Salute To A Near Centenarian Granny

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Thu 29 Mar 2012 16:19

Salute To A Near Centenarian Granny


Noon Position:  36:38S 056:35W – In the mouth of the River Plate

Noon to Noon Run:  171 miles

Date:  29 March 2012


We were expecting the wind to die in the middle of the night as we closely approached the coast of Argentina, but happily it stayed with us until this morning enabling us continue our pace in the now flat seas.


Our mission was to sail close past Pinamar and wave hello to Andrew’s granny, Omi Lulle. The plan was to keep a mile offshore to clear some shallows just south of Pinamar, then head in to the shore so we were within waving distance of the beach. At 0530 I went down below for some sleep and left instructions to the watch-keeper to pass on to Andrew – maintain this course and wake me half an hour before we get to Pinamar.


Only the first part of the message got passed on. I was awoken by Andrew at 0700 to tell me that they were passing Pinamar. I went on deck. Pinamar was almost behind us and because we hadn’t headed into the coast we could barely see the buildings, let alone wave to Omi Lulle.


This wouldn’t do at all. You don’t drag a 99 year-old lady out of bed at that hour for her to wave forlornly to a dot on the horizon. We tacked back into shore and headed for Pinamar. We crept towards the shallow beach until we were a couple of hundred metres away. Andrew could see his granny standing on shore waving frantically. Andrew grabbed our British ensign and waved it jubilantly in return. A lovely family reunion.


Andrew heard later by email that Omi Lulle had tried to organise a boat to come out to us with wine and empanadas (delicious Argentine pasties) but, as it is late in the season, none was to be found. So she went off to the Prefectura (the Argentine Coastguard and Naval Police) and asked them if they could help. Reluctantly, they told her that it wouldn’t be possible unless it was an emergency. So Omi Lulle was thwarted in her kind gesture. But, Omi Lulle, it is the thought that counts and it was a thought much appreciated. We will be drinking a toast to your continued good health at lunchtime.


Mind you, given the anti-British sentiment in Argentina at the moment over the Falklands, and that we had been waving a large British ensign just yards off the beach, had we seen a Prefectura gun boat heading towards us I think I would have turned tale and headed full speed straight for Uruguay.


And who was the watch-keeper who failed to pass on the all-important second part of the message to Andrew? Well, we don’t have a blame culture on board Mina2, but suffice it say that Lawrence has been sitting on the Naughty Chair all morning.


With the wind having now died completely and not forecast to return for a few days, our sailing is now over and we are motoring in flat seas into the entrance of the River Plate, and likely to have to motor for the last of the 200-miles of our wonderful passage. The wind has gone because we have now been overtaken by a high pressure system, and high pressure systems bring cloudless skies, brilliant hot sunshine and flat seas. So, even though we aren’t due to get into Buenos Aires until tomorrow evening, everybody is feeling very demob happy. We’re now tootling along the coast, down to shorts and no T-shirts, lounging on deck soaking up the warming rays. (I’ve reminded Lawrence that there’s little ozone here and he will burn. But he won’t listen and I know that tomorrow I’ll have to report on his inevitable severe sunburn). Damp clothing is hanging out to dry and all the ports are open to dry out the accumulated condensation of months in the cold south.


One of the things we’ve been really surprised about is that we have seen albatrosses all the way on the passage, and we are STILL seeing them now in the mouth of the River Plate. It’s a bit like seeing polar bears on the coast of North Africa (the equivalent northern latitude).