Aug 21

Travel Tuesday: The Sailing Incident of Buenos Aires

My little blog is trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. Like the awkward adolescent I was, she is a bit gawky, still has some pimples, and struggles with her sense of identity (at least she doesn’t hang every 1999 ‘Got Milk’ celebrity mustache advertisement on her walls like it’s just the coolest thing ever. Please tell me someone else used to do that, too?!). I’ve just redone my “About Me” section again, so feel free to read up on the latest version of Ms. Blog’s aspirations.

Because I want a large part of this blog to be about travel, I am instating a series called Travel Tuesday that will talk about… yeah, you guessed it–travel (thanks, Captain Obvious).  I have a lot of experiences to share from my travels through 18 countries and 15+ US states, so each week I will be sharing photos and stories from my trips near and far. They will likely include some travel tips and helpful info but will mostly be stories that always incorporate the three pillars of Kaleena’s Kaleidoscope: honesty, humor, and reflection.

Today, I’ll jump right in with one of my most infamous stories: The Sailing Incident of Buenos Aires

The year was 2009 and my boyfriend, Frank, and I were amidst a three month backpacking journey throughout South America. Early on in our trip we had met Ana and Gerardo, a couple from Buenos Aires, and had become fast friends. Each time we returned to Buenos Aires the four of us met up and they showed us some fun new thing to do in the city; this time around, they had invited us to join them on their sailboat.

I was beyond excited. I felt so damn fancy as I sauntered into the elite yacht club and I couldn’t wait to tell my friends back home about it. What a great story this would make! Sailing in Buenos Aires, VIP status! Little did I know just how good of a story it would make…

Sailing in Buenos Aires

Ana prepares the boat

As we boarded the boat, I eyed the clouds in the distance. While the skies were fairly blue above us, I hoped they wouldn’t blow in and ruin my sunbathing time. Lounging on the deck and getting a tan was clearly the priority of the day. As we sailed out of the harbor, the wind picked up and those pesky clouds drew nearer. Ana got a concerned look on her face as she glanced at the sky and she and Ger started a heated discussion that I couldn’t understand (did I mention that I don’t speak Spanish?). Finally, Ana seemed to have lost the discussion, and as Ger happily went back to sailing the boat, Ana translated their conversation to us.

Sailing in Buenos Aires

Sailing in Buenos Aires

We tried to pretend it was still sunny…

Sailing in Buenos Aires

“See those clouds in the distance? Those are not normal clouds. Those mean a “Bombero” is coming. A Bombero is like a flash storm–it comes out of nowhere very quickly, and is very powerful. If we get caught in it, it could be quite dangerous.”

Suddenly, thunder boomed in the distance. Ana glanced in the direction of the clouds and then cast a dark look at Ger.

“We were arguing because I think we should go in and be safe, but Ger thinks we will be fine. He says the wind isn’t strong enough to bring the storm to us for a couple of hours.”

But it turned out, Ger was wrong.

Within 30 minutes, the sky overhead was grey and gloomy, and tendrils of clouds reached down at us, like fingers ready to pluck us out of the water and toss us where they please. Lightning crackled and lit up the city skyline and  suddenly rain began to pour down on us.

Sailing in Buenos Aires

The wind howled and tossed our sailboat about uncontrollably. Ger finally admitted that it was time to go in, but by this point it was too late; the rain pelted us from a sideways angle and the gusts of wind were so strong that we couldn’t gain control of the boat to turn it back toward the harbor.

Then, the sails turned perpendicular to the wind and a powerful gust turned the boat sideways. Already standing at the edge of the boat, I looked up and saw the deck and sails rising above me and all I could think is, “The boat is going to capsize on top of me and I am going to die.”

Now, let me remind you that I had never been sailing before, had zero sailing knowledge, and no one had explained the concept of a keel to me. How was I to know the unlikelihood of the boat capsizing?! All I knew was it sure felt like it was about to topple over, and I sure as hell wasn’t going down with it.

So, like any good survivalist would do, I mentally screamed, “ABANDON SHIP” and I JUMPED.

That’s right, I jumped straight out of the boat and into the frothy, stormy water. As I turned around to face the boat I saw it returning to its upright position and I rolled my eyes at myself. So much for survival skills, now I was just stranded in the water like a dummy. But then Frank, panic in his eyes, heroically threw off his shirt and dived in the water to save me, as the others on the boat shouted, “Nooooooo!” Because, truth be told, I didn’t need saving and now they had to worry about rescuing two people in the water. I appreciated the effort, though, and now the company.

Our friends on the boat struggled to gain control of the boat and bring it close enough to drag us in out of the water, but the weather was just too powerful. Frank and I bobbed in the water and wondered how on earth we would ever get back to dry land. As we skeptically wondered how long it would take us a to swim to shore, we saw a zodiac boat not far off. We waved and hollered “HELP” until it zoomed over to see our precarious situation.

It turned out that we weren’t the only idiots who got ourselves stuck in the storm, and the harbor patrol had sent out zodiacs to tow the stranded sailboats back in. They hoisted us into the little rubber boat, brought the sailboat back to harbor, and saved the day.

After a bit of forehead smacking,  waving-of-arms, and frustrated yelling in Spanish of things that most likely meant, “You NEVER jump! Why would those idiots jump? What crazy, stupid, Americans would jump off a perfectly good boat?!” our friends finally calmed down and our bedraggled crew relaxed in a cafe with some delicious hot chocolate. And everyone lived happily ever after.


Sailing in Buenos Aires




Somehow Ana and Ger didn’t disown us as friends, and we met them later that night for pizza. (We definitely paid for their meal.) By this point, we knew that whatever didn’t kill (or mutilate, maim, or dismember) us would make for an awesome story and all we could do at this point was just laugh about our crazy adventure. To this day, I still laugh at myself about it, although I’m a little hesitant when getting on sailboats…

  • levia jack

    I definitely enjoyed reading every little bit of it and I have it bookmarked to check out new stuff posted regularly.Mustang Sailing