I know, I know, it’s not enough Pengoing South lately! It all takes time and an unexpected antivirus update ate many internet tokens last month so you just have to be patient while we/I catch up. On with the show…
You might not have noticed but most people, organisations and publications around the World refer to the capital of the Falklands as Port Stanley but this isn’t technically correct. The capital city is, in fact, just ‘Stanley’. Nevertheless, adding the ‘Port’ isn’t exactly a criminal error. The Falklands have a rich maritime history, as evidenced by the numerous shipwrecks (both military and civilian) surrounding Stanley Harbour and the Falklands themselves:
This intrinsic maritime connection is less pronounced on islands as connected as the British Isles, but here in the Falklands (where we admittedly struggle to keep our 2 weekly flights on schedule) the connection to the sea brings all sorts of surprises. Aside from the private yacht charters and numerous cruise ships that seem to creep into the harbour as the weeks roll by, there’s the fishing fleets that pop in for their licenses and the locally-owned vessels of different shapes, sizes and purposes. We’ve mostly only made use of the inter-island ferry (the Concordia Bay; not to be confused with the Costa Concordia) and Sulivan’s launches for our Kidney Island trips. Most recently, however,the maritime connection has hit us full force with a number of notable visits. Firstly, during my family’s visit (more on that story later), we stopped by the infamous (don’t ask…) public jetty to have a nose around the Research Vessel Song of the Whale:
The whale population SEEMS to be recovering from decades of whaling in these waters, but no-one really knows so hopefully the research she’ll provide will be valuable but it was great to see around the yacht and talk to the crew about life on board and their trip down here.
Shortly after the Song of the Whale left us, we became an unusual stop-off for Navika Sagar Parikrama. The Hindi speakers out there will get that, but for the rest of us this is the all-female crew of the Indian Navy Sailing Vessel Tarini on their global circumnavigation voyage. This impressive group of women were apparently told to stop off in Stanley as one of their trainers had been here and we were invited to a reception at Government House to welcome the crew in. They had several days here and we were lucky enough to befriend one of the crew, Payal (who, in turn, befriended Milo).
We had a great time chatting with the crew, seeing their basic but functional lifestyle and hearing about their lives and journey. It was also great to be able to talk about my Anglo-Indian heritage with Payal and she was generous enough to spare us some gulabjamuns as I mentioned I’d been missing Indian sweets. It was sad to see the crew leave (and we like to think they were sad to leave too) as they all made an impression around town and threw themselves into the community, even coming to talk in our schools. They’re currently in Cape Town after a 40-day crossing of the Atlantic and we’re hoping Han’s cousin Amy will be able to meet up with them too. Bonds seem to be quickly formed in a small community like this.
Just like finding ourselves aboard these two yachts, our time here has been characterised by so many odd but memorable encounters – cases in point:
Our maritime themed season seemed to continue in this vein when we received an invite to a drinks reception on board HMS Clyde (the Royal Navy’s South Atlantic patrol vessel). We took the opportunity to step aboard, enjoying the generous reception (and jugs of gin/tonics) to meet the crew and enjoy the tour they gave us before taking a few of the off-duty crew into town for a night out. I don’t recall a time in the UK when we got invited to spend the evening on a Royal Navy patrol vessel, though I don’t know if that’s related to living here:
As if 2018 hadn’t thrown enough naval treats at us, Stanley played host to the SV Tenacious. She is the largest wooden tall ship built in the UK, with a view to allowing people of all abilities to sail. While we didn’t have the time off to take advantage of the spaces aboard on their crossing to South Africa, we had a tour around and checked out the ship itself. As a historian, it was amazing to see tall ships in Stanley Harbour again, harking back to the maritime culture of the place and (with the Lady Liz in view) just reminding us how crucial the ocean has been to the development and history of these islands.
As the benches on the seafront Victory Green state: From the sea, freedom.