Dist: 122 km
Start: 6:45 End: 06:30
Estimated landing: A well deserved day off!
We knew we had a long day ahead – another 70 km, and were launching on really first light through multiple lines of surf, but all small and non-trashy. No problem. The only thing I hated on this beach was that the sand was so fine it was blown in every nook and cranny. Packing the wet from the morning dew and sticky sandy tent is my least favorite job!
We did our regular breaks after 5 km, and the distance was shrinking quite fast on a high average speed. Still, I can’t believe we are on the 6th degree latitude before the equator, and we are still seeing *penguins* every day!!! The water is as chilly as in Valparaiso, maybe 14-15 degrees, it’s only about 20 degrees air temperature maximum. But the freezing Humboldt current will soon be gone! And hopefully the penguins also then…just to look at them makes me thinkof the South Pole rather than of the equator! All jelly fish were gone in the sandy green water, and few seals remained. Almost sterile here…
Our destination was a doubtful surf landing at the headland of Punta Cherrepe, but we were assuming on this low swell things can’t be worse than at our launching beach! Well…
It was HUGE swell going around the headland, nothing compared to the shallow rolling out small waves we were expecting. It was trashy and big, no way to sneak in anywhere. I had marked on my GPS a spot I found on Google Earth the least surfy looking, and we were aiming directly to go there as the best option. We were hoping the multiple lines there were gone and only a shore break would be left, and we were already happily slowly approaching, watching the outer breaks to both sides far away running in, but not in our spot as expected!
I just decided to go in fully now, as it was looking calm where we were waiting and watching, and the shore break looked all right, when just at our spot also the massive outer rollers started to come in. I turned around and saw Peter already having pointed his kayak OUT! He was frantically paddling offshore, facing the “enemies” rather than getting trashed from the back. I quickly decided NOT to go in, but to do the same, and just about, really just about, I was climbing four about 4-5 meters high swell waves, just to jump on the backside off with a heavy crash. The last one was already toppling and I got so scared it would trash me…but I just got wet fully, and was over it. I saw Peter also luckily making it, and a fair distance out we stopped, shaken to the bones, with trembling hands and bodies. IF…it was looking so all right and calm out at that spot! This was one of my most scary moments of this trip…
No looking back,no other attempt to approach the beach at that spot. And any other spot would be worse. What to do?
We could only continue to Pimentel during the soon approaching night, where we *had* to go in for a last water refill for the last paddling days. That landing was looking also a bit surfy on the Google Earth picture, but close to the jetty it should be doable. And there would be people…
OK. We had to stay out during the night. We actually planned to do that only on the *next* day after Pimentel, where we had to paddle along a looooooong beach without shelter, but could land after 110 km on a sheltered island. So another night out, and just before the next night out…
We were two people, so it would be much easier than on all my other lonely nights out in South America and Australia and everywhere else . Peter also already had a bunch of night paddles, and I am valuing his endurance and focusing to the goal as high as mine. He is a great paddling partner!
So no problem. Just a bit unexpected, but this is what a sea kayak expedition is all about. It can ALL happen, and it can happen any time! Be always prepared for everything.
In this case it was easy to dig into our hatches for more food. Our light sets were in the cockpit bags ready anyway. The only thing I wish I had were gloves, and a dry shirt on under my jacket, as we were paddling all day with fleece shirts only on, which eventually soak wet. Next night I will change my shirt before it turns dark!
A bunch of fishing boats were also out for the night, and the forecast was favorable. All good and safe out here. Low wind, low swell, low waves. Just some fish jumping on my spray deck, and a few birds already asleep chased up!
The moon was to be expected at 11.15 pm. Before, it was clear sky with many stars, and reasonable light. Also we could see many city lights as orientation. But when the moon was supposed to come, it was overcast. Still not fully dark though, thank goodness.
We actually had only one problem: We had to land in Pimentel in the first morning light, no way to make a surf landing in darkness. And we had only 45 km to go from 7 pm on. means we had to paddle slow, slower than we could stay reasonable moving warm! We eventually had even to do a few breaks to slow down, and this made us even colder. Catnaps were possible with two kayaks, and we eventually figured out a system with a crossed paddle under the spray deck cross belt which allowed us to just lean on the paddle hunched forward to nap and to keep our hands more or less warm under the PFD. Still, quality sleep is something different!
We would rather love to paddle! Time was passing by slowly, and we were paddling slowly, exchanging with breaks and naps. The wind was pushing us mostly a bit along, all easy, apart from the cold!