Sun 27/11-2011 Day 90

My low tide landing spot on the rocky slimy ledge

Pos: here
Loc: somewhere along the cliffs
Acc: tent
Dist: 39,3 km
Start: 9:00 End: 17:35

I had to wait this morning until at 9 am for the incoming tide to reach the gravel beach, then launching was an easy game! No way it would it be sensible for me to drag my boat out.

The forecast was for low headwinds all day, so I expected to still make good progress!
But actually the low headwinds proved to be quite moderate to strong head winds, and getting to cross Ria Coig was already quite some work! At least it was high tide now and all rocky exposed reefs in the river entrance were covered with water.

At the other side, high cliffs were waiting, with no beach at all on high tide! Not easy to find a landing here…

I had marked on my GPS all possible landings I saw on Google Earth, this included some areas where I wrote “cliffs going backwards” and I thought I saw a low dunes area…but this proved eventually to be just a double row of high steep cliffs in the background, and lower, but still inaccessible cliffs in the fore ground! hahaha…

A lonely guanaco looked like it was trapped on such a steep beach, but guy, the tide was going out already, and there was a marginal climb up the first row of cliffs!

One of the rare green access and possible emergency camp spots in the double row cliffs - the beach is gone on high tide.

Watching the guanaco, at that time I either didn’t notice or it came in in no time – a big, fat dark thunder storm was suddenly surrounding me! The wind came up from one second to the other, from about 15 knots head winds to out of the blue 30-40 knots, gusting even higher! Oh shit…will I be trapped like the guanaco if I’d be able to land here on this very rocky beach?

I paddled as hard as I could keeping just my bow simply straight into the wind! It was the only option…turning around and blowing me sideways would probably have simply tumbled me over the water. I never had encountered such a strong wind on a thunder storm! I paddled hard and paddled harder, managed to stay straight into the wind, but my GPS showed 2-3 km BACKWARDS!

At some point I got blown past a reasonable rock free looking part of the gravel beach, the breakers were moderate, so I dared to go in, in an almost ferry glide movement, turning not even toward the beach, jsut side surfing in. I pulled my rudder up in time, and sat eventually safe but sideways on the rocky beach!

My god, this was a paddle! My fight lasted probably only 10 min or so, before I could go in, but this was enough to show me what can be possible in the 50th latitude…

I was waiting for about an hour for the black clouds to disappear, walking a bit further up the beach, but I could see no better landing ahead! Camping here would be not possible, climbing the first row of lower cliffs would have been marginally possible at one spot 500 m backward…but staying here was not an option!

I decided to keep fighting the strong head winds, and was hoping the weather would not give me another one of those extreme thunder storms…

I had eventually to decide quickly, as the water went out and out, and already exposed here about 100 m of sandy sea ground…I quickly unloaded at least my heavy stern, and was dragging the kayak crab style meter by meter out to the water’s edge. I was running quickly back for my bag and water bags,loaded as quickly as I could, dragged with a lot of effort another 10 meters, and jumped in my kayak again in the tiny surf.

It started now to rain, but the gusty wind was gone, just “normal” head wind. The tide was going out and pushing me, and the sea was actually all the time calm, apart from the wind waves.

The last hours the water was very calm, the tide dragged nicely, now I just needed a reasonable landing spot…

I knew a river mouth on my GPS, which looked nice from the distance as well, the only thing was I’d arrive there at 5.30 pm, half an hour before lowest tide…keeping on paddling for an other marked distant spot 15 km further down the coast with the rising tide was not an option for me now, I was tired and ready to go in!

A BIG rocky reef was as well jutting far out further south, and I was not keen to go around that one! This spot looked so nice, so close, no rocks…

This is the view toward the sea - about 500 m away...

I paddled in as far as possible, and thought I was lucky having the water almost close to the gravel beach! But it was still 850 meters…

...and this is the view toward the beach - 850 m away...

Ok, but I was rather happy to carry my gear and to drag my boat now than to keep on paddling! As the tide was still going out for more than half an hour, I had a bit of time to do this without getting wet!

On my first walk with gear bags I soon noticed I was lucky this time – 650 meter were actually a flat rocky reef, covered with a slimy thin layer of mud, which would eventually making to drag the kayak a bit easier!

The second gear bag walk, and then it was the boat! Going back to my boat was always very scary – you couldn’t see the kayak 800m out there against the small white caps until you come quite close!

The dragging over the rocky slimy flat ledge was reasonable easy, but then it were the last 200 m of wet sand – hola, this was much tougher! I could barely make 10 steps, then had to catch my breath again…but eventually I was there, on the gravel beach, all safe!

Well, if there wouldn’t have been another rain storm coming in just before I was able to put up my tent! The already unpacked tent flapped in my arms, I was seeking shelter behind a cliff corner, but didn’t manage to rescue my gear bags…luckily all is packed in dry bags.

It lasted for 10 min only, then it was dead calm again, and I could put up my tent on top of the highest gravel beach spot right on the edge of the river mouth.

My river mouth pool --a duckling's paradise

It would stay dry from the tide, I was sure, but another threat came to my mind – what if it would be raining so heavy that the big river would come to “life” and be flooded instantly at some point, like I was watching already in a smaller scale that horrible night when I was landing in Mone Léon? It was raining again and again, but luckily it sounded not as if the amount of water would be enough to flood the river – but who knows? There was a small “lake” at the end of the river mouth, about 20 meters behind my tent, giving a small family of ducks a nice home…but…I eventuall fell asleep.

5 comments on “Sun 27/11-2011 Day 90

Nina Wikman

Sparrings and encouragements to Freya!

Paddling along here from the couch is ever so thrilling and inspiring.

I’ve never experienced tide (live in Finland), but am looking forward to do so, some day in life – now reading this it seems really challenging, with all issues other than mere paddling: if it is an effort for such a talent of her kind, then… -? Remains to be seen.


Just wait out the weather, you can speed in the easier sections, here just getting through is enough!
And try and keep the tootsies warm, cold feet make me just miserable, might regular rubbing or massage help? That’s if you can get at them.
Good Luck

Barbara G.

Ich oute mich dann auch mal als Freya-Fan und tägliche Leserin dieses Blogs – meine unendliche Bewunderung ist Dir sicher! Habe heute in Deinem Laden Weihnachtsbaumkerzen gekauft und finde das ziemlich unwirklich, dass die Ladenbesitzerin gerade irgendwo in der Nähe der Magellanstraße herumpaddelt und seit Monaten solche unglaublichen Leistungen vollbringt. Möge das alles sehr gut gehen!
Grüße aus der Heimat,

Don Hebel

Wow! Freya… scary day. A portent of days to come? Call on your powers of concentration and good judgement to carry you through…a little prayer once in a while couldn’t hurt 🙂

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