Wednesday 16th February 2011
On the way into town this week, I took shots of several birds ... Kelp geese, a small brown bird always by water (name?) and a pair of sea ducks (name?) ... also of the wreck of the 'Saint Christopher' which has become host to a noisy tern colony (they're beautiful, graceful birds!) and of some local dancers in their bright costumes, the men sporting trouser legs which made a good noise, from bells sewn on, when they stamped their feet...:
"Esto es el radio Argentina!" I hear daily proclaimed proudly on the radio, in between the tangos and songs I listen to regularly ..... but I'm now getting caught up in the nightmare I'd hoped to avoid in getting things brought in to Argentina for my repairs and replacements...! Plan A - fetching in to Puerto Williams (Chile) and taking the boat the short distance down there to pick it up with minimal problem and cost has fallen through, so now we're in to plan B - goods having to be brought from Punta Arenas (Chile) 'in bond' to Ushuaia direct by truck, taking a day - but with S. American paperwork, 1 day extends to 2-3 days (ouch!!!).
To avoid weekend overtime charges, plan is to pick up on Monday and arrive in Ushuaia (Customs warehouse) on Wednesday, from where, with an agent, I'm able to collect goods and bring to boat, which is considered a 'yacht in transit' so no import duty levied - sounds simple...? This is Argentina - so tell me when I see it all safely on board here.....! Trucking and agents' fees are costing a small fortune... (Cost I quoted to someone today was, he told me, 'cheap'!!) I've had several people trying to help me with advice and contact with people they know and trust - but invariably their ideas involve sending goods to P. Williams and collecting from there - people here will do anything to avoid bringing goods in to Argentina directly!!
Monday was a definite low point in my stay here - when I first got the bad news on the goods I've been waiting so long for... A pity because Saturday and Sunday had gone quite well - Corno came for Saturday morning tea with Petra ('Simon de Danser'), spent quite a time on board and managed to resolve my Simrad VHF external speaker problems (having the pedestal-mounted VHF radio in position turned out to be crucial to adjusting the VHF speaker volume in the cockpit but he had to 'tweak' the wiring at the main unit down below to be sure all was well both up and down. It's quite a relief to have the VHF speakers both working properly since it's very difficult otherwise to hear the radio if being called on it. It got quite amusing when I went around the nearby boats trying to find one with both AIS transmit and DSC on board to make a test DSC call to - most people with the facility have no clue how to work it! And when we tried to test the DSC, the Ushuaia Prefectura radio officer jumped in with a response, ruining our test...! (He was probably only too delighted to have something to do!)
I'm not sure where the rest of the day went, although I was busy - but I've been trying over several days now, mostly early mornings and in the evenings, to catch up with the latest batch of outstanding email replies. Having to walk into town each day to visit the ATM for cash also takes quite a time - paying the agent in Chile requires cash since people here expect cash transfers for payments (often quoted in dollars).
Barbara on 'Taurus' helped me by using her sewing machine on the Jordan Series drogue bag straps - I had to abandon the idea of changing over the broken clips because the bag was so sturdily made that it proved impossible for me to undo the stitching around the clips on the straps - so I decided on loops at
the strap ends which could be used to tie the bag in place - far simpler and workable. On Monday, I machined the pole cover which had got badly torn when the pole was broken in half after the knockdown.... that took a long time. So another job now is to replace both pole and series drogue in their places on deck, having walked to 'Rombo Repuestos' today to buy a replacement length of chain (15lb/7kg) and a (floating) polypropylene length of line for retrieving the drogue. (They kindly gave me a lift back to the marina in their van when they gathered I intended walking back with my load. This was my second visit today - I'd arrived the first time just as they locked up shop for their early afternoon lunch/siesta closure...) The drogue will need to be flaked carefully into the bag, so it runs out easily when deployed, and the chain at its end will go into its own separate pocket - that's the first thing to be sent out overboard on deploying the drogue.
Sunday evening I cleared up - and had dinner guests - to thank 'Simon de Danser' and 'Taurus' for their help ... A big ratatouille with potatoes and garlic chicken, followed by pineapple and cream - I'd found some fresh cream in the local 'Anonima' supermarket! They all tested the Argentinian whisky I'd been introduced to by 'Uhambo' (actually has a basis of Scotch, the makers claim...!) - and gave it the 'thumbs up'! - and then Christoph fetched over some 'Dolce di Leche' liqueur - rather like "Bailey's".... late to bed!
'Taurus' left for Puerto Williams, as planned, on Tuesday, after an early check-out and Petra and Corno are staying on, expecting Dutch friends this weekend. I'd hoped the friends would be able to bring a credit card for me - but long sessions on Skype this week failed to sort out debit/credit card problems with my UK bank to enable that.... what a mess!! I'm managing so far financially - but only just! Of several cards, just one debit and one credit card are working!