Sunday, October 13, 2013

In the Falklands, Preparing to Leave tomorrow for South Georgia

Amy: October 13, Stanley, Falklands 

Greetings from the Falklands,

Yesterday we flew from Chile via Argentina to East Falkland Island. Julian, Ed, Michael and Giorgio were also on the flight; this means our team is complete except for Skip, who will arrive on Monday. The airport is the GB military base, located about 20 miles from Stanley. The terrain is quite desolate with pete bogs and rocks left from the last glacial episode. Sweeping vistas include yellow short grass with occasional herds of sheep and rolling hills. There are fenced off areas designating land mine fields; a constant reminder of the 1982 Falklands War between GB and Argentina.

We were greeted at Pelagic Australis by Magnus, Laura and Thomas under sunny skies and a mild breeze (by Falkland standards). After loading all our gear on the boat, we all sorted and reorganized sailing clothes and stowed the ski/traverse equipment. Larry and I have been assigned to the starboard forward cabin--I've taken the top bunk. Down below the boat has a wonderful salon with a heater, cushioned seating/table area, and well-designed galley. There are three cabins and a head on the port and starboard sides. Up front is a workshop and the forepeak holding supplies and gear. Up above is a pilot house with seats, the nav station, and a hydrolic wheel to steer if the auto pilot needs help. The boat is sturdy, well cared for, and ready to go.

We all had a nice walk through town on our way to dinner at the Malvinas Hotel. Several of us had Shackleton beer with delicious reindeer from South Georgia, where they're being eradicated and sent to the Falklands for eating. Reindeer were introduced to South Georgia by the Norwegian whalers, who wanted fresh meat. The reindeer did thrive, but over time their grazing habits have been very damaging to the island's delicate ecosystem. The reindeer are corralled on SG and then killed and shipped on a freezer ship to the Falklands.

Back on the boat, we settled into our bunks as the wind picked up, rattling the rigging. Everyone was quite happy to not be out sailing!

Today dawned cloudy with big breeze as we awoke to the smells of fresh coffee and Laura's tasty apple muffins. Michael, Larry and I went on a short tour of part the island with Tony, a Falklander who was able to explain some details about the Falklands War and the local history. We visited a sheep station at Fitzroy where the young sheep, just sheared, were quite cold without their coats.

Tomorrow morning Magnus will give us the safety and sailing briefing. In the afternoon, after Skip arrives, we'll set off for SG. The weather report is generally favorable with possible 60 knot winds once we arrive. That will make landing for the traverse quite difficult. We'll see!


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