Port Stanley – Anchorage SH4

Sailing at last!

What a marvellous last day of sailing!

We couldn’t have had it any better. Especially after the last few days, when the wind kept letting us down and the Drake was mostly as tame as a lapdog, we hardly dared to hope for this.

We flew the last one hundred miles to Port Stanley.

My watch, from 2.00 am to 6.00 am, was not very promising apart from the initially starry sky. Something between no wind and hardly any wind and this from all directions. Nothing we could have done anything with.

So we left the Selma to her own devices and I watched over her drift. I let my thoughts drift too.

Every now and then I turned the rudder a degree more to starboard or port to keep us on course. I tried to hypnotise the anemometer. To drive up the number of knots, to stabilise the direction indicator. Sometimes this worked for a short period of time, whenever a large dark cloud passed over us. But never constantly enough to set sail. And so I waited impatiently for an approaching dark front, hoping that it would finally bring us the wind we were longing for. Meanwhile, Piotr enjoyed an extra portion of sleep.

And then, around seven, we were suddenly and finally out of the blue hole of the doldrums. From one moment to the next. From blue to red. From zero to almost 40 knots of wind. And a high swell mixed with steep waves.

We were so happy to finally being able to sail properly again. We took turns at the helm, swapped watches so that everyone could enjoy it once again. We savoured every minute at the helm with shining eyes. We surfed with up to 12 knots over foam-crowned 6 metre waves and got a good saltwater shower again and again. No matter – we had a lot of fun. Just like the albatrosses and petrels that sailed around us at high speed through the air and through the wave troughs.

Land ahead

The number of birds increased with every hour. Kelp kept drifting past on the surface – a sign that we were slowly but surely approaching land. Later in the afternoon, we passed two fishing trawlers. Then the Falkland Islands came into view, and with them a landmark that made it much easier to steer amidst the crests of the waves.

A group of dolphins (hourglass dolphins, so called because of their white markings shaped like an hourglass) suddenly appeared and accompanied us for a while. Played with Selma’s bow wave. The rather small representatives of their species dived and jumped around in the foaming water at lightning speed. Swam from left to right, sometimes next to us, sometimes under us. They seemed to be having fun, just like us. One of them actually jumped over Selma’s bow in a high arc. Standing at the helm, I could hardly believe my eyes, speechless and amazed at this very special farewell.


The Cape Pembroke lighthouse came into view, and all along the flat coastline and on many of the offshore rocks, the sea threw itself against the land, spraying spray metres high. We only left the jib standing. The evening sun came out, gilding the last few miles, bathing the coast and us in magical light, the landscape in wonderfully warm colours. The islands were flat and yellow-green, partly overgrown with tall tussock grass.

Still travelling at eight knots, we tacked into the bay of Port William and through the narrows between Navy and Engineer Point into Stanley Harbour. We had our hands full as a team on deck. Four tacks later, we had Stanley in sight and it was time to hoist the last sail. To head for the anchorage assigned to us. With the wind, we would have been reluctant to moor at the pier. And I was more than happy to keep the land, the many lights and noises of the city at a distance for a little while longer.

We let out the anchor one last time. And suddenly we were at our destination.

After a good 3,000 nautical miles, we arrived in Port Stanley on the Falkland Islands.

A strange feeling spread through me. Disbelief. Wistfulness. The day before it had been so tough, the destination so far away… and now: Somehow, the miles had flown by far too quickly in the last few hours. From one hundred back to zero in a flash, so to speak. This time definitive.

With every hug, we shared the joy and gratitude of having made it together. But at the same time, there was also the painful realisation that this shared adventure was now over. We also have to let go again.

And so I wasn’t the only one standing alone for a moment somewhere on deck, lost in thought, sometimes looking towards Stanley, but more often back towards the sea in the distance. Trying to hold on to the moment. To capture everything. Many moments of the last few weeks went through my mind. All that I had experienced, lived through and achieved. Our time together on board the Selma.

It was time to raise a glass. I had saved the bottle of whisky I had opened on Shackleton’s 150th birthday on 15 February for this moment. We clinked glasses on deck, in the dark, in front of the city lights. It was difficult to find the right words.

It all started with Shackleton and an idea. We sealed our joint plans with a glass of Shackleton more than a year ago, in December 2022, during a Zoom conference, each of us in front of a screen in a different part of the world. Apart from emails and a few digital meetings, we were complete strangers, did not know each other. Yesterday, here in Stanley, we finished this adventure as friends with a glass together. We shared a large sip with Neptune, grateful for the happy course and conclusion of our endeavour.

It takes a while to be able to accept this passing, at least for me. At first there is mostly sentimentality, sadness, a certain emptiness.

But this last marvellous day of sailing provides some consolation in that we have now arrived. And that our journey – at least the one on the Selma – will come to an end in a few days. However, we still have time to arrive in this world that is so very different from the one of the last few weeks. In civilisation, hearing other noises (cars), meeting other people, seeing other things.

Three days that we can all spend together on board the trusty Selma. To slowly get used to it, so to speak.

And then another week here in the Falklands.

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