Small ship near the rock

Today was one we really wanted to see and experience, going around Cape Horn on the way to Stanley in the Falkland Islands or Islas Malvinas in Spanish.
We were ready for the rough seas and turbulent waters about which we had read.

The opening of the Panama Canal had not only shortened the journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and vice versa but also that it was so much safer as the ships no longer had to sail around Cape Horn. We woke up all prepared to be thrown about and this is what we got:

Small ship near the rock

How fortunate we were to have really calm seas and so were able to get some lovely photos even though it was heavily overcast and grey. Cape Horn is situated at the SE end of Horen Island.

Cloud like a table clothThe cloud covers Horen Island like a table cloth

Horen IslandHoren Island was beautifully green

South East end of Cape Horn and Horen Island

South East end of Horen Island and Cape Horn

 We spent the rest of the day at sea travelling NE towards the Falkland Islands. Another stop that we were very keen to visit again because we had heard so much about it during the war between Argentina and England in 1982. I had always wondered why England wanted to keep control of a group of islands in the South Atlantic but when we did visit we realised that Stanley is a quintessential English town as you will see.

Welcome sign on pierThis was our welcome

Once again our ship was too big for Stanley Harbour so had to anchor outside and we were taken on a 10min ride on a tender boat (ship’s lifeboat) to the pier. There was another cruise ship in Stanley at the time but the disembarking and, later, disembarking from the tender was very well organised. As we approached the end of the pier to climb the half dozen steps on to the street there was an enormous ‘Welcome to the Falklands’ sign. We definitely knew we had arrived!

Although there were a number of excursions on offer but we chose once again to explore the town as they each took a number of hours meaning that we would not have the time to explore afterwards. At the top of the stairs were a few shops all of them offering sculpted penguins in every shape and size as well as other items related to their advertised speciality. Unfortunately none of these had a fridge magnet.

The Falklands are an almost untouched piece of nature home to 5 species of Penguin: Kings, Magellanic, Rockhopper, Gentoo, and Macaroni which is very elusive. All of the excursions, with the exception of one, were to the Penguin colonies. The other excursion was to various battle sites of th e1982 war with Argentina. There is a large wildlife population including sea lions and albatross.

As we turned right into Ross Stree, the town’s main street, which runs parallel to the sea we saw a red postal services van turn into a side street. Not far from that corner was a regular British telephone booth. On the lower corner was a building which housed the Environmental Department of the Local Council.

Environmental Affairs BldgDept of Environmental Affairs building. Note the red Post Office van

We continued on down the street passing the tourist gift shop to which we later returned for the magnet. We strolled along and came to Christ Church Cathedral and beside it a huge Whalebone Arch made from the jaw bones of 2 blue whales. It was a very special site. The Arch was donated to the town by the Falklands Islands Company to commemorate the centenary of British Government on the islands.

Tourist info and Gift ShopThe Tourist Information and Gift Shop

Christ Church CathedralChrist Church Cathedral

The SanctuaryThe Sanctuary

Vicky in the archThe Whalebone Arch

The Cathedral is a National Treasure which was consecrated in 1892 and is the southernmost Anglican Cathedral in the world. It is simple but beautiful inside and out being built of some of the local natural rock. Sadly due to age and harsh weather some of the brickwork is crumbling which they are trying to raise funds. Inside the church were some really interesting things to see and consider. The first was a Prayer Tree with small pieces of paper and some pencils where visitors are invited to write down a prayer request and add it to the tree and members of the congregation then pray for the requests. There were beautifully needle-point hassocks or kneelers as we refer to them. The pictures on these are of the area and the church itself. On one wall is a banner with the dates 1592, 1892, 1982 and 1992 each yearof which has some importance to the Falklands. It is believed that the Falklands were first seen by John Davis in 1592, in 1892 the tricentennial, 1982 the war with Argentina and then 1992 the quadricentennial.

400 year banner400 year banner

Crumbling brickworkSome of the crumbling brickwork

Prayer TreeThe Prayer Tree

KneelersThe Hossacks or Kneelers

We then walked up a lane between some homes and came to the next street. Note how it is always up from the seaside street. This is because most of Central and South America as well as the islands around them were formed from volcanic activity which creates steep landscapes. A bit of advice to those who are older or have walking difficulties. Decide where you want to go and to see in advance if possible, be prepared to walk (climb) slowly so allow extra time and remember that going down hill is sometimes. If you are in a wheelchair, most of the hills will prove too steep I should think.

As we ambled along this street we noticed a number of different shapes, colours and sizes of homes most of them constructed of wood. It became clear that this is not a wealthy community altogether but everyone we met was smiling and welcoming.

An old homeA large old home

Houses if all coloursDifferent colour homes down the steep street

Porch gardenA number of homes had gardens in the porch

At the next, very attractive, intersection we once agin turned up the hill, this time going right to the top from where we were able to see the farmlands and the tarred road which went to the more remote parts of the island. Of the approx 3 200 population, 2 800 or 80% lives in Stanley leading a completely different way of life from the ±400 people in the farming communities. The main type of farming is sheep, particularly for their wool which is exported to Britain. For a long time most of the farms were owned by corporates but in the last 30 years an effort has been made to divide the corporate ranches into smaller privately owned ones.

Attractive intersectionThe attractive interection. It really stood out

 Road to the inland

The road winds into the distance

Standing on the top of the hill with a strong breeze blowing got us making our way down again using another road. As we descended we could see the names of 6 ships which had sunk in Stanley Harbour which included Charles Darwin’s HMS Beagle. Their names were ‘written’ with stones on the hill opposite to where we were standing. Stanley Harbour has a graveyard of sunken ships due to bad weather and wars.

More ships namesNames of 3 ships

As we walked around the town we noticed that every home had a large tank in the yard but we could not see any taps to suggest that they were for water or electrical fittings to indicate that it was in any way ;inked to that system. When we returned to the jetty we asked a local who told us that they are LPG tanks for gas for heating and cooking.

Gas tankTank for LPG

The weather was gradually changing and we could see that the sea was getting quite choppy so we decided to return to the ship. As when we arrived, getting to our tender boat was well organised along with those who were on the other ship, they on the left and ourselves on the right. The 10min ride to the ship was not very pleasant as we bounced over the waves splashing water into the boat which had open sides. Some of us got more wet from that than if we had stayed and continued walking around the town in the rain.

All in all we had a very pleasant day in Stanley and learnt a lot, one of the most special things about travelling.