With just three weeks to go, final assignments have been doled out–researching sailing conditions on the Rio de la Plata, studying November wind and weather from past years, finding the best weather websites (in English), and figuring out travel and luggage requirements.
The Rio de la Plata is a tapering intrusion of the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast of South America between Uruguay to the north and Argentina to the south. The delta of the Paraná and the mouth of the Uruguay rivers meet at the head of the Río de la Plata. The width of the estuary increases to a distance of about 180 miles (290 kilometres) at the mouth. The muddiness of the water in the Río de la Plata itself is increased by the tides and winds that hinder the deposition of silt on the bed. The depth of the water—varying from 6 feet above the shoals to 65 feet in the intervening channels—is reduced along the southern coast by an offshore shoal. Buenos Aires is the densely populated area along the shore (brown spot to the lower right in this aerial photo) of this muddy estuary. The amount of sedimentation requires the shipping channels into Buenos Aires and Montevideo to be continually dredged.
Buenos Aires is at 34° 35′ 15″ South latitude, so the climate is similar to Los Angeles which is at 34° 3′ 8″ North. November is not quite summer, but days will be long and temperatures should range in the 70′s. The brown waters of the Rio de la Plata are warm, with a prevalant outflow of current, and minor tides (< 1 meter exchange). Due to the shallowing and narrowing of the Rio de la Plata and the long fetch from the Atlantic, the prevailing southeasterly brings short chop with moderate breeze.
Of course no travelling regatta for Team Hot Pursuit would be complete without a hurricane or other potential disaster looming. The Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in the Andes of neighboring Chile has been spewing ash on and off since early June, and disrupting air travel in neighboring Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. The eruption hadn’t been an issue over the last couple of months, but last week it again grounded air traffic in Buenos Aires and Montevideo (Uruguay). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/17/chile-volcano-october-2011_n_1015514.html#es_share_ended
There are no direct flights from Seattle to Buenos Aires. Depending on airline, stops are in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Dallas or Houston, and total flight times from 18 hours upwards. November weather and price are also considerations since we surely don’t want to spend any unnecessary time or money on this trip. Our team is flying Continental through Houston, minimizing layover time and getting decent airfares.
Packing sails into check baggage requires folding new sails–yes, it pains us to do this–while keeping bags under the 50lb. checked baggage limit. (2) genoas, (2) spinnakers, (1) main with (2) sets of battens and (1) jib weigh a total of 91lbs in rolling duffle bags.
Running rigging weighs 11 lbs; spare parts, tools and equipment another 20lbs. This all before we add lifejackets, sailing gear, clothing and shoes for nearly three weeks. Good thing we have five crew, all traveling together on the same flight! With two checked bags per person, we hope to have room to come back with a few bottles of Malbec!
The excitement is building…12 days until our departure!