It is amazing how time flies by when we are in port. We were in Punta del Este for four days. March 23rd saw us untying the mooring lines - much easier than tying them up - and leaving a couple of hours later than expected. Before starting our engines we realized that we had excess oil after the Volvo guys changed it in San Fernando and we had to drain over a litre off - a new and valuable experience for future oil changes - but made departure at one end late and, hence, arrival at the next port later.
|Punte del Este before rounding the punt|
Rounding the punte, we discovered a different sea state. It had been blowing over 20 knots for the days we were in harbour and that had kicked up a decent swell which we immediately felt. What a difference from the short, choppy waves on the river!
We made a slight detour to gaze at the sea lions on Isla de Lobos, apparently one of the largest colonies of sea lions in the world. We chose to look through binoculars and, hence, to avoid the infamous smell that comes along with lying around in the sun, fish breath and tons of excrement.
|From a safe odourless distance|
From there it was a straight sail in light winds 40 NM to La Paloma. We successfully flew the spinnaker for the first time on our own which was exciting.
Wind shifted as we neared La Paloma pointing us prematurely toward shore. The last few NM were spent motoring, trying to beat the approaching sunset and have light to make it into an unknown harbour.
As it was growing dark we approached the dock, expecting to see mooring balls as we had read. Instead, a guy on dock waved us to a point. This meant a flurry of frenzied activity. Our first “med mooring” facsimile with bow to dock with two bow lines and tied to two buoys at the stern. My set up - both mentally and physically - was all amuck. And we had an audience of fisherfolk on the dock and crew of an adjacent catamaran who obviously had stake in our proficiency. I am not one for audiences - the pressure was exacerbated.
To our advantage, the wind was insignificant. Peter was able to steer Milly so I could catch one buoy and secure the line at the stern. Then I went to the bow as fleet as foot as possible to throw the lines to the onlooking prefectura who then tied while Peter admirably held Milly off the neighbouring catamaran. Now, throwing the line a distance of about 30 feet is no easy feat. You coil some of the line with the bitter end in throwing hand and hold the rest of the line, coiled in the left hand. I had to prepare this at the moment and throw to two guys who were loudly jabbering in Spanish at me. Then you wind up and throw with the throwing hand while releasing with the left. An added complication are the lifelines which encircle the boat just below waist height - a nice safety feature. The coiled line must be hurled above the lifeline but on a strong forward trajectory to get to the catcher. Luckily, the technique was required in San Fernando so I had done it twice. Wind up three times underhand and then hurl. Successful times two. Phew! Disappointingly, no clapping from the audience.
Finished tidying, the skipper of the other catamaran secured our second stern line - as I said, he had a stake in this - and we were done. As a denouement, over both sides of the boat hundreds of tiny, bioluminescent fish gave off a blue light while darting around the hull. Beautiful!