Before leaving La Paloma we were invited to visit the home of Albert and Wieke, a Dutch couple who retired here a few years ago. They live in the back of beyond: a simple life in the gently undulating countryside, surrounded by cattle, sheep and horses. Their farming neighbours keep them supplied with lamb, milk, eggs and honey. To get there we not only traveled along dirt tracks for some miles, but fields for the last mile, opening and shutting gates as we went from one field to the next - until we got to their little homestead. A pick-up truck - or horse - is the usual form of transport around here. They have mains electricity so it's not totally spartan.
Albert and Wieke's view of the 'highlands' - (the highest mountain in Uruguay is only just over 500m)
On Friday we made ready to leave the port, including paying our berthing bill and visiting the coastguard office to let them know when and where we were going. The forecast was for northeasterly winds, gusting F6 on occasions. As we left in the early evening - motoring through choppy seas until we got into deeper water - we were called up by the Port Control who insisted on reading us the weather forecast and, once again, asking for our passage details.
From then on it was downwind sailing all the way to Piriapolis. The wind was up and down, mostly F5 and sometimes we had 2 metre waves so the passage was often bumpy, but fast. With a fresh wind, it felt cold too.
We arrived in the morning and made our presence known on the VHF but the port control radio operator only spoke Spanish so the conversation was short. Once inside the harbour we were directed to berth alongside the travel-lift bay and were almost immediately greeted by Sandy and Brian, fellow Cruising Association members that we had hoped to meet here, before they head off to the Falklands - brrr! They soon filled us in on what's where around here. Venturing into the boatyard we were approached by a lady from Immigration so we soon had our visas sorted and are no longer illegal immigrants.
The harbour at Piriapolis, Lynn Rival centre stage
Piriapolis is bigger than La Paloma but is also a quiet seaside town in the low season. However, the well-sheltered harbour and boatyard is a hub for cruising yachts. We have been investigating the prospects of getting a replacement boom. The ones available here are too short but we have had some useful discussions with people about our options.
Piriapolis seafront - with an onshore wind it's still a bit chilly for the crowds
When the weather suits we'll continue on to Montevideo to follow up contacts there.