Sunday 20th March 2011
Writing this as I relax over coffee, enjoying home-made marmalade from friends in Victoria at the end of a full breakfast, after an excellent sleep. A beautiful sunny morning with no sign of the very strong winds of yesterday which made my entry 'interesting'!
Pairs of cormorants nest on the huge tyres hanging fron the wharf-side nearby:
Overnight and into Saturday morning, the wind veered from a light SW through NW to become a NNE headwind of 15kt as we got within a few miles of the entrance to Port William - the big bay outside 'The Narrows' leading S into the very enclosed Stanley Harbour.
With a long tack to close inshore, we passed well off Wolf Rock, tacked around to pass Young Rock and then tacked again to head inshore, leaving Seal Rocks, and then Tussac Islands, to the S at the entrance to Port William in slight rain and 30kts of apparent wind! Of course, by this time, needing to head W, the wind had slowly backed from NNE to WNW! After some more tacking, with motor running, it was clearly time to down sails .... too many anchored big ships around and a very narrow final entrance into Stanley Hbr to risk problems in the continuing strong headwind at that moment - 24-27kts true, regularly! But suddenly the sky cleared to give bright sunshine for our final approach - nice!
Stanley is low-lying - and small! ....
I was in contact with Stanley by VHF on crossing the 'Reporting Line' at Pt William entrance and they were able to keep tabs on me via my AIS transmission - so finding my handheld VHF radio was still in US mode wasn't too big a problem. (Why is the States on some different frequencies from everywhere else in the world? They should conform to the International Standard for VHF frequencies...!!) As it was, I could not hear the responses - neither on Ch 10 nor on Ch 12.... And I'd switched to the handheld after problems with hearing responses on the ship's radio on Ch16 - very broken, despite being so close..... I thought I'd fixed my VHF radio problems in Ushuaia.... At least I've since learned they could hear me clearly! (Checking the VHF on 'receive' is definitely on my 'to-do' list here in Stanley)
Having been in contact with various people here, I was aware of the problems of the prevailing strong W wind in Stanley Hbr - and with strong winds forecast over Saturday night and again on Wednesday, the Public Jetty I'd hoped to tie up to, in the centre of town, seemed to be not such a good idea (boats have to leave the floating pontoon if winds get up to 30kt and also if a cruise ship passenger tender is expected). So I took up the option offered by Chris, skipper of Skip Novak's 'Pelagic', to go down to the commercial FIPASS dock and tie up alongside him, where it's very protected by the high metal structure of the wharf - but a good way from town.
So here we are - very peaceful, except for the occasional dull metallic clanging as vehicles drive onto the wharf from shore.
Bob, VE8LP, and his wife Janet had welcomed me on arrival, helping me to tie up to 'Pelagic', and later took me down to their boat for a social evening with some friends - doing a quick 'tour' of (little!) Stanley as we passed by. While waiting for Customs to clear me in, Betty and Luis, of the Seamen's Mission nearby, also came by to say 'Hallo'. I'll be seeing them again soon - I've laundry to do, there's wi-fi at the Mission - and it's only a few minutes' walk from here.
The Customs guy also did the Immigration honours and was very welcoming, relaxed and helpful - how often do Customs officials give you a big hug on saying 'Goodbye' when the formalities are over??!!
Well, it's now local midday on Sunday - I'm off for a walk in the sunshine to the Seamen's Mission with my laundry and laptop... and my British sterling.... I hope to see some wildlife & do a few boat jobs before leaving for Cape Town later in the week - that's the present plan!