Mar del Plata, Argentina
Leaving: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, December 13, 1998
Arrived: Mar del Plata, Argentina, December 21, 1998
Route: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Mar del Plata, Argentina direct.
Distance: 1178nm, Course: Approx. 220M from Rio
Crew: LJ, Bill, Tom, Drew Howie, Dex Decker, Robin Dale
Photo Album Christmas Photos
This leg was our toughest so far and I believe just the beginning of what's to come. As we left Rio, the winds were strong in the harbor, 15-20kts and quickly died after getting out to sea. We motor sailed sporadically for the next two days with intermittent winds ranging from 0-15kts. The next couple of days were overcast providing very uninteresting sailing. Moivetime on Risque!! We were about to celebrate Bill Slater's 36th birthday on the 17th when it came. A low pressure that was traveling East at 10kts and "should" have slid North of us by 120nm, came due South and let us have a taste of the South Atlantic. Winds increased from 30kts to 50kts in ten minutes and stayed there. We ran with the winds for a while but needed to switch plans quickly as our boat speed reached 12kts in the exact opposite direction. Experimenting with a "hove-to" maneuver, we quick realized that even with the genoa reefed to a #5 and two reefs in the main, we still had to much canvas above. We took down the sails and decided to keep the stern to the waves until daylight, 8 hours away....Day break brought clear skies, 45kts of breeze on the nose, huge seas and our storm sails! Our course to Mar took us over the continental shelf, shallow water, 30-60 meters, extending out 100 miles from shore. This made for exceptionally large breaking seas, some waves reaching 10 meters! Our problem was, how to get upwind? The storm jib and a small reefed mainsail didn't provide enough "Oomph" to get up and through the seas so we opted for motor sailing with the storm jib. We made good progress and after 18 hours had just about recovered to the previous days position. The morning radio sched revealed that the fleet was safe but severely damaged. Futuro had ripped/lost most of their sail inventory, only a staysail surviving. Que Sera Sera's guest fell in the boat, giving himself a two inch gash just above the left eye. Harmonie lost some of their downwind rigging. Risque suffered the loss of all our pasta dishes, a broken autopilot, a bent spinnaker pole fitting on the mast, along with numerous dents and dings inside from "flying luggage." As the low pressure moved off to the east, the winds came down to a reasonable 25-30kts and we resumed our race. 370nm from the finish, the South Atlantic decided to test us once again by giving us 30-40kts right on the nose. Taking a more southerly route, we stayed on a starboard tack until the wind shifted to its more regular southeasterly direction giving us a 200nm port tack to the finish line. We arrived in Mar del Plata at 11:30 local time on 12/21/98, a completely exhausted crew. We were greeted by our hosts from the Yacht Club Argentino in a launch at the breakwater, luckily as it turned out, the light marking the northern end of the breakwater entrance was out!!
Time for Christmas to start!!!