Old friends are always wanted . . .

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Will, John and I first met in September of 1960, and we had kept in touch – on and off – over the years, so when we had the opportunity of sailing together we jumped at joining Azamara Quest for the South American cruise.

When Will & John found out that during the cruise Maureen and I would be celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary, they insisted on inviting us to dinner at Prime C, which is a specialist restaurant on Azamara Pursuit that specialises in meat dishes.

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Prime C  – starboard side, aft, over looking the sea.

The booking had been made for the evening of the 22 nd February, which was the evening of our day in Punta del Easte, Uruguay, and also the date of our anniversary.
Fortunately, by late afternoon of the 22nd, Maureen had recovered from the excess amount of exposure to the hot sun.

Knowing that Maureen is a coeliac, and that I was not fussy on spaghetti, the Italian specialty restaurant was not a consideration.

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The six of us around the dining table.

The restaurant has limited seating, so seating can be at a premium, especially when at sea, as against being in port.

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The entrance to the restaurant was at the end of this area – on the left hand side of the picture is the galley (kitchens).

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Same area different angle.

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Our table was the far end of the restaurant, beyond the support pole.

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Once the dining staff realised the reason for our celebration, they produced a cake with ‘Happy Anniversary ‘ iced across the centre – and from memory it was GF!

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I’m not sure if you will be able to read the menu, but I can say that all the food was beautifully cooked and the steak done perfectly for me – medium – rare, knife went through the meat without any strain!

We were offered a menu of various wines at an additional fee, but we were also asked if we wanted the daily wine special – after checking the prices, we stuck to the daily special.

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Old friends from 57 years ago . . .

It was June 1962, after two years at HMS Conway, that we left to go to sea, we joined different shipping companies, so sailed in different parts of the world.
Will (who now lives in NZ) is on the left, John (UK) on the right, and the daft one in the middle is yours truly, now living in Australia.
I’d just turned 18, and was the oldest of the three of us, I think Will & John were still 17.
I extracted the above from the photograph of the thirty six cadets leaving HMS Conway that time.
Excuse the pun – but a lot of water has passed under our ‘bridges’ since we left the ‘Conway’.
Once again I close with Golden Wedding a different version than the Woody Herman 1939 version.

 

 

 

 

Falklands Is. or Islas Malvinas

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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SS Great Britain in 1969, before her ‘repatriation’ to her place of birth – Bristol, UK.

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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 ,

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which was a fleet repair ship – look closely and you’ll see a submarine alongside the repair ship.

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Ariel view of the Mv Stena Seaspread with an RN ship alongside her. The view also give one an idea of the landscape.

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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!

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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  . . .

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Whistle up a wind

Ushuaia on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, is considered the most southerly city in the world – also known as the end of the world.

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We arrived in Ushusia at 6.00 pm and immediately went alongside. We were all looking forward to the excursion the next day, which was a trip on the End of the World Train.

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The six of us had booked 1st class seats for the journey, and the price included lunch. Our plan for the day was to go ashore early and visit the town of Ushuaia, and at around 11.00 am take a couple of taxis to the main station of the End of the World Train,

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so as to have a look around the small terminus, and perhaps buy some souvenirs before boarding the train.

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From the ship the town looked an interesting place.

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The pink roofed buildings is the old prison, which used to hold 600 convicts. The prisoners were used to help build the town, public works, homes etc, and they also supplied the town with firewood, bread, and electrical power; prisoners and citizens relied on each other. The prison was closed in 1947, and it is now a tourist attraction.

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After dinner an hour’s entertainment fitted well before an early night.
Helen Jayne  would be leaving us the next day to fly back to the UK.

We rose early so as to be out and about and make the best of our time ashore, but . . .

Over night the wind had increased and by morning we were not allowed to open our balcony doors, nor go out on deck, and the gangway had been taken in for safety, so nobody was allowed ashore. The wind speed had increased to 59 knts per hour (109 km per hour or 69 mph).

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Note the white caps in an enclosed bay, as the wind increased.

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Maureen & I were in the Living Room, which is close to the bow and we watched the above ferry try six times to come alongside just ahead of us.

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At times he got quite close to us . . .

After he’d tried six times the authorities closed the port and ships were not allowed in or out. The ferry was ordered out and to anchor in the harbour.

Helen Jayne missed her flights because of the lack of gangway. Early in the day we could see some planes taking off, but later I think they closed the airport as well.

We had nine mooring lines out forward and nine after (I counted them later) when we usually just had four or five. In addition the Captain had ordered the ‘thrusters’ to be used to keep us alongside. The wind was trying to push us off the wharf and the use of the thrusters was to keep us along side.
Thrusters are used in confined areas to assist with berthing and un-dock of ships, and are not supposed to be kept running for a long time – on this day both were running continuous for seven hours.
Later we had a chance to chat to the Captain and we asked about the thrusters and he told us that he was concerned about burnout, but due to the very cold water from the Antarctic the thrusters didn’t over heat.

After lunch the wind dropped a little, which was enough to open the port again. The ferryboat that had abandoned its effort to dock waited her chance to come alongside and this time made it safely. Also, another cruise ship came in and berthed on the other side of our wharf .

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She was the Seabourn Quest 32,000 gt, which makes her a similar sized vessel as the Azmara Pursuit, which is30,000 gt.

The position of the Seabourn Quest was perfect, because she shielded us from the wind, which was now pushing the Seabourn Quest on to the wharf . By being shielded from the wind we were able to put down our gangway safely and the business of crew changes could take place, i.e Helen Jayne, and some hotel crew.

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The port had reopened and ships began to move.

A little later the wind had dropped enough for the Captain to allow the passengers ashore if they wished.

There is an old sailors superstition that it is bad luck to whistle on board a ship, because this can bring the wind or increase the wind’s strength.
The only person allowed to whistle on board was the cook – because while he is whistling he is not steeling food.

By now it was afternoon and we knew that we had missed End of the World Train, but fortunately we hadn’t paid anything.

The six of us walked in to town and had a look around – Maureen bought two stuffed penguins as souvenirs.

As we left the wharf we came across the monument to celebrate the first white settlers to the area.

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It depicts the Andes mountains, snow & the wings of an albatross, & incidents of the history of the town are dotted around the main monument.

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We did consider a hop on hop off bus but the timings didn’t fit with the ship’s departure.

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During our walk we came across a restaurant that BBQ’d their meat in the window – later we realised that this was normal.

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An Argentinian home BBQ . . . a little different than an Aussie BBQ.

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Everywhere we looked we saw penguins – I don’t think the locals eat their penguins, unlike the Aussies who eat their kangaroo.

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I saw this sign from a distance and thought of a certain book company – and wondered if they’d have any books in English – when I got close enough I realised that it was a chocolate shop – perhaps they do eat their penguins, but wrapped in chocolate.

Ushuaia felt quite prosperous, perhaps they have a tax concession for being at the end of the World. . . .

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Plenty of late model cars around.

For those who wish to pronounce Ushuaia click on this link Ushuaia ,
or just try  . . . .  Ush-U-Why-A

Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego’s Argentinian area. The town was founded in 1884 by Augusto Lasserre (1826-1906) who was an officer in the Argentine Navy.

Before the Commander founded the town the area was  inhabited  by many who were not Argentinian citizens, including a number of British subjects.
The town was originally founded in an informal way by British missionaries, following the British surveys, many years before Argentine nationals or government representatives arrived on a permanent basis.

HMS Beagle first arrived in 1833 on its first survey of the area, and the town was named by British missionaries using the native name  Yamana after the area.
Much of the early history of the city is described in Lucas Bridges book Uttermost Part of the Earth, which was published in 1948. The name Ushuaia first appears in letters and reports by the S. American Mission Society in England. It was a British missionary Waite Stirling who was the first European to live in the town when he lived with the Yámana people in 1869.
More British missionaries arrived in 1870 and established a settlement.

Lucas Bridge was known as the third white native of the area, being born in 1874. His elder brother was the first, having been born in 1872. Their father was Thomas Bridges an Anglican missionary, who was married to Mary Ann Varder, who was also English.

Lucas Bridges was fluent in English, Yahgan, and Selk’nam (two of the local languages). His book was about his families experiences in Ushuaia and how colonization had affected the local population after the gold and sheep booms that had brought a considerable number of Europeans, and European  diseases, which decimated the local Yahagan &. Selk’nam tribes.

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Cristina Calderón (born May 24, 1928 – this lady is the last full blooded Yaghan person. According to the internet she was still alive in 2017.

Often called  “Abuela“, which is Spanish for “grandmother”

 

Beagle Channel-Tierra del Fuego

We sailed for the Beagle Channel at midnight on our way to Ushuaia in Argentina. We would have a day of cruising the Beagle Channel.

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The morning brought some dramatic views – the above and the one below were taken from our balcony.

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We didn’t have any idea what the day would bring for our cruise of the Beagle Channel.

The channel was named after HMS Beagle during its first visit to this area of S. America, which took place between 1826 – 1830.
It was during the Beagle’s second voyage to the same area that Charles Darwin was aboard as a self funded ‘supernumerary’, which gave him the opportunity of being a naturalist, although he was an amateur.
On reaching the Beagle Channel in January of 1836 he saw his first glacier and wrote in his diary –  “It is scarcely possible to imagine anything more beautiful than the beryl-like blue of these glaciers, and especially as contrasted with the dead white of the upper expanse of snow.”

Charles Darwin published his ‘Origin of the Species’ in 1859, and used information that he’d gathered during his visit to the Beagle Channel in 1836.

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Later in the morning it brightened somewhat, but it also started to rain.

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After lunch the rain eased and the views became clearer – the ship in the above picture is a small cruising vessel, and looked about the same size as our cruise ship, which was 30,000 gt.

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We are now well and truly in the Tierra del Fuego between Chile and Argentina.

The black and white pictures were not taken deliberately as such, but to show that the world of colour had been naturally drained from the landscape.

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We looked at the gap between the hill and thought it was an inland lake or snow on the hill.

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It was a glacier with the melting under ice causing the waterfall.

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A different angle . .

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Everywhere we looked the drama of the landscaped showed how small and fragile we are in comparison.

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Another glacier – is it any wonder that Darwin was so taken with the beauty of the glaciers.

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The glacier blue was such a contrast to the dark satanic surroundings.

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Pilot boat leaving after the pilot for Ushuaia, came aboard.

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The Beagle Channel opens up, the pilot is aboard, so we can crack on a little more speed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sad end to a fine ship.

In southern Scotland there is an area that used to be called Peebleshire, until 1975 when Scotland abolished counties as local government areas.

Robert Barclay of Glasgow, founded an engineering & ship building company in 1818, and and over the years it grew in size.

In 1875 he built the first four-masted, iron-hulled fully rigged ship in the world for R & J Craig of Glasgow. It was called County of Peebles. It had a cargo capacity of 1614 net tons, and on entering the jute trade between Great Britain and India she was, what we would call today, ‘state of the art’ for a windjammer.

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With the success of the County of Peebles R & J Crag ordered eleven more similar rigged four masted ships.  Each one was named after a Scottish county, County of Inverness being just one other of the sisters.

In 1898 County of Peebles was sold to the Chilean navy and renamed Muñoz Gamero so named after Benjamín Muñoz Gamero who was a Chilean naval officer & governor of Punta Arenas in the Straits of Magellan. He was killed during the Mutiny of Cambiazo in 1851.

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Another picture of County of Peebles 

During the late 19th century sailing ships could be competitive on long voyages to Australia or India. Overall they were faster than steamers, because they didn’t have to bunker for coal nor did they require freshwater for steam. At that time a steam ship would average about 8 knots, and had to call in various ports for bunkers etc.

Later steamers replaced the windjammers because they could maintain a schedule, and were not subject to the wind.

The windjammer era ended in the 1930’s.

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If you are interested in life aboard a windjammer, may I suggest ‘The Last Grain Race’ by Eric Newby , The above is a photograph of the Moshulu the ship in which he sailed

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This edition was published in 1956 – the author who, became a travel writer, took part in the Last Grain Race in 1939 when he was eighteen. He shipped out as an apprentice seaman.

Back to County of Peebles – the Chilean navy had bought the ‘Peebles’ so as to be used as a coal hulk at Punta Arenas on the Straits of Magellan.

In the mid 1960’s she was beached and used as a breakwater, and is still there today.

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I took the above photograph, and as you can see her masts are ‘cut down’. A sad end to a fine ship that in 1880 sailed from Cardiff to Bombay in eighty three days; and in 1883 sailed from Glasgow to Buenos Aires in 59 days and her last voyage as a commercial vessel was  in 1898 , she arrived in Hamburg, 101 days out from Calcutta.

All our yesterdays . . . .

 

 

 

 

 

A ship’s biography

During WW2 the US Navy created a classification of ship as ‘Attack Transport’, which consisted of a specially built ship that would carry troops in to battle, but as normal troop ships were usually converted merchant ships, and relied on either docking or tenders to deliver the troops ashore an ‘attack transport’ carried her own landing craft so could land troops anywhere.

There is a film called Away all boats , which was made in 1956 and based on a novel by Ken Dodson, who was an officer who served on an attack transport during World War 2. The film stars Jeff Chandler, I’ve seen the film recently and it’s not bad.
Keep your eye out for a young Clint Eastwood – he doesn’t have a speaking part.

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USS Riverside

On the 13th April 1944 an attack transport, commissioned as Hull 870, was launched and acquired by the US Navy in June 1944 and was named USS Riverside.

She was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater of the war, and at the end of the war spent time in Asia as Occupation Services.

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During her wartime appearance . . .

In January 1947 she was reconverted for the merchant service and sold to Pacific Argentina Brazil lines (P&T) in December 1948, and renamed SS P&T Forester.

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SS P&T Forester

She was later sold to Moore McCormack Lines Inc. in March 1957, renamed SS Mormacwave

 

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SS Mormacwave

In 1966 she was sold to Grace Lines Inc. and renamed SS Santa Leonor. Under her new name during her maiden voyage she was sailing from Rio de Janeiro to San Francisco. Her previous port of call was Buenos Aires, and her next stop was Valparaiso, Chile.

During our recent cruise on the Azamara Pursuit in the Magellan Straits, we met the Santa Leonor –

 

 

 

 

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On the 31st March 1968 at 1.52 am the Santa Leonor ran aground on rocks off Isabel Island, approximately 20 miles into the Patagonian Channels, in an area called Paso Shoal.
The vessel slid back into the channel and floated a short distance, before finally came to rest on one of a small group of islands called the Adelaide Islands. Neither the vessel nor the cargo was salvaged. The crew and passengers were all saved.

If you would like to read more about this incident read the report  it makes interesting reading.

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The end of this ship’s biography.

 

 

A celebration of cold . . .

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Fjords, drama & cold

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This blog will be mainly pictures, with a limited amount of description.

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After leaving Puerto Chacabuco it was Chilean fjords all the way.

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I’ve tried to capture the grandeur of the scenery.

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The mist added, rather than distracted from the scenery.

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Flat calm and loneliness . . .

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While cruising through the fjord we came across a small ‘growler’. Note how much is under the water.

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Clouds or UFOs ?

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Temperature dropping and you only went outside if you had to  . . for picture taking etc.

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Is it any wonder that this area is still wild and undeveloped, except for a small amount of tourism.

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Our first glacier and we were quite a long way from it . . .

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Under the snow and ice is water, which lubricates the movement as if flows in to the fjord.

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Floating ice has become much more common.

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We moved closer to the glacier . .

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Ice is getting more prevalent . .

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A picture in blue.

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When we lived in the UK, in winter we had black ice, now we have blue ice.

DSC04587rThe ship seems to be attracting the ice.

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I leaned over our balcony to take this shot of ice clinging to the ship.

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Ship’s boat has been sent ice harvesting – we must have run out of the cold stuff.

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The piece that they brought on-board by using the ships’s crane was far to big to manhandle, so they had to break it up in to smaller pieces, and this is one of the smallest, which took four men to handle.
The ice was on display on deck and the one thing that we were told over and over, was not to use any of the glacier ice in our drinks, because it will be impure for human consumption. That made sense because we didn’t have any idea what had been frozen within the ice. Cooling one’s glass from the outside seemed OK .

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The entertainment was over and we sailed slowly away from the glacier.

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Glacier

I thought I’d leave the best until the last –

Azamara Pursuit drifting at the base of the glacier – I didn’t take this picture, but the ship’s photographer did, while the ships’s boat crew were harvesting the ice.