Egret pulls into Mar del Plata for a weekend of shopping and dining

Day 73: Arrival in Argentina

Position: 36° 34.87S 54° 48.26W At berth in Yacht Club Argentina in Mar del Plata

Distance travelled: 5602nm from Gibraltar

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 the first instalment of their diary, click here.

Let me give you a first impression of Egret’s arrival in Mar del Plata. The dredge was gone, the standing waves left with the northerly winds then we were met by a group of friendly sea lions. One thing our somewhat dated cruising guide was very correct about was the little maneuvering room in the tiny five-acre basin housing four yacht clubs.

Fortunately there was no wind or current so Egret wandered around with no one answering the radio, so we squeezed in between two poles bow first to the dock. We knew we were in Yacht Club Argentina from the yellow stripes on the dock mentioned in the guide. With help from our new German neighbours we were secure. Soon followed a parade of friendly cruisers and Argentineans all looking at this strange boat. We have never felt Egret was big, in fact she is quite small compared to the Ft Lauderdale boats we are used to. But in this marina she towers.

This small group of docks is the home of real sailors. The Argentineans themselves in their small day-sailors sail through the swing bridge, around the maze of docks, round up, drop the sail and coast into their slip. Half of the boats don’t have an engine. The southbound boats are the real deal. All have heavy duty everything, heater chimneys, self-steering vanes and are from everywhere except the US. Behind and next to Egret are Swedes, we had Germans over last night for cocktails and dinner, Aussies, Kiwis, Spaniards, French, Danes, etc. All are going south to Chile. All are waiting for the wind to swing to the north more consistently.

A couple left yesterday in their small sailboat heading for South Georgia Island. Incredible! South Georgia is where Ernest Shackleton is buried near an old whaling station located midway between the tip of South America and below Africa at about 50 degrees south. To get there you have to sail SW then pick up the ‘screaming 50’s’ westerlies where full gales roar through every so many hours chasing themselves around the Southern Ocean. Once on that course there is no turning back. You must either land in South Africa or Australia.

The Argentine Peso was tied to the US dollar for years but since their financial troubles it is now at 3.05-$. Bill Gates move over. Everything is a deal. Yesterday we bought fleece-lined waterproof pants, a heavy fleece pullover and heavy rabbit hair socks for a song. We have fleece gloves and a pair of waterproof pants still to come. This is for hiking in the Chilean mountains. We will replace Egret’s rock hard dock lines here as well. Unfortunately the lady in the store told us not to go out at night in this part of the city. There is a huge fleet of offshore fishing boats up to 300′ docked here with their crews. Apparently the crews like to mix it up at night drinking and so forth.

Across from Egret is a number of small day fishing boats with paying guests that bottom fish close by. When they return they are met by a couple of begging sea lions cruising along behind looking for scraps.

After a brief intermission for breakfast we’re back to sign off. After staring out the pilothouse windows as we write this then enjoying the last of our jungle fruit from Brazil, toasted bread from Argentina, apricot and cherry jelly from Turkey and Starbucks French roast from the US. As my aunt used to say, “sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if this is real”.