Coat of Arms of the Falklands
After leaving Ushuaia we would be at sea for a day before our next destination, which was Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands in the S. Atlantic.
Port Stanley, which was named after Lord Stanley in 1843, who was at the time, Secretary of State for war and the colonies. He later became Prime Minster three times.
Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby
29 March 1799 – 23 October 1869
The old capital Port Louis, was replaced under instructions from the island Governor who was Richard Moody at the time.
During HMS Beagle’s second voyage to the area, they visited Port Louis in 1833. Charles Darwin being aboard, wrote in his book – The Voyage of the Beagle –
After the possession of these miserable islands had been contested by France, Spain, and England, they were left uninhabited. The government of Buenos Aires then sold them to a private individual, but likewise used them, as old Spain had done before, for a penal settlement. England claimed her right and seized them. The Englishman who was left in charge of the flag was consequently murdered. A British officer was next sent, unsupported by any power: and when we arrived, we found him in charge of a population, of which rather more than half were runaway rebels and murderers.
HMS Beagle in the Straits of Magellan – illustration by Robert Taylor Pritchett for the 1890 edition of Darwin’s book.
In anticipation of our visit to the Falkland Islands we had booked a day tour with Patrick Watts of Adventure Tours , which would include lunch, and also a visit to Port Stanley to have a look around – and of course the main attraction would be to Volunteer Point to see the penguins.
Part of the journey would be off road, so the trip would be in 4 x 4 vehicles. As well as details of the nature of the islands we would also have various points of interest from the 1982 Falkland war, which was between Argentina and the UK.
According to a friend of mine, who sent me the above picture – you can get quite close to the penguins , , for some reason as I looked at the above, it reminded me of a political gathering – none of the members seemed to know which way to go . . .
I also wanted information about SS Great Britain, that had been abandoned in the Falklands in 1937, and is now a museum piece in Bristol, UK.
SS Great Britain in 1969, before her ‘repatriation’ to her place of birth – Bristol, UK.
Launched in 1843 – she was the first iron ship to be driven by a propeller, & powered by steam. She was the largest ship in the world at that time and was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic – it took her fourteen days.
One of our group John, had been in the Falklands during the later part of the 1982 war and he was a fund of stories and anecdotes – he was First Officer of Mv Stena Seaspread ,
which was a fleet repair ship – look closely and you’ll see a submarine alongside the repair ship.
Ariel view of the Mv Stena Seaspread with an RN ship alongside her. The view also give one an idea of the landscape.
even the penguins came out to welcome my mate’s ship !
John did tell me that he knew each one by name . . .
With John’s memories and anecdotes, we were all looking forward to our visit.
It was during our day at sea from Ushuaia that the Captain announced that we would not be going to Port Stanley because the weather forecast for the area anticipated swells of 8 to 10 meters (26 to 33 feet) and this type of swell would make for a very unpleasant voyage when leaving Port Stanley, and considering the average age of the passengers (let’s just say ‘mature’) very dangerous when the passengers moved about the ship.
Once we left the sheltered area of the Beagle Channel and passed Isla de los Estados on our starboard side, which is 29 km (18 miles) off the coast of eastern coast of Argentina we entered the open sea and the ship altered course to port and head away from the area of high swells, yet even so we could feel the slightly unpleasant movement of the ship as we headed north.
We were bound for a completely different type of port – Puerto Madryn, now that name rang a bell with me!
I thought a comment on the island that we passed may be of interest.
Isla de los Estados in English means Staten Island, named after the same person as Staten Island New York.
A Dutch explorer passed the island on Christmas Day in 1615 and named it Staten Landt and believed that it could be part of the Great Southern content.
When Abel Tasman saw New Zealand in 1642 he named the land Staten Landt, and assumed it was part of the great southern land i.e Antarctica.
Of course I always seem to come back to books . . . but there is a link, however small . . .
The island was mentioned in ‘Two Years Before the Mast’ by R.H. Dana, which was first published in 1840 – well worth a read.
The author shipped out of Boston as a common sailor in 1834 and kept a diary. He sailed round Cape Horn and returned to Boston two years later. The book was made in to a film in 1946 with Alan Ladd in the lead part & Brian Donlevy who plays R.H.Dana.
The Pilgrim is the name of the original ship involved in Two Years Before The Mast, built in 1825 and lost at sea due to fire in 1856.
Today’s Pilgrim (which is a replica & pictured above) was a three-masted schooner on the Baltic trade in 1945.
In 1975 she sailed to Lisbon to be converted to her present configuration as a brig.
Since 1981 she has been based at Dana Point Harbor (named after the author) in California, and has been used in ‘Amsitad’ the movie, and is a classroom that sails in the summer months with volunteers.
But it doesn’t sail around the Horn to Isla de los Estados.