Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Clean Ocean Big Water Paddle Board Race

Saturday I went with Alaine, Paul and Tirza for a protest against the building of a marina in Puerto Viejo. This proposed 400 slip marina would likely disrupt Cahuita National Park, Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge and surf spots in Cocles and Puerto Viejo. The protest took the form of a race with the participants paddling their surfboards from Beach Break in Cocles to the bus stop in Puerto Viejo, not far from Salsa Brava, Puerto Viejo's most famous surf break.

Team ATEC

Since none of us are surfers, we decided to participate by kayaking the race route. We signed up for the race as "Team ATEC" and biked to Puerto Viejo and rented kayaks. Rather than try to put in in the heavy surf at Beach Break, we decided to start in Puerto Viejo, kayak to Beach Break and just float out there beyond the breakers and wait for the race. We were well-provisioned with several large bottles of water, sunblock, 10 cold beers, a half-liter water bottle filled with Flor de CaƱa rum, and some snacks.

Going out

Tirza
The kayak rental guys pointed out a channel where we could safely get the kayaks out with getting pounded by a wave. Paul and I led the way and Alaine and Tirza followed. Once we were well clear of the breaking waves, we decided to celebrate with a beer. We had to to go out really far before we could start heading east towards Cocles in order to avoid Salsa Brava. It was about 45 minutes before we all arrived at Beach Break, but we were traveling slowly because of a couple of equipment problems and Paul stopping to take pictures.

The Race


Me in front, Tirza behind the boat, getting ready to get in
Once we got to Beach Break Tirza started feeling seasick. There was a rescue boat there so Paul helped get Tirza and her kayak into the boat. We could hear the PA system on the beach but it was hard for us to make out what was going on finally we heard an announcement that the race would start at 3:30, 1 and a half hours late. Once we saw the surfers paddling near us we started heading back to Puerto Viejo. I was surprised that they were going almost as fast as I was in my kayak. There were two kids on one board who wanted to have me pull them, but they tried to hold on to the side and I couldn't paddle. I suggested they hold on to the back but they decided to go it alone. Later the younger boy climbed into the back cargo area of Paul's kayak and Paul carried him the rest of the way in. A couple of people were wanting water so I shared mine with them. The second guy that I gave water to said he was really tired so I said maybe he should get in the boat, which he did.

Kid getting ready to climb into Paul's Kayak
I finally caught up to Alaine where she was waiting before going back to land. We couldn't tell exactly where the channel was from the different angle so we just headed in hoping it would become clear once we got closer. I got caught by a couple small waves but was able to keep the kayak upright. The waves carried me most of the way in. Alaine flipped over on the reef and got little scraped up. I didn't realize it because she was behind me. Paul was already on land and had shoes on, so he walked out on the reef and helped Alaine get back and I paddled back out and got her oar.

Alaine was OK and we returned the kayaks and stayed for part of the post-race ceremony but we had to go home early. Yesterday Alaine saw the race organizer on the road and she gave Alaine a trophy for second place. Tirza got a first place trophy but we don't know why. It's funny because we never were in the race to win.

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Congratulations to Alaine and Tirza for their well-earned trophies. I think it must have been for surviving and keeping their adventurous spirits! Woman power!!!

Enjoying the blog, and the photos that really bring it to life. Sigh. Makes me want to be sitting in a kayak on that blue water.

Jackie, Paul's Mom