Loc: Peninsula Perna
Dist: 36,7 km
Start: 7:05 End: 16:45
This mornings’ start was one hour earlier than yesterday, plus about an hour tide shift meant I didn’t have to drag my kayak out again on very low tide over sharp rocks and sticky wet sand. Just sliding it downhill a bit, the flat part was covered with water. My kayak bottom is thankful!
It is nice to start the day with no real destination and km goal, just paddle and take the bays and headlands as they come. Again it’s beautiful spring weather, light northerly winds, sunshine. What else do I want?
It was the start of one of the most beautiful scenery paddling days of the trip so far! I cut across the bigger bay following my campsite, as I have already been inside the next smaller bay yesterday…and cutting through bays in the morning when you are still fresh is nicer.
The first big goal of the day was the passage between Isla Leones and the main land, and as the tide was turning against me at 9.59 am, I should be through that narrow gap! Why? The Prefectura already asked me if I’d go around Isla Leones or in between…it would be rough water in the passage…
Rough water?? The ocean surface was quiet, no swell, no wind waves…it couldn’t be more calm than it was today!
But I assumed it would be the tide rushing through that gap and around a corner…which it did!
I was sitting comfortably in the main stream, enjoying the scenery rushing by with 7-8 km/h, without me doing a paddle stroke! If I paddled, I made easily 12 km/h…but why this rush? Ok, I did not stop in one of the many sandy bays in the passage, as I didn’t want to have this stream against me at some point!
But if I had to make my way through on the tide going against me, I’d paddle close to the rocks and would have bay-hopped to relax from the tidal stream. But this way was easier, plus I had the wind behind me! It was amazing reading the flat and calm, but very much moving water…
Isla Leones had a house on top close to the lighthouse, not sure if at times this was a lighthouse keeper’s place or if it was a new hotel or private house. I couldn’t stop to check it out…got flushed through the gap in no time. 🙂
The next highlight of the day came in the next bay already – Bahia Gil. It was looking actually quite harmless, with a nice rocky reef in the middle and a sandy bottom. If there would not be this magical horn pointing out to the nne at the top of the bay…a horn, aptly named Caleta Hornos, which was a deep wide canyon into the rocks. A favorite anchoring spot for yachts, and probably a favorite spot for any boating people or even people just driving there from the top and walking and climbing…but today I had it to myself! I was assuming this was the Caleta the Prefectura meant when they said there would be a German sailboat in there…but it was gone after three days…no problem.
The atmosphere getting in there was magical, I was floating as slowly as possible with the slowly rising tide, listening to the sounds of the small waves lapping into caves and under overhangs. Still it was very low tide, and I could not go to the end, which on my chart would be double the lengh! But no water means no water, and it was mud at the no water end so no walking on that grounf either.
I got out of my boat first at the muddy end, carefully stepping on the bits of sandy ground at the sides. I found quite a phenomenon which I had never seen so far: The mud was squirting every 20-30 cm and every 2 or 3 seconds or so little fountains of water, about 20 cm high – was that just the tide coming in, or sea shells or worms working in their space down there? No idea…it was looking quite funny and interesting!
But I could land on the only rocky beach which would stay dry on high tide, obviously the take out for any small boat looking for landing and not mooring. There were two mooring spots for yachts close to the cliffs, simple solid ropes slung to a rock where you could tie a yacht to. I had found similar systems in the fjords of New Zealand – plus they had satellite dishes installed on the cliffs for the fisher men having a TV show at night resting after their day’s work…well, I didn’t really need TV here!
I dragged my boat up a bit, and was tempted to think about already making camp here to explore this magical canyon by walking on top around! But it was perfect paddling weather, and only 10.30 am and I had paddled only 17,5 km…so no way, I needed to make a bit more headway today!
But I took my time to climb up the dry river at the end of the rocky beach, to reach the top of the canyon cliffs to have a great overview! Which was really worth the effort, even in a dry suit and in sandals! There was a dead sheep, half skeleton already, on the bottom of a 2 m high, narrow dry waterfall – sorry guy, but I have to climb over you!
I lost my spare camera battery I was carrying on the way up, but found it later just besides the sheep on my way down…plus some big dark beetles feasting on the rest of the carcass…
On top of the cliffs, the view down and around was marvelous, and I was facing a guanaco standing just across the narrow canyon on the ridge of the other side, showing no fear, and calling me all the time with a funny sound…they love to stand high on ridges! It was a view like a lonely Indian was standing on top of the Grand Canyon to look out for the Cowboys to fight…
And then I saw for the first time the local vultures, they must have been condors, soaring high on the warm air rising up the sunny cliffs – about 6 of them – what a beautiful sight! Their flight picture is very majestic, and simply effortless…
Two things I noticed in this obviously well-visited, natural phenomena – one person seemed to have cleaned up the rubbish in that landing bay into an old fishing box you find now in almost every bay, lost from some fishing boats in rough seas and floated ashore. The leftovers were well hidden in a corner. This must have been the German yachties 🙂
The second thing was much worse – it seemed to be kind of a stupid “tradition” to climb one of the steep canyon walls and to graffiti-spray your name or your boat’s name plus date on the walls to make your mark you have been here…how can people destroy their natural beauty like that? Unbelievable…I may have counted about 50 marks like that – big, white or other colors, obviously quite lasting regarding the dates, and really out of place here…it would be a job for a keen climbing crew to get rid of those “images”! And to put up a BIG sign at the landing bay…DO NOT SPRAY THE CANYON WALLS!
If I’d stay the day, I’d have to drag my boat up again over sharp rocks, another reason to keep on going…
I didn’t regret my decision though. I got rewarded with even more natural beauty everwhere, narrow rock gaps where I just had space for my kayak and hand-railed my way deep in, wider dead calm bays (and the compulsory duck pair inside…) with amazing rock formations, one sandy beach besides the next in between, hard to decide when to call it a day, and sorry about every beach I could not visit for the night!
You could spend weeks here, exploring each and every beach and bay…a sea kayaking destination of the very finest! I paddled a reasonable 40 km for that sightseeing day, but probably covered only 25 km or so over ground on direct line! But I’m savoring each and every corner here!
I dared to handrail myself into a very narrow, very long cliff gap and eventually cave. This was quite scary, but no swell was going on, so it went all right.
I was thinking of paddling the inside passages of Isla Valdes and Isla Cayetano, may be to catch the same tidal flush I had inside Isla Leones – but nothing! The now stronger north wind blew me nicely along, and no tide against me was stopping my relaxed floating. I must have looked probably quite stupid all day, having my mouth open from all the astonishment about how beautiful it was here literally everywhere!
One sea lion colony of about 100 animals at Isla Cayetano, who obviously were not used to people at all – they almost all launched in a rush when seeing me, and I did not come closer than to the other colonies! Sorry, guys…I am gone very soon and you can have your rest in the sunshine again!
At Punta Pena, I could paddle through a 5 m narrow gap, probably 20 m long, near to a block of rock, all calm water! But if you liked to, you could rock hop here all day long…
The beach I was aiming for was marked “sandy” on my chart, but it turned out to be one of those steep gravel beaches with a few different level steps – lucky it was high tide on landing, and dead calm water in my bay! And launching tomorrow should be a piece of cake, and free of reefs even on lower water.
I made camp with a real overload of beauty impressions – I really needed a break! You can’t drink champagne all day…