We had arrived in the Falklands through a violent storm with sustained Force 10 and 11 winds and gusts into Force 12. At 0340 on Monday the 13th of February we came to anchor in Stanley Harbour and we went below and slept until nearly noon. Midday it was still blowing a gale in the harbour, so I called Customs on VHF to tell them we would like to remain onboard with our quarantine flag hoisted, and to delay heading ashore to clear-in until the weather calmed on Tuesday. They had no problem with this.
As I was speaking with the Customs agent there was the loud bang of our anchor snubber snapping in an upper-40s gust. I went forward and rigged a new one and set another as a back-up for it. This is the second 19mm laid nylon snubber we have snapped; maybe 8 metres does not provide sufficient stretch, maybe it was a bad batch of rope.
On Monday evening the winds were down to under 30, but the long fetch from the west made it rather bouncy in the anchorage. The Customs officer had told us that Tuesday would be busy with a dozen fishing boats and a cruise ship arriving in the morning, so when we took the dinghy ashore after breakfast, we decided to walk along the waterfront and up the hill to Customs, rather than trying to meet them on the jetty. As we walked, we saw the cruise ship and fishing boats at anchor.
We later learned that the fishing boats are Taiwanese squid jiggers, and that there are about 100 of them working the waters of the area.
Clearing-in was a simple process; for the first time in nearly two and a half years, we did the process in fluent English. As we chatted with the Customs officer, we learned he was a fifth generation Falklander, and that there were about 3300 residents of the Islands.
On our way back we wandered among the markers in the cemetery. In our quick scan, we saw stones engraved with dates back into the 1860s, though we know there must be older, since the Stanley was first settled in 1844 by the British when they moved the capital of the Falklands here from Port Louis.
Back in the centre of town, we walked past Jubilee Villas, row-houses built in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.
A short distance further west along the waterfront is Christ Church Cathedral. Built in 1892, it is the most southerly Anglican Cathedral in the world. The golden arches on its western lawns are not to mark a McDonalds grease depot; they are the jawbones of two blue whales, erected in 1933 to commemorate the centenary of British administration of the Falkland Islands.
Further along we saw the mizzen mast from the Great Britain, at one time the largest ship in the world. She had been launched in Bristol in 1843 and had arrived in Stanley storm-damaged in 1886, where she remained until she was returned to Bristol for restoration in 1970. We learned that Stanley has been the final haven for many storm-damaged ships that managed to claw their way here, but were too severely damaged to continue.
One of these is Jhelum, launched in Liverpool in 1849, she limped into Stanley severely damaged from rounding Cape Horn with a cargo of Chilean guano. She was used for storage for many decades, and only in the last few years began breaking-up, recently losing her bow in a storm.
Many of the damaged ships which couldn't continue were used as storage, some became the basis for wharves and jetties. The East Jetty, next along to the east of the Public Jetty is based on three hulks, only one of which is still visible, Egeria, a Canadian barque of 1066 tons built in 1859. She limped into Stanley severely damaged during an 1872 voyage from London to Callao, and was condemned and scuttled.
After our clearing-in procedures, and an orientation stroll, we headed back to the dinghy on the finger float. Next to that float, on the Public Jetty is a larger 30-metre float, which is used by passenger lighters from the cruise ships. We had learned that when there are no cruise ships in port, private yachts are permitted to use the float. The last lighter had just taken passengers back out to the cruise ship, so the float was available to us for a few days until the next ship arrived.
We went back out to Sequitur in the anchorage to prepare to come alongside the float. Back onboard, I went forward to begin shortening-in the anchor chain. The windlass motor whirred, but the gipsy did not turn. It appeared that the strain of snapping the snubbers in Isla Lennox and here in Stanley did-in the gear again. We spent a bit under two hours weighing the anchor with the spinnaker halyard. The last ten minutes of this was in motoring at up to 2800 rpm forward and astern with the anchor chain up-and-down, trying to break the Rocna out of the mud of the bottom. Finally, at 1950 we secured alongside the float.
We abandoned the mess of chain on the deck until the next day, and went below. It was Valentine's Day. To celebrate, I sautéed Puerto Eden king crab in a julienne of Puerto Montt shallots and garlic and Ushuaia crimini mushrooms. This was served with Vancouver's Little India basmati rice, Ushuaia broccoli and Puerto Williams tomatoes. The Undurraga Brut Royal from Valle de Leyda accompanied splendidly.
When we had cleared-in, we had been given a biohazard bag in which to place all of our non-Falklands organic garbage and any wrappings that had touched it. The Falklands are fortunate in being free of most serious plant and animal pests and diseases, and these bags make it simple for visiting yachts to handle their garbage.
After breakfast on Wednesday morning we started with cleaning-up from the heavy weather. Down below, we had sustained a broken bowl and a chipped candle holder. Up top the Hydrovane suffered a bent retaining pin and a sheared one. I hadn't removed the sail from the unit, and the hurricane-force gusts were a tad much for the pins.
I hacksawed the bent pin in two to remove it.
From the spares bins I dug-out two new pins and quickly replaced the damaged ones. The only other damage I could find was that our foghorn speaker had been blown off its mount on the mast and had disappeared overboard.
Among the things we had organized when we were ashore clearing-in on Tuesday was a delivery of diesel oil to the float. We were pleased and surprised to see that diesel, at the equivalent of $1.21 Canadian per litre, is about 15% less expensive in the Falklands than it is in Puerto Williams. We brought the tanks back up to full at 920 litres.
We went to the Falkland Islands Company's West Store, where among other things, we found very inexpensive meat and cheese. We bought a package of fresh local beef bangers to try. Wednesday evening I prepared a British grilled dinner, with bangers, courgettes, potato rounds and cherry tomatoes with fresh basil. The bangers were lean and delicious; we committed to buying at least six more packets.
For breakfast on Thursday morning Edi prepared basted eggs with back bacon, English muffins, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. We had found wonderful back bacon at less than a third of the Vancouver price, and then saw it was even cheaper still, being offered at buy one, get one free. We bought eight packages. We also bought three packages of fresh basil and a couple dozen on-the-vine cherry tomatoes. The markets were all out of eggs, and there would be none until the next ship came in; however we still had a small stock onboard.
On Wednesday we had spoken with Cybie, owner of the Pod Gift Shop next to the Visitor Welcome Centre just across from the Jetty where Sequitur was secured. She told us she had friends with laying hens, and she could have them save a few for us. We asked if three dozen would be possible, and she said in four or five days, yes.
After breakfast Edi washed and applied Vaseline to all the hatch and port-light gaskets. We had a few drops of water come in a forward one as breaking seas sluiced over the decks in the storms. I went along behind her and adjusted all the dogs. We hadn't done this in nearly three years, and have had no leaks until this storm.
Edi also repaired a loose corner grommet on the sun cover over the skylights in our cockpit canopy. It appears that the winds in the 50s and 60s were a tad much for it. The remainder of the canopy remained in fine condition after its stalwart job of keeping us warm, dry and protected during the storm.
A cruise ship was scheduled in on Friday morning and we had to be off the float by 0600. To avoid having to get up early on Friday morning, on Thursday evening we headed back out into the anchorage, where we came to 38 metres on the Delta in 7.5 metres of water in front of the Cathedral. The winds later in the evening were up to 40 knots, but the anchor held well in the mud.
For dinner we had Falkland Islands spring lamb chops with basmati rice and a butter-sweat of julienned of carrots and red and green peppers, garnished by cherry tomatoes and shredded fresh basil. With it we enjoyed a bottle of Casa Lapostolle 2008 Rapel Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
The gribs showed Friday to be rather calm through until late afternoon, so after breakfast we launched Non Sequitur and motored out through The Narrows and out Port William to Gypsy Cove. As we entered the cove, we were met by an escort of dolphins, which scooted within a few centimetres of the dinghy. They led and followed us all the way in to the beach, into water just deep enough for them to swim.
Our dinghy wheels made it easy for us to land on the fine sand beach, and to pull Non Sequitur above the next while's tide. There were a couple of flocks of Magellanic penguins on the beach, as well as many individuals and groups on the slopes above the beaches. They were a mix of sleek-feathered and very motley moulting birds.
After enjoying watching the antics of the penguins on the beach, we carefully picked our way up the slopes, being mindful to not step above the dens, which are dug up to two metres into the peaty soil.
I came across a pair striking similar poses. One sleek and smooth-feathered, the other a seemingly non-ending moulting of down. The ground cover was so thickly coated that it appeared to be snow.
Near a den mouth a penguin seemed to be running through its repertoire of poses. It appeared to be greeting us and offering a welcome.
Then it seemed to be inviting us to follow it into the den.
Then tired of our lack of response, it laid down for a rest.
In the penguin's rookery and denning area was a pair of Magellan geese. The male struck a striding pose for me as I lingered, enjoying its gracefulness.
The female quietly rested on one leg, seemingly unconcerned that I was only three metres away.
After a delightful hour and a half among the birds, we headed back down to the dinghy, launched it and motored back around the point, through The Narrows and into Stanley Harbour. Once past Engineer Point, we turned east to look at a couple more of the area's many shipwrecks.
The first was the steam tug Samson, which had worked the area for many years, towing, rescuing or salvaging ships in distress. She had broken her moorings in the great gale of 1945 and blew up onto the beach. She came to rest not far from the wreck of Lady Elizabeth, which she had rescued off Uraine Rock in 1913.
Lady Elizabeth, a 223-foot ironclad barque was launched in Sunderland, England in 1879. In 1889 she had brought bricks and cement to Stanley for the construction of Christ Church Cathedral. On a voyage from Vancouver to Mozambique in 1913, she was battered in a storm southwest of Cape Horn, losing four men and her deck cargo overboard. She limped into the Falklands, and on her approach into Stanley, struck Uraine Rock, putting a large hole in her hull and badly damaging her keel. The steam tug Samson later towed her into Stanley, where she was condemned and sold to the Falkland Islands Company. She was used as a storage facility until 1936, when she broke her moorings in a storm and washed up onto the beach at the eastern end of the harbour.
Back onboard Sequitur, we relaxed. The cruise ship had left, but there was another one scheduled to arrive in the early afternoon on Saturday and to depart by 1800. It made sense for us to remain at anchor on Friday night and then return to the float after it had gone. On Saturday we watched Hanseatic come to anchor about two cables from us, and through the afternoon felt the wake of the steady stream of lighters to and from the float.
As the Hanseatic's last lighter was hoisted aboard, we weighed using the cockpit power winch and then motored in to the float. In the anchorage with us had been the French sloop Guapita, with whom we had anchored in the storm in Caleta Lennox on our way to Cape Horn. She came in shortly after us and moored ahead of us on the float.
In Guapita were four young men aged 24 to 27, finished university and wandering for a bit before getting seriously into work. We invited them over for pizza on Sunday evening and spent a delightful few hours devouring four different pizzas that Edi had created from a wonderful list of ingredients that included artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, shrimp, red, green and yellow peppers, mushrooms, white onions, garlic, black olives, basil leaves, pesto, tomato sauce, sausage, ham, salami, gorgonzola, gouda, mozzarella, asiago and I can't remember what all.
Guapita is a 9.5-metre sloop that two of the lads had bought in the south of France and had sailed down the African coast to the Cape Verde Islands, crossed the Atlantic, the Caribbean and transited the Panama Canal to enter a race to the Galapagos. From the Galapagos they went to Juan Fernandez and Valdivia, where they picked-up the other two French lads through an Internet posting for the three-month trip down through the Chilean canals, around the Horn and up to Buenos Aires.
After we had seen them in Lennox, they had gone to the Horn and had done the compulsory return to Puerto Williams. From there they cleared out to Ushuaia and got a zarpe to Buenos Aires with permission to stop in Isla de los Estados. While they were at anchor in Estados, they were hit by the southern edge of the storm that had hit us, and they dragged onto the rocks and put two holes through their hull, fortunately above the waterline. They had done temporary patches and had taken the best winds available and had come to the Falklands for refuge. They will likely have a time explaining to the officials in Buenos Aires why they visited the Malvinas without Argentine permission.
During our short time in the Falklands we have seen an increasing display of signs, posters and flags to publicly pronounce that the Falklands are British. There are formal posters and decals that declare: "Falklands - British and Proud of it", "Falklands - British to the Core" and other such sentiments. In car windows are displayed impromptu banners and posters and there are Union Jacks flying from every available place.
On one Land Rover we saw a scribbled poster declaring: "How can we give back what was never theirs?"
At the Seafish Chandlery Supermarket we saw a large poster outside the front doors with a redrawn map of South America that ignores the existence of Argentina.
On our way back from the supermarket we were passed by a long parade of horn-beeping vehicles festooned with British and Falklands colours, banners and posters. There is an air of British pride evident everywhere we have been in Stanley, and there is an equally evident distain for all things Argentine. The thirtieth anniversary of the Argentine invasion and occupation is only a few weeks away, and the mood in the Falklands is upbeat. However; everywhere there is amazement that Argentina has the audacity to even think of again turning-up the heat on their claim to these islands that were never theirs.
On Wednesday we walked up the hill and along to the west past the rows of cottages on Pioneer Row. These houses were built in 1849, many from kits shipped-in from England, and they were originally homes for the military pensioners who came to settle the Islands.
We continued along through a rain squall, back down to the waterfront and past Government House, the home and offices of the Governor of the Falkland Islands. The building originates from the 1840s, with extensions added by subsequent Governors. We assumed the 12-metre satellite dish is a recent addition.
Further along we came to a monument that serves as a memorial to the Battle of the Falklands on 08 December 1914, in which the British Squadron destroyed the German Squadron. We had previously seen the final fate of the German ship, Dresden, which had eluded the British ships here and was hunted-down and forced to scuttle months later at Isla Juan Fernandez, Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile.
Through the continuing squalls, we walked along to the museum, where we were fascinated with the range and quality of the displays. There are many artefacts from the early settlement of the Falklands, and of much earlier visits by English explorers. Most fascinating to us among the displays is a well-laid-out capture of the events surrounding the Argentine invasion and occupation in 1982. There are Argentine proclamation letters, propaganda leaflets, and posters; there are scribbled notes from the starving young Argentine conscripts begging residents for food; there is a replica of one of the hundreds of squalid Argentine bunkers in which the conscripts defended their Military Dictator's stupidity. There are memorials to the British personnel and ships lost in the seventy-day occupation.
Edi spotted some wonderfully shaped old ink bottles, and a small sign indicating that examples were for sale at the counter. The note went on to say they were part of the general cargo of the John R Kelley, a wooden ship of 2364 tons built in 1883 in Bath, Maine, USA. She was on a voyage from New York to San Francisco when she was wrecked on Kelley Rocks near the entrance to Stanley Harbour in 1899. The ink bottles had been donated by the salvage company to sell in support of the museum. We bought two as our souvenir of the Falklands. They will sit nicely on the antique windowsill of our Vancouver loft.
On our way back from the museum we saw the latest wreck on the shores of Stanley Harbour. Some unfortunate owner had his vehicle demonstrate its off-road capability. It seems there was a parking brake failure and the vehicle rolled backwards down the hill of Holdfast Road from the museum, across Ross Road and over the embankment, just along from the wreck of the Jhelum.
We have been watching the weather the past few days, waiting for a window to continue north. There is a deep depression predicted to develop on Saturday off the Argentine coast 500 and 600 miles north of the Falklands and to deepen further as it tracks eastward across our path. The gribs have shown winds over 70 knots on Sunday, and we wish to avoid being in them.
By Sunday midnight the storm's centre is predicted to have moved east of our proposed track, so we have decided to wait until midday on Thursday to continue northward, and to be in position to take advantage of the southerly winds on the backside of the hurricane strength storm.