Punta del Este – Uruguay

Perhaps A Brief Encounter should have been the title of this blog.

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Celia Johnson & Trevor Howard in a 1945 romantic drama, which might have links to Punta del Este.

A British lady, Margaret Elizabeth Douglas, was born in Punta del Este in 1918. Her mother was Anglo – Argentinian and her father was Canadian and he owned a beef ranch in Argentina, and also a beach house in Punt del Este, Uruguay.

Margaret went to school in England, and in 1941 she joined the WRENS – (Woman’s Royal Naval Service) and was training at Westfield College, London, to become a cook

She and her class mates received a training request, said to come from Winston Churchill, for volunteers for secret war work. Margaret Douglas volunteered, which lead her to become involved in decoding work at Bletchley Park, and not a naval base that she expected.

In 1942 she met a Canadian Air Force officer on Bletchley Station and had a brief conversation on the platform, but they didn’t exchange names. Margaret caught her train and they parted.

Later, Margaret received a letter addressed to  “the blonde Wren from Argentina on the platform at Bletchley station”. They married in 1945 and moved to Canada where they farmed beef, horses and a cherry orchards.

I wonder if Noel Coward’s inspiration for  ‘A Brief Encounter’, came from real life . . .

Margaret never spoke of her time at Bletchley until the secret work become public knowledge in 1974 when Frederick William Winterbotham’s book The Ultra Secret was released.220px-Margaret_Cooper_(cryptologist)

Margret Cooper (née Douglas) January 1918 – July 2016 (she was 98).

Punta del Este, the playground for the rich and famous, along with wealthy Argentine and Uruguayan holidaymakers have made this town a place for the elite to holiday. The town doesn’t have any public housing, so it all boils down to the haves & the have nots . . .

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Approaching our anchorage – the town doesn’t have berthing facilities for larger vessels, but only for small boats.

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We anchored and as the ship swung around, Gorriti Island came in to view  – rich in wild life – seals, right whales, orcas chasing tuna, along with fur seals and sea lions.

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We stepped ashore after about a seven minute boat ride.

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It was a reasonable temperature so we decided to walk to see the ‘The Hand’ monument, and according to the the map the monument was not too far away.
We started our stroll through a residential area, which was very pleasant, and we could see that the sea was not too far away.

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They wouldn’t have a lighthouse too far from the sea.

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I was interested in the houses as many looked very attractive, and having a beach so close would be an asset for the owners.

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Different styles all mixed together.

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At the bottom of the street – the ubiquitous block of beach side flats.

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Couldn’t knock the view from the flats.

As we reached the sea, the temperature started to rise . . but it wasn’t uncomfortable.

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The monument was just around the point of land, and it didn’t look all that far.

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As we reached the point of land I looked back – you can just see the lighthouse, on the right.

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The monument must be around the next small point of land.

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It wasn’t and now Maureen was not feeling all that well, due to the heat as well as the walking, so we had to find some shade.

Fortunately we found a bus shelter not too far from this position. So once Maureen was inside the shelter I could see the ‘The Hand’ and Maureen was happy to stay ‘in the cool’ while I went to take some photographs.

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Found it at last . . .

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I met our dining room steward who kindly took the above, to prove that I’d made it . . .

On returning to Maureen I decided to take a taxi back to the ship, because she was not at all well. Fortunately across the beach road, towards the main shopping strip, we found a taxi stand.
Once back at the pier and we were able to sit in the shade and enjoy a cool breeze, Maureen began to feel better.

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As our tender boat left the wharf I wondered it this fellow was going to hit us.

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The single sailing craft were very popular.

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Took the above from the Living Room.

As we left the wharf to return to ‘Azmara Pursuit‘ we saw seals playing under the landing stage and around the small boat mooring areas. Of course I couldn’t get my camera out in time as the tender boat swung round so as to head out to the ship, but one of our New Zealand friends did manage to get some pictures.

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Mum seal on her own. PdEste

Seal on dockside Punta del Este

 

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Must admit this  was a welcome sight, the sun had become very hot, and after our long walk we’d had enough for the day – we didn’t even get to look a round the shops.

With hindsight, instead of walking towards the beach after leaving the tender boat, we should have turned to our left and walked along the main shopping street, which would have allowed us to pop in and out of the shops to keep cool – isn’t hindsight wonderful?

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A close up of the fingers, thanks to my New Zealand friends.

 

 

Montevideo, Uruguay

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Since I was a child, the battle of the river Plate has always fascinated me, and I never expected, in my wildest dreams, to be able to visit Montevideo.

The above shows the  Admiral Graf Spee in 1936.

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As we entered Montevideo harbour we were given the back ground of the battle and an indication of where the remains of the German battle ship is located.
At one point our captain told us to look across the starboard side for a buoy, which indicated the location of the Admiral Graf Spee as the masts, which were the final indication of the ship, where no longer visible and only a buoy indicated the spot.
The only buoy I could see is the one in the picture, but I doubt that this is the buoy in question as it was too close to the channel used by larger ships to enter Montevideo, and even our size (30,000 gt) would have been at risk of damage if the remains of the wreck had shifted.

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Going ashore, to join the tour that we had arranged with a local tour company, took us past a few nautical items, but even though I checked as best I could in the time allowed, I didn’t find any artifacts from the Admiral Graf Spee.

We were met just outside the dock area by our tour operator’s driver and his minibus, and being a party of ten it didn’t take long for us to set off on the tour.

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Our first stop was Plaza de la Constitución, which was the centre of the old city when it was called Plaza Mayor in 1726. Even today the the area is also referred to as Plaza Matriz, it is the oldest plaza in Montevideo.

During our visit a small local market was in full swing.

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Second hand plates and other household items always seem to attract me – what did the owners do for a living, where did they live, how many in the family . . .

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It was a beautiful day and being among the trees was very pleasant.
In the centre of the plaza was a fountain

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Looking closely at the fountain I saw the symbol of the Mason’s – the fountain was built (or perhaps donated) by the local Masonic Lodge for the benefit of the people.

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Facing the plaza is the Montevideo Metropolitan Cathedral. There has been a church on this site since 1740 (colonial times) and in 1790 the foundations for the current cathedral were laid. It was consecrated in 1804.

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After visiting the cathedral we made our way to the old post office, which is now a museum, and outside I photographed the roof across the road. I asked why they stacked the tiles as such – they were not tiles, I was told by the guide but art! I live and learn . . .

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Before the government postal service a private system existed via stagecoach. It was not until 1859 that the government issued the  Uruguay Mail decree, which stated that  All correspondence will be franked by postal stamps, without which no letters will be delivered.

The postal museum is just behind the two yellow post boxes –

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For my British readers it appears that Uruguay had giros years before the British :- o)

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Display of early stamps

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Jose Gervasio Artigas – 1764 – 1850

A Uruguayan hero that helped create the Uruguay that we know today, there are many statues of him and also a national holiday.

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We were dropped off at the Plaza Independencia to enjoy a short break and the plaza is a photographers delite (and I don’t mean that I am that photographer).

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Once again we see Jose Gervasio Artigas in a place of honour.

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From the plaza looking down the main shopping street. Plaza Independencia is a beautiful spot, cool shade from the trees, lovely buildings of yesteryear, I found the plaza to be very relaxing.

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Legislative Palace – we drove past it after leaving Plaza Independencia.

The government began building it in 1904 and it was  inaugurated on August 25th, 1925 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The building contains twenty seven different colours of Marble, which were quarried from various Uruguayan quarries.

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Parque Batlle is the public park in central Montevideo, where we visited the memorial  that depicts yoked oxen pulling a loaded wagon, which is how things moved around the country before the motor car or the railways.
The artist José Belloni (1882-1965) created the sculpture in 1934 from bronze.

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Our next stop was a small rise that overlooked a beach area of Montevideo and to make sure you hadn’t forgotten were you were . . .

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Of course everyone wanted their photograph taken while climbing or leaning on the sign, so I had to wait and snap the above while the ‘climbers’ were swapping over.

As we drove back to the ship, I could see the sea and couldn’t help but think of the last few hours of the Admiral Graf Spee. 

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Han Wilhelm Langsdorff March 1894 – December 1939

Captain of the Admiral Graf Spee, Captain Langsdorff, had entered the neutral harbour of Montevideo due to battle damage to his ship, and he had a number of casualties.
He hoped to be able to repair certain aspects of his ship, but once he had inspected the damage he realised that the oil purification plant, which prepared his fuel for the engines had been destroyed, plus the crew galleys were wrecked and the desalination plant had been destroyed – he would not be able to make it back to Germany without major repairs.

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Those who were killed in the battle were buried in a cemetery in Montevideo – note Captain Langsdorfff gives a naval salute during the burial service, whereas others, mainly civilians, gave the Nazi salute. 

According to Article 18 of the Hague Convention, neutrality restrictions limited Admiral Graf Spee to repairs only to make her safe to go to sea, but not to increase or repair her ability as a fighting machine.
The Uruguayan government under Article 14 extended the twenty four hour rule that a belligerent had to leave within twenty four hours, to seventy two hours, to allow for further repairs to be made for safety at sea. 

In the meantime, the British Admiralty had broadcast, on a frequency that they knew the Germans would intercept, that HMS Renown (battleship) and the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal  and other capital; ships were concentrating at the mouth of the River Plate. All this was untrue as the two ships mentioned were 2500 nm away, but the Germans and Captain Langsdorff believed the British broadcast. Captain Langsdorff decided to scuttle his ship rather than allowing it to be interned in case Uruguay entered the war on the side of the British.

On Sunday, 17th December 1939, five days after the first shots had been fired between the British ships and the Admiral Graf Spee, Captain Langsdorff had the great vessel moved out of the harbour and headed towards Buenos Aires.
His crew, all but forty two volunteers, left the ship and boarded the German freighter Tacoma.
The Admiral Graf Spee was maneuvered so that she faced west, towards the setting sun. The remaining crew, including Captain Langsdorff,  left her and boarded the Tacoma.

At 20.54 hrs, six minutes before the 72 hour period of grace had ended, and just as the sun set over the hills the estimated 20,000 watchers saw a flash of light and the centre of the ship seemed to twist upwards as she began to blow herself to bits.

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The end of the battle.

Captain Langsdorff and his volunteers were taken to Buenos Aires aboard the Tacoma.

Of his crew 37 were buried in the cemetery in Montevideo, 28 were in a Uruguayan hospital, 4 in a Uruguayan gaol, (but that is another story), and the rest were interned in Argentina.

During a meeting with all of his men in Buenos Aires he said ‘A few days ago it was your sad duty to pay the last honours to your dead comrades. Perhaps you will be called upon to undertake a similar task in the future.’   

Some of his officers understood what he meant, particularly when he gave certain officers some of his personal items, such as his camera.

At midnight on the 19th December he wrote three letters, one to his wife, one to his parents & one to the German Ambassador in Buenos Aires. He sealed the envelopes, and placed them on a table and unwrapped an Imperial Germany Navy flag,

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He then shot himself.

He was found the next morning at 8.30 am by one of his officers.
It was noticeable that he was covered by the Imperial Navy flag,

and not the Nazi naval flag.

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His funeral was the following day in Buenos Aires and attended by his crew, the German Ambassador, representatives of the Argentina armed forces and Captain Pottinger, Master of the British cargo ship Ashlea who represented the captains and officers who had been held captive on the Admiral Graf Spee during the battle.

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SS Ashlea sunk off the west coast of Africa 7th October 1939.

 

 

 

 

Puerto Madryn, or Y Wladychfa Gymreig

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The sailing ship Mimosa sailed from Liverpool in May 1865, with 153 migrants from from Wales, who wished to emigrate to Argentina.
Groups gathered in three main points  Abedare (S. Wales), Birkenhead in Cheshire, England, and Mountain Ash, which is in the Rhondda S. Wales, before they all made their way to Liverpool to board the Mimosa. The cost per adult was £12.00 and £6.00 per child.
They landed in Argentian in July of 1865 and named their landing place Porth Madryn after Sir Love Jones-Parry’s estate in Wales, which was called Madryn Estate.

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Jones Parry 1832 -1891

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An advert to encourage those who wished to emigrate.

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The name of the our next port of call, Puerto Madryn, (due to Port Stanley having been cancelled), rang a bell with me, but not a S. American bell, but a North Wales bell.
As a child I spent many holidays with my parents on the Llyn Peninsula, because my mother came from Caernarvon, and her married sister still lived in Caernarvon, so we had free accommodation. We would all take the bus to various beaches, and places of interest, and one of my favourite places was Nefyn.

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Nefyn Beach

Near Nefyn was Madryn Estate and Madryn Castle.

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Found the above picture of Madryn Castle on the internet – the building burned down over 30 years ago, and the grounds appears to have become a caravan park.

It was this place that rang a bell with me as I was disappointed with the ‘castle’ affect as I expected something like Caernarvon Castle, but as an eight year old I was big in to castles and knights.

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I took this picture of Caernarvon castle in 2008.

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The view of Porth Madryn from our ship earlier this year – now called Puerto Madryn

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The beach and prom

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We were in the town when I took this picture to show how close the ship is to the town centre, which was about a ten to fifteen minute walk.

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This street name caught my eye –

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ARA General Belgrano, which used to be the USS Phoenix. She was launched in 1938 and survived the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour. She was sold to Argentina in 1951 and eventually became ARA General Belgrano.

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During the 1982 Argentinian / British war ARA General Belgrano was sunk by a British submarine on the 2nd May 1982.

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A more peaceful scene – the Monument to Women, on the promenade, the Azamara Pursuit can just be seen in the background.

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Still on the prom – a statue to Hippolyte Bouchard – 1780 to 1837 – he was the first Argentinian to sail around the world. He was also a corsair and attacked various places in California, which were under Spanish controls at the time.

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My photograph of him didn’t do him justice. The above is off the internet.

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A peaceful scene as we made our way back to the ship.

As we walked along the pier we kept a lookout for penguins, as we’d seen some earlier in the day. We did see various penguins, but as I tried to take a photograph they were too fast .

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If you see a penguin in the above pic please let me know . . .

From our balcony we were able to watch sea lions between the ship and the wharf, but once again, each time I grabbed my camera they disappeared – perhaps they were just camera shy.

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Coat of arms of Puerto Madryn

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The living room on the ship and a quiet drink before getting ready for dinner.

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Taken from the Living room, which is near the bow, so you can see the walk-way into town. The blue screen is due to the filter they have on the window.

If you are wondering what the title of this blog means –

Y Wladychfa Gymreig = The Welsh Settlement

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The flag of the Welsh colony in Patagonia.

 

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”

 

Punta Arenas, Chile

We looked at the excursions offered by the ship and decided against buying.
A visit to see penguins on Magdalena Is. USD $299 / person,

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but we had already booked to see hundreds of penguins on the Falkland Islands, because it was much cheaper. We could have booked to explore Torres del Paine National park, but this tour was a little too rich for us at USD $1299 each . . . .

As none of us had been to Punta Arenas before we thought the best thing to do was to visit the tourist office and pick up a local map, and an information booklet, and have a chat with the staff. A 3.5-hour walking tour off the ship was USD $129, so we figured with a little effort we would see just as much – which we did.

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The rainbow over Punta Arenas made us feel welcome.

Unfortunately, on leaving the ship we had to contend with high winds, and heavy rain much of the time. The ship supplied umbrellas for each cabin, so along with our own umbrella we were well covered. (excuse the pun).

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Welcome to windy & wet Punta Arenas . . a town that joins the Atlantic & the Pacific.

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Two of our friends with the whale tail in the background.

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The town felt small  & friendly, and we enjoyed out short stay, even allowing for the poor weather.
We just had to get used to the rule of the road to cross the streets. . . .

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A visit to the tourist office soon had us up to date with information and street maps.

The office was in the Plaza de Aramas, which also held the statue of Ferdinand Magellan. Note the statue of a young boy on the right side of the monument, he is dangling his leg. Look closely and you will see it is shiny, because if you kiss the toe of the Patagonian boy you will return to the city in the future. Maureen and I didn’t take up the offer – not because we don’t wish to return one day, but we didn’t fancy catching anything that we shouldn’t, being so far from home.

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I’ve cropped out the young boy so that you can see his polished foot.

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The six of us DIY walking tour and trying to keep warm and dry.

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As we crossed the road, I had to take a picture of the local café.
We didn’t go in, as we were on our way to the maritime museum, which was inexpensive to enter and very interesting.

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Took this photo because my daughter’s name is Sara.

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General Baquedano

The first training ship of the Chilean Navy, she was a corvette and was launched in 1898. I took a photograph of the paining in the museum. She was decommissioned in 1959.

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Maureen’s going for her helmsman’s ticket. Perhaps I should have said ‘helmsperson’s’  ticket in this PC day and age . . . just for the record I have a helmsman’s ticket stamped in my discharge book, as yet nobody has taken offence.

During our time in the museum we watched a short film, about thirteen minutes, of Sir Ernest Shackleton, and viewed & read quite a lot of memorabilia.

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Ernest Shackleton – 1874 – 1922

The details of the man who rescued Shackleton’s men off Elephant Island in the middle of a southern winter was an eye opener for me.

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Captain Luis Antonio Pardo Villalón 1892 – 1935

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Tug Yelcho in 1913 –

Shackleton’s three-masted barquentine Endurance, had been crushed by the ice, and sank in October 1915, in the Weddell Sea.

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Endurance being crushed by the ice.

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The final pieces about to sink.

All the crew of 28 escaped, but then had to make their way by sledge and lifeboats to Elephant Island.

Shackleton and five of his crew in April 1916 (southern winter), made their epic journey of 800 miles (1300 km) in an open lifeboat to South Georgia, the life boat was named    James Caird .

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James Caird – actual photograph taken as they launched the boat for the rescue mission.

From South Georgia he made his way to Punta Arenas to organise the rescue of those  left behind on Elephant island.

With Luis Antonio Pardo Villalon in command, and Shackleton as a passenger, they sailed in August 1916 from Punta Arenas to Elephant Island to rescue the remaining 22 of Shackleton’s crew. The rescue was a great success in extreme conditions for such a small ship.

For his bravery and skill in rescuing the trapped men Captain Pardo Villalon was offered a considerable amount of money by the British government, but he refused to accept it and commented that he was just fulfilling a requirement for the Chilean navy.

After leaving the navy Luis Antonio Pardo Villalón was appointed consul in Liverpool (UK) from 1930 to 1934.

The highest point on Elephant Island was named after  Luis Antonio Pardo Villalón, and there is a Cape at the northern end of the island, which was named after his ship, the Yelcho.

The Yelcho was built in 1906 by the Scottish firm G. Brown and Co. of Greenock, on the River Clyde.

In 2016 Shackleton’s grand daughter, the Honorable Alexandra Shackleton flew to Punta Arenas to open the “Shackleton, 100 years” exhibition to honor the great explorer and Piloto Pardo.

The museum was a very interesting and well worth a visit if you are ever in Punta Arenas.

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Azamara Pursuit is alongside the wharf on the far side, and on this side are two other vessels (the red one & the orange vessels).
I think the red vessel is the RV Laurence M. Gould  (RV = Research vessel), from the United States’ National Science Foundation – she is an ice breaker.
The orange coloured vessel is the Almirante Maximiano and she is also a research vessel, Brazilian owned, but registered in the Cook Islands.

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As we made our way back to the ship you can see how fierce the wind was – the white caps are caused by the strong wind.
On reaching the land end of the wharf we were not allowed to walk to the ship (about 200 meters) because the authorities consider that that the wind strength made it too dangerous. They laid on a small bus to take us to the gangway, which was sheltered by our ship.

An interesting few hours, but must admit it was a pleasure to return to the comfort of the ship after being in heavy rain, and then being blown dry by the wind from the Antarctic. It was unfortunate that we missed seeing the replica of Magellan’s ship due to the bad weather, but for me the details of the Shackleton rescue and the museum in general made up for the poor weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 . . . .