Another day at sea before arriving in the Falklands. The ocean was smooth the entire day, so we watched the sea birds fly around the ship and spotted the occasional right whale or dolphin. One whale waved his/her flipper to us as we passed by…
We arrived early on the 26th at Steeple Jason Island, one of the western-most in the Falklands. We first tried to land on the north side of the uninhabited (by humans) island, but it was too rough so we went to the south side instead. The Island is home to over 150,000 pairs of black-browed albatross, 60,000 pairs of rockhopper penguins, and a few colonies of gentoo penguins. Since eggs were laid and chicks soon to follow, there were also dozens of kara-kara (also called Johnny Rooks), predators just waiting for a chance to snatch an un-watched egg or chick.
The kara-kara were completely unafraid of us, and very curious about our red coats and hats. One grabbed Phyllis’ cap off her head, but dropped it a few feet away. A couple of other people weren’t so lucky as they watched their hats disappear in space.
The wind picked up as the day went on. After lunch we stopped at Carcass Island and took a long walk. We visited a leopard seal on the beach, the first one spotted here in many years, and saw an uncountable number of birds: geese, ducks, penguins, oyster-catchers, and songbirds. We ended our walk at the island owner’s house where we were treated to tea and a dinning room table full of baked treats. The McGills bought the 4800 acre island in the early 70’s for a little over $70,000…
Today we took a bus-tour of Stanley, the capital of the Falklands, and visited the hydroponic gardens where vegetables are grown for the locals and to sell to cruise ships. Stanley only has a few thousand inhabitants, the word eccentric could be used to describe many of them. There is the welder who has decorated his yard with the whale and dolphin skeletons he has collected from beaches, and the tour guide with a 2’ long beard who owns a shop carrying collectables (stamps, coins, medals) and operates a web site where you can order Botox and viagra. There are a couple of grocery stores, several gift shops, and pubs on every corner. Many shops only seem to open on “cruise ship days”. Everyone drives a land-rover, and everything is very neat even though most back yards seem to contain collections of old cars, spare parts, and unfinished projects.
Tonight we leave for 2 days of cruising to S. Georgia.