Argentina refuses to allow Port Stanley registered yacht into the country

Two of yachting’s best-known ice sailing pioneers, Jerome and Sally Poncet, have found themselves at the centre of a diplomatic storm. The UK Foreign Office is looking into a notice from Argentinian authorities that the Poncets are no longer welcome to visit Argentina in their Falklands-registered 60-footer, Golden Fleece. They have been told that British registry in the Falklands, South Sandwich Islands and South Georgia is no longer being recognised.

A statement issued to Jerome Poncet on 8 January from the the Ministerio del Interior Prefectura Naval Argentina reads:

‘The Argentine Coast Guard notifies the captain of the ship Golden Fleece, which flies the British flag and declares to be registered in “Port Stanley” in the Malvinas Islands that this authorisation to enter to Ushuaia, as well as any other previously issued, must be considered only as an exception and as an act of simple courtesy from the authorities of this port that in accordance with Argentina’s sovereign rights over the Malvinas, Georgias del Sur y Sandwich Sur Islands the Argentine Reupblic does not recognise the declared registry.

‘Therefore in the future, access to Argentine ports shall not be permitted as long as the ship maintains such registry.’

Jerome Poncet was planning to return to Argentina to drop off a film crew which had been filming from on board Golden Fleece. “This means that Jerome is not allowed back into Argentina to drop them off, or to pick up another charter which follows in late January/early February,” comments Sally Poncet.

The BBC reports that the incident comes only a month after the election of Argentina’s new president, Fernando De La Rua, who is known to take a harder line than his predecessor, Carlos Menem.