Mina2 Sails The DS Into Her Home Town - Mission Accomplished
Date: 21 December 2010
Position: Buenos Aires 34:36.75S 058:21.75W
If anyone suggested to me 20 years ago that one day I would sail from my home city of London to Maria’s home city of Buenos Aires, I would never have believed it possible. Today, we completed that journey.
Our great friends, Christine and Fernando wrenched themselves away from all the Christmas preparations at home in Buenos Aires and took the ferry over to Colonia to join us for the final leg of our long adventure. Christine and Maria have known each other since birth and are more than just best friends – they are more like sisters.
Old Colonia del Sacramento
We cast off at 1300 for the 27 mile passage across the River Plate. The wind was light, the brown river water flat, and we sailed gently and slowly across. Very tranquil.
We crossed the dredged shipping channel that marks the boundary between Uruguay and Argentina and with great ceremony it was The Downstairs Skipper who lowered the Uruguayan courtesy flag from the cross trees and hoisted in its place the Argentine flag.
The DS hoists her national flag as we sail into Argentina
The skyline of Buenos Aires fills the horizon
Yachts in South America do not make a great show of their national flag. No large ensign flowing from a wooden staff, most make do with a tiny, faded and flimsy flag roughly tied to their backstay. It had been suggested to me that given the tension between Argentina and Britain over the Falklands that I replace my five foot long British ensign with a pocket handkerchief sized one. Whilst I may do that later, I was not prepared to compromise my standards for my initial entry into the country. Indeed I reacted against the very thought of diluting my national pride by cranking the gramophone up to max vol and, whilst sailing into Argentine waters, playing some rousing renditions of Land of Hope & Glory, Rule Britannia and finishing with the National Anthem.
This might be considered somewhat provocative with Fernando on board. Fernando is a passionate Argentine nationalist who had already been through all my pilot books and charts, roughly scoring out any mention of the Falklands and replacing the offending word with “Islas Malvinas”. But, bless him, he clearly understood the importance of the moment to me and he uttered not one word in protest.
Staunch Argentine Fernando – not a word of protest
Through friends we had made arrangements to stay for a week at the Yacht Club Argentino in their splendid headquarters marina conveniently placed in the centre of the city, and at 1730 we tied up and opened a bottle of champagne. A truly emotional moment for both the DS and me and, blog flippancy aside, even typing this now I have a lump in my throat and an emotional tear in my eye.
A bottle of bubbly in the Yacht Club to celebrate Mission Accomplished
So this year’s cruise is effectively at an end. We will be spending Christmas and the New Year with Maria’s mother and Maria’s many friends here. We’ll be doing a bit of entertaining on the boat, and when Selina and Peter fly out to join us in January there may be an excursion or two across the river to Colonia.
In February I will be flying down to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego and sailing on the professional expedition boat Pelagic Australis over to Antarctica as a recce to see whether Mina2 would be up to making the same adventurous trip next year.
Meanwhile, we’ve heard that it’s been a bit chilly in the UK of late. Well, don’t expect any sympathy from us. Buenos Aires at this time of year is hot, but right now we are experiencing a heat wave. Yesterday the temperature was 37ºC and the humidity about 90%. It’s murder. Because everyone is turning on their air conditioning there are power cuts all over the city and to cap it all the banks have run out of cash. But we’ve brought plenty of cachaça over from Brazil, the fridge on the boat has ice and its power source is independent of the national grid, so perhaps we’ll survive. So from both Skippers of Mina2, we would like to wish all four of our readers a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous and adventurous 2011.