Scott and Mary march with the penguins

Day 192: Meeting the locals

Position: Bahia Relegada, Argentina

Scott and Mary Flanders left Gibraltar on 16 September, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”. For a complete listing of their diary entries, click here.

Here we go again. Another fun day exploring. This time it was a LONG dinghy ride to the colonias penguinos (penguin colony), its distance a bit misjudged. If there is anything you discover here in the deep south, and rediscover it is the clarity of the air making our smog adjusted brains no workee very well judging distances. Two nights ago in the clear air the stars were the brightest we have ever seen. One particular star was casting its reflection on the still water like a streetlight. That’s from a bazillion miles away.

Anticipating the long ride we filled a thermos with water for ‘just in case’. Of course we left it on the galley counter. Duh. The water was slick calm so we adjusted our weight for maximum speed per rpm vs just trying to stay dry. We had the camera rigged with ‘big bertha’, our super zoom lens. Mary also brought her video camera. After a brief stop to photo some cormorants on a rocky point we steamed for quite a while toward the tee-shaped island.

On the way we passed a local centillo (southern king crab) fishing boat. It was a very weird bright yellow fiberglass boat with a tiny house, junk attached all over the place and a VERY large boom for pulling the industrial sized traps. With the red tide killing people who eat local mussels, the crabbers have an unlimited source of crushed mussels they use for bait. There is a carpet of mussels on every beach at low tide. Not too many years ago they used sea lions for bait.

We FINALLY reached the island. Idling slowly along the shore we took our first pictures of the penguins. After a bit we landed and walked the rocky beach. There is a walking path outlined by tree trunks we followed so not to disturb the nesting birds. This year’s fledglings are nearly mature and past their gawky stage. The majority of penguins are Magellanic penguins. There is a relatively recent, and very small, nesting area of about 12 pairs of gentoo penguins. Gentoo’s are the ones in the picture with orange beaks. The Magellanic have the black and white rings on their necks. Just a wild guess but there are perhaps 300-500 pairs of birds on the beach and further ashore in the nesting area.

When the penguins swim ashore they rocket in pushing a large head wake, hit the gently shelving beach, jump to their feet and start drying off by shaking and flapping their wings. Every time a penguin comes ashore a couple of others waddle over to say hi or perhaps ‘wadja catch or howdjado?’ like fishermen everywhere. What a treat it was to walk among these little guys. We spent probably an hour and a half just poking around.

Mary took quite a lot of video footage. Big bertha took about 125 pictures. We begrudgingly reduced them to 67 and will crop them further. Most of the pictures we take are for ourselves for down the road when we are older and shakier. We can fire up the CDs and it will take us right back just as the Med pictures and others do today. Our big personal regrets are not having a truly good camera and not taking enough pictures over the years. Today we have learned our lesson. We will be sending another batch of pictures along with Mary when she returns to the States in two weeks or so. You will get to enjoy the best.

Fall is coming to the deep south. The trees are starting to turn. The air is getting cooler but with less wind. Winter will be along shortly. The good news is, all of you reading this drivel are coming into spring, some emerging from the frozen wastelands where a few of you live. It is time to get the boats out and get on the water. If you don’t have a boat, a visit to a spring boat show will get the heart pumping. If you haven’t figured out Egret’s big picture, it’s not about penguins, el zorro chico, Fuguian lamb or glaciers, it’s about you joining all of us out here enjoying the long distance cruising life. The other day we heard from Nordhavn Atlantic Rally buddies on Stachmo, fellow 46 owners. They are STILL in the Med wintering in Turkey. Bill and Ellen plan on joining the Eastern Mediterranean Rally this spring. Next year they will winter on Italy’s east coast, directly across from Rome. They LOVE the Med & said they will still probably be there when Egret passes through again. This spring’s Med Bound 07 Atlantic crossing group have a lot to look forward to.

So there you have it. Penguins and a little commercial for the life. Ciao.