After passing the Falkland Islands I grew unhappier each passing day with my situation and the prospects for the passage to Cape Town. Progress was much slower than I had anticipated and I had made plans for a 60 day passage, which would have stretched my fresh water and diesel resources to the limit but more importantly exposed the boat to a longer period of risk. And to make it in 60 days I had to be prepared to drive the boat harder. I figured that if I lost the mast further out than 1000 miles from Cape Town I would set off my EPIRB, prepared to accept rescue and abandonment of the boat.
Yesterday morning in response to Mark's wish to me for happy sailing I responded that my sail and rigging problems had taken all of the joy out of the cruise. I read these words and realized that I had to do something. I don't mind the privation, and I can deal with danger when it comes (what other choice is there?), but perhaps because of the 3 years of university statistics I am extremely sensitive to risk, probabilities, expected gain, that sort of thing; and I had a really bad feeling about pushing on to Cape Town. It was just too risky and the passage was going to be an ordeal rather than a joyful adventure. Probably 20 times a day I check the headsail and port lower shroud to make sure that they are still intact. Every time I hear a hard sound my eyes are immediately up to make sure that the mast is still secure. Every time the boat gets up a head of steam I look at the angle of heel and reduce sail to relieve the load on the rigging. This is no way to sail a boat if it can be avoided.
I brought up David's software on the laptop, zoomed out to include South America, changed the image type from Google satellite to road map, and right away saw Buenos Aires. I then used the distance & bearing function to see that it was less than 900 air miles away. 900 miles to Buenos Aires is a lot shorter than the 3100 miles to Cape Town. Buenos Aires is a world city and I figured that it would offer all of the services that I needed. I saw it as the solution to my problem and immediately I felt better. I sent off a quick message to Brenda and Stephen telling them of my idea and asking for information on marinas in Buenos Aires. It was about 11 PM in Fremantle and Stephen was still up and responded immediately. Ten hours later I had all of the information that I needed for the moment on marinas and yacht clubs, with references to haulout facilities and the statements "North Buenos Aires has a large and very friendly sailing community" and "There are good facilities available and also a good range of marine supplies in Buenos Aires." This information sealed my decision.
Reaching the Rio de La Plata will not be as easy as it would have been had I proceeded along the coast to the west of the Falklands because I am now far off the coast and the prevailing winds are from the west. However, Buenos Aires is to the northwest and I figure that I've got ample time to play the winds and work my way west before reaching latitude 34S30 of the city. I'll undoubtedly do a lot more than 900 miles of sailing to get there, but it will still be very much shorter than Cape Town.
The latitude of B.A. is similar to that of Cape Town and Fremantle, so it should have a pleasant climate. Looking ahead, the passage from B.A. to Cape Town should be straightforward: sail ESE to pick up the route at latitude 41S or 42S. However, the timing of that passage will require some thinking. I've already been beat up by the Southern Ocean in winter, and I am not interested in repeating the experience. This suggests a stay in B.A. through at least November. I don't mind the long stay. In fact, I don't mind going to B.A. I have not visited any South American countries so far in this circumnavigation and now that the urgency of the Horn is behind me I am under no pressure to keep moving. It's called retirement. I'll have to see how things unfold but it seems to me that if I can put the boat in a secure place there will be ample opportunity for doing some serious bus touring.
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