Thursday, 24 March 2011

BWR: Thank you, Port Stanley!

Andy Meiklejohn and a thumbs up from Wouter Verbraak behind him. Image copyright Alex Thomson Racing.

by Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak

It’s Tuesday the 22nd, day 82 and 24 hrs after leaving all our new friends in Port Stanley. What a place, nothing could have prepared us for the welcome we got or the help that came pouring in. This was never going to be an easy stop! The Falkland Islands are a logistical challenge. There are twice weekly flights to and from the Island with the RAF flight arriving Thursdays from the UK requiring a 2 week notice and the Lan Chile flight from Punta Arenas always being packed.

At such short notice you have a degree of luck to contend with and in this case it went our way. Firstly Ross was able to get onto the RAF flight at a days notice and then Chris McMaster and Phil Houghton from Doyle Sails managed to arrive on Friday on the Lan Chile flight. In three days we managed to fix up the worn sails, replace the top section of mast track, repair the generator and solve many of the normal problems you would expect to find after 75 days at sea.

What we also didn’t count on was the help of the locals, most of whom just happened to walk down the dock for a look and ask if they could help! We had Shane and Bobby the Tow boat drivers from FIC turning up at all hours to ferry us to the boat, tow us to a mooring or back again, Chris from Town taxi’s gave up two nights work to flake sails, Peter from the FIDF (Falkland Islands Defense Force) gave us the use of their Hall, 30m x 14m which meant we could unroll every sail and work efficiently. Diane Freeman rented us her sewing machine which was in-valuable and Jenny, known to everyone as “Mother” put us up in her house for the first two nights while there were no hotel rooms.

These guys live on a barren flatland where they are born with the sea in their blood. Their usual work is servicing the fishing fleets who run the local quota, the Oil exploration vessels and the Antarctic research vessels. Ours was somewhat of a novelty! Their normal visitor has been Graham Dalton with his previous Velux entries and the odd Vendee competitor trying to find shelter to effect repairs and continue racing. It now seems that with the increase in bureaucracy in Ushuaia that Port Stanley is your most realistic choice for stopping in these round the world races.

Thanks Guys, we owe you one!

Andy Meiklejohn
Wouter Verbraak Sailing
Alex Thomson Racing
Barcelona World Race