Stanley, Falkland Islands
On Monday, February 6 we reached the Falkland Islands. This is a very windy area with lots of choppy water, & we understand that less than half the cruise ships that come here are able to land. Two or three years ago the Prinsendam was able to tender its passengers ashore, but then the weather turned nasty & they couldn’t bring them back to the ship, so everyone had to stay overnight in Stanley. The townspeople (its a small town, around 4,000) turned out & took the passengers into their homes & put them up in churches & schools, and the next day the weather moderated enough to get them back to the ship. Fortunately for us, the weather was nice and, although quite windy, we were able to tender into town & back (although tender service was suspended several times because of weather). The waves were pretty high for the small tender boats, & water did get into the tenders & make a lot of people wet (including yours truly). But we were quite glad (& I was surprised, given our experience the last week or so) that we did actually get to shore here.
As I said, Stanley is a small town with a substantial whaling history. And, of course, there is the 1982 Falklands War between Britain & Argentina, which has left its mark here in the form of war memorials, not to mention Thatcher Drive.
Stanley is a very colorful town. Houses are made mostly of wood & corrugated metal (which we were told is either salvaged from wrecked ships or shipped from England) & are painted bright colors. Its a very British town, with British style telephone booths (where else do you see telephone booths in the age of cell phones?), pubs specializing in fish & chips (& a saxophone shaped beer tap), & all the souvenirs are actually made in Great Britain.
The most famous landmark is the Whalebone Arch, which is next to Christ Church Cathedral. The Whalebone Arch was erected in 1933 & is made from the jawbones of two blue whales. The Cathedral was built in 1892 & is the southernmost Anglican cathedral in the world.
Inside the cathedral was a pipe organ, which looks vintage, & some very nice stained glass windows, protected on the outside from flying debris during storms by a system of screens loosely enough constructed to let in light through the windows. Note that their picture of St Nicholas looks nothing like Santa Claus (another illusion shattered).
They also have a collection of kneeling stools needlepointed by the ladies of the church, beginning in 1992 when they had the centennial of the building.
Other landmarks in town include Government House, which is where the British Governor lives, Jubilee Villas, a housing unit built in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, the Penguin News (presumably the local newspaper), and a memorial to the Battle of the Falklands in 1914.
There are many old shipwrecks in the area of Stanley’s inner & outer harbor (lots of bad weather hereabouts). I was able to get pictures of two: the Jhelum & the Lady Elizabeth.
The only wildlife we saw were birds: some kind of duck & I think a goose of some kind. Not much in the way of wildflowers, but we did see some sea kelp (eaten, as you might imagine, by the Kelp Gull).
Finally, a couple of random things we liked. The SS Great Britain was, we were told, the first ship with a screw to push it through the water. This remnant is erected in Victory Park, commemorating the 1982 war.
So that’s Stanley, or at least what we saw of it. We left at 4:30, and the seas were extremely rocky again that evening, but it calmed down after midnight to moderately bumpy. We have two sea days, then Buenos Aires on Thursday & Friday. So, toodle-loo for now (this is the irritating signature sign-off of our cruise director, who makes announcements a couple of times a day).