Posted by: powellpjc | June 9, 2013

Rio Parana to the Soul of South America, Asuncion, Paraguay–Except…

Jimmie Donaldson joined me in la Plata, Argentina—just south of Buenos Aires—after Pete Ritchie winged his way home. We motored up the canal in Rio del Plata with some trepidation. There are big ships going both ways and just enough room for the two of them in 50 feet of water. If you wander out of the buoyed lane you are in 3 feet of water. We traveled at night so as to arrive at our destination with plenty of light next day because I had no real idea where we would find a marina that would take us. We did fine up the canal and into the Rio Parana then had to make a choice when we arrived at Canal Honda. The area is a maze of dredged canals and waterways with no navigational aids—lights, buoys or markers of any sort and we arrived at midnight. So, the choice was to poke our way down this canal or anchor for the night. Always looking for adventure, away we go. We are idling the motor and still doing 3.5 knots with the current. All is good until a ‘house’ appears on the horizon. Except it is not a house but a large billboard in the centre of the channel.

In the middle of the river with no lights and no information. Troubled Argentina. I zigged when I should have zagged.

In the middle of the river with no lights and no information. Troubled Argentina. I zigged when I should have zagged.


I realize it at the ‘momento ultimo’ and swing the wheel hard to the left. Big mistake. No water. Ok, 3 feet. I need 6 feet. So, we are hard aground for the night. Next morning I hail a working barge and he hauls us off. I give him $60 for his ½ hour of work and he wants to refuse but I insist so he moves close enough to grab the cash and a wave bangs us together. Another little job for Pete.
This kindly chap pulled us free of the mud. No damage done until I gave him the $. My fault.

This kindly chap pulled us free of the mud. No damage done until I gave him the $. My fault.

We find a nice marina in San Fernando, quiet, protected and safe in all respects (I hope).

Nice, safe San Fernando marina.

Nice, safe San Fernando marina.

After checking in with authorities (again) we buy some chow and head back up the Canal Honda, avoiding our nemesis. Chug on up the Rio Parana and stop at an industrial town, Campana, where the coast guard wakes us up at 10 pm looking for papers and making us re-anchor.
Next day we make tracks for Zarate, only 10 miles but a nicer town. We have to get under a bridge. It looks high enough but it is damn near impossible to judge height from the deck–called ‘air draft’ We creep under with about 100 feet to spare!
Ok. Bridge ahead, no indication on chart of its height. Slow, slow. Lose the mast and it's all over.

Ok. Bridge ahead, no indication on chart of its height. Slow, slow. Lose the mast and it’s all over.


So, 100 feet to spare. What chickens.

So, 100 feet to spare. What chickens!


I attempt to hail the coast guard on the radio but no one home. Not until 10 pm when they wake us up again demanding all paperwork. Next day we go ashore in dinghy and they come back to boat with another crew of jerks looking for papers again. Sheesh. Have nice lunch in town, get laundry done and retire after huge meal. Get woken up again at 9 pm by another crew of coast guard idiots looking for our papers (3rd time). I go ballistic and demand name of Minister of Coast Guard. He will get a blast from Pete.
Pete preparing one of hi signature dishes. Well, with enough scotch and rum anything tastes good.

Pete preparing one of hi signature dishes. Well, with enough scotch and rum anything tastes good.


Jimbo standing guard. Before promotion to Able Seaman 4th class.

Jimbo standing guard. Before promotion to Able Seaman 4th class.


And after well-deserved promotion on the after deck.

And after well-deserved promotion on the after deck.


Marina duck. Jimbo likes his duck, usually on a plate with a cream sauce.

Marina duck. Jimbo likes his duck, usually on a plate with a cream sauce.


Cruising the world means fixing your boat in strange, expensive places.

Cruising the world means fixing your boat in strange, expensive places.


City park in el Tigre, Argentina.

City park in el Tigre, Argentina.


Pete. Always calm, always worried.

Pete. Always calm, always worried.


Our only source of heat. I will install my Dickenson Antartica heater soon.

Our only source of heat. I will install my Dickenson Antartica heater soon.


Ferry cross the Honda

Ferry cross the Honda


Modern ferry cross the Honda.

Modern ferry cross the Honda.


Pete's ferry=big muscles.

Pete’s ferry=big muscles.


Sometimes it's like fun.

Sometimes it’s like fun.


Summer home on Canal Honda.

Summer home on Canal Honda.


Jimbo is a big photographer and a good one.

Jimbo is a big photographer and a good one.


With this last coast guard molestation we decide to give up on the river and head back to San Fernando tomorrow. Enough, already. Sooner I can get out this country the better, but that won’t be until October when spring arrives and I can head south. Love the food, the wine, the people (leave out coast guard as people classification—and enter them as idiot class) and many other things about Argentina.

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