24 January 2015

Walking the streets of Buenos Aires

This is not a post about what to see in B.A.  Rather it is about the adventure of walking in it's streets.
Beautiful wall of plants/flowers.  The textures make it look like an oil painting.

Merry-go-rounds in almost all parks.  This one was in use with one rider..

A take on Toronto's Sugar Beach?  Many parques have been set up with sand, chairs and umbrellas this summer. 
Although the public transport system puts the Toronto Transit System to shame, Peter and I get around by bike and on foot.  We spend hours walking the streets and have come up with some observations.  

The sidewalks seem to be the responsibility of the building which they are in front of right down to the choice and installation of the paving stones to the cleaning of poop and garbage.  Some are immaculate, those responsible sweeping, spraying, stooping.
Trees are sometimes clothed in crocheted blankets.

Huge and ancient gomera tree.  Limbs are so enormous that they are supported by metal poles.
On most sidewalks there are obstacles lying in wait for the unsuspecting walker who must learn to keep their eyes on what’s in front of them.  Although sidewalk stones are varied, the seemingly standard stone is about 50 cm square.  After a heavy rain which occurs every 5-7 days like clockwork, relieving the building humidity, the sidewalk tiles that are invisibly loose harbour a pool of water underneath, unbeknownst to the walker.  As the walker unwittingly steps on the stone, a jet of high pressure water shoots out from under the tile and gives the walker and possibly his/her companion a soaker, sometimes to the knee.

And from above, head and shoulders are also at risk of getting wet.  It is hot here, really hot! and most buildings in the city are air conditioned.  Condensation is plentiful, making puddles on the sidewalk from the drips above.  Navigating the sidewalks, then, involves giving a wide berth to any moisture on the sidewalk - if the drip from above doesn’t get you, the splat from the drip will. The resulting line of passage of the walker, therefore, weaves between puddles.

Cars are sometimes left by the curb for a really long time  Note broken sidewalk.

Apart from the loose stones, many are broken, uneven and/or missing. While we have noticed that construction on buildings is not as prevalent as it had been in March 2013 during our first trip here, the work to infrastructure seems to be high.  For whatever reason, sidewalks are being dug up.  We have not seen one back hoe or jack hammer used for this work.  Instead, we have seen workers using shovel and pick axe, often in sweltering heat, to break the pavement or cement.  An impressive but formidable task!  At one intersection local to our apartment, two corners are dug up.  Close to noon one enterprising worker was cooking lunch of sausages on, what we would call a campfire, here called an asado, made in the rubble of his digging.
Sausage lunch to left of fire grilling over redhot coals.  Coals from the fire are brought under the sausage grill as need be.  Quite an ad hoc set up for a corner construction site.

Other factors that impact walking:  
Poop.  Dogs are many.  Stooping and scooping not so much.  
Restaurant tables go right to the edge of the curb.  A walkway through the tables is left for pedestrians - great view of the food and helpful for deciding where to eat.

Avoiding the puddles

Saturnalia - intent is to warn city folk against debauchery - juxtaposed to modern tattooed Ms

Memorial to those Argentinians killed in Malvinas/Falkland War
Despite these impediments, we have kept our heads up to see fantastic sights:  elegant bookshops, churches, statues, dog walkers with more than ten dogs on leash, graffiti, parks, wonderful produce shops, plentiful bakeries - Argentinians have a sweet tooth, cafes, guys who haul cardboard by rickshaw, varied architecture, beautiful parks and much more.  The city is culturally rich, vibrant, exciting, incredibly busy and always entertaining.  Our walks are never boring!
Beautiful old bookshop with cafe at the back and in an adjoining courtyard.
Man hauling cardboard to be taken to depot for payment by weight
Addendum:  Although we have been warned many times and in many formats, we have never felt threatened on our walks - knock on wood.  We take the same precautions we would in any large city, do not walk late at night and choose routes in known neighbourhoods.

Parisian architecture in vogue late 1800-1920.
Art deco building, tallest in S.Am. when completed in 1935.
Not great architecture but taken for obvious reasons.

20 January 2015

Milly's mast is stepped

Milly without mast

Mast without Milly



And away

Swinging into place


Forestay attached

Shrouds are in place

Milly is masted in 20 minutes!

16 January 2015

Milly has splashed! January 15, 2015

It was a momentous day!  We got a call early in the morning from Santiago at the Antares factory saying the truck was 30 minutes away.  The boat would at least be loaded and perhaps splashed.   We aren’t too fast in the morning anymore but a train ride with two walks on either side later we arrived at the factory to find no boat.  Milly was on her way!
Our first view of Milly.  Under the hull, you can see the truck driving in reverse!  
We flew around the corner and there she was edging done a narrow street just a little wider than her, pulled by the truck with magnificently clever driver.  Trees were trimmed, drivers had been asked to repark their cars elsewhere; residents and employees were hanging out doors and windows watching.   

One owner of a newish SUV must have been late to the scene, too late to move his car.  He watched anxiously as the boat squeezed between his car and a hydro pole on the other side of the road.  Honestly, there were only mm to spare.  Even more amazing, the truck driver was going in reverse, hauling the boat from the front of his truck.

Note the car almost under Milly on the left and hydro pole to the right.  
So close!

Note high tech gear used to raise hydro lines over steel arch.  

All along the 800 meter route, the hydro lines dangled lower than the top of the boat.  It was the job of the group of guys on Milly’s deck to raise the lines up and over the bimini roof, the stainless steel arch and the precious KVH antenna.  All was accomplished without hiccup.

This was the corner where the lines were tight.  Our KVH antenna is being protected.

Milly is the 16th boat splashed on this route.  The team is pro!

Then rounding a corner.  Spectacular driving!  Hydro poles, street light poles, tree trunks - I’ve never noticed how many obstacles there are to negotiate on a narrow street until yesterday.  And the driver who was extremely focused and had his own troop of guys on the ground with hand signals - no shouting or jumping up and down needed - managed the entire drive very calmly.  Hydro lines are particularly numerous at corners.  The ones that are loosely slung seem to be a cinch.  Those that are tight are not so easy especially when the truck has to go forward and back a couple of times right at the KVH.  But the guys up top did the job.

At one point the group of guys had to get down and, together, manually move a heavy trailer whose long, sharp steel hitch was in the way.  At another the truck had to be unhitched so that it could haul another huge boat trailer that was blocking the path.  

Milly unveiled.
Finally, Milly’s protective hull blankets were removed and she was backed into the water.
This is the ramp.  Note a fence and triple threat gate post in the middle;  red brick very solid gate post on the left.  Yet another tight squeeze.

And steep corner to enter the tight squeeze.

No problem.  An inch or two to spare.

Success!  She's in safe and sound thanks to great team work.
No time for fanfare.  Her motor could not yet be used so she was shimmied backward along a motor yacht with dock lines and hands.  Peter and I climbed aboard via the yacht.  Wow, did that feel great!
A little excited!
Greeted by our first wildlife.  
A slight delay as the two boats that were to tow us from the ramp to the yacht club next door did not have gas.  The two guys had to head to the (car) gas station to fill the tanks.  Peter and I enjoyed exploring Milly inboard, opening lockers and drawers and pinching ourselves.

The dinghy, to be named Tom Tom, is on the davits

Still a little work to be done.  Those are our cushions for cockpit and saloon.

Leaving the ramp, cool little floating houses with hot tubs on deck.


In the bigger river
Then the tow to the yacht club - beautiful boats will be our neighbours once we move in. 
One hundred foot aluminum catamaran that takes passengers to Antartica 
The club is reportedly the nicest in Argentina; lovely buildings, lush trees of all varieties, two restaurants and a fantastic working boatyard where I know we will enjoy several hours of observing the work going on…if we have time.
Entering the yacht club

Milly looking pretty while we ate lunch.

The next step for us will be watching the mast being stepped, tentatively scheduled for early next week. Then comes commissioning - 10 working days or so.  Can’t wait to move in!