Yesterday, Saturday, I was invited for a sail on the Río Paraná by Juan Pablo, Juan Corradi’s (Concordia Westray) nephew. The boat is a beautifully maintained German Frers 1938 designed and built 27-foot double-ended sloop. I spotted Juan Pablo immediately since he was wearing a Westray Concordia cap, a gift from his uncle. Also joining us was a friend of his, Santiago.
The yacht club where we met is on the mainland, not far from Tigre where I saw the wooden pulling boats the other day, but is on the edge of a huge delta where the Río Paraná flows into the Río de la Plata. The delta is interlaced with many dozens of canals, some deep enough to navigate, others shallow and only accessible by kayak, so we had to motor a ways to get to the river itself. The tide is not that great here—only a half meter or so—but the river’s current affects all these small canals, as does the wind. The wind from a certain direction can pile the water up in the delta or can drain it if coming from the other way. One could probably explore these canals—and the whole delta—for years, not unlike us never tiring of exploring the islands of Maine.
Once we got to the river it was a short, quick sail with the wind and a two- to three-knot current in our favor, but a long, slow beat back against the current.
I was really impressed by Juan Pablo’s boat, the Vigia (a sentinel or lookout), both in its condition, which is excellent for a 75-year-old wooden boat, and how easily she sailed. She was easy on the helm, which did not change whether the winds were light or stiff. Vigia is a one-of-a-kind, but Frers designed a few sisters at the same time. One, slightly longer, is moored near Vigia and Juan Pablo mentioned that a slightly shorter model is also in the area. An interest in classic wooden boats, both sail and power, has been developing over the past few years with at least three regattas a year for classics. He also mentioned that there are skilled shipwrights in the area, so maintaining them is not a problem.
It was an enjoyable day with perfect weather since Friday’s thunder and rain cleared the atmosphere, good company, and a opportunity to experience a classic Frers design in ideal conditions. Thanks, Juan Pablo!