Loc: Restinga Norte before Isla Monte Léon
Dist: 50,2 km
Start: 6:40 End: 16:40
I had a bad feeling leaving civilization that soon again, but this day was a low wind day. The long term fore cast said Thursday would be marginal head winds, Friday horrible strong head winds, and then nice again.
I’d rather should have had another look on Google Earth to review possible landing options, but around Isla Monte Leon were a few headlands and bays which would be suitable, I thought.
I got easy started with the help of three nice Prefectura guys, more than two hours before high tide. This means I’d have to paddle a bit against the current out of the river mouth, but that couldn’t be so bad if I kept close to the shore in the back current.
This was basically right. I passed along the long beach with the penguin settlement, watched those nice birds all the time floating around and launching! Cute!
But when I came to Punta Entrada, one hour before high tide, the current couldn’t be avoided any more, and I had to fight hard to make headway around the corner. I mostly paddled between 1-2 km/hr, which was ridiculous, but I kept on fighting, was sweating a lot, until I slowly was speeding up and got out of the strongest current, and the tide went slack as well.
To the right were towering now steep inaccessible cliffs, quite an impressive view! I paddled along, and kept a good eye for any outer reef break developing! Not that I’d like to be stuck again like yesterday!
But the reef here was starting right on the beach with the breaks, no inner reef any way to paddle on. The breakers developed, I stayed far out.
The cliff line eventually got a bit more friendly, but I couldn’t see many possible landing places! And not on low tide, and not from so far out any way.
But I made good speed, the wind was almost none.
Last night, it has already been raining moderately all night long, when I started, there were dark clouds overall. But rain is no problem for me, only wind. Low wind was there, but the horizon up front me stayed dark all day! And then, around 3 pm, the rain eventually started over me, and quite strong! Long time ago I had such a rain…
Basically no problem, wind was still low, my dry suit was dry and only my hood got a bit soaked. But I was still warm, and close to my destination.
I saw a long beach developing in the dark rain before Isla Monte Léon, with some white point to the left which must have been the house from the campsite in the National Park I have heard of…
The sight was really bad in the strong rain, and I decided to slowly head into the bay to have a look at the beach and to maybe find the house.
The reef break was gone at the outer level where I was paddling, the water calmed in general going deeper into the bay, but coming in closer, I saw the beach was not as calm as I thought, and the swell went up again.
I had to aim to the right of the beach, where the house was not, but where I spotted a break in the cliff behind that I could climb high or even off the beach for camping, to be safe on high tide!
To the right a reef (which was not on my chart…) was breaking hard on one hour after low tide, and to the left a wide surf belt with high waves came up. But I found very calm water in the lee of the reef break to the right, paddled behind the reef, and saw a narrow gap of almost calm water up to the beach.
Only very few rocks were in that gap, and coming even closer, I saw the water had almost flooded the edge of the gravel beach and the few rocks on the sea bed. I was still in unbroken water in the whole gap, and felt I was very clever I found this possibility! Though I already better had put on my PFD and helmet, due to the rocks…
But I could come closer and closer, still unbroken water, just tine breakers developed. No problem. Only that one of the tiny breaker washed me sideways, which is usually no problem as well, leaning into the small wave. Another one washed me where I’d not planned on landing – on a shallow rocky ledge. I could paddle off on the next low swell, and land on the sandy gap where I wanted to be arriving, but I must have hit a rock or the rocky ledge on that process…After I landed I noticed I shaved off my rudder fin again! SHIT! Second time on this trip…but I was having luckily still two spare fins with me I could change myself on the beach. Still not very funny! I should have up hauled my rudder sitting eventually between the rocks!
Better, I should have actually waited about 10 or 15 min until the edge of the gravel beach would have been flooded high enough it would have covered the flat reef and the last small rocks on it’s edge…but patience is not always my strength…see if I can do it already…I made it in reasonable style, but lost my rudder fin!
But EVEN MUCH BETTER, I should have paddled off this stupid open beach, and tried to find Isla Monte Léon only 3-4 km to the south, which probably had a bit of sheltered beaches! But I thought as well, the rain may not stop any time soon, and sight was really bad, and I may better paddle in that seemingly nice area on a better day!
High and dry on the beach, I had to miss out my cliff gap by landing about 200 m safely to the right of it. Right in front of me was another narrow cliff gully from a river mouth which I checked out first, but I didn’t think this would stay dry on high tide.
Luckily right after landing the rain had stopped, but it showed another problem now for me, trying to make out the high tide line on the beach…the rain had almost wiped out any obvious signs!
I was walking to the left about 200 m, and found a small parking lot on that cliff gap, the parking lot Restinga Norte from the national park.
Also, I found walking the few rocky steps up to the parking lot, that all the area had the same lime stone surface as I saw everywhere the last weeks, and that the first real rain of the last weeks had soaked up that lime stone very quickly to 10 cm deep mud every where! No way of camping up there anywhere, the bush was not dense enough to cover the mud, and the driving track had some gravel, but not enough as well to be not muddy. My sandals and boots were heavy from the sticky mud!
So the only option to camp would be down on the beach, on the last edge of sand which may stay dry on high tide. Or I could have spent the night sitting on one of the wooden benches high and dry from tide and mud, but not really the nicest place to be all night long! 🙂
I carried my gear and dragged my boat the 200 meters up the beach to the left, right upfront the parking lot, and hoped the sandy spot I found for my tent would stay dry on high tide.
Once I came back from my first run to the boat, to pick the second load of gear bags, I noticed quite a big and wide flood stream on the beach coming down the other cliff gap river mouth which I was inspecting first – when I was there maybe 15 min ago there was no water in there! Amazing…but scary as well. The rain water must have collected everywhere on top of the cliffs, not able to soak fully in the lime stone surface, and eventually had formed that flood river down the beach!
I carried my second gear load, and brought my camera back for pictures. As well I noticed there was foam far to the side of the now actual running river, so the flood must have come with a big rush! I heard of such things…
I quickly dragged my boat to the planned camp site, as the tide came up very fast, and put up tent, but actually was very worried if that spot would stay dry on high tide.
The beach was not steep, so I assumed the water once having covered the rocky and reefy sea ground in front, it would create a normal dumper as usual.
But what developed soon in front of my eyes was the most horrifying dumper I have EVER seen! Not even my “Birdlings Flat” dumper in New Zealand could top this one, when it was at it’s best! Three meters high, and leaving the whole beach sprayed in sea water. And the water level rose quickly by the hour…11 meters tidal range…
Soon two hours before high tide I decided my tent site in front of the parking lot gap would not stay dry, and I found a better sandy spot 100 m to the left, a little higher up. It had just a low limestone cliff to it’s back.
My tent, nicely secured with rocks, got shifted, plus the gear bags I didn’t even unload yet…yet I was even still in my dry suit! I was so worried…and felt really trapped! I had a big knot in my stomach, not able to rest and relax at all yet, not to talk about eating or doing anything else than watching the tide.
Up the high and dry from the sea water cliffs there was endless mud everywhere from the rain, and on the beach I was not sure how high the water level would come on highest tide at 9.30 pm…at least once arrived at that time and “survived dry” down at the beach I could sleep sound, as next high tide is 10 am next morning.
The new camp site looked much better, but I was still nervously walking up and down in my dry suit. The spray of the horrible dumpers was making all things wet.
About one hour before high tide I shifted it again, to another place, a somehow wide river mouth 100 m to the left, which eventually proved to stay dry. But if it would start to rain again heavily, this river may swell up as well…? Another shifting gear, another carrying heavy rocks to secure my tent.
Plus I dragged up my kayak to the highest rock ledge in front of the parking lot twice, very worried about my baby, too.
Eventually, at around 9 pm, I decided the third campsite will stay dry, my kayak was high enough, and I could start to relax…
My computer started on the FIRST try! But I was only up to check Google Earth for possible camp sites down the coast, which I should have done before I started! No update, too tired. I ate dinner without appetite while thinking and checking the weather and options.
Tomorrow may be a chance to get out of here on low tide in the afternoon, but the head wind may be unpleasant. Friday would be a horrible storm…Saturday good again.