Unexpected Stop Off on Way to Port Stephens
Position: 52:07.732S 058:36.721W
Date: 1 December 2011
Time: 1500 LT 1800 UTC
Rather than setting an overambitious itinerary of the Falklands we decided to restrict ourselves to no more than four sites, carefully selected. The winds are generally so strong that being holed up for days at a time is a probability rather than a possibility and we didn’t want to find ourselves obliged to make the crossing over to the South American mainland in adverse conditions due to lack of time.
Clearly Stanley, on the east coast, had to be our starting point not least because we had to go through the formalities of checking in and out there. We were also determined to go to Goose Green, not just because the settlement played such a pivotal role in the 1982 conflict, but to see at work what is now the biggest sheep farm in the Falklands.
Just before I left Buenos Aires, I was fortuitously given introductions by friends to people in the Falklands. So I had been put in touch with Ann and Peter Robertson who, with their son Paul, farm at Port Stephens on the south coast of West Falkland (52 deg 06S 060 deg 50W). Everyone we have told that we are going to Port Stephens has said how fabulous it is there and how much we will enjoy it. That is where we are heading for now. We were also introduced to Maria and Ian Strange. Ian is a famous naturalist and conservationist who has built up New Island on western extremity of West Falkland (51 deg 44S 061 deg 17W) as a world famous nature reserve which is now run by their daughter Georgina. If there is one place in the whole of the Falkland Islands where one can see almost every species of fauna it is here. We can’t wait.
After being delayed at Goose Green by severe gales yesterday, we decided to head off this morning for the 126 mile passage to Port Stephen. As we left the jetty the wind was a brisk 25 knots from the west. We had a tremendous sail hurtling back east down Choiseul Sound. The wind was from behind and we were romping along at 8 knots with just a well reefed mainsail. We were escorted out of the sound by lots of little Commerson dolphins porpoising alongside us through the wavelets. The sky was clear blue and whilst the wind was still cold, we felt the warmth of the sun on our cheeks. It was brilliant save for one thing. The wind, which we had rather been expecting to abate, was rising steadily. Soon the wind was fluctuating between 45 and 50 knots and had swung round to the south west which was exactly the direction we would be wanting to go once we were out of the Sound. Even in the Sound itself the wavelets had turned into 1 ½ metre waves. Once we got out into the open ocean it would be murder. So we quickly decided, with just 30 miles of the 126 mile passage covered, to duck into an anchorage in the lee of Motley Island and wait for the wind to abate properly as promised.
And what a fortuitous decision. Well protected from the waves, if not the wind, Motley Bay is completely isolated, surrounded by beaches on which strolled comic Gentoo and Megallanic penguins; the sky was filled with Rock Shags and Terns and Kelp geese and Steamer ducks huddled in the thick long strands of kelp which floated on the water. Certainly better than bashing our way through mountainous seas with a gale on the nose. We wondered when it was that a yacht was last anchored here.
We can’t stay here for ever though. The wind is now slowly abating and soon we will have to don our foulies once more and head out into the ocean to do battle with the elements.