my right. There may have been a distance of about 20 m to the regular line of reef  to the right, and then it may have been the shallow rocky reef area about 50 m to the low cliffs, all dotted with bigger rocks every where.

I was able to quickly lock my knees, took my time under water to set up for my roll and prayed at the same time: “You’ll have to stay in the boat! There is only one chance!” I think I was reasonable calm under water as I knew I had only that one chance being unprotected close to this rocky area – to make my roll and to get out of there again as quickly as possible or to possibly get smashed again, to hit my head and to crash my kayak sooner or later on any of the large rocks or eventually on the low cliffs.

I came up all right on my left side (I’ll never paddle around an island again clockwise as the breakers always seem to come from the left!!!).

But as soon as I was up and gasped for fresh air, there was no chance to paddle away quickly, as the real reef break then caught me, and surfed me sideways right into the rocky area…SHIT! This was not the place I wanted to be…with no protection…I think     I tipped over again, but somehow wriggled myself back on the back deck on a high brace or whatsoever it was…

As soon as I sat upright again, the waves calmed down and I could check the area.
I realized I lost my helmet from its net as it was floating fortunately not between me and the cliffs, but toward the open sea. I also saw my visor bandana which had some foam inside floating at the same spot as well, and saw another banadana sinking right besides my which I couldn’t manage so quickly to fish out with my paddle.

But my only thought was, rather than fishing for my lost headgear: “Get out of here!!!” Luckily after that wave attack there was a brief lull, and I could paddle out to sea while fishing my helmet and the visor bandana out of the water. The only right place to store my helmet now quickly was on my bare head…and I kept on paddling out to sea, making with each paddle stroke some strange sounds of choking relief…

My PFD was dangling lose to the side on it’s one strapped bungee, and the last surplus fresh water bag I had stored very unusually quickly on my back deck this morning in the belief of a very calm day was doing the same…but I still could make my roll with this dangling ballast…

I quickly dragged both items back on the aft deck somehow, and kept on paddling out to sea…

Eventually I felt safe from any unexpected “bombie”, and could calm myself down, organize my gear, take stock of the losses and praise and thanks my guardian angels to have taken me out of the danger area very shocked, but without damage to my head, body or kayak…I was missing just two of my head gear bandanas, which are easily replaced.

I had the nerves and fresh water enough to use a bit from the water bag from my back deck for a quick rinse of my freshly washed hair, as salt water is so horrible to the hair and skin…I think I deserved that beauty treatment after that shock!
I was happy to have sunshine to hopefully dry it quickly again…it is quite chilly otherwise with wet long hair, and two missing bandanas!


And always look for dolphins at the beginning and the end of your day…though I rather would have liked them NOT to be put to work…

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Just realised: After your little escapade you headed straight for the rip tides. Good heavens, that why I garden and you kayak. I’d have needed a night on a heart monitor 🙂
You’ve done more on less sleep, but rogue waves can come up anywhere, Karenzmaenner are unpredictable.
Good luck wishes, (just in case you’ve used up your stash)

Jörg Hofferbert

In germany we say: Don´t praise the day, before it becomes night. But the dolphins, I hope every day, are watching you. Sometimes I am afraid for you: Should you go out to sea, if you are not right awake ?! This is not an order, but only my little fear.


Bit close to the bone this! Are we going to start the “great protective gear discussion” again? But you’ve heard it all before. Luck was with you this time.

Meike Michalik

einfach toll wie du das alles meisterst. Toll auch, dass du nicht nur auf die Geschwindigkeit achtest sondern dir auch die Zeit nimmst die Natur und Tierwelt zu beobachten. Geniesse deine einsame Bucht .
Für morgen alles Gute

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