30
Jan 2012

Around the World with Captain Mercer: Falkland Islands

Submitted by: Captain Mercer

During the past weeks, I have been approached by numerous guests, all asking the same question, ‘will we get into the Falklands’? It seems that previously, on every occasion they have tried, the call has been canceled, usually due to weather. Even some of our guests who are regular Grand World voyagers have missed it, so the pressure is on for me to make amends and make it :-)

The morning brings thick fog, not an auspicious start and we can’t see my hand in front of my face, let alone any land. We navigate on radar, at reduced speed and hope that the visibility will improve, although after an hour, there’s no sign of that. Our agent ashore eventually hails us on the VHF radio and asks of our whereabouts and we in turn ask him of the visibility. He replies that he can see across the harbour, which is good news and so we proceed inwards, avoiding fishing boats and cargo ships which are anchored in the Sound. We still don’t see any of the headlands we are passing until we are approaching our anchorage position; a ‘reefer’ ship, (which carries chilled cargo) looms out of the fog. He is loading fish, there is a fishing boat alongside, discharging his catch into the cavernous holds of the cargo ship.

Then the veil lifts and the barren headlands surrounding us suddenly come into view. We drop our anchor and lay out 6 shackles (540 feet) of anchor chain. I am preparing for anything the Falklands can throw at us and sure enough, it does, later in the morning, when the wind increases to 35 knots. It’s great holding ground, mud and sand, so once that anchor is turned and buried, it should stick there.

Our guests are run ashore by our tenders, to the pier in Stanley, which takes approximately 20 minutes.

Later in the day, the journey is rough, as the waves have built-up with the increased wind. Nobody seems to mind though, they are just thankful that they have made it to Stanley and another ‘must-do’ is crossed off their list!

1800 and we are departing for Antarctica, the most awesome place on the planet! :-)

4 Comments

  1. Good job! Yes, I am one of those who never was able to make the call as the water was just too rough! Thinking of you all!! Liz Day

  2. Captain Mercer….
    We are wondering where the length term “shackle” originated, and why one shackle apparently equals 90 feet of anchor chain? There must be a fascinating historical explanation. Thanks.
    Bet you’re enjoying the RTW cruise, too.
    T&C

  3. We are one’s that are envious of your around world cruse, from a here in Sydney Australia.
    The Antarctic is the place of a lifetime visit and is on our wish list to see one of these days.
    After last year with our visit to Alaska and the Arctic Ocean at Prudal Bay the Antarctic must happen.
    Having cruised the Pacific Ocean on 14 & 30 day cruises over many years with our children you are in for a treat with the Pacific Islands of Tahiti, American Somia and Somia.
    We will be dockside for at least for a couple of hours on mv Amdersdam visit here to our grand city of Sydney on the 25th and 26th February.
    Wishing you good weather for the remainder of your voyage.
    Regards
    Jim

  4. Hi Tom and Carol. As to your question about ‘shackles’. Anchor chain used to be manufactured in 12.5 fathom lengths and joined by a ‘shackle’. Now they are manufactured in 15 fathom lengths (15 x 6 = 90ft). So, in days before yore, when they let go an anchor chain, they would put ‘x’ number of shackles out, i.e. the number of joining shackles in the water. We still use this, however, our lengths are slightly longer. Hope this answers your question :-)

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