I returned yesterday(Tuesday) afternoon after leaving the Falklands Saturday! There is a once per week flight to Argentina or Chille and, my flight went to Rio Gallegos, Argentine (Sante Cruz province and in Patagonia). It was there I met a fascinating family who were my landlords in the Hotel apartment I stayed in. They gave me a tour of the lands outside the city that included visiting a volcanic site rich in rock and a crater lake. I stayed there 1.5 nights as my flight to Buenos Aires departed at 3am Monday morning and arrived in Buenos Aires just after 6am. I took the bus to the international airport where I promptly fell asleep in a very uncomfortable chair. waking up I realized I had to do something else…so I remembered what Gabriela and Leo, of Rio Gallegos, suggested I do – take a tour of Buenos Aires! Since my flight to Miami did not leave until 11:30 pm, I had plenty of time.
So I hired a driver and car and set off to explore the big city (~12 million people). Saw the government buildings as well as the soccer stadium plus… Near the soccer stadium there is an old district (kinda kitchy) that is a tourist trap – you get your photo with a tango partner or get a photo of you cutting a huge hunk of meat with a small sword etc. I opted for the meat shot and ate a bit of it too.
There was a young man from India who attached himself to me when I returned to the airport. He is a seaman who has been at sea for 2.5 months and was headed home to India. He could speak nearly no english nor spanish; but somehow, he could communicate his need for help. So, I helped him find the right lines to get in and he was also going to Miami as was I.
I was surprised to discover I was upgraded to business class on my American Air flight to Miami – I took full advantage of this new sleeping arrangement and had the first full 6 hr sleep in weeks. I was also surprised to discover I was upgraded to first class on the Alaska Air flight between Miami and Seattle!!
My daughter Liandren picked me up from the airport as I sported a white beard. Just as I finished taking a long hot shower at my little cob house, in walks Cate!!! It was a wonderful trip and it is great to be home.
In the Falklands, the zenith of the sun is, of course, less than 90 degrees and in the north. This means that all shadows fall to the south instead of to the north as in the northern hemisphere. Also, this means that as one looks north, the sun rises on your right hand (still the east) and sets on your left hand (still the west). So, by following the sun across the sky, the Falklands gets more sun from the north than from the south. We were tipped off about this effect in the book, “The Future of the Falkland Islands and Its People” by Lyubomir Ivanov. I verified that this is indeed the case. In principle, it should be this way in all locations in the southern hemisphere – the more southern, the more pronounced; and certainly, there will be larger difference between summer and winter sun heights. This is summer now. For those in the southern hemisphere, this is normal – it is just us northerners who may find it difficult to accept.
I am scheduled to fly out tomorrow morning to return to Seattle via Rio Gallos (sp), Chile, Buenos Aires, Miami, and the Seattle. It will take me 2-3 days. This is the fastest route that we know of. I am ready to return and bask in this really wonderful experience.
Yesterday, we drove out to Volunteer Point where there are three different types of penguins; two of which were very abundant; Magellanic and Kings. The Rockhppers, the third type, were not visible to us. The trip to the Point was an adventure in itself.
We rented two Land Rovers driven by a father and his daughter. The father has taken dozens of trips there and knew the way. The Falklanders call everything out side of Stanley the “Camp.” So we ventured into Camp yesterday. Travelling over bogs and plains where there were no roads and sometimes no hint of a path. It took one hour to go 5 miles in places.
The rules were that we could walk amongst the penguins to within 10-15. The Kings were the most abundant. They could be seen walking to the beach, standing in large groups, and seen covering chicks. The Magilanics borrow in holes that were clearly visible and in some cases we could see their chicks.
On the way back from Volunteer Point and just as we left the bogs, we stopped to witness sheep shearing. The juxtaposition of the penguins and travelling across the bogs with bumps and lurches with the sheep shearing was stark. There were two shearers doing one sheep every 1-2 minutes with background rock and roll music. We were told the champion shearers can do a sheep in 40 seconds.
I will take a hotel room tonight so I can clean up and get ready to be at the airport 3 hrs before the flight leaves (that’s is what LAN Chile requires)-this means 11 am or so. I am not sure if I can make another upload to the blog before I leave. There is a bit of a procedure to go through to gain internet access – more on this later I am sure.
The acting governor of the Falklands stepped aboard this morning for a tour of Ocean Watch. He was quite easy to host due to his relaxed manner and that he came alone without escort.
Met a couple from Seattle who have been cruise sailing their boat since 2005. They have been in Stanley for the last month waiting for a replacement propeller so they can sail on to South Georgia Islands to the SE of here.
There seems to be a gale moving through here at least once per week. The weather changes rapidly. The sea buoy weather forecasts we read every day and the predictions do bear out to be rather accurate.
The dinner last night was fabulous – particularly so due to the gale that was blowing as we ate.
The customs agent was very pleased to see David’s photos of birds as the agent is himself a bird photographer. We may be able to have him talk us after he is off duty to see more wildlife. I am excited for this possibility. The people here in Stanley are very friendly and helpful. Today there is a cruise ship ferrying passengers to the Visitors Center and it is crowded in this small town. While I will tour around here a bit, it is time for me to return to Washington State. My air ticket gets me away from this beautiful part of the world Saturday.
The entire crew went to breakfast together this morning after a large and delicious feast last night. Breakfast consisted of one egg, baked beans, sausage, ham, and taost with butter. It is cool here today yet my excitment of being here warms me.
We have been on starboard tack just before the gale and now the seas seem to be smoothing out more. We continue to carry a double reef in the main sail. The winds are out of the ENE at 20 at the moment.
As we approached the Falklands, the seas just laid down and got progressively smoother. We were all up gazing at these very beautiful and desolate looking islands. More birds fly by. We even saw small penguins swimming near the boat as we entered the bay to Stanley harbor! Once we were tied to the dock it felt strange to me that this particular passage was over… just like that.
We are reaching under sail on what appears to be coming up on the final 24 hrs of this passage. Took some satellite passage data on clouds – basically list latitude and longitude, GMT, Relative Humidity, cloud conditions. Today was very clear except for a bit of haze – this may have come from the reported dust storm in Patagonia. I am assuming that the observation made on the water will be correlated later with the satellite observation of the same area. We are beginning to read about the Falklands – they look very intriguing as we read about them.
It is really significant that we are the only humans within our radar range for days. We have just been surrounded by sea and nature…what a wonderful experience. Typing while under sail has been problematic for me; though everyone else does not seem to have that particular shortfalling. However, today I seem to be ok with it.
We are actually 364 miles north of the Falklands and under sail on a reach. My watch starts again at 2 today and goes until 6, Then we are off for 3 and pick up again at 9, then at 3am and so forth. two watches-three to a watch. Off watch cookes dinner, on watch cleans up.
This is a wonderful crew to sail with!
I am feeling human again and the weather is calmed down to be quite beautiful. We have been identifying different types of albotrosses this morning. what a beautiful bird. The winds are calm and we are under motor.
We have about 600 miles to go to get to the Falklands/Malvinas.
Those cigar clouds turned out to be ominous. Full gale winds soon followed.
Last night was rough for everyone. winds got up to 47kts and the seas were very confused – they did not seem as big as I would have expected – but they were confused (seas were actually 8 -12 ft high). I was sick – partly due to the first day out (my usual) and partly due to the gale.