Loc: Puerto Punta Quilla
Acc: Prefectura Puerto Punta Quilla
Dist: 56 km
Start: 6:40 End: 19:20, 3 hours break due to lack of water
The horrible landing yesterday could only be better this morning – downhill and an hour earlier in the tide, so a bit lower water to the steep edge.
But it showed that the wash didn’t get that high over the steep edge anymore, but now the ugly dumper developed – plus a side wash. Still possible, I thought. Just slide the kayak in position over the steep edge, pointing already downhill, wait for the lull, slide it in, jump on and paddle away fast.
Easier thought and said than done as usual…I forgot the side wash, which ripped the kayak out of my hands at once and knocked me over. But I could straighten it out quickly somehow, the lull came, and I rode off as planned. Still scary…
Once out, paddling was no problem, very low headwind first, then a lovely stronger North East.
Low tide was 3.45 pm, and I should have looked on my tide table that the afternoon as low tide is a very low one. When there was no reef in front of my last beach, I soon noticed how the comfortable shelter of the outer reef break developed, and the water inside became well protected and calm.
I paddled nicely along, knowing I’d make it to Punta Quilla tonight with hopefully a sheltered landing and people waiting for me. But I soon noticed the outer reef break developed stronger in the to be seen white caps, and it was continuous with no gaps in between. I probed with my paddle, and couldn’t reach the ground, this may be a reef which stays flooded on low tide, I thought…an hour later I probed again and found ground…half an hour later the paddle was half in the water only before I hit ground…then minutes later it was only 50 cm…and soon I saw in the horizon the typical signs of a dry reef with rocks showing out of the water.
I hurried out, to find deeper water, but also the fat reef break scared me! All in all I simply reacted too late to get through the reef break in time before it really developed, and before the water got too shallow…there is nothing like a still flooded reef on lowest tide…at least not here with tidal range of 11 meters already.
Now I could walk my kayak more or less out, deal with the reef break and be out, but I opted for the other possibility. It was an hour and 30 min before low tide, and I managed to get to the gravel beach on last water, hitting a luckily soft rock here and there. Better than sitting in the middle of the reef high and dry, I rather stayed on the beach for a few hours to wait for the water coming back.
Hitting the 30 degrees gravel beach, I found a tiny channel of enough water just on the edge of the sea bottom and the gravel, where I could walk my kayak along still afloat – adventure! I stopped paddling at 20 km before Punta Quilla, and walked the kayak at least for 900 m along 🙂 – until the reef was a higher one and there was no water any more on the beach’s edge.
Ok, I had freezing cold feet anyway all day, the walking in the shallows didn’t really make itt better, I got changed fully into dry clothes and knew I had to wait at least until 4 pm. It was reasonable sunny, and I put my dry suit and fleece underwear out in the wind to get dry and warm again- the same as my feet in fresh socks and shoes.
I took a few things like water, food, my e-book and my blanket out of the boat, and walked 500 m to a river mouth cliff gap which promised to have some shelter from the wind.
Climbing into the gap, I found a marginal comfortable, but sheltered place to hang out for a while. But I rather felt I should have a nap, as I knew my night in civilization would be a short one again…
I climbed to the entrance of the gap again where I found a sunny, sandy, but a bit windy place, snuggled up with my blanket and had a small nap. Next time I rather take my wind proof sleeping bag than the blanket for such a break on the beach! Would have been better…
I opened an eye at around 3.30 pm – still no water…another at 4 pm, the water came, I should go and get changed and prepared!
And then I was not fast enough back into my paddling clotehs and having the kayak packed again…the reef flooded that fast that I even had to drag my boat up the gravel beach for a meter.
But then I could make the remaining distance nicely inside the reef again, with strong following wind and a current which pointed eventually to fill up the river mouth
I was crossing eventually the wide entrance with 12 km/h with no effort, glad I had waited that bit! Some bumpy areas with tidal rips were no really problem, rather that I’d not run over a penguin! They were quite frequent in the river mouth opening, and I assumed their beach was the southern one.
Soon the few houses of Puerto Punta Quilla showed up, and I had to ferry glide with the bow pointing way to the left of the houses not to get flushed past the settlement!
The last km was a paddle pointing almost 90 degrees off the course, to just about make it to the left of the long jetty into the sheltered beach.
The Prefectura boat was moored with running engine, ready to get out? The guys were waving me to the boat, but what should I do there? I rather wanted to land on the beach across, which I did. They’d come walking along the jetty to greet me, and to invite me into the house! Thanks a lot!
My requested tools and water refill was already in the car which eventually came to pick my bags – good job, thanks! But the repair job was better to be done in the Prefctura house, and I didn’t mind the hot shower either.
The boss came out as well to greet me with David, a translator, and we drove the short way with the gear and me up to the Prefectura house, and two strong guys were carrying my kayak up the hill – thanks! There is nothing but a bunch of strong men…
Inside I opted for having the shower first, and then, instead of having a cup of tea and sitting down, rather German style like to instantly start my repair job – it was already after 8.30 pm!
We got the kayak into the garage, and the boss was first admiring my strange dive into the cockpit to unscrew the footrest (not that you can simply slide it out as it should be working…), but then assisting me on drilling the holes in the foot rest to attach the to rudder pedals again which broke almost fully off on the high impact use I’m doing here. The final job looked nice, and the foot rest had to be screwed in again, with the same strange dive…not that I haven’t done that before, but it was still a pain in the ass and knees…literally.
That job was eventually done, but I also pulled out the hauling up string of my rudder blade on landing, as the knot holding it simply got loose…bad or good luck it happened just this night in civilization?
I needed a long stiff but not too thick wire to get the string back through the tube, which David eventually could get from town. With a few trials and errors we eventually rather took a thinner up hauling string which was easier to get through and hopefully still holds up.
All done eventually around 11.00 pm, I was tired to death…sorry I couldn’t follow up the invitation to go to dinner now! I had checked the weather, and it promised to be low winds tomorrow, I had to go!
That I had to skip dinner as I was even too tired to cook something in my room didn’t make it easier for me to recover something of the short night. I finished quickly some chores like filling up water, plugging my electronics in the wall, having a very brief look on my e-mails and fell asleep at 0.30 am…
Thanks a lot for all the help from the guys in the Prefectura, from the boss and from David, the translator! I’m sorry I was not really social due to be short of time, and I even forgot to take proper pictures of all of us and to sign you my trip card! I may send some from Rio Gallegos, sorry! Muchas gracias again!