Comodoro Rivadavia has nothing to offer as a
tourist destination so we wanted to make three flights to reach Puerto
Madryn. We knew it would be a long day so we made an early start and
breakfasted at 7 a.m. The runway was close to the lodge so we were able
to carry our bags over to the plane. Raymond Robson (brother to Stanley
airport boss Gerard Robson) got up early to photograph our departure.
Take-off was at 07:53, with winds at 270 degrees/10 knots, so again
there was no headwind component for the 496m runway 36 – the shortest
runway Honey Mooney has ever used (except French altiports with steep
slopes). We used 400m, the stall warning squeaked upon rotation, and we
passed very close to the 70 ft sand dunes north of the strip.
The flight to Stanley took just 26 minutes. Flemming refuelled with
enough to get us safely to Comodoro Rivadavia while Angela took a taxi
into town to show our passports to Customs and Immigration. They had
told us it would be cheaper for us if they didn’t have to come out to
the airport. Even so, it cost us a whopping £100!
We had nice flying weather, blue skies and only a 15 knot headwind
component to Comodoro (IFR 4:07 hrs). After we checked out on VHF with
Falkland Island radar, we had no problems passing the required position
report by Iridium phone to Comodoro Rivadavia centre (we did not have
the required HF frequency installed in our Codan HF transceiver). The
arrival and departure at Comodoro Rivadavia were turbulent, with winds
at 290 degrees/29 knots gusting to 43 knots: a very significant
crosswind component for runway 25. The VFR flight to Puerto Madryn (1:29
hrs) took us over barren, flat Patagonian countryside.
We got a warm and friendly reception in Puerto Madryn, both by the woman
in the AIS office and by FiL rent a car. The owner, Guillermo Gabriel
Villa, went out of his way to help us. Also an adventure seeker, a few
years back he had sailed all the way to Faial in the Azores. We had
already visited Faial back in 1992 and knew that many of the yachties
paint pictures on the harbour walls. We told Guillermo we planned on
returning to Europe in May via the Azores, so he told us to look for the
picture about their boat Gandul.
We spent the night in Puerto Madryn and drove to Puerto Pirámides the
next morning. There we booked into a very pleasant hotel by the beach
called Las Restingas.
Although it was quite sunny, we were still too far south to contemplate
any swimming. The main attraction is Península Valdés and we spent the
day driving round it. We saw armadillos, guanacos, rheas (type of
ostrich), magellanic penguins, elephant seals and a sea lion colony at
the North point. But we couldn't get anywhere near as close to the seals
and penguins as we could in the Falklands and Galapagos Islands. Due to
the number of tourists, we were not allowed onto the beach and had to
view the wild life from above.
The next day dawned windy and rainy. We were glad of the excuse to just
stay put in our nice hotel and do some work on the website. The weather
improved a bit in the late afternoon and we drove to a nearby bay to
watch the seals use the swell to propel themselves out of the sea onto a
At the North Point where we looked in vain for orcas