Patagonian waters

Summer 2022
John Andrews
Sat 19 Nov 2011 14:58

Position: 44:26.51S 058:43.33W

Date: 19 November 2011

Time: 1145 L 1445 UTC


Suilven is currently tucked up safe and sound at Southampton Yacht Services undergoing a mid-life refit. While she is being looked after we have been delighted to join my brother Tim, on his boat Mina2, on a passage from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia via the Falkland Islands. We will not be writing daily blogs, Tim will be doing that on his own site,, but we will be making the occasional post as a record of this exciting expedition.


We arrived in BA on 8th November, and spent a great 3 days doing the sights. BA is a vibrant, modern European feeling capital, with just a twist of Latin America to add interest. The tango dancers in the square in San Telmo where we stopped for lunch one day was a bit of a highlight.


We then went to join Tim and his wife Maria on their boat which was being kept in Yacht Club Argentina in San Fernando, some miles from the centre of Buenos Aires with access to the rivers tributaries and islands of the delta. This is a lovely area, not dissimilar to the wider rivers of  Norfolk Broads, but with no apparent speed limit, the rivers are total madness at the weekends with speed boats and water motorbikes creating mayhem, making navigating the extremely shallow water very nerve wracking.


Tim has described the nightmare of beaurocracy that we were faced with in his own blog. The plus side of this  however was that we were forced to take the boat over to Uruguay for a night, so we had a very pleasant cruise over the river to Colonia, a charming old town which now has UNESCO World Heritage status and is gradually and very tastefully being restored. The other plus is that Maria was able to come with us on this cruise and we all enjoyed a lovely meal overlooking the River Plate enjoying the balmy spring temperature. Maria is unfortunately not coming with us on the cruise down to the Falklands and Ushuaia. She doesn’t do long passages and wanted to join us in the Falklands, but the logistics of getting flights just proved impossible.


We have had a good passage so far and are now just over half way, hoping to arrive by next Tuesday. The first few days involved a lot of motoring, leading to concerns about fuel, but since then we have had good winds, mostly from behind, so have had a very comfortable passage.


The bird life is absolutely spectacular. All the birds are new to us of course, being native to the South Atlantic, but they are so plentiful and are with us for so long that it has not been too difficult to hone our bird identification skills. They range from the tiny Wilson’s Storm Petrel, that skitters over the waves, pattering its feet on the water, up to the lumbering Giant Shearwaters, with their stiff winged flight. The most enchanting of these are the gloriously marked black and white Cape Petrels which swoop around us like mini spitfires. We were particularly excited to see  some Magellanic Penguins a few days ago, not flying of course, but bobbing around on the water looking a bit like puffins. Another visitor was a large brown bird that behaved rather differently from the other birds and hovered over the yacht, just above our heads, for ages. We later identified it as a Skua of some description. I also read that these birds are extremely aggressive and not infrequently attack people. On the Falklands you are advised to go walking with a stick so that you can beat them off. Luckily, I was blissfully unaware of this so just sat back and admired it. The king of the birds of course is the Albatross, immediately identifiable by its huge wingspan and large bulk. It swoops majestically through the flocks of smaller birds, approaching the boat like a Lancaster bomber. I thought that they never landed on the water, but we have frequently seen them sitting high on the water as we sail close by, and are able to see at close quarters their magnificent beaks which are not dissimilar to the huge beak of the Dodo.


We are enjoying sailing on Tim’s boat, which is very similar to our own. Tim seems to be fairly confident that we know what we are doing, so pretty much lets us get on with things on our watches which enables him to get a good quota of sleep. We are also picking up all sorts of tips that we think would improve life on our own boat, so are busy making notes!


It is currently glorious day out there, a bite in the wind, but an area of high pressure has brought clear skies and bright sun so enough for now while I go back up on deck to enjoy it.