Disaster Strikes as Mina2 Prepares to Leave Stanley
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?).
We 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.
We 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.
In 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 well.
Now 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. Goodnight!