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02/28/2008

Stanley

An overcast morning greeted us as the Explorer II steamed towards Port Williams and, further ahead, Port Stanley. Many of us got up early to witness our approach to this outpost in the South Atlantic, the capital city of the Falkland Islands. Stanley was founded in 1844 because of a need for a secure and accessible anchorage for the sailing ships of the Royal Navy. Stanley boomed as a port of repair for ships attempting to round Cape Horn during the California Gold Rush of the 1850’s. After sail gave way to steam and the Panama Canal reduced traffic around Cape Horn, a brief period of commercial whaling gave way to wool. Today, fisheries and tourism are additional foundations to the Falkland Islands’ economy.

There were a multitude of organized tours for us to choose from here in the Falkland Islands. Some of us took the Stanley highlights tour where we were taken by limousine (one of the few non-landrovers in the Falklands) to see many different areas of interest including the museum, the airport, the school, the hospital, the gnome garden, Government House and the war memorials. Others soaked up some history on the Falklands Battlefields Tour, or took a trip out to see a working sheep farm. Finally, those looking to soak up some more of the spectacular fauna and flora of the Falklands had several options to choose from as well.

For those of us not on an organized tour or with some extra time, we had the opportunity to explore the quaint town of Stanley on foot. We took in the picturesque houses with their multi-colored tin roofs, the open grassy lawns often inhabited by families of Upland Geese, and the cornucopia of gift shops and art galleries that are scattered along the waterfront and throughout town. It was a lovely place to amble around, or grab a pint at one of the local watering holes. The sun came out after lunch and sitting on the green (carefully avoiding the goose droppings) while looking over the bay was a popular pastime.

In the early afternoon, Explorer II moved position from the pier to the outer harbor where she carefully tied up to a fueling tanker. It was quite a delicate operation, but the Captain pulled it off seamlessly. Those of us who remained onshore during this repositioning of the ship were shuttled back in the late afternoon by tender and zodiac.

As evening rolled around back on the Explorer II, many of us gathered for cocktail hour in the Shackleton Bar, where stories of the day’s events intertwined with the sounds of laughter and soothing background music provided by the ship’s Cocktail Pianist, Chantal Sanders. We then joined the Expedition Team in the Main Lounge for the first of our daily Recaps, where the staff went over some of the highlights from our stop in the Falklands, and answered questions we had come up with during our visit. It was a wonderful day of exploration in this far-away corner of the world.

   

Explorer 2 enters into Stanley's inner harbor through The Narrows in fog

We visited the famous Stanly cathedral & Arches.

3 The Bluff Cove drivers arrive at FIPASS in their Land Rovers to take us on our penguin adventure

East Stanley on a rare sunny afternoon

Explorer 2 receives fuel from the bunkering vessel, Centaurus


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