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February 2002

Dear Friends:

Welcome to Tierra del Confusion. Five presidents in two weeks, no logical bank system, bankrupt government, yet this in one of the most gifted countries in the world. Amazing farm lands, friendly, educated people, minerals. Everyone we meet here is trying to apologize all the time for the state Argentina finds itself in. They also reassure us that the riots and fires reported in the news are only happening in a few isolated places. From our own point of view, we find it all extremely interesting, especially the way people in Mar del Plata seem to be going on with life in spite of the currency problems, banking lines that take four hours to get through, unemployment at 20%. I have come to love this town and am glad we choose it as a rest and recoup spot. But back to Buzios.

Mindelo in the Cabo Verde islands is a relaxed and easygoing place. We got royal treatment at the local café, just as the cat did.

We set sail, confident that we were close to our goal for the holidays, with only 1200 miles to go. First afternoon out, right next to Cabo Frio (100 miles east of Rio de Janeiro) we ran into a thick bank of peasoup fog, visibility 50 feet, right in the middle of the main shipping lane, and a fleet of anchored fishing boats. Wind died off and for three hours it was cold as h…Then the wind came back, skies cleared and sailing was fine for three days. Next began a saga of three storms with winds to force 9 and 10, one from the east, one from north east one from south, with a day between each and almost no wind but 20 foot left over seas. We hove to through each storm and finally decided to head inshore onto the continental shelf hoping to get away from the weather. (We had previously avoided being close to shore as hundreds of fish boats anchor each night on the 100 meter line to line fish and not all show adequate lights). Things went better, though we did meet two Pamperos, frontal squall lines with angry looking cigar shaped clouds which can bring gusts to 85 knots. We got off lightly, with 25 knots of wind for about an hour, then back to nice sailing. But it took us 17 days to get from Buzios to here, our slowest passage ever.

Evening entertainment was a definite attraction at Nettas Café in Mindelo.

It was worth it. We anchored just outside the small yacht basin at about 2230 on a Friday, December 16th. In spite of the hour people rowed out from two different clubs urging us to come inside and tie at their clubs pontoon. We begged off, wanting to have a hot shower, a good nights sleep together and a leisurely breakfast. In the morning three more came by, saying their particular club was better, friendlier, cheaper. So we launched Cheeky and rowed in to take a look. Our decision was made when Nesto, from the Centro Naval said drinks were waiting for us on his boat and a big party was planned for the next night. While we were talking with him in my rusty Spanish another man came to the end of the pontoon and asked what we were doing for Christmas eve. I said, not sure.. Carlos replied, "you have family here now, my wife sent me down here to tell you to eat Christmas dinner with us." All of this and we still had not even sailed into the marina! It has only gotten better in the month since we arrived.

Call it the coconut sail loft. Larry is repairing our naylon drifter for the third time on the lawn of the yacht club Macea in Brazil.

We had been on the move for most of the last six months, covering 8200 miles and being at sea 83 days since leaving Virginia 24th June. Our plan was to get Big T (that's our own name for Taleisin - as opposed to Little S, her predecessor) in really fine shape for heading further south to try to explore a bit of Patagonia. Figure the best time for Patagonia is mid-February to end of March and part of being ready is to be well rested and feeling good about everything. Besides, this much sailing means wear and tear and messes in lockers.
So the past four weeks have been full of friends, and work. I have emptied every inch of the boat and scrubbed, inventoried and restocked. Larry has gone over every sail and ordered a new nylon drifter. We have put a fresh coat of paint on the whole boat, fresh varnish. As we sand we inspect each piece of gear and every inch of the boat and feel all is in grand shape. Today Larry is putting new gasket material in each of our port lights as two of them had slight drips and we found the 20 year old gasket material was quite brittle. He is upgrading the control wheel, putting new ball bearings in the races and new lines on the wind vane and adding a bigger wing nut on the clutch so I can loosen it easily when he has tightened it. We have sorted charts, copied some from local folks and ordered others. We also got three months mail plus substantial box of books from Kaye Assenmaker who works at a grand books store in California, MD and knows our tastes and sends us some mind expanding reading.

We did have some grand evenings on the waterfront at Maceos cafes as we said in last month's newsletter.

Meanwhile we are learning a lot about local life, really improving our Spanish and growing to love the sound of Tango. Friday night we have Tango lessons at the monthly party given by our adopted sailing club. Everyone celebrates birthdays of the month, barbecues and dances. Only problem we are having is dinner here happens between 2100 and 2300 with dancing and music starting about midnight. We are learning to take a long nap between 1800 and 2100 to keep up with everyone.

(I am finalizing this letter two days after that party. What a night. We joined about 100 Argentinean sailors for wonderful barbecued meat, grand salads and laughs. Then five different folks got up and sang different songs, with all of us joining in the chorus while two club members added accompaniment with sweet guitar music. Larry and I sang Drunken Sailor, Bobbie McGee and an Arabic song while the mainly non-English speaking crowd hummed along or sang Spanish versions of the songs. Then people recited poetry, much of which I did not understand but enjoyed as again the guitar was played as background. By 2 AM we found we were promising we would return again to wonderful Mar del Plata.)

Larry is making sure dinner doesn't leap overboard as we sail toward Argentina. This mahi mahi weighted 25 pounds. Look at this months cruising tips to see what we did with it.

We are meeting a few foreign cruisers heading south, three French charter boats have been through, a young French couple on a 29 footer are leaving tomorrow to explore the islands of the Beagle Canal, we are the first Canadian flag to show up this year. According to the folks here, about 20 cruisers and another 20 charter boats stop on their way south most years. Most go to the Straits of Magellan bound for Chili, or to Ushaia bound for Antarctica.

New Years day at Mar del Plata. Taleisin has a grand spot in the yacht harbor.

Within the next three or four days we haul the boat out for fresh anti-fouling paint and a quick topside paint job. Then we will wait for the first good weather window and head south with enough food on board for two or three months. Our plans are open as usual, but we do want to try to see some of the Caletas of Patagonia and might even try to reach Harberton in the Beagle canal. But if I find the cold and wind not to my liking, we will possibly return to winter in Mar del Plata. I really feel at home here and my bike and I have become well known on most of the streets of the port.
Larry has made loads of friends with his boat building ideas as this is a land where wooden boats are really loved. All and all, this is the kind of place, the kind of people and the kind of experiences we cruise to find.

Sincerely
Lin & Larry Pardey

PS
Several people have written to us at Paradise Cay's email address. Your messages are forwarded to us but, as we find it far easier to answer letters on night watches by touchy/feely mail please include your physical address.

PPS
Paul and Brigitta wrote us a very nice email, but their email and physical address was cut off somehow. So in the hopes you read this, thank you for noting that Heaving to, as we discuss in Storm Tactics, works for us and for every boat we have been on during storm conditions, cruising boats, boats we delivered and raced. Modern or long keeled, the majority of boats can be made to lay safely using just sails, and we only have had to resort to the use of a para-anchor when the boat began to range about (i.e. try to sail) away from its protective slick. This only seemed to happen when winds got into the 55 to 60 knot range and stayed that high for long enough for the seas to build and break dangerously. We too have read about people having trouble deploying and retrieving para-anchors and in most cases feel manufacturers have talked them into buying a para-anchor with a diameter that is too large for the purpose of heaving to, with a steadying sail set. They are trying to use the para-anchor on its own as a sea- anchor, lying head to wind, a system that seems to work well for multi-hulls but is terribly uncomfortable and, with the large chute imposes extreme stresses and potential for a lot of chafe on a mono-hull and its gear. We also feel the boat size is another problem, strains on a 29 to 40 foot boat are usually within the manageability range for the average competent couple in storm conditions, but when we deliver a boat over 40 feet we want an extra crewman, or two, along with us just because of the extra forces involved. And finally, as we do research and speak to more folks like those here in Mar del Plata who sail and race in the roaring 40's and think of heaving to be as natural as sheeting in your sails to go to windward, we feel we could expand and refine Storm Tactics Handbook. But first we have some serious sailing and partying and exploring to do, so we hope people will find the current edition helpful.


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