Stanley is visited regularly by some boaters, and as a once-off by others. All are interesting characters that have veered off the milk-run route. The Patagonian charter yachts, usually based in Ushuaia, do trips around the Tierra del Fuego and Antarctic region. The Falklands is used as a staging post for South Georgia, although Argentina is making life more and more difficult for anything involving the “Malvinas”.
If all the social activity in the big city becomes too much, the Falklands offers solitude for those that seek it. The Western Falklands, away from Stanley at the east, offer strange and alien wilderness for the cruising explorer.
The Canache has been Kiwi Roa’s default base for over a year now.
In this time a number of old friends have passed through. This is Francophile Eric Dupuis, with Peter on the bow of his Belgian flagged expedition yacht Vaïhéré. Eric, along with his family and crew, have clocked up more miles in this region, including countless trips down to the Antarctic Peninsula, than most boaters will ever log anywhere.
Back over at the Stanley dock, two Australian boats were bow-to-bow. Mike Thurston is an old friend who met Peter and Jo in Papua New Guinea in the early 80’s. He’s had his current yacht Drina for almost as long – she’s familiar to Peter from England, where Mike was cruising, even while Kiwi Roa was still being built. Mike has done at least one circumnavigation and countless more thousands of miles. He arrived at the Falklands via a similar route to Kiwi Roa’s, coming from Australia via New Zealand and Chile.
Frank Holden is an Australian retired ship’s master who has spent years now on Westerly Serenade in Patagonia, cruising up and down the Channels between Puerto Montt and Cape Horn since 2004. Westerly Serenade has had over 11,000 nmi logged in the Patagonian region alone. He was in the Falklands en route back to Chile after visiting Buenos Aires.
Lastly, this is Jeanne Socrates on her yacht Nereida. From the UK, Jeanne recently became the oldest woman to circumnavigate solo, at 68 years. She was intending to do the trip non-stop, but was knocked down and nearly rolled in nasty weather near Cape Horn in January 2011. Jeanne and husband George’s previous boat was lost on a beach in Mexico, and George died of cancer in 2003 – Jeanne’s trip has been an eventful one tinged with tragedy but she has carried on.
The West Falklands are well away from Stanley, isolated even within the context of the region. The Poncets have a property and dock at Beaver Island to which Peter was invited: a remote outpost at the end of the world.
Nearing Tea Channel en route Beaver Island is the Horse Block, a dramatic edifice standing out to sea which punctuates the flat and barren landscape of the islands. This rock, formed from stratified ancient sandstone, towers about 50 meters above the sea.
At Jérôme and Sally Poncet’s island home, Golden Fleece was laid up for the winter, while the wharf allowed a seven day project on Kiwi Roa’s bottom. This was the first time she had been out of the water in years.
The Poncets own the entire island, flooded here in late afternoon sunlight during a rare fine spell of weather.
Others settled this land long before the present owners. This cairn site is surrounded by large cuboid rocks which appear like fallen standing stones, lending an ominous feeling.
Near Cape Meredith, the southern extremity of West Falkland, Kiwi Roa found anchorage at Cape Lagoon, named presumably as the exercise of some explorer’s irony.
That’s it for the Falklands. But as always there’s more. From Stanley, Kiwi Roa embarked on a three month expedition out into the deep South Atlantic and back below the Antarctic Convergence, destination remote and inhospitable – but spectacular – South Georgia Island.