Wed 16/11-2011 Day 79

My dolphin drawn carriage...

Pos: here

Loc: before Punta Cuevas

Acc: Prefectura Puerto San Julian
Dist: 58,1 km
Start: 6:15 End: 18:30

Happy launching, easy wind day was forecasted. It didn’t really look like it the first hour, headwinds…but it soon went down, and the sea did, which was quite choppy against me even the first three hours! But then it was easy going.

I had to round the “real” Cabo Danoso, the headland at the light house was just a point before. The “real” Cape provided some refreshing sights of wild life in the morning, a large seal colony, plus two bird colonies flying up when I was approaching…sorry…but it was a nice view!

The beach after the Cape didn’t have any tiny headlands for quite a while, but I soon got company! My first lonely dolphin showed up briefly, and I knew it was going to be a good day!

But soon a dolphin couple came up to me, and were curiously playing around my kayak for over an hour! This was the longest time dolphins stayed with me!

They must have been a male and female, with a dominating male, and for some reason they enjoyed my company that long! In larger groups, they seem to have more distraction with each other and usually leave after about 5-10 min.

Zackie was easy to tell apart from Glattie

I could easily tell the two apart by their back fins, one had a bit of a fringed zig zag back fin, the other one’s back fin was smooth. Believe it or nor, I gave them names – “Zackie” and “Glattie” :-)) – coming from German “zackig” and “glatt”, means zig zagged and smooth…these are your ideas when you are lacking company 🙂

Glattie sets out to one of her elegant jumps

Zackie was always in the lead, when they came up simultaneously, Zackie was always that bit ahead and up earlier, where as Glattie some times came up (her)self for another breathe…she may be was in less good condition?

Their usual movements...Zackie is already down to the left with a splash.

The swam around me in most beautiful dolphin manners for a long time, and even when I was stopping to pull out the camera they simply slowed down and waited for me with their jumps and movements becoming slower. usually when you interrupt your paddling, they are getting bored and are fast gone, but those were not!

Zackie turned his white bellie toward my kayak

I had time to adjust my camera, and took a few nice shots and small videos! At some point Zackie seemed to need to show more power and did three high into the air splashing jumps, quite impressive! But in between, when he swam under my kayak, he turned his belly toward my boat, as if he’d liked a better look of the pattern on my hull – or to have a quick cuddle?

It was really an entertaining and very beautiful pleasant hour! At some point they were gone for two minutes, but soon came back with another couple! Now it was usually a threesome swim, plus one stayed single…interesting interaction. But being four guys, they stayed only for another five minutes, and then were gone fully. Thanks for the beautiful moments, Zackie and Glattie! 🙂

Soon there were quite some off shore reefs breaking, always a scary look, but I was safely paddling inside. Only on a few smaller shallow headlands, the swell came up quite a lot and I had to sprint carefully over that scary area.

First point of Punta Curioso

In general, landings all day looked quite different, from horrifying dumpers to a reasonable wave…but I didn’t plan to land until I rounded Cabo Curioso!

Waving people and a car on top, seal colonie to the bottom right, birds nesting in the cliffs to the left

This were actually two headlands with steep cliffs. The first one had another seal colony, plus 100dreds of nesting birds, who were shitting the wall quite white. I could easily paddle close, no breakers or reefs. There was a car on top, with a man, woman and kid, waving at me, but I couldn’t tell if they were just tourists or waiting for me.

100dreds of nesting birds and their shit dropping down white

The second headland needed a wide, wide berth, a there was a big reef breaking the waves far out. But when I rounded this one safely, I was in the calm bay of the huge bay of Puerto San Julian.

If the entrances to Puerto Deseado, and  later to Puerto Santa Cruz and Rio Galleghos, are  river mouths, this one is just a huge, long and wide bay. There are lot of reefs, and on low tide it becomes quite shallow. It has been high tide at 3.15 pm, and now it was 6 pm, so if I’d be paddling into town, I’d not only have to paddle a 12 km detour, but against the water running out as well, and ending on very lowest tide at night.

So I was asking yesterday already if there would be someone happy to pick me up form the beaches around Punta Cuevas, and I kept my eyes open for a car.

I saw one coming form the distance down a hill by seeing the dust cloud, but it was heading then up the hill behind me 🙁 – but it looked like the Prefectura car was just getting an overview form the top, I saw them waving, and eventually they came back down to the beach, flashing their blue top light to get noticed by me.

I had to back paddle a little bit to meet them, but all better than paddling into town tonight! Thanks for meeting me and picking me up!

We unloaded my kayak, carried the bags up, and then the kayak…I saw already from the distance the car model is the usual one they are using for the Prefectura – a closed pick up truck…

The two guys soon realized they’d have trouble to load my kayak with this car (what I knew already from the distance…), but they were calling for help!

Soon a nice English speaking lady, Natalie, came in her car for translation, but it was a small car as well with no choice to load my kayak – what to do?

Well, I saw there was a side window, and if we’d stick the bow through there, and let the stern hang out diagonally to the other side, this may work…

My spray skirt made the padding in the window, and a rescue ring we found in the car the padding for the bottom. I sat on my PFD, held the kayak, and was ready to go! The two guys were confident as well to drive with the bow sticking out the left side window for about a meter, and the stern hanging diagonal down to the right for about three meter, with about a meter of space to the ground.

I forgot it was a dirt road…me and my kayak plus bags in the open back got a little dust covered! But oh well, who cares about that if there was a shower in sight!

It was all working all right, once the guy driving got used to driving actually on the left to keep enough space to the right for the long protruding stern, plus to drive uphill very carefully regarding the ground space of the stern. I’d bang on the roof, if I’d see some danger…

Once, he came to a full stop and I wondered why as all was quiet? But soon I noticed there was another car coming form the other side…as we were taking almost all the width of the narrow dirt road, he had to pass very carefully…

Soon the road became wider, but I was a bit concerned about the traffic in town…fortunately it was a small town, and a Prefectura car still seemed to earn some respect. Plus there were as usual mostly one way streets, which made things easier…the few km on the “main road” were the most scary one…you can imagine I was VERY relieved as we arrived at the Prefectura building with my stern and bow still in one piece and still sticking out wide to the sides, and me and the kayak did not slide off the loading ramp on the back. All dust covered, but well! Thanks! That’s South America…all easy going.

My pick up crew and careful driver on the second left...

We were even stopping briefly just in front of a police station to check and adjust the padding of the kayak, and I saw an officer watching us, but nothing happens…unthinkable doing such a drive in Germany! Argentina has some advantages! 🙂

My translator Natalie, and Prefectura boss Hugo Sanchez with my ceramic plate present. Thanks!

I was nicely greeted by Hugo Sanchez and his crew at the Prefectura Station, and got a nice room and a hot shower. Thanks for hosting me! Hugo as well presented me with a ceramic plate from the Prefectura Puerto San Julian, very nice! Hope it won’t break on the transport in my kayak…and thanks to Natalie for translating everything!

All kayakers of Puerto San Julian were unfortunately off this weekend to Rio Grande to a kayak competition, as Natalie told me, sorry to miss you, guys! And just here I may have two days off…Thursday looks all right with northerly winds, but I have to go shopping and to do some online chores, and Friday looks like there are strong head winds…but all  may change over night…

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Hey, give Glattie a break, she may be pregnant and suffer from morning sickness, poor little lassie! 😉

Glad your cold is better.

Two down, five to go!

Jörg Hofferbert

I think it was the end of the second stage. Congratulation ! For the next stage, i hope for you that the wind is not to windy and of corse not to cold. Have allways a look to your GPS, otherwise you paddle to the south pole 🙂

The dolphins may be with you allways.

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