The voyage to Buenos Aires began after a huge low-pressure system had passed through the area. Weather Routing gave us the go-ahead, and we dodged two lowpressure systems en route. They called the weather perfectly, and four and a half days later we were heading up the Rio Plate.
It’s 190 NM from the entrance at Punta del Este in Uruguay up to Buenos Aires. The water is brown, and the river is quite shallow out of the shipping channels. We elected to forego having a pilot assist us; as Queen of Diamonds is less than 300 gross tons, we are fortunate to be able to make this decision. We ran outside of the channel (which I would only recommend for shallow-draft vessels) until we reached the outskirts of Buenos Aires. The channel isn’t very wide and is controlled first by Uruguay as far up as Montevideo and then switches over to Argentinean control.
We had arranged dockage in Puerto Madero, which is the old port. Built in 1860, it’s made of stone and has been completely renovated; it’s also become a trendy spot for restaurants and a tourist destination. The Yacht Club has floating docks and is well protected. To enter, you have to pass through a narrow channel 25 meters wide and 197 meters long (about 82 feet wide and 646 feet long). There is a swing bridge operated by the Prefectura, or the Argentinean Coast Guard, on demand every hour.
Since the boss had asked me to find some farm property for sale—it had to have mountains and a stream and be productive—I talked to the locals and checked out the various state tourist offices, then flew to Bariloche, a town in the Lake District in Western Argentina. The two-hour flight from Buenos Aires to Bariloche is like flying into Banff, Alberta, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, combined. It is built around Lake Nahuel Huapi. The snow-covered mountains appear to grow out of the lakes, and the jagged peaks stretch as far as the eye can see. To the south in the Cordilleras, the lower ranges near the Andes, there’s lake after lake, with picturesque scenery around every corner. The water in the streams is crystal-clear, and they’re full of trout and salmon.
I was lucky enough to cover the region from San Martin des Andes all the way down to Trevelin in Patagonia. Armed with enough information about properties and agents, I returned to the boat. It was one of the highlights of my stay in Argentina. By the time I got back, the boss, his wife, and some of their friends who were interested in buying a ranch joined us. The men were setting off to the same region I had just returned from. They enjoyed the life on the various estancias (rural ranches providing tourist services like lodging and excursions) they visited but came away empty-handed.
In the meantime, we took the boss’ wife on an excursion to a working ranch in an area called San Antonio de Areco. The Estancia La Bamba served lunch at a large table for us and all of their guests, with tea served in the pulparia, or old-time saloon.
One of the agents who showed the boss ranches in the southwest invited us to an asada, or barbeque, at his family’s ranch. We gladly accepted the invitation and marveled at how they live.
When the owners and guests departed, we had to start moving south, as the weather was changing rapidly with the advance of winter. After all the wonderful experiences in Buenos Aires, it was like leaving all your friends behind, and for once everyone would have liked to have spent more time here.
Look for part two of Queen of Diamond’s circumnavigation, which thankfully involves more sightseeing and less red tape, in our July issue.
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