trip days left: One short leg – the “official arrival”!
straight distance left: 2 km
Highlights: De facto, I closed the loop, just by myself…
Loc: Buenos Aires Yacht Club Argentina
Acc: Peter’s apartment
Dist: 51,8 km
Start: 7:00 End: 18:40
The night in my “hobo” quarter, which was basically a very nice site under the cliffs with palm trees and a white beach behind the reed field, stayed quiet. But if someone would have liked to kill me here, no one would have noticed up on the busy street up the city…but I survived also this last night on a public South American beach.
No fog this morning, but a light north-westerly wind was blowing all night. The “millpond” out there was over…the current bothering me yesterday around the point into the Yacht harbor was pushing me out this morning, but also upstream. And yes, the diurnal tides I experienced already at the very beginning of my trip in the Bahia Somborombo at the mouth of this huge Rio de la Plata, they do reach up here. Last night was absolutely low water, and despite there is only a tidal difference of under one meter, the water was high this morning.
I decided to treat me on this last “real” paddling day with dry new neoprene socks against my constant cold feet the last days and a fresh dry new shirt on. I just had to climb into my loaded kayak over the stern to keep them dry and seal launch it into the water, which was not that easy. 🙂
Once I paddled past the rocky islands at the point, my main goal was to stay as much north from the ferry line as possible. I crossed the eastern shipping lane with letting three huge ships go well before me with no problem. The water the first 20 km on the crossing was actually relatively big with a 15 knots due NW side wind blowing against the upstream tide current. The current was stronger than the wind, and I lost three degrees upstream which was ok for me to leave the ferries even more aside. After about halfway, the wind and seas went a tad bit down, and I stayed straight on my course. Still, the water was so bumpy I eventually felt a tad bit sea sick. Basically I did not do any paddling break so far, and my first pee stop drifted me soon now downstream for a full degree. I ate few and drank little, and had to force me to get at least some “fuel” input. My body worked again just like a “lean mean paddling machine” on this (almost) very last home run…no physical problems, thank goodness. All good technique… 🙂
I could spot the skyline of Buenos Aires already with amazing 40 km distance, as had the sun behind me and the vision was clear. I could navigate by the skyscrapers, just checking my GPS for wind and tidal drift and speed. Some sail boats were around, but besides the crossing fast ferries the big ships stayed in their lanes. When the current changed down stream and the wind went more due west, just against me. I slowed down a bit, shifting my ETA in Buenos Aires just before darkness.
I was aware I was paddling quite “incognito” here, with no permit neither from Uruguay nor from Argentine…as I guessed correctly I would not have got any for crossing here instead of via the northern islands if I’d have been asking. For that reason I was also happy about the “inaccessible” passport office on Uruguay, as maybe some guy would have asked for the latter? No time and energy left to deal with any “burrocrazy”..
I eventually realized the ferry port is not at the south end of the harbor but just also where I liked to arrive, right at the north entrance…. I also got drifted myself more and more south, so eventually I was on almost the same lane with those more or less flying catamaran jet monsters. The second last ferry of the crossing passed me quite close, and I was honestly not really aware of it’s approach. But I knew they do not whip up the sea too much, just steaming a high fat fountain behind them, and the captain hopefully also knew that by passing me maybe 50 m close.
The very last ferry of the day, one of the fat huge Buquebusses and already after sunset in last light, came out of the port relatively slowly, but I was already between the long fishing jetty with a rocky base at about -34.59453, -58.3540 and that working ship and platform digging and sucking the harbor deeper at maybe -34.59255, -58.35532. Not much space there…and any other small boat owner may have been panicking being squeezed between fishing lines and a ferry monster…with maybe 20 m of space to each side and the outlook of being washed to the rocks from it’s wake.
Well, I had no option than to just smile at the men on the bridge who hopefully saw me behind their mirrored screens, estimate the narrow space, hold my breath and cover my nose against the disgusting black steam they leave with their wake and to quickly get perpendicular to the wake waves once the monster passed me. No big deal, just a bit scary…
The constant noise of the approaching very low flying big jet planes to the nearby international airport did not really add to my comfort on the harbor approach either, as they sound a bit like one of the fat ferries and I always looked behind me to check out what was coming now….if you zoom in on -34.59354, -58.35675 on Google Earth, you even see a plane wreck inside the harbor…or is it just a shadow of one of the approaching ones? 🙂
I kept on singing the song I had on my mind for the probably last three kilometers of my actually beautiful sunset approach of Argentina in general and of my starting point of this 3 2/3 years long trip in particular…”DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA!” I tried to sing it loud, which I managed for a while until I shedded rather some true tears. My voice was breaking once I saw my small private “incognito” reception team on top of the harbor wall of the Yacht Club of Argentina just before the entrance of Puerto Madero. De facto, I had closed the huge loop here and survived this whole odyssey and ordeal. But I have one day left to really finish this trip!
I was back in one piece and still alive…many, many times, it could have been different…My good friend and “all Argentine” organizer Alejandro Daniel Carranza, who actually made me starting from Buenos Aires and also managed the launch party, stayed at sea on his second attempt to circumnavigate Staten Islands.It was just at the same latitude and at the same time when I got into serious trouble before reaching Cape Horn…RIP, my good friend!
I was to paddle into the small Yacht Club of Argentina port entrance just outside the big Puerto Madero port entrance at -34.59514, -58.36126. It is actually “locked” by some floating barrier, but not against unwanted boats coming in, but against the ‘trash’ floating in…I paddled past, thinking there must be another entrance, but after maybe 50 m my GPS told me I would now soon already paddle through the big Puerto Madero port gates which I was not up to do this evening. I already saw the beautiful lit Fregata Libertad at -34.59471, -58.36882, the successor of the Fregata Sarmiento on -34.60893, -58.36571, which will be my very final destination on May 1st. I turned around, and the funny floating barrier was eventually magically opened and let me in. I welcomed my very own small private reception party with one more try of singing “DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA!”…
I was very tired after 12 hours of more or less continuous paddling, very worn, and with no big buzz my escort brought me to Peter’s apartment where I could relax and prepare the very final big arrival with many escorting paddlers and Navy and press and officials and many many cameras to smile into…all good!
I AM NOT FULLY DONE YET!!! Please wait with congratulating comments and any press until the official arrival on the Fregata Sarmiento on May 1st!