Week 2, 1999

Location: Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

We arrived in Port Stanley after a great sail down from Mar del Plata, Argentina.   Port Stanley is the largest city in the Falkland Islands with about 1500 people.   I must start by saying that the people here are the kindest, enthusiastic bunch we've met so far.  When we arrived at the dock, there must have been 50 people watching from the shore, some in their cars to ward off the cold.  The Falkland Islands Fisheries Department had been in contact with us by H.F. radio for last two days, and announcing the rally's visit on the local radio station so our arrival was not a surprise in Port Stanley.  Later in the Globe tavern, the guys felt like movie stars when girls whispered "It is them, it really is.."  We spent the first couple of days touring the town of Stanley and the surrounding country side.  The Falklands have a rich history, having been one of the busiest ports during the turn of the century before the Panama Canal was opened.  They have an excellent Museum and historical walk around the port.  One can also immediately find evidence of the 1982 war with Argentina.  Without going into huge detail the account goes something like this.  Argentina believes they own the islands as a result of a transaction with Spain in the mid 1800's.  They claimed the Islands a short time later, starting a settlement at Port Louis.  The Argentines never completely settled, leaving the British there for the last 120 years alone.  During the 60's and 70's the Falkland Islands became an increasingly hot spot, as the race for claiming stakes in Antarctica took place.  The ownership of the Falklands provides a larger chunk of Antarctica as South Georgia is a dependency of the Falklands.  Argentina invaded Port Stanley and Goose Green in 1982 for these rights.  The British responded quickly and defeated Argentina in a matter of days.  Argentina still claims ownership and technically has not signed a peace agreement for the 1982 incident.  To me it seems strange, as all of the people I've talked to during our stay in Mar del Plata are embarrassed about the war and really don't care who owns the Islands, they wouldn't live there anyway.  The worst part about the war for the Falklands Islands is that the Argentines placed land mines on a lot of the shoreline and mountain areas without mapping the locations.   Also unfortunate, most of the land mines were of the new plastic type, thus next to impossible to clear.  Many of the prettiest spots are forbidden access due to mines.   This said, the places we did see were amazing.  We saw numerous shipwrecks, penguin rookeries and historical sites.  Many of the local sailing families hosted crews from the fleet for dinner one night, providing us with excellent food, drink and camaraderie.  The fleet reciprocated by having "open boat day," for the local people.  They were able to tour any of the boats and see what "Bluewater Cruisers" looked like inside and out.  Week 3 sees the start of the leg to Ushuaia, Argentina. 

Photos of the Falklands Islands