Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chasing the Ana - Triumph

From Taino - Wrap Up

18 days at sea, and yes I have completed the circumnavigation of my homeland Boriken (Puerto Rico). It was the trip that I had anticipated and much more. The north coast was a challenge with quartering swells and winds, the west was dead calm; no current, but intense heat, and gunfire! The south was headwinds and more head winds and the east was beam seas all the way back to the north which bought those nice North East winds and large swells again. I have seen the coast and know the waters of my beloved Boriken and with the pace of the Indio I can truly say I have accomplished my goals. Now enough of me I would like to thank the following Nydia Kein for her friendship and support. To the gang at KayakScuba.com Carrie Media and her Fiance José Quiñones who have gone well out of their way to take care of me and I didn’t have to ask. To their children; Jose, Maria, Francisco and Joaquin. Truly a loving and sharing family. A special message to mi gente my people on the island in the various locations that we meet you were all exceptional I am truly proud. Thank you also to Derrick & Yvonne and finally Wendy Killoran who picked me for this trip, and yes Wendy you were RIGHT.
Adios and Bomatum
Who is afraid of the surf?
Taino Almestica
Hijo de Aibonito.
last day

The sea does not care about last days. It goes on living and breathing long after we have turned to dust. We are of no consequence. Our petty accomplishments mean nothing to the sea.
We launched for the very last day from under the shadows of condominiums and just north of an old cemetery that now seemed so oddly out of place in this tourist’s playground on the outskirts of San Juan. I paddled out and swept my paddle on top of a small wave to again turn west. I looked over at Taino, now with his canoe paddle perched on the deck of his orange impex kayak. I thought about how different we were as people and as men. This was in many ways a solo journey for both of us. One we paddled together. Our reasons, our experiences, even our paddle styles were very different. Yet we could share the joy accomplishing our goals, traveling the same roads for a time, even if we would get off at different exits.
The ocean floor north of Puerto Rico comes in from the deepest trench in the Atlantic, then quickly rises to the island. The sea builds quickly before slamming into the rocky shoals guarding the pristine beaches. As the old forts came into view the waves began to steepen. 8 foot waves became common with 10 to 12 footers beginning to show themselves. Ahead we could see the ocean breaking on the many hidden rocks. The sound of the water crashing into stone always causes a bit of a shiver in my mind. Often you want to cling to the shore, but you must go further into the sea for calmer water. We paddled north, further into the open ocean. Beyond the green water and into the midnight blue the flow turned from south to west the waves eased into a quick but relaxing 4-5 foot sea. We moved light lightning on what I estimated to be a 3 kt current and were soon just outside of San Juan Harbor, the busiest in the Caribbean.
San Juan Harbor is deep but it’s mouth is only a bit over a mile wide. The east side was bordered San Felipe del Morro upon high stone cliffs, the west side by rocky waters and rocky shores. We paddled right up to the edge just as a large cargo ship eased out behind the cover of the fort. We paddled slowly giving the behemoth time to pass, and then we began our crossing. The water inside the channel was wild and jumping densely after the passing of the ship. We worked our way through a 4-6 bubbling cauldron catching the occasional bigger wave that would overpower everything else to push us further across the channel. To our right two large cargo ships passed, the one we had just waited for and another that was now on its way in. As we reached the other side of the channel the water swallowed again and the waves rose.
With just over a mile left we crossed the last big shallow bay. The sea came into us from our back quarter at 8-10 feet and quite steep. Still they weren’t breaking and we could easily just ride the escalator up one side, then with a quick flick and a couple quick strokes, race down the other allow gravity to do the work. We approached the last little island where we would turn and ride into the protected beach at Punta Salinas. This time around we would have to get across the breakers. Rain was spitting down from a storm that had been shadowing us all day. As was our habit, we both chose our own lines through the breakers and with a combination of surfing and back paddling we soon slid into the relaxed 2 foot rollers of the calm bay. I heard the voice of a crazy woman yelling on the back of a racing ATV taking an angle to meet us on shore. In front I could see the yellow “KayakScuba.com” tees standing out starkly against the dark trees behind the beach. I paused and let Taino go in first. I was not quite ready to leave the sea. I sat out and rolled and played for a few moments, then let the surf slide me in.
Many more stories to tell yet for the moment I want to also thank our sponsors, Carrie & Jose for traveling all over the island to provide water, food or whatever else we needed. Also for putting us up before and after the trip. It would have been a much harder task without their constant support. Special thanks to Jose as well for bringing back my gear, driving me to the airport and letting me set up a tent on his roof. Thanks to Nydia K. for her help and driving us around as well. Also thanks to Yvonne for posting pics, bringing supplies, and letting us fill her garage with sand. ( 4 buckets I’m told). Teamwork is the only reason an adventure like this works. Sure, you can go it alone. . but it’s just not the same.
Now. . . WHO was afraid of the sharks?
Chasing the Ana FINAL TEAM UPDATE!

fotos by http://www.kayakscuba.com/ : Playa Azul, night time camp Luquillo, Puerto Rico

Luquillo, Puerto Rico
12:25 pm
25 August 2007
Final Team Update

This will be your final team update for Chasing The Ana Puerto Rico '07 before the men are off the water and Derrick will take the rest of the story from there. I look forward to reading the details of this adventure written by Derrick.

For those of you getting this blog via email, you may continue to follow Derrick's blog by clicking here http://www.kayakquixotica.com/puertorico.html

The tracking maps are being posted in order at http://www.kayakscuba.com/blog

Derrick's photographs of this expedition are continuing to be posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/derrickam/

Last night the men arrived late in Luquillo on a storm swept beach, Playa Azul. I must have been bit by over a hundred little beach gnats. Of course when I mentioned this I got little sympathy from Derrick or Taino who have been bit THOUSANDS of times in the past three weeks. I had to laugh at myself. At least they offered me insect repellent.

The men are in excellent spirits as they come close to the final day. The marine forcast looks good, but isolated thunderstorms have been sending a few too many lightning stikes for comfort, causing the men to stay off the water for a few hours on Friday.
Special thanks to all our readers and guardian angels, our sponsors: Rockpool Kayaks, Reed, Impex, Kokatat, http://www.nykayak.com/ , and race recon, also Werner Paddles, Support team Nydia Kein, Weather Tracking Karel Vissel, Ground Support: Yvonne Le Guillou and team, José Quiñones and http://www.kayakscuba.com/ , the US Coast Guard in Puerto Rico for answering questions and tracking our adventure, and the generosity of the many Puerto Rican people who offered kindness, assistance, and camping spots!.
We will be video taping the completion of this expedition, and have a post expedition celebration. Call (787) 925-9232 for more information, or email kayak@kayakscuba.com You can meet us at Punta Salinas, in Levittown, on Sunday morning if you wish to greet our paddling duo!! For permission to post photographs contact Derrick Mayoleth for his photos or http://www.kayakscuba.com/ for photos taken by them.

kayakscuba.com foto by José Quiñones, Derrick and Taino at Playa Arroyo:
Chasing The Ana Team Post Day Twenty Three
FOTO: Derrick and Taino practicing rolls together in Levittown

Un-named beach between rocky cliffs
Puerto Rico
August 23, 2007
6 pm
Team Post - Day Twenty-Three
Carrie Medina checking in on day 23 of the expedition.
Derrick emailed me and said they were forced off the water due to lightning. Well, there is never a dull day, now is there!
The men are in an area between rocky cliffs. Derrick will have to forgive me on this one, but by his description I have placed them on the map and I might not have made a perfect pin point. Either way we are looking forward to meeting them Friday to resupply them and encourage them for the last sprint toward home!
Here is the link to the map http://www.kayakscuba.com/blog and the marine forcast for the last few days:

East winds 11 to 15 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
East winds 11 to 16 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Isolated thunderstorms in the morning. Scattered showers.
Friday Night
East southeast winds 11 to 16 knots. Seas 4 feet. Scattered showers.
East winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 4 feet. Scattered showers. Isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon.
Saturday Night
East winds 12 to 17 knots. Seas 4 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
East southeast winds 11 to 16 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Chasing The Ana Team Post Day Twenty-Two

foto: Tracking Map by http://www.kayakscuba.com/

Playa Palmas Del Mar,
Puerto Rico August 21, 2007
4 pm
Team Post - Day Twenty-Two

Carrie Medina checking in with team blog for day 22 of Chasing the Ana, Puerto Rico '07.

Taino has just called in. Derrick and Taino are at the beautiful Playa Palmas del Mar in Yabucoa. They met up with a local paddling club and were invited to a gathering of paddlers in Levittown on Sunday. OK guys, paddle hard!

The men are now 3/4 the way to the original starting point of Levittown. Any local paddlers, or people following along, who would like to join us, please be at Punta Salinas early Sunday morning to welcome and congratulate Derrick and Taino. We will be video taping the arrival and have a post expedition celebration! Call (787) 925-9232 for more information, or email kayak@kayakscuba.com
Chasing The Ana Team Post Day Twenty-One
foto: Tracking Map by www.kayakscuba.com

Punta Patillas, Puerto Rico
August 21, 2007
9 pm
Team Post - Day Nine
Carrie Medina checking in with team blog for day 21 of Chasing the Ana, Puerto Rico '07.

What a WONDERFUL day to paddle! Our boys Derrick and Taino are back on the water August 21, 2007 after a few days of delay caused by Hurricane Dean (stop date August 15, 2007). Fortunately for our paddling duo, Hurricane Dean caused little upset to the island of Puerto Rico, and the seas, once at 12 foot swells, have returned to calm 2-4 foot smooth paddling!

Tonight our boys have reached Punta Patillas, on the southeast coast. For those of you recieving a forward, click this link to take you to the Chasing the Ana blog to view our map, tracking our expedition around the island. http://www.kayakquixotica.com/puertorico.html

You guys are 3/4 the way home!

East southeast winds 11 to 16 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Wednesday Night
East winds 13 to 18 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
East winds 13 to 18 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. Isolated showers.
Thursday Night
East northeast winds 14 to 19 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. Isolated showers.
up with the chickens. . . and the goats

When we landed at Puerto Real it took my a bit by surprise. It was a small village steeped in poverty. There was a nice marina on the waters edge but no other real access to land. In this small village I could find no one with even limited English which is quite rare in Puerto Rico. Homes and shops were worn with years. Streets were small and claustrophobic. For a while I just sat by my kayak trying to organize my thoughts and figure out if this was a place I felt comfortable to stay. While I sat there two small goats came walking across the street to investigate this strange guy and his kayaks. Soon they were followed by a young girl. She looked at me with a big smile and started to talk to me while pointing at the goats. "Sorry, no comprenda" I said. "English?". "No." she said, and smiled. Then she went on telling me about her goats as if I I could understand every word. I watched her and smiled when she smiled. Made a surprised face when she did. We were, in some ways, communicating just fine. They were her goats and she was proud of them. That's all I needed to know. After a long chat she called the goats and the trio went walking off into the group of yellow, white, and pink houses across the street. It was a nice moment.

I am waiting this morning for Taino to join me here and then we are off again to explore this tropical island.

No comments: