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Part 2 Jun. 23rd - Day 7 - Sea Kayak Puerto Rico Circumnavigation

Updated: Jan 29

Puerto Rico - West Coast - Rockpool Taran Kayak

Last night I tried to sleep with only half the rainfly on to keep the air a bit cooler. That worked out well, until around 3:00am when I woke up with rain pouring in. I did not cover much distance today. I paddled around the northwest shoulder of the island which has many dramatic cliffs tumbling into the water. The wind was very mild in the morning; I paddled past inviting beaches secluded in small pockets amidst the vegetation that looked like they would be fairly easy landings, though I don’t know if I would say the same thing six hours later after the wind picked up.

I stopped for about two hours at a beach popular with locals called “Crash Boat Landing” The beach has an abandoned pier that is a magnet to all kinds of colorful fish that shoal around the column remains. Some of them are curious and have no fear of approaching the divers looking for small bread crumbs. The water was very clear, and I decided to use the snorkeling mask and flippers I have been carrying to beat my legs which haven’t been getting much exercise.

Rimming the beach parking lot were several food trucks selling chicken, pork and fish kebabs. Unfortunately, the Puerto Rican street food lacks a lot to be desired. I tried the chicken kebab, but it had more barbecue sauce than chicken. The cheese burger I ordered was incinerated. But by far the worst thing I ate was a pepperoni pizza. I don’t know how the pizza was baked, but it was soggy like a wet t-shirt and reeked like a grease catcher. I took a one bite and tossed it in the trash, even the fish wouldn’t eat it. I carried on, now paddling due south to the town of Aguadilla which sits on a cliff foot surrounded by blooming orange Poinciana trees. Just before the town there is an enormous peer with a metal frame high above the water. I was told this used to be the loading station for a sugar mill. The ship would approach the pier and be loaded with a conveyor belt to the brim with raw black sugar before sailing off to the United States where the sugar was refined and sold back to Puerto Rico. It seems however, the peer has not been used in many years, and I was worried about passing underneath it as it looked rusty and ready to collapse into the sea at any moment.

There were no good places to land and walk around the waterfront in Aguadilla. The town didn’t look very inviting; all the buildings I could see from the water were the typical shanties built from a cluster of bricks of varying quality. Just south of the town where the coast begins to bend west to the Rincon peninsula there was a park where I stopped and spent the afternoon. The beach where I planned to camp had no shade, and the sun would have baked my uncovered scalp.

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I noticed my phone had several missed calls. One was from the washing machine handyman who finally got around to showing up to repair the broken washer. I had told the tenant to in the meantime use a laundry delivery service and that I would pay for however often she needed it. Unfortunately, the message said he could fix the machine, but he still wanted to be paid. I called him up and paid him; over the years, I have learned that there are things that are not worth arguing about. I’ll buy a new washer when I get back.

The other calls were from family in Brazil, friends on Facebook whom I have not had contact with in many years, and work acquaintances. All of them wanted to know if I was ok, which seemed strange to me until I caught up with the news. An entire condominium building in Miami collapsed. Apparently, it came down like a controlled demolition explosion and there are hundreds of people feared missing or dead. The rubble pile reminded me of the Twin Towers in New York. If it is anything like it, very few people, perhaps no one will have survived.

I pitched the tent later after the sun had set over the horizon and the heat had partially abated. When I was ready to call in for the day I realized that I had misjudged the location of the high tide mark on the sand. A wave washed right through the mark and came within just three feet of the tent. I looked up the tide table on my phone and saw that the official high tide time would be in 25 minutes. Everything was unpacked, the wind had picked up and was kicking up a lot of sand. It would be extremely burdensome and messy to move further up the beach, especially in the dark. I decided to risk it and leave things as is.

Sea Kayak Puerto Rico Circumnavigation


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