As I continue the ongoing saga of Nine of Cups’ From There to Here, I feel like Charles Dickens serializing Great Expectations in the local newspaper each week. We’re hoping our readers are enjoying this recap as much as we are enjoying writing and reliving it. Every once in awhile we have to check our records to make sure it was really us that did all this stuff. So much for failing memories. We’re fast-tracking with lots of links to our website pages on each country and lots of photos, so please take the time to browse the website pages and get a taste of each place we visited. You don’t have to do it all in one sitting … the website is there to enjoy at your own pace.
Uruguay proved to be a wonderful place for us. We enjoyed the people, the town and the laid-back ambiance of the whole country. Their motto seems to be “Tranquilo” … and tranquil it was. The local drink is maté (MAH tay), an herbal tea-like drink, and the locals consume it in great quantities, a maté bottle always within arm’s reach. We found it bitter, but it’s obviously an acquired taste as the supermarket aisles were packed with several different brands and varieties.
Since we were “on the hard” in Piriapolis and had quite a bit of work to do aboard Nine of Cups, we rented a local casita (little house) for a couple of months and enjoyed land life. The rental came with two bicycles and frequent use of the owner’s car which always seemed available and always had the keys in the ignition.
Because of our proximity to Argentina, we took a break from boat work for a month and, with backpacks filled with all the basics, hopped a bus for some touring of this fabulous country. We headed first to Iquazu Falls, the Niagara of South America, but significantly larger.
From the Falls, we city-hopped throughout the country, enjoying every place from the Spanish missionary outposts to wine-tasting in Mendoza. We even took a quick trick into Paraguay for a few days. We reckon that Argentina has the best ice cream in the world … and we did a significant amount of testing. Take a look at Argentina on our website.
We took the ferry to Buenos Aires on several occasions. Once with Brennan and Hannah who were visiting, then we met up with cruising friends, Katie and Jim on Asylum, and spent time with Noel Marshall on Sadko. All in all, a delightful, vibrant city that offered something new with each visit.
Once we returned to Uruguay, we settled down to boat work. David completed all the necessary repairs and we were back in the water in no time. Since we had come so far north and east, we decided an east-about circumnavigation might be more prudent than retracing our track and heading west. In early November 2006, we set out across the South Atlantic, our first trans-ocean passage.
Cape Town, South Africa is a straight line across the ocean from Uruguay and a British territory island known as Tristan da Cunha is right along the way. We were hoping for a chance to stop, but weather would dictate our options once we arrived at this tiny, open roadstead island. We made contact with the island radio operator and stayed in contact throughout the passage. Once we arrive, Andy & Lorraine were our most amiable and generous hosts on the island.
As luck would have it, we had three great days at Tristan and made some great, lasting friends … and ate more Tristan lobster than you can imagine. Hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it!
We arrived in Cape Town a few days before Christmas. There are no words to describe the feeling of elation experienced as we sailed into Cape Town harbor in the shadow of the great Table Mountain. After 40 days at sea, we welcomed the port life and the hospitality of the South Africans. Life was good in South Africa. We met friends, traveled extensively and sampled the rich diversity of culture, flora and fauna that the country has to offer, leaving us wanting more.
Then Brennan proposed to Hannah and since as usually absent parents we wanted to participate as much as possible, we decided that sailing back across the Atlantic might be a reasonable thing to do. In retrospect, we’re not sure it was, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. One of the problems with cruising is that there are just too many options. You can make decisions like this so easily and whatever you decide ends up being the right decision.
The trip from Cape Town to Charleston, South Carolina would end up being the longest passage of our careers … 72 days, 7,200 nautical miles. We stopped at St. Helena Island and Ascension Island en route for a respite, but the final leg from Ascension to Charleston was 42 days … a long time at sea. Still, when we arrived at the “C” buoy at the entrance to channel leading to Charleston, we hesitated. We’d gotten in sync with the watches and the sea and it was almost sad to end it all by heading back to civilization once again. We weren’t sad enough, however, to alter our course up the river to Charleston. And thus, we were home again in the USA.
We sailed north and secured a mooring at the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island, leaving Cups on her own for most of the summer. The wedding was celebrated in fine style and families were pleased and united. It was time for the crew to head back to sea.
We decided to try for a west-about once again. How many times can you make a decision and still change your mind? Our friend, Dave (you know who you are, Dave!), likened our route map to a drunken pub crawl. As we headed down the US East Coast and then to Panama, we had every intention of crossing the Pacific this time around. But then, things don’t always go as planned, do they?