We got our first glimpse of the Falkland Islands on Tuesday morning (Liam’s CD was playing and its cheerfulness obviously rubbed off on the view) but they’re a similar size to Wales and so we had a further twenty four hours of sailing before we got to Stanley. I came on watch at 4 o’clock this morning while it was still dark, but we could see the lights of the military base at Mount Pleasant. As the sun rose we realised that we were being escorted along the coast by dolphins and it was fascinating watching their graceful motion through the water from Elinca’s bow. The wind was from the north and so we were close reaching with our biggest jib, the storm staysail and a full main as we headed up the coast. A few miles from Stanley the wind finally died and we had to drop the headsails and motor the final half hour. Stanley harbour is beautifully sheltered from all the ocean swells being set inland with the 300 metre wide Narrows giving entry to the inner harbour.
Richard Pattison arrived a few days before us and had kindly arranged a berth for us on the Falkland Islands Company jetty and was waiting for us as we berthed. The Customs officers arrived shortly afterwards and we quickly completed the formalities. As soon as possible I popped over to the supermarket and bought some bacon and mature cheddar cheese, which we haven’t been able to obtain since we left the UK in September. I particularly enjoyed the cheese, it just melted in my mouth and tasted gorgeous. Gemma, Nick and Cliggy used the left-over mashed potato to make potato cakes to accompany the bacon.
This afternoon people have explored, had showers, visited the local shops, sent postcards and got some laundry done. We’ve also completed some additional Customs paperwork and met with the Operations Officer from the South Georgia Government to discuss our plans for the next few weeks while we’re in South Georgia. Tomorrow we’ve got a minibus booked and we’re off to explore East Falkland. We’re keeping a close eye on the weather for a suitable window for the 780 NM passage to South Georgia. As soon as one arrives we’ll head off east.