Cor and Petra's Simon de Dancer is a 16-ton, steel, Colin Archer-type ketch. She was built in 1985, and they bought her in 1998. She was in poor condition, and they worked on her evenings and weekends for six years in preparation for their extended cruise, which began in 2002. They cruise until the cash runs out, and they've already been back to Holland for some months to refill the kitty. Cor is an electrician, a skill much needed on board a cruising boat. However, Petra told us, laughing as she did, "He'll never tidy up all the wires on our boat-only on other people's boats." They'd originally thought of going to the Caribbean, but then they decided that Brazil was a must. Dreams of Argentina and Chile slowly took shape. Now they're sure they want to go south. Like everyone in Mar del Plata, they were buying parts and checking their rigging, sails, and engine.
Mar del Plata comes alive a few days before Christmas. By the end of December and into January, the roads are busy, the restaurants packed, and the hotels full. Thousands of Argentines flock from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata, the main seaside resort. There's a wonderful market in the port area, selling superb Argentine beef at a price most Europeans would pay for dog food! Excellent fruits and vegetables are grown on local farms. Whatever was in season was there, and it was cheap. You can choose from a huge variety of wines, too. We even found good-quality French champagne, made under license in Argentina, at $5 a bottle. At that price, special occasions came quite often.