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

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Calms and a Gale

PD departure morning

Life in San Fernando was wonderful and easy, but it was not easy to leave. We were mindful that our date to meet our daughter Lisa in Ushuaia, a thousand sea miles to the south, was looming ever closer. But seemed that even the water level in the river conspired to keep us at San Fernando. The water level fell for days before our planned departure date. The weather forecast was for light winds and no rain inland (conditions that keep the river low) and we knew if we didn't leave very soon we'd be prisoners for a while, maybe a long while. At the Prefectura office, we cleared out of San Fernando with hopes that we could leave on the mid-day high tide, but it was not to be. Back at the boat there was not sufficient water - Marcy's keel was firmly on the bottom. Our last hope was the 3AM high tide that night. With last minute jobs to do and a quick dash into town for dinner we were exhausted as we fell into our bunk. To our happy surprise at 3AM the water was just high enough to get out. We crept out of the marina in the dark with perfectly calm water. Following our depth sounder and radar to get out of the delta we only had a couple of mis-steps. We accidently steered into the reeds once, and another bump on a bend found us running from side to side, trying to roll the boat free, as the boat idled in reverse. It all worked out, and as the sun came up the light on the river was softened by light fog. What a perfectly gorgeous morning it was!

San Fernando Delta

At first, it was an uneventful trip toward Mar del Plata. There wasn't much wind so we motored a lot. The VHF radio got a lot of use as we had to check in regularly with the Prefectura, giving our position and particulars every 4 hours or so. About forty miles from Mar del Plata, in very light wind, we saw an enormous and ominous cigar cloud on the horizon, complete with flickering lightening. Definitely a weather event!

storm front near Mar del Plata

We had the presence of mind to prepare for high wind quickly, and got the storm jib hanked on and raised just before the wind picked up.

big weather MDP

After spending 12 hours hove to, listening to the wind whistling in the rigging, we were able resume sailing and duck in to Mar del Plata.

YCA Mar del Plata . Mar del Plata Prefectura

Mar del Plata was a good stop for refueling, re-provisioning with fresh veggies, and showering - then we were on our way again. And we were able to celebrate our wedding anniversary on land with a nice restaurant meal instead of top ramen gulped down in a seaway.

YCA Mar del Plata 2

We departed just after a blow from the north. We had hoped to catch some of that favorable wind but needed one more day to get organized. As we left in the dying northerly, the large swell it had produced was rolling in through the entrance which made for an exciting departure. As soon as we left the harbour the wind came around 180 degrees, sadly for us, and we had to motor into a light southerly wind. Motoring in calm and sailing in gale winds with just the storm jib was the story for the next few days. The wind was an all or nothing on this trip. We saw lots of fishing boats the first two days out. During one of Ginger's watches, a trawler passed close by and the captain no doubt spotted her alone on deck, and called her on VHF for a nice chat. Ginger was invited to bring Marcy to Puerto Madryn..... After the chat there was a moment of silence on the radio, then it came alive with every unseen fishing boat in radio range weighing in on the likelyhood that this captain would find a woman to talk with at sea. "Besos a todos," kisses to all, said one commenter.

We had lots of bird visitors while we motored on, sailed on, and motored on some more.

passenger 1 . passenger 2

passenger 3 . passenger 2 sunset

As always, some items of Marcy's equipment fared better than other items. The seacock to the galley sink broke during this passage. Fortunately for safety's sake it broke in the closed position but it made washing the dishes very difficult. But the star of the trip was our new heater, lighted as we left Mar del Plata and going ever since.

With the wind dying again and the anticipation of more motoring to come we decided a stop at Puerto Deseado to refuel was in order. We arrived in the early morning with the fog and were soon invited to tie up to the pilot boat Yamana.

Peter y Jorge PD . Yamana Pto Deseado

Since we were stopping just for fuel, we couldn't think of a better situation. Not only did Enrique, the pilot boat skipper on duty , help with the refueling but the Director of the Port actually drove us to the gas station for our second load and arranged for a port truck to take us back. They are a very friendly and helpful group.

refuel Pto Deseado 1 . refuel Pto Deseado 2

refuel Pto Deseado 3 . Enrique y Peter PD

We found time for not one but two (!!) safety inspections by the Prefectura – one on arrival and one before our departure was allowed,

2nd inspection PD

and were able to enjoy the views of this beautiful area. The stark and treeless but very beautiful landscape reminded us of Eastern Washington.

Puerto Deseado 1 . Puerto Deseado 4

Puerto Deseado 3 . Puerto Deseado 2

After a brief stop, only two nights, we set out again to make our appointment to meet our daughter in Ushuaia.

Fish boat PD



At 12:03 PM, Blogger Ernesto Bustamante said...


This is Ernesto. On December 3rd, I had the pleasure to meet your lovely daughter Lisa. I was arriving from Lima, Peru and she was arriving from a trip leg in Colombia. She took the bus to go downtown to spend a few days in Buenos Aires, and I was shuttling from Ezeiza Airport to Newberry Airport. We happened to sit together. I enjoyed talking to her so much. She was looking forward to meeting with you in Ushuaia some days later.

She told me all about you guys and your wonderful voyage. It's a fantastic story. I wish you all the best and I trust that you will enjoy your time with Lisa, who is a great girl, a true free spirit and as such reminded me of my own daughter and my older son.

Best regards and happy trails,

Ernesto Bustamante


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