David Glenn reports from the south Atlantic where he is spending the next four weeks aboard the 180ft ketch Adele as she continues on a remarkable world cruise
The last time I saw Adele was in the summer of 2005 in the Lofoten Islands, Norway shortly after her launch, shaking down in preparation for an extraordinary world cruise. The adventure has taken her, her owners Jan-Eric and Jennifer Osterlund and their many guests from Scandinavia, Spitzbergen, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Panama, the islands groups of the Pacific, New Zealand, where she undertook a refit, the Chilean Channels and Cape Horn, the Antarctic Peninsula and now the Falkland Islands where I was reacquainted with Adele in Port Stanley on January 31, a grey windswept day – a typical summer’s day here in the Falklands – as our taxi driver put it.
London had been unseasonably warm at 11 degrees C when I’d left and it wasn’t much different here. I’d noted that 25 years ago there’d been a heatwave in Port Stanley, the temperature hitting 29 degrees C. Nothing like that today.
For Adele, getting to the Falklands Islands has taken about 18 months. It took me 18 hours in a fairly ancient 747-300 on an RAF flight out of Brize Norton in the UK via the weird and wonderful island of Ascension sitting slap bang in the middle of the South Atlantic, just south of the equator. The RAF option is one of only two flights into the islands. They hire a 747 to shift military personnel and kit charging civilians about £1,400 return or £980 one way.
Don’t worry, you don’t sit on benches hooked up to a parachute line, the plane is conventional inside but she’s showing her age and take your own food – the grub is dire. No alcohol either – “squash, sir” – was a bit like being back at school!
Ascension, with its runway designed to land the Space Shuttle in an emergency, was the essential military stepping stone to the Falklands during the war in 1982 and with the 25th anniversary of the conflict about to be commemorated, our flight was full of Fleet Street’s finest visiting the islands as they worked on programmes and stories to mark the end of the war in June.
After a two-hour re-fuelling stop at Ascension, where the temperature at 0730 was 24 degrees C, we continued on our way and eight hours later we were on the tarmac at Mount Pleasant, East Falklands’ relatively new airport and site of the military garrison. An hour and a half later and we were being welcomed aboard Adele lying at anchor in Stanley Harbour.
Jan-Eric welcomed us with a quick briefing of the evening’s entertainment. In half and hour there would be a cocktail party aboard to which His Excellency The Governor of the Falklands Mr Alan Huckle has been invited and that would be followed by a birthday party ashore at the Falklands Brasserie for Ineke Hoek1s birthday.
Andre Hoek, Adele’s designer and Ineke were about to fly home after cruising with Jan-Eric in Antarctica. It was quite a night and a great welcome but by the time we hit the hay on day one we didn’t need any rocking. I began to wonder whether I could maintain the pace!