Day 37 – Thursday, February 10 – Stanley, Falkland Islands

 

Stanley (population approximately 2000) is the main town on the islands and the hub of East Falkland’s road network. Attractions include the Falkland Islands Museum, Government House, built in 1845 and home to the Governor of the Falkland Islands, a golf course, and are known for its whalebone arch, a totem pole, several war memorials and the shipwrecks in its harbor. The Falkland Islands Company owns several shops and a hotel. Stanley has four pubs, eleven hotels & guesthouses, three restaurants, a fish and chips shop and the main tourist office. There are three churches including the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral the southernmost cathedral in the world. The cathedral makes tiny Stanley a city. A grim reminder of the minefields to the south is the bomb disposal unit.

The town hall serves as a post office, philatelic bureau, law court and dance hall. The police station also contains the islands’ only prison, with a capacity of thirteen in the cells.

The community centre includes a swimming pool (the only public one in the islands), a sports centre, library, and school. A grass football pitch is located by the community centre and hosts regular games.

Stanley Golf Course has an 18 hole course and a club house. It is also located to the west of Stanley.

Stanley is also home to the Falkland Islands Radio Station (FIRS), the Stanley office of the British Antarctic Survey, and the office of the weekly Penguin News newspaper.

Work on the settlement began in 1843 and it became the capital in July 1845. It was named after Lord Stanley, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies at the time.

In 1849, thirty married Chelsea Pensioners were settled there to help with the defense of the islands and to develop the new settlement.

The settlement soon grew as a deep-water port, specializing at first in ship repairs; indeed, before the construction of the Panama Canal, Port Stanley was a major repair stop for boats travelling through the Straits of Magellan. The rough waters and intense storms found at the tip of the continent forced many ships to Stanley Harbor, and the ship repair industry helped to drive the island economy. Later it became a base for whaling and sealing in the South Atlantic and Antarctic.

Stanley was occupied by Argentine troops for about ten weeks during the Falklands War in 1982. The Argentines renamed the town Puerto Argentino, and although Spanish names for places in the Falklands were historically accepted as alternatives, this one is considered to be extremely offensive by many islanders, demanding as it does that the city is Argentine. It has however gained some support in Spanish-speaking countries, though its acceptance is far from unanimous. Stanley suffered considerable damage during the war, from both the Argentine occupation and the British naval shelling of the town, which killed three civilians. After the British secured the high ground around the town the Argentines surrendered with no fighting in the town itself. The beaches and land around it were heavily mined and some areas remain marked minefields.

Since the Falklands War, Stanley has benefited from the growth of the fishing and tourism industries in the Islands. Stanley itself has developed greatly in that time, with the building of a large amount of residential housing, particularly to the east of the town centre. Stanley is now more than a third bigger than it was in 1982.

We arrived in Stanley Harbor at about 8:45 AM. It will require a fairly long tender to the tender dock in Stanley. The weather looks nice. The temperature is 57 degrees with low clouds which appear to be clearing. We are getting ready for our shore excursion which starts at 10:30. We should have 2 or 3 hours to explore the town after our trip to Sparrow Cove to hopefully see some penguin colonies.

I have returned to writing at about 10:30 PM local time. We had a great day, but it wasn’t as smooth as the captain had hoped. The forecast was for winds of about 25 mpg, but by the time the ship was ready to start tenders there was a steady wind of about 35 knots or close to 40 mph. There apparently was some discussion about not attempting to tender due to the wind and water conditions. More than likely if we had any other captain we would not have seen Stanley today. But captain Halle Gundersen, having been with this ship since the keel was laid has more experience with this ship than probably any other cruise captain with any other ship. A call in the Falklands is always questionable due to weather but we had been informed earlier that Captain Gundersen has never NOT tendered at Stanley. Today he almost didn’t!

Because of the strong winds, we were only able to drop two tenders, and there was some delay in getting ashore for many people. Fortunately for Kay and I, our excursion began from the ship with a private tender which is local and more suited to the waters here. We left about 10:40 and arrived in a small sheltered cove. There were two 4×4’s waiting for our party 11.

We proceeded overland (note I did not say over road) for about 30 minutes. The scenery was beautiful but barren. There are really few roads outside of town except for a couple which crisscross the main island.

We saw sheep grazing in the scrub grasslands below the rocky ridges.

This is the trail we were following

But the drive was worth the effort. We arrived at an area which supported two colonies of Gentoo Penguins as well as a few King Penguins. I am going to just provide a few photographs without much commentary.

A King incubating an egg

Kay with a few feathered friends

Wow guys, look at this neat lichen!

Ok, get in line to load up…

I took hundreds of penguin photos, they are natural models. Their curiosity and lack of fear of man makes them easy subjects to photograph. The wind was pretty stiff but the temperature was in the high 50’s to low 60’s and not uncomfortably cold. On our trip back our driver said she had two daughters, her seven year old just could not understand why anyone would pay money to see penguins! I imagine in her eyes they are just a bunch of birds which stink up the country side!

Remnants of the British conflict with Argentina in 1982 are still very much evident. There are large areas of land which are fenced off with warning signs about mine fields.

Fortunately we didn’t step on any leftover mines, and made it safely back to our boat.

Our tender took our back to the dock in Stanley where Kay and I immediately walked up the main hill in town to the Victory Bar, so named in honor of the Falklands Island War.

Here we had the traditional fish and chips, washed down with beer. I had an English brew”John Smith” and Kay surprised me by having a Heineken herself. It was a true local British Pub, with dart boards and pool table. The food was quite good and reasonably priced. The total tab for the two of us was $24.00.

Perhaps the following photo is not in good taste and I apologize to anyone who might be offended, but I could not include it in my post. About a year ago, Falklands passed a no smoking law which applied to all public locations. Signs are posted everywhere. They pretty much all look like this one except for the wording. This sign was located in the men’s room at the Victory Bar. After my visit, I actually went back with my camera for this photo. Apparently a more conventional one was in the lady’s room.

It was after lunch when we returned to the dock area, we learned from Norm, one of the Prinsendam’s security officers that tender operations had been suspended for safety reasons. Apparently the wind was gusting up to 55 knots or in excess of 60 miles an hour. The steady wind was probably 40 mph and was actually making it difficult to walk. The official word was that the wind was expected to drop later in the afternoon and they hoped to be able to resume tender operations. Well, we hoped so too. In the back of our minds was the thought that in the past passengers have been left because they could not be returned to the ship. On a HAL ship not too long ago, a group had to stay several days before they were “rescued”. We decided to continue our tour; there wasn’t much else we could do!

 

We visited the Anglican Church with the famous whalebone arch beside it.

We did some shopping and picked up several interesting things including a couple of watercolors of penguins. We visited the post office, where we mailed several post cards and a couple of birthday cards with the fairly coveted Falkland Island Stamps. We then eventually started making our way back to the dock area. To our delight, we saw one tender leaving for the ship and we were able to catch the next. It was a pretty bouncy ride and a few passengers did get pretty wet, but we made it safely back to the ship in time for dinner. This is always a good thing!

This photo gives some idea of the seas, and this was after the winds died down enough where we could tender to the ship.

After dinner this shot was taken of the shore with one of the many low hills in the background just before sunset. We all agreed the Island was a beautiful place in a rustic kind of way. The people were very friendly and generous and proud of their Heritage. The best way to stay on their good side though is to not say anything good about Argentina; they have a true dislike for this country even though it is their nearest neighbor. When we asked our driver where the islanders went on holiday, the answer was Great Britain, Chile, or the U.S. Argentina was not ever mentioned.

Well we have another day at sea on our way to Antarctica….

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to Day 37 – Thursday, February 10 – Stanley, Falkland Islands

  1. shaina & taylor says:

    Hey, Wendell and Kaye,
    I just wanted to tell you guys that Taylor loved the pictures of the penguins. She said look it’s Happy Feet mommy! Thanks again for this wonderful post!
    Shaina, Forrest and Taylor bug

  2. peggy lee says:

    how very cool to see the penguins in their natural habitat. I was feeling chilly just reading about the winds-so glad you made it back to your ship. Thanks for a wonderful
    commentary on your journey.

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