torstai 26. huhtikuuta 2012

April 26th 2012

Even though this was our first (but hopefully not the last!) visit to Buenos Aires, we had a circle of friends waiting for us here. Actually, they are the friends of my cousin but I like to think that now they are also our friends. They made us feel at home right from the beginning. They wined and dined us at their homes (that succulent asado prepared by Mabel and Joaquin, and Cami's wonderful embanadas!!!), they introduced us to Tango Argentino, took us sightseeing, to a boat ride in the waterways of Tigre, to the Ferias de Mataderos..... and when they had no time to entertain us, they recommended us things to see and places to go. And we followed their advice and enjoyed Buenos Aires to the full!

But now the time has come to leave Argentina, make a U-turn, and return to Europe. There are several reasons for heading back home, for one thing the boat is in dire need of a facelift and for another, her captain and crew are longing for a proper break in sailing. But the real reason behind this decision is that we have changed our minds about the route we should take to get back to Alaska.

This is not the first time we have changed our plans. In 2006, instead of continuing to the west from Tahiti as we had originally planned, we decided to sail up north to Kodiak, Alaska and that was by far the best idea we have come up with so far. We hope that our latest change of plan is another one of those great ideas!

When leaving Argentina, we will take a piece of it with us. On the expert advice of Pertti and Antonio, we bought a total of twenty CDs, all Tango Argentino. Although we know that we'll never learn even its most elementary steps properly, we have decided to give it a go and, in the spirit of Argentina, we will tango all the way back to Portugal!

torstai 19. huhtikuuta 2012

April 13th 2012

Puerto de Madero, Buenos Aires

34° 36,204' S, 58°21,909' W

On the 10th of April, we checked out of Uruguay as the winds had finally died down, and also because we were running short of days to spend in South America. After about one and half days of motoring in the muddy waters of the Rio de la Plata, we and about a zillion mosquitoes arrived in Argentina. We first went to the Yacht Club Argentino but as they didn't have space for our boat, we contacted the neighbouring Yacht Club Puerto de Madero who agreed to accommodate us.

We had to wait for an hour in the harbour basin for a bridge to open and let us through to one of the most protected marinas we have ever been in. And the best part is that Puerto de Madero is located in the very centre of Buenos Aires within walking distance of just about any place, Plaza de Mayo, Avenida de Corrientes, San Telmo, La Boca...

We will stay here a little longer than anticipated because of technical problems (this time it's the gearbox!) but it is hard to imagine a more interesting place than Buenos Aires to pass the time.

tiistai 10. huhtikuuta 2012

April 10th 2012

A Short Visit to Uruguay

Punta del Este, Maldonado
34° 57,486’ S, 54° 56,904’ W

Eventually, we got tired of motoring on the windless Atlantic and decided to pay a short visit to Uruguay. We spent the first day trying to locate a place where we could take photocopies because, according to the Uruguayan authorities, the Brazilian authorities had not given us enough copies of the documents. We kept walking up and down the streets in the town centre and when we finally found a kiosk advertising Fotocopias, it turned out that their copying machine had broken down already some days ago and would be fixed in the near future.

That left us with a much more laborious alternative to obtain the copies, namely using our own scanner and printer aboard. Hence, we returned to the boat, and while installing the copying equipment in place, the thus far pleasant weather turned into a nasty gale in just a few minutes. 50+ knot winds blew right into the Maldonado Bay and we were soon bouncing up and down on the white crowned waves. The violent movements of the boat snapped both our anchor chain securing lines, and during the night, we shifted about 40 metres from our original anchoring site towards the shore due to a combination of dragging the anchor and involuntarily letting out anchor chain after the securing lines had broken.

On the second day, we had ample time to take copies as the winds were still strong and the waves high and breaking. On the third day, the weather had improved enough for us to go ashore to report our arrival to the authorities, this time accompanied with the appropriate number of copies. When we returned to the boat, the wind and the waves were still harassing us so much that we decided to weigh anchor and seek shelter in the marina.
It appeared that the marina was a safe haven also for a group of South American Sea Lions. Both cows and bulls were huge but the bulls had a lion-like rusty-brown mane which made it easy to distinguish between the sexes. They slept on the concrete docks or on some unfortunate boat owner's deck, and were fed daily by local fishermen cleaning their catch in the marina. What an easy life!

perjantai 6. huhtikuuta 2012

April 2nd 2012

Southward Bound

We got to use our newly repaired foresail for only two days. In the evening of our second day at sea, the inner forestay T-terminal broke and left the sail swinging uncontrollably on its halyard. Because it was already dark, we decided not to take the sail down until the following morning, and tied it as best we could to the pulpit for the time being. A few hours later, we were hit by a strong front with headwinds gusting to 40+ knots and had no alternative but to heave to. We stayed hove to for the next 17 hours and when the front had passed, we took the sail down and stored it inside to wait for its resurrection.

As usual, we had been fishing uninterruptedly day and night. During the first day, we caught a piece of plastic and, on the second day, another piece of plastic, only bigger. But the thought of fried fish was so tempting that we continued fishing persistently and, on the third day, we caught … a shearwater or a Greater Shearwater (Puffinus gravis) - to be exact! The strange thing about this was that just a few hours prior to this incident we had been discussing how to prepare a seabird before cooking it in order to get rid of the strong, unpleasant taste of bird fat. According to Pekka, who as an ex-islander is more knowledgeable about the subject, the bird should be kept submerged in milk for at least a day.

Anyway, we had no intention of eating the poor thing splashing about in our wake. As there was practically no wind at all (thank god for that!), it was easy to reel the bird in and as soon as Pekka got it in the fish net, the hook came off its bill. When we lifted the bird out of the water, its wing got entangled in the net. I don't know about the rest of the shearwaters but this particular individual was extremely co-operative. In less than a minute, we had managed to get it free, and returned it to its own element unharmed as far as we could judge. Although the story had a happy ending, it meant no more fishing for us, at least for as long as there are any birds flying around. We are more than happy not to eat fish at all for the rest of our journey rather than risk catching another one of those beautiful shearwaters!