Date: 27 November 2011
Sorry everyone. Done the usual thing of getting into port
and then been too busy to blog, but forgot to warn you. So apologies if you’ve
been logging in every day for nothing.
We’ve now been in Stanley for five days. I’ve told you
about our arrival, and being greeted, first by the owner of the quay on which we
had arranged to berth, but shortly afterwards by the Customs officer and the
“Medical Officer” demanding stool samples who turned out to be Barry Elsby who
had been so helpful in giving me advice whilst I was preparing for the trip.
Barry is the Hon Rep of the Cruising Association (a British association of
cruising yachtsmen of which I am a member). He told me that he had been Hon Rep
here for more than 20 years and we were only the fourth boat who had made use of
his kindness and advice. Within an hour we had also been visited by Ian Bury
with a large box of foul weather gear which has been incredibly generously
loaned to me for our trip down south by none other than the legendary Skip Novak
on who’s Pelagic Australis I sailed down to Antarctica in February as a recce
for my Antarctic trip in a couple of months time. Skip’s two yachts provide
incredibly good value cruises to the Falklands, South Georgia, Antarctic
Peninsula, Cape Horn and the Beagle Channel. Details can be found on www.pelagic.co.uk
(is that OK, Skip?).
also received a visit from the son and son-in-law of owners of the farm at Port
Stephens in West Falkland that friends have introduced us to, and who we will be
visiting on our way down the islands. They invited us round to for drinks (in
Stanley) the following evening.
There were a number of repairs we needed to have carried
out (like, for instance, the spinnaker pole end which disintegrated on our way
here), refilling gas bottles etc, and Barry was instantly on his phone sorting
everything out for us.
Dave, who owned the jetty wandered up and said that a
strong northeasterly was forecast overnight and the following day, and on his
jetty we would be bouncing around, popping fenders and bending stanchions. Best,
he said, to go to the north side of the enclosed harbour and anchor there until
it quietened down. Having met the crew of a Swedish yacht (one of only two other
yachts here) we went out with them for a meal and on our return as the wind was
springing round and piping up as forecast, we slipped our lines and motored
across the harbour to anchor in the delightfully named Fairy Cove.
awoke after an enormously long and well-deserved sleep and it was still blowing
old boots from the NE so we stayed where we were for the day. Just as well, as
we simply chilled and did a number of maintenance jobs rather than rushing
around as we would have done had we been in Stanley. We needed the rest after
the ordeals of the last couple of days.
Since returning to the jetty in Stanley, we have been
taking on a massive amount of stores, redistributing everything on board and
stowing it all. In September I discovered that I could send a one metre square
box (that’s a BIG box!) by ship to Stanley for not a lot of money, which solved
a whole load of problems. It came down in a container on a military ship and we
were expecting it to have been delivered to Stanley about a week before we got
here. But when we arrived we were told that the Army had had a big delivery of
ammunition on the ship which takes a long time to unload and my box of goodies
hadn’t yet turned up. Could be the end of the week, might be next week. Aaaargh!
We couldn’t leave before it turned up and everything was stowed. It contained
lots of things without which we couldn’t go to Antarctica: spare inflatable
dinghy and outboard motor (my old ones from little Mina), 440 metres of rope to
tie the boat into anchorages in Antarctica, some abandonment suits (dry suits
you put on if you have to take to the liferaft – get into the water in
Antarctica without one and you’ll be unconscious in 2 minutes and dead in 10
minutes), an inflatable kayak (the ONLY way to see the wildlife close up),
additional handheld VHF radios, and so on.
addition there were the Big Shops. Stanley has a couple of excellent independent
supermarkets. One sources a lot of their goods from Waitrose and the other from
Sainsbury’s. We had provisioned in Buenos Aires for our passage down here, but
now we needed to provision not only for the next three weeks until we got to
Ushuaia at the tip of Argentina, but also provision for the next three months
with all the little British things that provide comfort and succour, like Mars
bars, Fig Rolls, Hobnobs, Colmans Mustard, Mint sauce, Redcurrant jelly,
Horseradish sauce, OK sauce, Heinz ketchup and baked beans, Fray Bentos tinned
steak and kidney pies and a mountain of flour for Venetia to work on after her
bread making course (the Argentine flour is, apparently not that good). But top
of my list of priorities (as ever) was the alcohol. We had enough spirits on
board (whisky and gin are remarkably cheap in Argentina) to raise the dead, but
wine is a different thing. Bottles and boats aren’t a good mix. They take up too
much space and they rattle. Much better are 3-litre wine boxes. You take the
bladder out of the cardboard and they wash around under bunks like a giant water
bed. Boxed wine is not available in Argentina. This was my chance. I went along
to the supermarket warehouse for the discounted bulk purchase. “I would like 60
litres of boxed Chilean Sauvignon Blanc please” “No problem, sir”. “And I would
like 60 litres of Cabernet Sauvignon”. “Sorry sir, we’re just out of that –
we’re expecting another delivery in a month’s time” “What? You must be joking.
Please can you double check”. They checked. Nothing. No boxed red wine. I was
beginning to sweat, and felt slightly dizzy. This was a disaster second only to
a dismasting on a rocky lee shore in a tempest. But nothing could be done. I
walked the two miles to the other supermarket and drew a blank there as
2230 and we are up in 5 hours to set off at first light for our passage round to
Goose Green. Part 2 will follow in due course when I will tell you a little
about the Flaklanders and Stanley itself.