23 June 2011 | Piriapolis
Mid-winter and still too far south.
After our “holiday” in La Paloma we returned to our berth in Montevideo (Buceo) for another two months. This time though we found it a little too quiet on account of the seasonal exodus from the city for January and February.
We were waiting though until the travel hoist in next small port, Piriapolis , was overhauled so that we could lift and anti-foul there. We were doing a fast scrub down and anti-foul job and for that we found the facilities perfect. The hard area is clean, water pressure good , and the climate in March made for great drying conditions.
Apparently if you need a certificate to weld, or use outside contractors then the pace of things can be a bit exasperating . That though may well be changing as there is a new “kid on the block” an Irishman, Laurence. He is both a naval architect and is well versed in repairs and maintenance of all types of boats and systems.
We managed to get lifted, cleaned, five coats of paint on and back in the water in a week. The first sail with a clean bottom was down to Mar del Plata at the southern mouth of the Rio Plate. And what a sail, we logged our first 180 mile day in what were relatively light conditions and I caught a nice “pez limon” , yellowtail, into the bargain.
Mar del Plata, well what can I say. If you can imagine the biggest, most over concreted sea side resort that you know and multiply it by two orders of magnitude, you might get some idea of this enormous and ugly resort. It is where the masses of Buenos Aries and the people from the interior cities decamp to for their summer holidays, as many as ten million of them at a time.
The yacht basin tucked into the corner of what is Argentina’s largest fishing port is a seclude world of it’s own. It is shared by four or five sailing and fishing clubs and home to a couple of particularly large sea-lions. The port area and it’s high street are very normal and it would make a good provisioning stop if you were heading south for Patagonia.
As soon as we were acclimatised to Argentina we sailed up the Plate for Buenos Aries. What a city, big, full of culture, easy to find your way around and just so much to do. We extended our courtesy week at Yacht Club Argentina by another few days and really enjoyed the city. We experienced the annual remembrance of the “disasparidos” and were very moved by the strength of feeling and anguish on display and the determination that nothing so brutal would ever be allowed happen again.
The “portenos” as the city dwellers are know, are infinitely patient and polite while dealing with the human congestion that is part and parcel of life in such a large city. They queue and queue, they squeeze over in the buses and “subtes” , they help each other with bicycles and prams and they wait for the public performances put on by the city for their entertainment.
If you want to enjoy the city though you should put yourself through a special “time conditioning” before arrival. Friends meet for dinner no earlier than ten o’clock, they go out for tango or other music about one, when they get more than four hours sleep I don’t know. It is a seriously late culture.
We moved to the suburbs north of the city to another yacht club to stock up on non perishables and bits and pieces for the boat. It was a bit of a come down after our city centre experience and if we return we would berth further up , maybe at Tigre to have better access to the delta.
April came and with it Eileen’s departure to Ireland. She needed to see family, to touch base with Connemara and in all likely hood to get a break from our 24/7 on board life.
I began the journey back up the South American coast with a run back to Piriapolis. The plan was to find guests/crew for each part of the passage and I was successful in getting crew for this first leg.
It was good to be back in Uruguay after the month in Argentina, a slower easier way of life.
Piriapolis harbour was nicely busy with boats arriving from both Brasil and from Patagonia. While I was looking for people for the next leg a delivery job came up and so I did sail north from Piriapolis before the weather got cold, directly to Grenada but without En Passant.
The delivery was a Leopard catamaran that was being traded in for a new, larger one by a Uruguayan owner. It was interesting to take a different boat on a passage that I was about to embark on with En Passant. My impression was that in the conditions we experienced (a week of close hauled, some good reaching and a thousand miles of down wind trades ) was that En Passant would have won the race by a few days. Although it would have been a fairer “race” if we had had a gennecker for those light wind trade days on the catamaran.
My only real complaints were the noise of the hulls slapping when we were doing good speed and the difficulty of translating good speed into good daily distances. The challenge off the wind is to get the catamaran to steer straight enough.
On the plus side, I didn’t spill a single cup of coffee in over four thousand miles !
It is the solstice today. En Passant is experiencing a winter solstice as she is still moored in Piriapolis, Eileen is experiencing a “proper” summer solstice as she is back in Connemara at 54 north and I am in a solstice free zone here in the Caribbean.
The plan is for all three of us to be re-united in Natal, Brazil, in October. In the meantime I have to fly back down to Uruguay, jump on board En Passant , and get moving up to Brazil before I feel the mid-winter cold.