_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Flying Over the Delta

One of the awkward factors of our moorage at Neptuno is that the neighborhood directly outside is too risky to walk in, being a known area for muggings. As a result we've taken many short taxi rides, safely crossing the danger zone. One day a driver mentioned to us, casually, that when he wasn't driving a taxi, he was driving a helicopter for the Prefectura (similar to Coast Guard but more police duties.) Pablo is one of Christina's pilots, the president of Argentina. Furthermore, if a couple of seats were available, he would be glad to take us for a ride! After a first short reaction of disbelief we noted his military bearing and unusual driving skill..... A few days later we got a call, and before we knew it we were at the airport watching Pablo's helicopter landing to pick us up!

helicopter lands

Pablo wave

busy pilots

Just seconds after take off we passed Marcy moored at Neptuno and headed out to the rivers and canals of the delta.

Neptuno & Marcy

As we roared down the waterways at a low altitude, the helicopter banked left and right to stay over water.


Looking down we saw the scenery flash by.


barge port

At one point at low altitude (at about 150 feet) and high speed (at about 150 knots) we roared past a ferry heading the other way. For sailors like us that get “white knuckles” at 9 or 10 knots it was quite thrilling.

fly by ferry

Pablo looked like he was enjoying driving.

Pablo 1

The helicopter had the same Garmin GPS onboard that Marcy has.

Garmin GPS

We returned to the airport and were introduced to the other passengers. Interestingly, they were a group of Dutch technicians in BA to rig a new Prefectura training ship.

post flight

post flight 2

We were invited to share sandwiches and coke in the pilots lounge.

Ginger in lounge

There was a photo on the wall of the Prefectura helicopter in windy weather winching crewmembers up from the deck of a stranded shrimper. We learned that Pablo had taken the picture. We remembered when onboard Marcy a few days earlier he had warned us to avoid these windy and shallow dangerous waters to the south.

Pablo with photo

Pablo planning

We were given a ride home by the Prefectura, leaving us amazed at our good fortune to have met Pablo and the hospitality of Argentina.

ride home


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Marcy arrived in downtown Buenos Aires in a cold rain. Argentina's gorgeous sail training ship “Libertad” was moored to the wall in the outer basin.

Libertad BA

After some awkward Spanglish radio calls and waiting what seemed like endless time for permission to enter a marina – any marina – we were finally allowed into Puerto Madero. After waiting a bit longer for the swing bridge to open for us, we docked and were finally settled for a while. We could stay long enough to complete formalities, then we needed to move upriver and find a spot to refit for cold weather.

Marcy downtown BA

We admired the “Libertad” as we passed when we walked to the various offices to check into Argentina: Prefectura, Aduana, and Migracion.

ratguard BA

After a couple of days to wait for weather to pass by, we headed up into the labyrinth of creeks, rivers, and bayous of the delta. We wanted to find a quiet spot near marine and industrial suppliers to prepare Marcy for the next leg. By all recommendations, the area for us would be San Fernando, a suburb of Buenos Aires and the regional yachting center . Although not far away in a direct line, the shortcut isn't deep enough for Marcy's seven and a half foot draft so we needed to make a long detour to follow a dredged route. Even so, sometimes the depth sounder indicated that we only had inches of water under the keel. The scenery was beautiful as we motored up tranquil canals, spent a night next to a reeded bank, and made our way to San Fernando.

river scene

old riverboat

On the rivers and canals, people are moved about in beautiful old varnished launches.

transport people

Sand for cement is dredged and transported, wood for furniture and goods is also moved back and forth on the water.

transport sand delta . transport wood

transport goods

Rowboats and yachts come out on sunny days and weekends.

herd of boats


The Prefectura watches over all.


We had read that Argentina's yacht clubs and marinas offer free moorage for a time under a system called “courtesia.” As we arrived and tried to find a spot, it became obvious that this system is undergoing change. Not only was there no free moorage, but the rates charged were higher here than we had encountered anywhere else in the world – including expensive Tahiti. At one club, the rate sheet had been lined out only a few days ago and replaced by hand written prices four times higher! With no other options, we spent an expensive night at a yacht club in a pond across the channel, with no power and no easy way to get to town. It seemed clear that San Fernando was not going to be a good spot for refit, and we made plans to return to Urugauy. Luckily, a nearby boat owner, Alejandro, struck up a conversation with us, and was amazed at the rates we were quoted. We later learned that locals would pay in a year what we would pay in a month for moorage. Alejandro taught us a new word, estafa, or swindle. But Alejandro knew a guy, who knew a place......... and in a short time he and his friend Miguel had found a spot for us, negotiated a fair price, and helped move Marcy upriver to Guarderia Neptuno, our new home.

new friends BA

It was nice to be in freshwater as Marcy was caked with salt inside and out. The river rose and fell according to the wind direction. An strong upriver wind produced a high tide.

high water Neptuno

And when the wind reversed, the water drained out, Marcy's keel dug a hole in the mud, and we remained upright and comfortable.

low water Neptuno

Ginger met yet another friend, our neighbors young dog.

dog buddy

Hearing Peter admire the wonderful wooden sculling boats, a friend and rowing club member brought one by for Peter to try out.

sculling BA

There are many rowing clubs on the river, this elegant one is upriver a mile or so.

rowing club

Our neighbors took us on an enjoyable river cruise, their classic cruiser having appropriate draft for the area.

Ginge y Estela

cruising with Martin and Estela

Estela and doggie

We passed an opulent riverside mansion, now an art museum.

riverfront mansion

Seattle friends Rachel and Paul flew south for a week in Buenos Aires. We met them at the airport, and had a great time catching up.


We shared an apartment downtown in the San Telmo district. We absorbed the city ambience: shopping, wine at lunch, watching tango, and visiting tourist attractions.

tourists . vamp

street tango

camanito house . camanito dogs

The week flew by, and Rachel and Paul headed off to visit Iguazu Falls and Colonia, Uruguay, and the crew of Marcy set to work installing all our new equipment. Miguel offered to help with the installation of our new diesel heating stove. We've heard that summer weather in Patagonia is very wet and cold, and want to be as ready as we can be. We planned the installation with all the proper tools: tape measure, instructions, and Spanish/English dictionary!

Miguel y Peter

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Time for a breather in BA

Marcy Piriopolis UR

Upon arrival in Argentina the Marcy crew was tired. During the 33 days from leaving Bahia de Ilha Grande, Brazil to arriving in Buenos Aires, Argentina we sailed fifteen days, traveled over 1500 difficult coastal sailing miles and crossed the borders of three different countries with two different languages. We visited officials in twenty two different offices while clearing in and out of countries and cities, and stopped in nine different cities and anchorages. It took three weeks of that time to dry out the boat after our storm in southern Brazil. Further, and most challenging since we've been thoroughly acclimatized to hot weather, we left the tropics and sailed into the end of winter in the southern hemisphere. We went from 70 degree nights to ice on the deck in the mornings!

We are recuperating nicely, and today we are enjoying a sunny spring day in Argentina while we enjoy a land of good beef AND (finally!) good wine. While South America enjoys a reputation for good beef we've found a well kept secret in the incredibly rich avocados – from Ana's garden in Brazil to the grocery version here in Argentina.

We've just posted some new Uruguay photos on Flickr.