Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Sailing on the Rio de la Plata

October 3, 2011
Puerto Norte, Buenos Aires
We finally had a chance to go sailing this weekend, with an expat group organized on Facebook. The original plan was for last week, but after we got to the docks at Puerto Norte, the captain informed us that the water level was too low, and the boat was stuck in the mud. (I asked our group organizer why, knowing the forecast, he couldn't have told her a few hours earlier, and was taught that in Argentina, people assume you won't trust them, so they wait to tell you everything in person, with visual proof.)

So there we were again this weekend for round 2. This time the water level was high enough to depart. (I had verified this earlier in the morning with a nautical forecast website, which also told me to expect 15 knot winds with 22 knot gusts.)

It was great to be out on the water - in this case, the Rio de la Plata, a massive river that feeds into the Atlantic ocean. (Contrary to the way it appears on a map, Buenos Aires is not actually on the ocean.) The captain was an older fellow who didn't speak any English, wasn't interested in teaching any Spanish sailing lingo, and ironically didn't seem to like having guests aboard, except when he was telling us about all the younger women he's dated. The winds were strong as forecasted, so he only raised half the jib and no mainsail, (a little lame).

Puerto Norte, where we sailed from, is in northern Buenos Aires, and seems to be where regular folks keep their boats. (The mud last week suggests that it could use some investment in dredging.) Puerto Madero is another port more central to the city, and is where the millionaires keep their boats, with a very small marina surrounded by luxury condos and an entrance fee just to walk into the yacht club.

I managed to learn a few words: A sail is a vela. Starboard (right) is estribor, I think; not sure about port (left). The sheets are escotas and the halyards are drizas. I learned that there are no boat clubs that will rent to strangers, because of the liability laws in Argentina (the boat owner is always responsible), and even if I bought a boat myself, I couldn't sail it without a license. Conveniently, he does sailing courses! Though if I were to take one, it wouldn't be with him - someone so uninterested in sharing knowledge without getting paid explicitly to do so would not make a good teacher, in my humble opinion. (Some English to bridge the language gap wouldn't hurt, either.)

He did share that it costs around 3000 pesos (USD$700) per month to dock and maintain a boat at Puerto Norte. Some napkin math suggests that he merely has to take out two or three groups for two hours each, one weekend a month, and he's covered all his expenses. Smart way to own a boat!

When I get a bicycle, hopefully in the next two weeks, I'll ride further north to another marina that seems to house smaller boats (judging from the catamarans and Lasers we passed in that direction). I'm hoping there's a way for me to take the helm up there.

Sailing Rio De La Plata Oct 1 2011

Another boat taking more advantage of the wind

- Ben

1 comment:

  1. That's pretty cool. I'm curious, how many people does he take out on each trip?
    And your tracking of the boat was spot-on...was that done on your phone?


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