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Falling in Love with a Ship

The Modesta Victoria on Lago Nahuel Huapi

The Modesta Victoria on Lago Nahuel Huapi

On November 15, I took a boat tour to Isla Victoria and Los Arrayanes National Park. In the process, I fell in love with a Dutch ship that was built in 1937, disassembled, shipped to Argentina, and re-assembled in 1938 on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi. (YouTube has a charming video depicting the original launch of the Modesta Victoria: It looks as if the whole population of San Carlos de Bariloche showed up to celebrate.)

It was the Modesta Victoria on which I rode across the lake. It was the same ship that carried Che Guevara, his friend Alberto Granado, and their Norton motorcycle across the lake during the trek that Guevara described in The Motorcycle Diaries. Other famous passengers included the Shah of Iran, his empress Farah Diba, and U.S. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bill Clinton.

At the Helm of the Modesta Victoria

At the Helm of the Modesta Victoria

I have a love for old steamships, which began when I rode the old MV Lady Rose in Canada between Port Alberni and Bamfield. That was back in 2003. Today, the Lady Rose, which was built in the same year as the Modesta Victoria is being fitted out to serve as a restaurant in Tofino on Vancouver Island, which I suppose is marginally better than gracing a ship graveyard.

My hope is for the Modesta Victoria to keep sailing until I have a chance to take it again … some day.