25112011 Stanley to Goose Green
We're up early, breakfasted, and await the arrival of the Officer from Customs and Immigration who duly appears at 0730. and by 0745 with Passports stamped, all formalities are concluded.
He is very helpful, giving us the contact information for Goose Green as well as taking our rubbish bag. Then he's on is way with the cruise ship coming in and three other boats to clear.
Casting off and motoring out of the Stanley inner harbour, the first launches from the cruise ship anchored in the outer harbour appear, and head for our recently vacated position on the pontoon.
Once through the "Narrows" and into Port Williams Sound, we sight the Cruise ship disgorging passenger into its launches looking like a latter-day D-Day landing! Then turning into the wind, we raise our sails and head for the open sea. As we pass the disused Cape Pembroke Lighthouse Peter had visited we set our course for Goose Green.
An attendant school of Dolphin take station in our bow-wave and dutifully escorts us out to sea. As their escort finishes it is taken up by a mass of bobbing sea birds startled by our silent approach which upsets their resting.
Wind on the beam we're soon doing 10kts in a similar running sea which slams into our side rolling us onto a permanent list of between 20 to 30 degrees. The Sun starts to disappear and lines of squalls approach. The temperature drops rapidly and next minute we dive inside the cabin as hailstones descend and Peters helming is abandoned and the Auto-Pilot engaged.
Around 1500 we make our final turn into Choiseul Sound, eventually passing through the Darwin narrows. We must now take care to avoid the great beds of Kelp that fringe the many small islands on the way stretching out their long tendrils that threaten to ensnare us.
Spotting the ancient jetty we are met by Rodolfo who having seen our approach comes down to give us a hand with the mooring lines. Alongside and forming part of the Jetty are the remains of the wreck of the "Vicar of Bray" the last remains of the 500 ships that carried Prospectors to California during the great gold rush of the 1800's
Goose Green is the centre of sheep farming activity on Falkland and boast the second largest sheep shearing shed in the world. The permanent settlement consists of some 35 people with the addition, at the moment, of a team of 14 Shearers. Many people from Stanley have holiday homes or rent properties and come out for weekends temporarily boosting the population.
We meet up with a few locals who we invite aboard and after a few beers have a good idea of things to and sights to see also invited to attend the Saturday night session at the village hall.
26112011 Goose Green & Darwin
The following morning Keith comes to see us and invites us to the shearing shed to see the team in action.
As we follow him across his eight year old daughter jumps on the quad-bike and hares off ahead of us! Oh she's been driving for some time, no problem out here he remarks!
In the shed it's a mix of Girls and Boys, the men, bent over in deep concentration, a sheep held tight against the legs, power shears in hand, get stuck in and a minute or two later one de-frock sheep is sent scuttling out confused whilst next victim is dragged in and before is has time work out what's happening is sent on its fleece less.
The Girls scoop up the fleece, one set plucking off the grotty bits which are thrown into a separate bin before being taken by the girl responsible for grading the fleece depositing it into the appropriate holding bay.
Fleeces are then put into the packing machine which compresses and bags them, ready for transport to Stanley, and export.
Keith advises us that the original settlement of Darwin with it's Darwin House Hostel which is available for Tea and Cakes, is 20minutes away. So having been given directions to follow the more picturesque coast line, taking care to avoid the Minefields which are clearly marked, we set out.
The road is flanked by minefields and on reaching the old Dairy building at the head of a small creek, we turn across the tundra type grassland. Donning our waterproofs as it has threatened to rain with black clouds blowing towards us. Sure enough as we climb the hill, the heavens open, first with hail then rain so by the time we reach our destination we are chilled by the inevitable wind and damp.
Fortunately Tea or Coffee and homemade cakes revitalise us and we take the opportunity to bone up on local history.
With the expansion of farming the population of Darwin grew to 200 causing problems with the lack of water to meet the increasing demand. So by 1920 most of the settlements houses were timber framed they were jacked up, positioned on sledges and literally moved lock stock and barrel to the new site at Goose Green.
The population of Darwin dropped to a low of two people and stayed that way for many years. It's now up to six! excluding visitors at the Guest house.
On our return Thomas and I have been left behind and when we get back to Goose Green, see and ask Keith how far it is to Bodie Creek Bridge, the world's most southerly suspension bridge. It's about six miles across the Camp but we are luck to and procure a lift from a couple from Stanley who are staying here for the weekend.
It's a bouncing trip over a rough track and where the potholes get too deep we cross to the tundra itself. Four wheel drive with good suspension are essential and after some skilful driving we arrive at the Bridge which is in a very sad state of repair.
Before we return Tamara's husband cracks open one of the cases of Budweiser in the back of his Pickup and we have a beer to fortify us for the return trip.
Then it's all aboard for reciprocal drinks. Short after they depart,Keith, his children Kia, Jack and his friend Peter arrive clutching a case of beer, so its back into hospitality mode.
After our guest depart its time for dinner and shower before preparing to attend the "do" at the community centre.Apart from those we have already met we now form a happy band of friends and spend a pleasant evening chatting and enjoying their hospitality.
Bob the Blog
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