March 18. Morning came way too early. I made coffee and waited for the French Pastry Chef for breakfast. Yes, the French Pastry Chef. Yesterday morning I heard a little bell ringing. I ducked outside and saw the panga selling fresh-baked pastries motor past the end of the dock. I was too late. It was like missing the ice cream truck as a kid. I had missed it that day but I was determined not to be skunked again! This was my last chance, we were leaving today. I waved vigorously at the Chef, he motioned me over to the dock. I waited while he finished with his transaction on another boat. Then there he was, what a spread! It was difficult to choose. I selected an almond filled croissant and a strawberry pastry for me and a cinnamon roll and chocolate croissant for Bill. What a treat!
After our “healthy” breakfast, we left Barra de Navidad for Carrizal, about a five hour sail. Our friends on Chaos had told us about Secret Beach. We needed to land on the beach at Carrizal, hike up the hill to the main road, follow it down to the other side, and from there it is obvious how to get to the beach. They said it was one of the prettiest beaches they have ever seen, we have to see that! Once we were out of the marina and on the way, we noticed that the water was beautiful and clear. We had been seeing red tide on and off for the last 2 months but over the last couple of weeks, it seemed to be almost everywhere. We don’t want to fill up our tanks with water from the marinas and we don’t want to make water in the red tide (or swim in it for that matter) so whenever we see clear water, we pull up the sails and start the generator to make water, even if we go really slow. We don’t like to run the engine and the generator at the same time so, at least a little wind is necessary. We were only going 3 knots in 7 knots of wind but we were making water, yay!
SLAP, SLAP! We looked wide eyed at each other, “We know that sound!” Sure enough a whale tail was just ahead of the boat and slapped again, as if to let us know it was there and not have a collision. Then, before we could even grab a camera, KASPLOOSH! A big male Orca came full out of the water right beside us! WOW! I am surprised we didn’t get wet from the splash. As if to prove he was just showing off he immediately breached again behind us, even higher out of the water!! Unbelievable! He was nearly the length of our boat! We haven’t seen an Orca since leaving Seattle. It seemed out of place, especially with no accompanying pod. Must be an explorer! It was a beautiful day with some interesting scenery along the way including a shipwreck. We ghosted along in the light breeze and flat seas filling our water tanks. We pulled into Carrizal as the sun was getting low. It was a beautiful little bay surrounded by high hills. Around the edge there were interesting rock formations and several blowholes.
March 19, time to explore! We packed sun block, bug spray, hiking shoes, and water. We were ready to find Secret Beach. We looked across the bay to the beach we were supposed to land on. It was initially a steep bank of loose gravel with surf pouring up it. At the top there was a flat stone beach with enough room to safely leave the tender. At the back of the beach we could see a steep washed out trench, the trail? We decided to go with the kayak rather than the dinghy because it was too steep and loose to be able to pull Pomp up to dry land. We discussed a contingency plan should we flip over: push away from the kayak, Kris swim to the beach, Bill push the kayak toward the beach and follow it into to beach, and then we would pull it up. Our gear was tied into to the kayak so it wouldn’t float away. Bill timed a wave; they were about 4 feet high and curled over as they crashed onto the 6 foot high step of gravel that led up to the plateau. Here we go, no turning back now! We paddled hard trying to match the speed of the wave, I heard it curling behind us, we picked up speed as it lifted us up, and crunched onto the gravel bank! We jumped out as the wave went back into the sea and pulled the kayak up, up, up the steep gravel. My sport sandals were so full of pebbles, I didn’t know how there was room for my feet! We stood at the top catching our breath and looking down at the breaking waves, we made it! High five!
Bill found a log to tie the kayak to and we started looking for the trail. We headed for the washed out trench that we had seen from the boat. Before we reached the trench, we came across a good sized mound of soil that came out from under the dense bushes. Bill pushed past a few branches and there was the trail! We climbed up through dense vegetation to a road that looked like it was made to lead to a resort or condos or big house that has yet to be built. It was a nice overlook to the bay. We followed the main road walking and jogging along. There were driveways leading into the woods and electric lines lining the roadway. Again it appeared this area was going to be a resort area at some point, but was never completed. We were glad to be exploring it prior to development. We hit the top of the hill and started down, staying on the main road until it ended on a sandy track. There was only one way to go and it was obviously leading to the beach!
As we got closer, we could hear some music then we came across a gathering of about 20 people. It looked like a bunch of twenty-somethings were car camping at this hidden beach, but there was also a tent set up with catered food and white tablecloths, linen napkins, and chairs draped in fabric covers. Fancy….and odd! We walked respectfully through their camp to the beautiful beach that awaited. Secret Beach was wonderful. We walked from one end to the other and climbed over some of the black rocks that bookended the white sand beach. We watched some Cormorants fishing, admiring their timing in the surf. The whole flock would dive just as the breaker hit then come up on the other side in smooth water. We headed back happy that we had ventured out. We were not looking forward to launching the kayak off the beach, but we thought we could swim it out if necessary and climb aboard outside the surf. When we arrived back to the kayak, the surf looked like it had settled down a bit and launching wasn’t too bad, actually. We took some extra time and paddled around the bay, looking at some of the blow holes and rock formations. What a great day! Time for a beer!
March 20, we planned a short one-hour sail to Santiago. The guidebook mentioned two interesting things to do there: snorkel over a shipwreck and kayak in the lagoon. We had the anchor down near the wreck before noon, but the water was cloudy. The beach was fully covered in palapa restaurants and umbrellas. People paddled on paddle boards and others zoomed around on jet skis. It was really busy here! Ahhhh, it was the weekend, of course! We heard a high-pitched squeal and turned to see some dolphins checking out the teenage paddle boarders. Cool! We decided not to do the snorkel with all of the jet skis and cloudy water but kayaking in the lagoon sounded perfect! To get into and out of the Laguna, we had to go through a short tidal river. If we timed it right, we could paddle with the current both ways. Luckily the tide times were perfect with high tide at 1pm. We dropped the kayak in the water, grabbed water, sunscreen, and bug spray and we were off for another adventure! The entrance to the tidal river was crowded with fishermen of all ages. They were careful with their lines and made sure they did not catch us instead of a fish. We rode the current through the river and into the huge, shallow lagoon, beautiful! We made a lap around it watching birds and crabs and enjoying the scenery. We thought we might stop at one of the palapas for lunch on the way back but they were all busy and full of patrons. We headed back to the boat instead, riding the ebb current back out, great timing! Relaxing in the cockpit, we smiled as the weekend craziness unfolded around us. Just like everywhere in the world we have been, families just want to have the time and the means to enjoy themselves and each other.