Passage to the Falklands

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Thu 10 Dec 2015 02:22
We covered 1335NM in 12 days. The course was basically a big curve that took us across the mouth of the River Plate and along the Argentinian coast until we were level with Puerto Madryn from where we went directly to the Falklands. We went this way rather than direct mainly because there were much stronger winds and more headwinds predicted for the direct route. It also gave us the option of running for cover at Mar del Plata or Puerto Madryn if something really nasty was forecast.

Dusky dolphins 

 On the crossing we saw dusky dolphins, grey-backed storm petrels, Wilson’s storm petrels and more different types of albatross than you can shake a stick at. We are working at identifying them but not doing too well as yet. Since arriving we have seen steamer ducks, and another new dolphin, Commerson’s dolphin. 

A juvenile Arctic tern hitching a lift

Given the reputation of this area we thought we had a fairly easy crossing. The sun shone most of the time although we did go through the most spectacular lightening storm I have ever seen. The winds were frankly weird. We had two days of a glorious beam reach (wind at ninety degrees) and from then on it was either a headwind, a stern wind or no wind. The wind was never above force 7, though when you are close hauled going to windward that is plenty, until our arrival when it reached force 8 with winds gusting 40 knots. 

Kath woke up and looked out the window and saw this

Come on out it’s not that bad … honest!

Time for Kath’s secret weapon, the bubble.

About two days out from the Falklands (or Malvinas if you are a spanish speaker or Les Maldouines if you are a french speaker) the temperature of the sea dropped even further and it was the turquoise colour of a glacial melt lake. We suddenly felt we had really moved to a different part of the earth.

On arrival in the Falklands we shot through the narrows into Port Stanley. The normal procedure is to go alongside the public jetty and get customs clearance. However as I wrestled with the tiller Kath politely informed Stanley Port Control that we were heading up to the slightly less boisterous end of the harbour and that we would come and clear in when the wind dropped. The answer came back “Please proceed”. Just as well because we weren't going to take any notice if they had said otherwise. A big cruise ship was standing off outside the harbour as the narrows are very narrow and the risk of them getting a sideways shove from a huge gust of wind was too great.

At anchor in Port Stanley

At 1010 local time we got the anchor down and had a late breakfast and a hot shower (courtesy of the engine’s heat exchanger). The Pilot describes the holding as ‘excellent’ which is just as well because although the waves don’t get so big at this end there is no protection from the wind whatsoever. That night we had our first full night’s sleep for 12 days, a luxury beyond the dreams of princes.