This blog began in late 2006 with the planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in my 39-foot sail boat Pachuca. It then covered a successful 5-year circumnavigation that ended in April 2013. The blog now covers life with Pachuca back home in Australia.


Pachuca in Port Angeles, WA USA

Monday, April 30, 2012

Video: Iguazu River Above Cataratas

This vido shows the serene Iguazu river above the waterfalls.

Video: Garganta Del Diablo

"The Devils's Throat"

Video: Iguazu Waterfall

This is yet another video of "The Devil's Throat".

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Videos of Animals at Iguazu


Back in Mar del Plata

At The Devil's Throat

Along the long walk to The Devil's Throat
In answer to a recent question, I will quote fro Wikepedia (

"Iguazu Falls is located where the Iguazu River tumbles over the edge of the Paraná Plateau, 23 kilometres (14 mi) upriver from the Iguazu's confluence with the Paraná River.[1] Numerous islands along the 2.7-kilometre (1.7 mi) long edge divide the falls into numerous separate waterfalls and cataracts, varying between 60 metres (200 ft) and 82 metres (269 ft) high. The number of these smaller waterfalls fluctuates from 150 to 300, depending on the water level.[3] About half of the river's flow falls into a long and narrow chasm called the Devil's Throat (Garganta del Diablo in Spanish or Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese).[1] The Devil's Throat is U-shaped, 82-meter-high, 150-meter-wide, and 700-meter-long. Placenames have been given also to many other smaller falls, such as San Martin Falls, Bossetti Falls and many others.[3]"


Brenda and I got back to Mar del Plata on Saturday as planned. 

Before vacating the room I filled in the hotel feedback survey and ticked “Excellent” for every item but one.  We found the Hotel Tourbillon to be modern, well set out, in a pleasant setting, very well staffed, with great food in their restaurant and very fast internet service.  It is conveniently located on the road between the town and the Iguazu waterfalls with a bus stop in front of the hotel.  The bus fare to the reserve is 10 pesos each way, with an average wait of about 10 minutes.  Brenda and I recommend the hotel to others.

I was leaving the hotel happy with a recent message from Daniel the rigger confirming (after 2 weeks!) that the funds that I had transferred to Zurich had arrived OK, and that I could expect him  at Mar Del Plata to re-rig the boat on 7 May.

The tour bus was delayed two hours clearing customs from the Brazilian side.  (Brenda and I were the only two of the group who stayed on the Argentinian side, even though most of the Iguazu falls are on the Argentinian side.  For Argentinians, duty free shopping seems to be the big attraction of visiting Brazil.)  We boarded the bus at 10.30 AM on Friday morning and stopped for lunch at the San Ignacio ruins where Brenda and I found a little restaurant and had a pleasant meal at a sidewalk table.   Along the way two movies were shown and fortunately for me the second one was an action one in English with Spanish subtitles.  We arrived at Mar del Plata at 1 PM on Saturday, remarkably fresh because the sleeping was quite good.  In spite of the afternoon of rain, Iguazu had been warm enough for shorts and short sleeves.  However, Mar del Plata was chilly, cloudy, and drizzly.  Winter had truly set in.

When we arrived at the marina we were pleased to see that the missing section of jetty had been replaced and we were able to walk all of the way to the boat.  The electric power had been restored and soon I had the fan heater going.  After a lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches that we had purchased on the way and a short nap we headed for the market which I hoped would reopen at about 3.30 PM.  It was still closed when we arrived but had only a 10 minute wait until the 4.30 PM opening.   At the market we we purchased steak, ground meat, chicken, vegetables, and bread.  We also dropped by the liquor store and picked up 6 bottles of different wines – Malbecs, a Syrah, a Cabernet Savignon, and a Cabernet Malbec - to get the 10% discount.  Brenda listed the wines and we will rate them.  The six bottles of the better Argentinean wines cost a total of 130 pesos, or about $4.80 per bottle.

After returning with the shopping I went out to fill the boat's water tanks.  We had swapped tanks just before the unannounced jetty work and I figured that we had about one half tank of water remaining, enough for 2 or 3 days.  Unfortunately the jetty had no water service.  The man at the office told me that there was a gap of about 2 ft in the water hose and we could expect a fix sometime in the coming week.  I thanked him with a pleasant smile and walked back to the boat wondering why it would take days to organize a short section of hose, two plastic joiners, and a few clamps to do the fix.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Videos from Iguazu

More Photos from Third Day at Iguazu


Third Day at Iguazu Falls

The weather report last night indicated some rain this morning but clearing in the afternoon. 

After breakfast Brenda set off on foot to visit a nearby botanical garden.  Unfortunately it was closed for renovation so Brenda had a walk around the area.  She's pretty sure that she went by the settlement of indigenous Indians that Pilar the guide had told me about yesterday.

After Brenda returned to the hotel we decided that the weather would be good enough for a third visit to Iguazu, and we arrived at the park at just after 11 AM.   Our goals were to visit Isla San Martin and then do a second visit to the Garganta Del Diablo falls.

The visit to San Martin island was well worth the effort.  The trail down the cliff to the water was very picturesque, though steep.  At the jetty we were given life jackets and soon we were on the boat for the short crossing to the sandy patch of beach at San Martin.  After having a snack enjoying the sun and blue sky we set off on the climb to the top of the island. 

On the way to the first vantage point we saw our first armadillo of the day, totally focused on his foraging for food in the ground and totally oblivious of us tourists.  The view from the lookout forced me to use a word that I have to now avoided like the plague because it has been so prostituted in pop culture, but I thought appropriate for what I was seeing: awesome.  I'll have to leave it to the reader's imagination the experience of the thundering roar, spray, mist, and chaos of a wall of water plunging far into the gorge. 

We then took a track to the other side of the island and enjoyed great views of the northern end of the falls and the Iguazu river below.  Along the way we got a very close view of another armadillo also very focused on searching for food in the ground.

We then climbed back up the cliff and found our way to the train station.  On the way I took photos of the original hotel, now sadly derelict, and the water tower that was cleverly built to look like a lighthouse.  After we got off the train at the Cataratas station we decided that I should make the long walk to the waterfall alone and leave Brenda to make the trek at her own pace so that she could do bird watching along the good prospects of the broad and shallow Iguazu river surrounded by jungle. 

Iguazu River, headed for Parana River the River Plate Estuary

Brenda on typical pathway

Pathway to Garganta Del Diablo Falls
I took a lot of videos and photographs of the waterfall then stood there for 15 minutes savoring the experience of just being there.  When Brenda caught up with me she told me that she had been rewarded with the sight of 3 toucans perched then in flight.  (I felt miffed: she had out-toucaned me 5 to 1.)  She had also seen a tortoise resting on a rock, midstream. After enjoying the falls for a few more minutes we made our way back to the train station and were soon on the bus back to the hotel. 

After showers we reviewed the day's photographs and videos and then it was time for a what turned out to be a splendid meal centered around fish out of the Parana river, accompanied by a bottle of Malbec wine. 

Video of Garganta Del Diablo Falls

Video of "The Two Sisters"

Video of Waterfall

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Video of Furry Friends

This is a video of a couple of Coati's at play.

Video of Largest Waterfall

This is a  video of Gargata Del Diablo.

Video of Capuchin Monkeys at Iguazu

The Tourbillon Hotel

Panoramic View of Back of Hotel

Looking down on dining room from our Floor

More Photos from Iguazu Falls

A pair of Coati's

Tourist Boat Going In

... And Going Out

"The Two Sisters"

Coping with the Rain

Second Day at Iguazu Falls

San Martin Island

The Brazil-Argeintina Border Runs Down the Middle of the River

The tour bus returned from the Brazilian side with the rest of the tour group and picked us up at the hotel at 9.30 AM.  We had a good morning at the park, walking along the lower circuit which allowed to get good views from below the various waterfalls.  After that we walked along the upper trail which enabled us to see the falls from above.  At that point it began to rain and after 30 minutes the rain became heavy and people coped as best they could with whatever rain gear they had.  Brenda put on a waterproof parka and I donned the same waterproof jacket in which I had toured Mexico by bus.  Nevertheless the dampness worked its way into our clothes and back packs.  The personal discomfort and poor visibility to my mind made continuation of the tour impractical.

Fortunately Brenda and I had seen the two major circuits that we had not seen.  The group went on to visit the major falls, Garganta Del Diablo (The Devil's Throat) the day before, so we got the OK from the tour guides Mariano and Pilar to abandon the rest of the tour and make our way back to the hotel.  We would have liked to have had a second look at the Gargantua falls but if the weather cleared up tomorrow we would return to the park to visit to do the walk around San Martin island and visit Garganta again.

We were back at the hotel at about 2 PM where we draped damp clothes and equipment all over the place, had hot showers, then later called room service for sandwiches and french fries to tide us over until dinner, which begins at 8 PM.

Today Brenda took most of the still photographs and I concentrated on using the video camera.  I will publish some of them over the next few days.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

First Day at Iguazu Falls

Capuchin monkeys

Garganta Del Diablo

A raccoon-like Coati

It was a great first day at Iguazu Falls.

The Tourbillon, like all hotels but one at Puerto Iguazu, are 15 or 20 km away from the Iguazu National Park.  (The only exception is the Sheraton, inside of the national park.)  However, access is not a problem.  We caught a bus at the bus stop in front of the hotel which took us to the park for 10 pesos each. 

The park had the same unusual price structure that we had noticed at the San Ignacio ruins: a low price for Argentinos, a slightly higher price for other Latin Americans, and really sticking it to tourists from farther afield.  From memory, Argentinians were charged 40 pesos and we were charged 130 pesos each.  However, I do not begrudge the price that I paid because we found the park superbly set out with excellent infrastructure, well managed, and very well staffed by bilingual personnel.  The admission price included the train rides as well as the boat trip to San Martin Island. 

Brenda and I arrived at the park at about 10.30 AM and were the only people to take advantage of the excellent displays at the park's tourist center during our 30 minute visit during which we got a comprehensive picture of the history, fauna, and flora of the area.  We expressed interest in walking the Macuco nature trail and received a brochure on the trail as well as several others describing the park, its birds, etc.

The Macuco Nature Trail is about 3.5 meters long and begins just past the train station and ends up at the Arrechea Waterfall, where water falls 60 meters into a pool that is OK for swimming then proceeds to join the Iguazu river a few hundred meters  down.  We knew that the walk would take much of our day, but we were attracted to the idea of walking through a jungle path at our own pace where we might get a chance to see some exotic birds and even perhaps a jaguar.  (The sign warns of dangerous animals and to keep children very close.)

The first thing that Brenda noticed  was the  amazing variety of colorful butterflies that seemed to be everywhere.  Along the way we saw some interesting birds which Brenda may comment on after she's done some research on their identity.  We then encountered a couple who gave us the signal to stay quiet and approach slowly.  Above was a group of Capuchin monkeys doing their thing in the canopy of trees.  We got photos of a mother with her offspring on her back, peeling an orange-like fruit in a very human-like fashion before eating it. 

The waterfall was interesting and well worth the walk.  According to the brochure, this was all that was left of the site of the original waterfall, choked off when erosion diverted the course of the river to its present spectacular set of falls.  We had lunch by the pool and while there met a young couple from Australia.  They told us that the last train for the major falls left at 4 PM, which put into our heads the possibility of doing a quick visit to the falls before we returned to the hotel.

To our surprise we arrived at the train station at about 10 minutes to 4 and soon we were on our way.  The park runs a narrow gauge train which takes the tourists to two stations: Estacion Cataratas for visiting the southern end of the waterfalls, and Estacion Garganta, much farther down the track, for visiting the spectacular Garganta Del Diablo falls.  Even through time was a bit short we decided to stay on the train to the second station and were rewarded by the sight of three toucans.  Brenda spotted a pair in a tree on the right side of the train and I saw one emerge from the trees just ahead of our car and fly parallel with the train for about 15 seconds before turning back into the trees.

We reached the Garganta Del Diablo after a 1.1 km walk from the train station over the broad expanse of the Iguazu river along a broad metal walkway on hefty concrete pillars and saw that everything that we had read about the falls was true.  I found it to be spectacular and downright stunning.   We took some photos and I took several videos before one of the park attendants advised us to start walking back to the station to catch the last train at 5.30 PM.  While we were there we ran into the Australian couple.

Before leaving the park I got our tickets stamped so that we could return tomorrow for half price. Not long after that we were on the bus which dropped us off in front of the hotel.

Monday, April 23, 2012

In Puerto Iguazu

We arrived at the Hotel Tourbillon in Iguazu after a bus ride of 28 hours.

Crossing the Gap

San Ignacio Mission

Flowers at San Ignacio
At Mar Del Plata we were supposed to be at the bus depot by 8 AM and we thought that the arrangement was that we would see the night watchman Franco at 7 AM and he would telephone a cab for 7.30 AM.  We got up nice and early and got off the boat on time, somewhat apprehensive about threatening rain clouds and getting the luggage across the gap in the jetty using the rowboat without getting it wet.  We did that OK and as we approached the office Franco met us and told us that the cab would arrive in 5 minutes - 7 AM.  We had just enough time to visit the loo before the cab arrived.

The bus ride to Iguazu was a long one, but the seats were comfortable and we had much more leg and elbow room than on an economy class commercial jet.  We stopped for an hour for lunch and again early in the evening for dinner.  Two movies were shown, with the double whammy of Spanish language with Spanish subtitles.

An airplane would have been much faster and no more expensive than the bus, but we were both glad that we took the bus because it gave us the opportunity to see much of the countryside of northern Argentina.  The rural areas that we saw were modern and appeared to be prosperous.  The agricultural land looked superb: flat, lush, with dark rich soil.  There were some small towns that could have been in Australia.  Even the windmills were the same.

This morning the bus stopped for our breakfast and from there we walked to a tour of the ruins of San Ignacio, originally founded in 1632 by the Jesuits and moved to its present location in 1696.  It was a large mission, with an orderly and very hierarchical structure of society as would be expected.  To quote from the brochure, "Similar to the other missions, it suffered the Paraguayan destruction in 1817."

The hotel is a very good one - the best that we've stayed at.  It's got truly free WiFi which I like, a safe which I like almost as much, and a bathroom that includes a bidet and a Jacuzzy bathtub, which are of no use to me.  It has a large balcony overlooking a lush garden and obligatory swimming pool.

After showers and lunch at the hotel restaurant we took the local bus into the center of town where I drew some cash from an ATM and we got some supplies from a grocery store.  I asked a local where I could find a bank and he very helpfully asked whether I wanted Link or Banelco.  By then I knew that I needed a Link bank, which was only 1.5 blocks away.

I had told my bank of my Visa card plight and got only a form letter in return.  The response that they should have sent is very simple:  Anybody who wants to withdraw money from an ATM in Argentina using a Visa card must go to a bank that displays "Link" and avoid the ones that display "Banelco".   None of the banks seem to display the logos of the major cards such as Visa or Master.

Brenda went for an evening stroll along the back garden of the hotel and was rewarded with a good sighting of a toucan labeled in the book as an "aracari".  She said that we can return to Mar Del Plata now, but I knew better.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Trip Payment, LPG Gas, Jetty Work

Male seal lions having a rest

Beach just to the south of the harbor

Bargain Boat Section

Unannounced Jetty Gap and Leaky Boat
Trip Payment, LPG Gas, Jetty Work

Photos:  IMG_6775, DCF0030, DCF0027, DCF0025, DCF0024, DCF0022

After three daily trips to the ATM's followed by visits to the tourist office we have the final payment of 768 pesos to make this morning.  We will then receive our tickets, vouchers, and itinerary. 

I got annoyed when Brenda was able to extract funds from a ubiquitous Banelco ATM using her MasterCard followed by the rejection of my Visa card, so I sent a message to my bank.  I got a form letter response overnight which included the URL of a useful web site showing Visa friendly ATM's all over the world.  By then we had figured out that any ATM's displaying “Link” will probably work for me. 

When we arrived from Buenos Aires the gas cylinder appeared to be empty so I switched to the small reserve one and two  days ago took the one that I had swapped out on the way to the Horn to a hardware store that would send it out for filling. 

Yesterday morning the electric kettle stopped working just after we had had our breakfast.  It didn't take long to figure out that the boat was not getting any shore power.  We had noticed two men working on a section of the jetty so we figured that it was a temporary outage.

We walked into town, paid our next installment to the tourist agent, then set off for the fishing boat harbor with the intention of walking the long outer mole to see the colony of sea lions.  Instead we visited a small nature reserve and discovered a long and wide beach that had a lot of potential but seemed to be treated as a neglected backwater. On the way back to the boat we purchased a kilo of fish fillets that turned out be very good eating.  We also spent some time watching the sea lions both at rest (when they looked like they were sleeping off hangovers) and at work, finding fish with seemingly effortless ease.

Back at the marina we found that a section of the jetty had been removed and two men were working on it.  We stood there looking at the gap and asked Salvatore how we would be able to get to the other side.  He said that there was a boat.  Sure enough there was an old wooden row boat with a rope spanning the gap.  Brenda and I got into the boat then I started to grumble that it was not set up for pulling the boat back once we had made our crossing.  Luis the yard boss came by and I asked him about the setup.  He threw a rope to me which would allow him to pull the boat back after we made our crossing, but when I asked him how we would be able to pull the boat to our side he casually waved me off.  Brenda had to put up with more of my grumbling. 

Later I started to load the other large cylinder cylinder that I had judged to be empty on our return from BA and it felt heavier than it should.  I shook it back and forth and could feel a hefty amount of LPG sloshing around.  I hooked the cylinder up again, tested it, and found that the stove worked fine.  I figure that the solenoid connected to the gas sniffer must have jammed up momentarily after being shut while I was in BA.   When I returned to the gap on my way to pick up the filled gas cylinder I found that the boat had been properly set up with fixed ropes on either side and a center rope with blocks at either end so that the boat could be pulled back and forth as required. 

The cylinder took a whopping 8.6 kg (19 lb) of LPG and the cost was $30, probably twice the cost of Mexico.  I humped the full cylinder on my back in the marvelous US Navy duffel bag and even managed to pick up a bottle of red wine on the way back. 

As I approached the jetty I saw Luis on his way home and I asked him when we would get power and water.  He thought that it would take 2 more days. 

Fortunately the boat 's battery banks are full and we still had plenty of fresh water on board.  Having said that, I don't think that it requires an MBA to think of posting a sign a few days ahead of time advising that there will be no power and water for 2 or 3 days, and that there will be a gap to be negotiated in a leaky wooden boat.  Looking back, it took me using my blog to tell the office the date of when I had motored into the marina. 

My LPG gas situation is now good.  I have a full cylinder, which alone would probably support me to South Africa.  I figure that the other large cylinder is half full.  I'll keep using the small (3.4 kg) reserve cylinder, hoping to empty it before leaving MdP.   I expect to fill both the reserve cylinder and the half-full large one before leaving MdP to ensure LPG will not be one of the things to worry about when provisioning in Brazil.

Last night we had a tasty dinner with good red wine and watched “Shall We Dance?” with Richard Gere.

We made the last payment for the package tour to the Iguazu falls and received our vouchers.  The bus leaves at 8.30 AM on Sunday morning and we will travel all night and be dropped off at the hotel on Monday morning.  We will be on recliner beds which have been very comfortable in the past. 

While we were in town I purchased a wire brush for a project that had sprung up unexpectedly.  The cylinder that had just been filled was fairly rusty.  It was a steel one that I had purchased in Hawaii and had had a tough life in the sloshing waters of the lazarette.  My interest was to protect the cylinder enough to get me back to Australia without developing a potentially disastrous pinhole leak.  Just before lunch I wire brushed the problem areas then washed the cylinder in soapy water.  After lunch I dug out the large plastic “paint department” container and found that the only paint I had was the remnants of 2-part International brand paint that I had brought from Australia.  I had plenty of paint but the catalyst had turned into a gel with a small amount with syrup like consistency at the bottom.  I decided on the desperate measure of putting 5 tablespoons of paint into the catalyst then stirring it using a small artist's brush, hoping that enough catalyst would leach out to achieve something close to the ideal 3:1 ratio.  I had enough mixed paint to treat the problem areas, namely the seam around the middle, the bottom, and the top where the protective rim joined the body of the tank.  Two hours later I went onto the jetty to check on the paint, half expecting to find a sticky goo, but to my delight the paint had hardened nicely.  Gotta win a few.

During the day there was very little work done on the jetty.  One guy worked alone at dismantling the old section of jetty.  My guess was that they were waiting on a crane for lifting into position a new section that they had built a few weeks ago.  I wasn't too worried because we were leaving on Sunday morning for the week away, but it would be nice to not have to transport our luggage on that leaky boat at 7 AM.

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