Stanley, Falkland Islands

 

            Our port visit to Stanley in the Falkland Islands was cancelled because of weather conditions.   While the Falkland Islands is not particularly an exciting place to visit it is different enough that it would have been quite interesting.    I had heard it said about the Falkland Islands…. “That the British are a curious people….they fought a war to retain control for these islands, but they gave up Hong Kong with a smile”.   

But weather is certainly always a factor when coming to this port, as the harbor is shallow and the ship must anchor off shore and then tender passengers to a pier in town.   Strong winds often persist in this part of the world making such an arrival very precarious.    Just one cruise ago the ship had landed nine hundred passengers on the island and when the wind picked up they were unable to affect the return of these now stranded passengers.    

 In as much, as there are only 2,300 people who reside in the town of Stanley and 3,200 residents in all of the Falklands ….nine hundred uninvited guests presented quite a problem.   Some slept on floors in armories or fire houses, some were invited into homes and food was extremely limited as well.   It was not until the next day that the ship was able to effect the rescue of these “lost” passengers.    

Argentina continues to claim sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, which they call the Malvinas.    It was Europeans, possibly crossing from Patagonia, who were the first to arrive in the Falklands in the 1600s, but there never was a continued interest in establishing a permanent settlement in this remote area at that time.    The first permanent settlement occurred in 1764 and an increasing Spanish South American presence then absorbed the islands.  Whalers and sealers discovered the port and they became very active.   At one point several American sealing ships were seized and held at Port Louis and a United States destroyer was dispatched and the village was leveled.   

In the aftermath of the Napoleonic era, British forces were sent to these islands and they have held control since.   Settlers from England came to these islands, sheep farming grew, fishing flourished, but the Falklands were pretty much ignored by the British until Argentina attacked in 1982.   The British sent their fleet and drove the Argentineans away and as a result the British have now increased their interest in the Falklands Islands.  Because there is not much about the islands that should attract great interest, the 1982 Falkland Islands war between England and Argentina is best described as a fight between two bald men over a comb.   

There are mainly two large clusters of islands that comprise a total of about 4,700 square miles consisting of 3,200 residents and 600,000 sheep.   Even so, sheep farming is being replaced by an escalating fishing industry and oil exploration is beginning to emerge. 

 

Port Stanley in the Falklands