Wed 20/02-2013 Day 400

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My tiny dry cabin in the bow of my Navy escort boat

 

Pos: here
Loc: somewhere on the water
Acc: Navy boat
Dist: 46,9 km
Start: 9:50 End: 17:30

Tomorrow’s estimated landing: somewhere 60 km north

The day started weird, and ended weird. Carlos, our boat captain and Michael Schumacher-style driver tried to explain me last night we can only start at 8 am tomorrow morning, as we have to wait for another Navy boat which will take me over – this is at least what I understood out of our Spanglish. Well…then I simply can’t paddle that far, starting that late.

I can’t help but agree, as it is not me here to make the plans, although I rather start at first light, to make the maximum out of the day. It turned out that at 8 am there came no there boat, and the boys were just busy having breakfast and coffee, a shower, taking funny pictures and doing whatever.

Eventually at 9.10 am they seemed to be ready to go, and there was the “other boat” – one of the infantry boats “guiding” us through the river entrance with no breakers at all. Did we need them? It is not up to me to decide and to judge, but this river mouth is harmless compared to what I have been through, yesterday and today. at least for a kayak…

On the way back to my spot, we made a little turn to do a “serious business” job – checking on a suspicious boat. The guys came alongside with high speed, and the three guys in their large powerful open boat didn’t really look happy about the check up. One was pulling a face as if he’d already been signed up for Isla Gorgona with full board – before 1984-style…they definitively looked suspicious.

Three of my Coastguard guys climbed over, fully armed with guns and pistols, and were searching the boat inside out and upside down. The papers were also checked, and they had to lift their shirts for hidden weapons in the belts. But the only thing they found was a device for detecting water in fuel. Much fuel is used for narco trafficking and in the drug kitchens, and this device was illegal. But maybe they just wanted to be able to check their own fuel they needed to buy for their boat? Maybe…

After this short detour I was eventually able to start at 9.50 am, three hours later than usual. Well…I got an insight into real Colombian coastguard life.

Nothing exciting happened on the water, as usual the last days easy winds, good current and calm seas. Deadly boring.
At 3 pm, my guys stopped buy and tried to explain me we had to wait here on the spot now for about an hour for the next coastguard boat coming from Bahia Solano taking me over, they couldn’t go further as they didn’t had enough fuel…aha…a few phone calls, the hour became suddenly 15 min, and after I entertained them with a few rolls to cool me also down they suddenly said we can go again…and they drove Kamikaze alongside, checking one or two boats around.

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The guy's evening meal prepared by the black local fisher men

 

At some point they were gone way ahead, that I couldn’t see them any more. Later, after they picked me up at 5.30 pm, I found out where they had been and what they have done – they had obviously spotted some serious fisherman doing their job out there, and have ordered again two pots full of cooked food – fish and rice again. Again in exchange for the army ration bags. When we arrived, the food was just nice and hot. They ate on the spot out of the two large pots from the five guys who obviously had a gas stove on board to cook their meals. It seemed to be good! Still I preferred to wait until I could cook my own pasta dinner…

I had no idea where we would spend the night this time, and tried to find out at some point asking Carlos where he was heading to. But the language barrier didn’t let me understand… after he was driving for a while like a bat out of hell as usual, jumping over one larger wave and splashing once the whole sea over the boat which didn’t make anybody happy, but just wet, he was driving at slowpoke pace for about half an hour, carefully looking at his GPS. At some point he stopped in the middle of nowhere and said this the spot where we will spend the night…ok, no problem for me, the sea is reasonable calm. It was already quite dark, and I wanted to rest and eat! But why just here? No idea. Maybe I should just learn better Spanish…

3 comments on “Wed 20/02-2013 Day 400

Randall Lackey

I’m sure you’d rather have your freedom to get up and at it in the mornings as you’re used to but as you’re seeing that country seems to have real possibilities of being dangerous.I guess your navy escorts just like to keep in practice to drive fast to catch the bad guys. Hold on and keep the boat tied down and safe.Safe paddling.

Eureka

Sounds like a weird day indeed. You could say por favor, más despacio (please slow down) when they’re going too fast, or por favor date prisa (please hurry up) when you want to go, but I think punctuality is relaxed there. Just don’t get the two mixed up! In any case, as frustrating as it is to give up control, going with the “flow” in exchange for safety is the priority. Hope your next leg on the water is less boring!

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