In Richy’s last post he said that we’d probably be spending our time doing unglamorous tasks such as clearing immigration and searching out wi-fi. In reality everything has gone so smoothly that we’ve actually been busy on the beach and eating steak.
The strong winds that Clare talked about eased off on Wednesday morning. I was on the 4 to 8 am watch. The sun rose about an hour into the watch and even though we were still 60 miles offshore the wind brought with it a beautiful smell of fresh pine forests, reassuring us that we were approaching land. Unfortunately the wind was blowing from where we wanted to go to and eventually became too light to sail and so it took all day to motor to Piriápolis. We had planned to stop in Punta del Este but chatting via email to some of the other boats that we’d met in Antarctica and South Georgia, we’d been convinced that Piriápolis was a nicer and cheaper port and only 20 miles further up the Rio de la Plata.
We had some good views of Punta del Este as we sailed past. We could see the beaches and the apartment blocks where the Argentines stay on their summer holidays. At 10pm, when we arrived in Piriápolis, the marina weren’t answering our radio calls and so we headed towards the fuel pontoon as one of the pilot books suggested. As we got closer it became we saw that we were going to have to park stern to and with no lazy lines the crew jumped into action and lifted the anchor out of the forepeak and reattached it to its chain while James carefully kept the boat in position.
We were greeted by the helpful night security guard who explained that we could leave the formalities until the morning and where the local restaurants were. To make sure that we were complying with the regulations, James and Clare headed off to the Prefectura (Coast Guard) while the rest of us got some cash from the ATM and found a restaurant. A pleasant night of steak and Uruguayan Tannat wine followed.
The following morning we were able to clear Immigration and Customs with just a single visit to the Prefectura and we explored the town and beach, five minutes walk from the marina. Several of the crew enjoyed stretching their legs after ten days on the boat with long runs along the other beaches that appear to stretch all the way to Punta del Este. Friday morning was spent cleaning the boat and completing the weekly and monthly checks on Elinca, before football and swimming on the beach. On Saturday most of the crew headed to the Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, for a day of exploring and amazing steak. I stayed on the boat as I’m lucky enough to visit Monte with work quite often and it’s not very often that I get time by myself on Elinca.
After a very relaxing day on the beach, sleeping, reading and swimming I spent the evening watching the Piriápolis carnival. The streets were lined with spectators and you could hear the drummers warming up throughout the town. Each group in the carnival was preceded by giant swirling flags and each had their own band. The costumes and the dancing were flamboyant. I didn’t have my camera with me, but here’s a good photo of it from http://dancefitnesstravel.wordpress.com/tag/carnival-in-piriapolis/
We’ve got a few more days of doing jobs on the boat and relaxing. There’ll be a big shop on Wednesday before the new crew arrive. Piriápolis has been a great place to stay and relax after three months in the southern ocean. Everyone we’ve met has been very friendly and helpful – John has a taxi to the airport booked today. The clocks changed by one hour this morning and so the taxi driver popped over last night to make sure that John was aware of this.
We’ll get someone to write about their trip to Montevideo in a day or so. In the meantime I think that I’ll do a quick bit of fixing on the boat and then head back to the beach.