Falkland Islands from the Ship

Day 25, Grand World Voyage 2020

Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020; Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

We made it to the Falkland Islands this morning, but only to the harbor. Shortly after arriving, the captain announced that the local harbormaster had closed the harbor for our small tenders, deeming conditions too rough to bring passengers ashore. So that was that.

Actually, there was a little more to it. I’ll let Capt. Jonathan explain his own words from his blog:

The forecast had never been good, we had been in a north-easterly gale since the day before and predictions were that there would be no abatement for our call. Nevertheless, we would give it a ‘go’….

We were ‘crabbing’ sideways in the 40-knot winds as we abruptly swung head to wind to our anchor position. Starboard anchor, 7 shackles of chain, (approximately 600 feet, 200 m) laid out and holding. A fine adjustment of heading, this to try and give the port side some ‘shelter’, (I use the term loosely) and tenders splashed in the water….

We send our first ashore, a 1½-mile trip, in rough seas towards the intended disembarkation floating dock. It takes our Security staff and safety Officer only, no guests. We wait for a report on conditions at the dock, can we? Can’t we? For what seemed an interminable time all was quiet and then the radio burst into life … There are waves breaking over the low dock, the Tender is having challenges staying alongside and for good measure, the Harbour Master deems it unsafe.  Well, that settles that….

Wind now gusting up to 47 knots (52 mph, 82 kph), we call our tender back and start recovering the others that have remained close to the ship, I make the regrettable announcement to guests.

Months earlier I had purchased tickets for a ship’s excursion on 4×4 Land Rovers to Bluff Cove Lagoon, the site of a penguin reserve. It is home to more than 1,000 breeding pairs of Gentoo penguins, as well as King and Magellanic penguins. Birds that frequent the area include skuas, upland geese, ruddy-headed geese, Magellanic oystercatchers, South American terms, dolphin gulls, flightless Falkland steamer ducks, snowy sheathbills and southern giant petrels, according to the description.

When the captain canceled our port stop. I headed to my cabin for my DSLR camera with its zoom lens, knowing this would be my only chance to take photos of the Falklands.

The Amsterdam wasn’t the only ship in Port Stanley harbor. Celebrity Cruises’ Eclipse with about 3,000 passengers had pulled in an hour before us. During breakfast we watched its tenders being tossed by the waves. Already 200 of its passengers had tendered ashore, so when the harbormaster closed the tender docks, the Eclipse had to retrieve those passengers before it could leave. We sailed just past its bow in the tight harbor as we left.

I’m no stranger to missing ports – we skipped two on the 35-day Voyage of the Vikings last summer and a few during my recent Grand Asia cruises. The disappointment of missing out on seeing so many penguins up close and personal on the Falklands was balanced a little by the conditions – gale-force winds and rain. The excursion would have been miserable at times, I think.

Now we had an unexpected open day ahead of us. Our friend Peter, who swims every day, didn’t allow a little weather to stop him.

The cruise director and his staff quickly put together a full agenda of activities. I considered it serendipitous and decided to catch up on adding watercolor to my recent sketches. Because I have to let each two-page spread dry before moving on, it can be slow, and I am behind. It will be eight days before our next port, so I should have plenty of time to bring the book up to date.

First are some sketches from our day at Carnaval Experience in Rio:

Then sketches from Punta del Este, Uruguay, where we visited a country estate to sample olive oils and back in town saw La Mano, a sculpture on the beach. I still need to add labels to all.