Salvador-Buenos Aires (by Frank)

Although this blog never had an intent to describe the truth objectively, it may be interesting to provide, sometimes, testimonies from crew members so that the reader can build her/his own opinion… This time, this also fulfills the (non-)objective of demonstrating some respect to our non-French speaking friends.

Here is a record of the trip from Salvador to Buenos Aires, as lived by a famous pirate, Frank.

Nov 21:

Arrived in Rio again, from the sea this time, after fast transit from Salvador. Quick stop only, to get some sleep & do some adjustments on boat. Leave tonight for overnight sail to next stop, clear Brazil paperwork, then stock-up & leave Saturday morning for Uruguay, maybe 6-7 days run. Plan is reach Buneos Aires 11/30 or 12/1. If so, no flight change, Carol. Can’t be sure yet.

Nov 27:

Hello world!

Had to stop at Rio Grande, in far south Brazil, as bad weather tonight & Thursday AM made getting to Uruguay a bit risky. What’s that saying about discretion and valor?
Pulled into a marine research institute.The guard told us to leave (I think), but the Director came out and invited us to stay….great people!
Hope to leave tomorrow PM and go directly to Buenos Aires, getting there Sunday, 12/1, as the trip so far was quite fast. We will see!
Looking forward to some Argentine beef on Sunday (and Monday, and Tuesday), washed down with a good bottle or two of Malbec! Yum!!

Cheers, Frank

Dec 2:

Hello crew!

Arrived BA yesterday evening, just about on schedule. This is the final, thrilling episode of the travels of the intrepid mariners!

Trip from Rio Grande was a bit longer than expected, because we had calm winds & sea for pretty much half the journey.

Arrived at the (extremely wide) mouth of the River Plate Saturday afternoon, still ~170 miles to BA, and at nightfall we reached the entrance to a very long, narrow and shallow channel (130 miles long),marked by illuminated channel markers, thinking, we’ve done it, smooth sailing up the river overnight, cruise to BA, steak dinner… Relax and enjoy! WRONG!

Right there we were hit by a completely un-forecasted gale, that blew all night, with very rough water throwing the boat around. The auto pilot was unable to cope, so we spent all night trying to keep the boat in the marked channel by physical effort, navigating only by going from one lighted channel marker to the next, soaked, cold and tired, one person always at the helm, while the other tried to get warm or rest for a few minutes, the boat screaming along at crazy speeds through the gale (no brakes on these things, and because of the restricted channel width, no option to change course). Just when we thought it couldn’t get worse, we get notification of a stream of commercial ships (cargo, tankers…) coming down the channel from BA. No choice, we now had to get out of the channel, as there was not enough room in the channel to pass, with the boat careening all over the place, and the big ships definitely couldn’t (and wouldn’t ! ) leave the channel, as they would hit bottom. So there we were, running at speed outside the channel, expecting at any minute to run aground in the dark. The ships eventually passed after a couple of hours, so we survived that scare and got back in the channel… Relax…..sort if!

Then it got really bad! One of the channel markers was faulty, no illumination in the dark, wet weather. We hit this thing really hard. Actually, first thought was that we had run aground, until we glimpsed the dark buoy flying past and bouncing off the boom. These thing are steel & concrete, probably 12 feet tall, above water, and maybe weigh over a ton, so a real problem if you hit one at any speed, and we were going really fast. Quick damage assessment…… We hit a glancing blow, but it made a small (non-structural) dent in the hull, and the boat was still watertight. Morning revealed where the buoy hit the boom, the topping lift (line that supports the end of the boom, up to the top of the mast) was gone, but at least the (brand new) boom wasn’t broken!

The gales and rough water kept up until around mid-day Sunday, progressively declining until we had calm, sunny conditions for the final few hours run into BA, tired, hungry, but determined to get a steak dinner.

Sailed 2000 miles and all this happens in one 18-hour period……. You couldn’t make up this stuff!

Now at a very nice marina in the center of BA, shops, restaurants etc in a recently resonated waterfront area.

An up market steak dinner tonight, few chores tomorrow, then late flight from BA to Houston, then connection to San Francisco.

Here endeth the final message.

Ciao, Frank

Two foreigners being exposed to proper Argentinian culture…

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