Loc: Golfo San Mathías
Dist: 80 km
Start: 7:15 End: 24:00
The decision process “to cross or not to cross” was started by me actually quite late – I think somewhere in the middle of the calm Bahia Union I pulled out my GPS and measured the shortest distance to Punta del Norte on Peninsula Valdez – 100 km. “A piece of cake” – for some one who had already done 3 times 170-180 km continuous paddling over night – along the three sets of cliffs in Australia.
I didn’t really have that shortcut in mind until then, but for sure the most important thing had to match – the weather.
One other thing had to be changed – my paddling date with Alejandro and Juan Pablo along Peninsula Valdez…we were planning to meet on Puerto Lobos well before the island and to paddle 10-12 days together. When I was calling Alejandro and told him my plans may be changing, he was for sure a bit disappointed, but fully supportive for my new plans. We will paddle then later together!
But one other thing was not ready yet – the permit to paddle along Peninsula Valdez. This was not about the Prefectura, this was from the Nature Conservation group, who had to be asked. On the first application, they said paddling the bays is ok, but paddling the outside won’t be allowed. So Alejandro had to change the application, and the permit was still in process…
But there was only ONE weather window opening up for me to do the crossing from El Condor, and this was Wednesday and Thursday. Then the seas would be going up again with ugly strong winds out of the wrong direction…
Wednesday was forecasted very calm low SE headwinds, with very calm seas, winds breezing up during the night to a perfect following 10-15kn NE, still with seas less than one meter.
The only thing was that I was still in El Condor on Tuesday, just finished repairing my rudder, and did not have another day to paddle to the “starting point” for a 100 km due south. So it had to be “a little more” – 140 km, from El Condor, and south west direction, which was matching the upcoming winds from NE even better.
Ok, after checking around all the weather sources I had, the decision was made: I’ll start on early Wednesday morning as usual.
Just that my host Roberto, who provided me the beach house accommodation, was not there, but in Viedma…but as usual, Alejandro solved this problem with a few phone calls and texted me at 10pm there would be a local guy with a jeep and trailer coming Wednesday morning 6.30am to pick me up! THANKS, Alejandro! You are a logistics genius!!! The distance to the sea was more than a km across a wide beach. A bit too much for me and my kayak and gear by myself…
It was a perfect morning, sunny, calmest seas and surf, I was freshly showered, well rested, and my gear was clean without any sand. All felt good! I put enough food and water within reach until tomorrow morning, and expected to be across well before lunch on Thursday. Perfect forecast – what else could I want?
I paddled along in good spirits, feeling not any winds bothering me at all – it was just too warm in my dry suit! I made good progress, especially after the tide changed around 10 am.
I already noticed a strong tidal current in this Golf on the two days paddling from Bahia Blas – if you see my times, you may calculate what I mean. It was always during the day into the right direction, thank goodness! For sure the other 6 hrs it would break me down a bit, but with good winds it should be all right…
I called my son in Germany via sat phone, and told him mummy is again on the water over night – no problem!
Sea birds were flying around me, and plenty of brown Albatros were flying like Kamikaze toward my boat, just to turn off at the last second! One day I’ll hit one with my paddle…get away, you vultures, you won’t get me! NEVER! 🙂
Night fall came, and I ticked off already 65 km of my planned 140 km. Good. I adjusted my headlamp I may need, and the stronger flash light to spot some whales in the way :-), and put on my rain jacket over thing. It was a bit small, and I felt sorry I didn’t pack my Kokatat Storm Cag for South America…though still paddling during the night, it is getting quite chilly, even in a dry suit. My Kokatat Storm Cag would have been perfect, but the extra rain jacket with my PFD on did a reasonable job. Actually, I was missing it already on the other two nights out…
The moon was shining bright in it’s half, and a few stars were out. Vision was bright enough to see the horizon and not to need any lamp.
For sure I was feeling the tiredness at some point, but as I’m used to fight that feeling, I know what to do. Singing stupid songs, talking to myself, peeing frequently with my Freshette through the male pee zipper (what I amazingly needed to do any way almost every hour…), and eating snacks….all normal.
Around midnight, I was down to 60 km left. All good, all normal.