top of page


Day 16 to 22_edited.jpg

July 5th - Day 19

I must have been exhausted last night. Even though it was the fourth of July, I never heard any fireworks, or street parties, or anything of the sort, and I slept until my typical 4:00am.


I started earlier than usual, since there was no tent or gear to pack up today, and after six landbound days I was eager to be making progress again.

I covered more distance than any other day so far. Today the headwind was forecast to be light, and I wanted to begin rounding the southeast corner of the island. Tomorrow the east wind is forecast to be stronger, but it won’t matter as much once I have a more northerly heading.

I saw a shark. I had paused to pick up a phone call from last night's host who was calling to ask where I had dropped the keys, when suddenly I saw a big fish swimming directly towards my bow. It was just as surprising to see me as I was to see it. It stopped for a second as if it was evaluating what I was, and then dove down into the turbid water. “Doesn’t look like food and seems big enough that maybe it might think that I am food,” it must have thought. I remembered a video on Youtube that shows a drone view over the beaches in Southern California. There the waters are teaming with great white sharks swimming amongst the surfers and paddle boarders sometimes coming so close that you could kick the fish in the face. The oblivious swimmers beat their arms and legs around like distressed fish, and the surfers with black wetsuits bobbling on their boards waiting for a wave look just like a distracted sea lion that would make an easy meal. Almost always, however, the sharks ignore the commotion, and if they approach with any curiosity, they quickly lose interest once they realize you’re not the type of food they’re looking for. Seems to me they aren’t out there looking to bite anyone; except for the one that bit the back of my kayak last week. I don’t want to run into that guy again.


Perhaps there were other sharks around, because the place I stopped for the day was called California Beach. I’m glad that I was prudent to not be out on the water these past days. The waves on this beach reached all the way up into the bushes and there were many turtle eggs strewn about the sand as many nests must have flooded.


A little ways from where I camped were a few ramshackle plywood houses. I became the attraction of the day for the fishermen, who wanted to know if I fish off my kayak. Then two then elderly ladies, sisters as I later found out, came by to see what was going on and were determined to get a picture with me, and then with the kayak. Then flattered me with generosity offering me a bottle of orange juice and a beach chair to sit on, all of which I readily accepted. I hadn’t realized until now but having a decent place to sit on when on land is a huge comfort to have on a kayaking expedition. It’s on the same level as having a pillow when sleeping in the tent. I’ll consider investing in a folding chair for my next kayaking expedition.

July 6th - Day 20

I finally rounded the south east corner of Puerto Rico. I was thrilled when the compass heading started to point Northeast and then due North. Compared to yesterday, paddling felt rather and visibly seeing that the land was moving backwards with every stroke was a big psychological boost.


I passed by an island full of monkeys. It’s the first time I’ve seen monkeys here in Puerto Rico, and I would venture to say that the ones on this island are not native. A sign on the beach said very sternly, “Do not land. The monkeys are aggressive, and they bite.” and so I stayed a few meters offshore and did not get off my kayak. I’m not sure what these monkeys eat, because the island is kind of barren. Maybe someone from the mainland comes by a day or two and drops off food for the famished critters. I didn’t want to set foot on land and be mistaken for their meal ticket and find out how unhappy they would be with unrealized expectations.

Yesterday I noticed a small rash under each of my armpits. I don’t know why I didn’t apply the rubbing cream before starting today. Maybe the discomfort wasn’t enough to remind me in the morning, but it sure was throughout the day. The rashes are now red, and I am in sore need to wash them in fresh water.

I camped on the mainland, just downwind of the monkey island. The beach here is very ugly, full of seaweed and trash. There was a road nearby leading to a small village. I walked along the road and found a gas station. At that point I had a bright idea. I bought two gallons of fresh water and dunked them over my head for an improvised shower which was greatly appreciated by the armpit rashes.